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Face it: For the last 50 games, the Cubs have been mediocre

Cubs starting pitcher Jake Arrieta, left, walks off the mound after being relieved during the sixth inning against the Mets on Saturday. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

On May 10, the Cubs beat San Diego 8-7 to raise their record to 25-6. Remember the wonder of that start, the rosiness of it? The biggest struggles in life had to do with bad songs stuck in your head or work meetings that wouldn’t end.

Those days are long gone. Since getting past the Padres to extend their winning streak to eight games, the Cubs are 26-24 — or, if you prefer, they are the Marlins. If you really want to torture yourself, throw out the recent three-game sweep of Triple-A Cincinnati and wallow in the knowledge that the Cubs have lost 10 of their last 11 games.

Lots of people have carried on as if the winning hasn’t stopped, as if the beer hasn’t stopped flowing. But this hasn’t been the same team the past 50 games. I’ve been guilty at times of peddling the sunny story of the best club in baseball, even though there has been a steady decline since that overcast day at Wrigley Field. But losing four straight games to the previously struggling Mets, including a 14-3 pounding Sunday, should have slapped some reality into even the most anesthetized among us.

The troubles don’t have to do with injuries. Or, if they do, then centerfielder Dexter Fowler, out with a hamstring strain, deserves the National League most valuable player award. The Cubs’ bullpen has been struggling, the Cubs’ bats have been middling and the Cubs’ N.L. Cy Young award winner has been missing.

I knew there would come a time when the Cubs’ starters, after an incredible start, would labor. But I didn’t think it would be Jake Arrieta doing the laboring. He lost to the Mets on Saturday, his second loss in his past three starts. He was done after 5 1/3 innings. Before that, he had lasted only five innings in four of his previous seven starts. He has walked 42 batters so far this season. Last year, he walked 48. Besides posing naked for ESPN The Magazine, is he being exposed?

Not the same pitcher and not the same team.

You can get high off the fumes of the first 31 games of the season, or you can look soberly at the last 50. What’ll it be?