MILWAUKEE — The Cubs got into Milwaukee in the wee hours of Friday morning after a long, rainy game Thursday in Atlanta.
That gave struggling reliever Carl Edwards Jr. plenty of time to think after a two-batter outing in need of a strike-zone GPS.
By the time he woke up, he had an idea and sent bullpen catcher Chad Noble a text: ‘‘How much do you trust me?’’
Response: ‘‘I trust you a lot.’’
A few hours later, Edwards, Noble and bullpen coach Lester Strode were in the visitors’ bullpen at Miller Park, with two large chairs positioned where each batter’s box would be.
Still trust the poster kid for the bullpen’s early command problems? It gets better.
‘‘My first two pitches, I threw with my eyes closed,’’ Edwards said. ‘‘Mind over matter.’’
Talk about trust.
‘‘He didn’t catch the first one,’’ Edwards said.
The fact it sailed past the other side of one of the chairs might have had something to do with that.
‘‘And then the next throw was right down the middle,’’ Edwards said. ‘‘It was just focus.’’
It’s not going to make people forget Michael Jordan’s eyes-closed free throw anytime soon. Or Stephen Curry’s no-look three-point shots.
Especially after Edwards gave up a two-run home run to the first batter he faced in the fifth inning Friday before retiring the next two in the Cubs’ 13-10 loss that wasn’t that close.
But if it helps refocus Edwards, it might be at least a first step in some semblance of stability for a bullpen whose troubles only got deeper in the seventh, when previously unscathed Brandon Kintzler gave up a pair of singles and a three-run homer to Eric Thames.
‘‘Sooner or later, everybody’s going to wake up from this bad dream and realize: ‘OK, there are our guys. Those are the guys I remember,’ ’’ Edwards said.
Until then, the hand-wringing on local airwaves and Cubs Twitter figures to remain at full throttle as the bullpen fights back from a seven-game start that includes an 8.89 ERA, a National League-leading 21 walks in 26 1/3 innings and blown saves in all three chances by three pitchers.
‘‘It’s pretty easy to understand what’s going on,’’ manager Joe Maddon said. ‘‘We have to get our bullpen in order. Once we do that, we’ll be fine.
‘‘We have to make sure these guys know they have my full support and confidence, and we have to keep putting them out there until we nail it down.’’
Edwards, the hardest thrower among the setup corps, has failed to record an out in two of his four appearances, has walked five of the 13 batters he has faced and had Major League Baseball rule that the new hesitation, toe-tap move he added to his delivery during the spring is illegal.
In addition to his between-the-chairs session with Noble, Edwards also talked with veteran teammates, Strode and pitching coach Tommy Hottovy and got encouragement from Maddon.
‘‘I’m fine, man,’’ said Edwards, who indicated that the sudden switch back to his old mechanics hasn’t been a problem and that he feels right mechanically and mentally.
‘‘Now it’s just the focus. Now it’s, ‘Let’s just go at these guys.’ ’’