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Cubs ‘can’t expect to win World Series again [with] those at-bats’

One of Javy Baez's three strikeouts Saturday night against the Brewers.

MILWAUKEE — A short night’s sleep didn’t do much to calm Cubs manager Joe Maddon’s irritation over a recent hitting trend that has resulted in his team striking out 17 times in a game twice in less than a week.

‘‘I was upset,’’ Maddon said Sunday, just a few hours after the Cubs fanned 17 times in an 11-inning victory Saturday against the Brewers. ‘‘We can’t expect to win the World Series again this year and have those kinds of at-bats. We can’t.’’

According to club research that goes back 100 years, the Cubs are the first team to strike out 17 times twice in the span of five days and win both games. They also did it Tuesday against the White Sox, with Javy Baez striking out five times.

That doesn’t provide much solace for Maddon, who liked the adjustments and production of his young hitters until the last week or so.

‘‘When you get to the latter part of the year, when you get to the playoffs, you see good pitching all the time — all the time,’’ Maddon said. ‘‘And you’ve got to go out there and be prepared for that and not just swing.

‘‘We’ve got to force pitchers to get us out in the strike zone and not outside the strike zone. That, to me, is the championship-caliber

offensive mentality.”

With a few tweaks to the lineup, the Cubs’ hitting in a 4-2 victory Sunday was closer to what Maddon was looking for — particularly the four consecutive two-out hits that included a pair of run-scoring singles in the sixth.

‘‘Up and down the lineup, I thought we worked really good at-bats,’’ he said.

Rookie Ian Happ and streaky 24-year-olds Kyle Schwarber and Baez, who combined for eight strikeouts Saturday, all were out of the starting lineup. Maddon said that had to do with stacking his outfield defense and a normal rotation of players, not with their performances Saturday.

When Addison Russell led off the 11th inning Saturday with the Cubs’ final strikeout of the night, they had as many strikeouts as balls put into play, with four singles to show for the 17 struck balls.

Maddon said his critical postgame comments Saturday were directed at the whole team, not just a few players.

‘‘I don’t want to see us giving away easy outs,’’ he said. ‘‘I want us to be tough outs. I want us to see pitches. The message was for everybody.’’

Follow me on Twitter @GDubCub.

Email: gwittenmyer@suntimes.com

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