Cubs head home after offense comes up empty again in elimination game

The Cubs’ offense scored one run in two games against the Marlins, including being shut out 2-0 on Friday in Game 2 of the NL wild-card round.

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AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

Whether it’s a matter of it being broken, of its failure to meet projected production or a combination of the two, the Cubs’ offense — or lack thereof — has been a common theme for the last three seasons.

Yes, the 60-game season was difficult and presented circumstances and challenges never seen before. But the Cubs’ offensive struggles were familiar and predate the weird year.

The Cubs’ message for their lack of production was the same all season:

‘‘We just have to get it going,’’ they often said.

But when the time came for them to do it, they couldn’t. No instant offense. No bounce-back. No switch to flip.

The underachieving bats were front and center once again as the Cubs were eliminated in the National League wild-card round by the Marlins with a 2-0 loss Friday at Wrigley Field, their season ending in a two-game sweep.

‘‘I think the season, in general, is unique if you look around the league, and we just never really got going,’’ manager David Ross said. ‘‘I never thought we really hit our stride offensively.’’

‘‘I feel like we were competing against the other team and then against our struggle,’’ shortstop Javy Baez said.

Right-hander Yu Darvish did everything he could in Game 2, putting up zero after zero with the Cubs’ season on the line. Still, the Cubs’ lineup — full of so many accomplished and decorated players — also put up zeros when it mattered most.

The Cubs scored one run in the two games and were shut out Friday by Marlins rookie sensation Sixto Sanchez and four relievers as the struggles that plagued them all season showed up in a big way.

‘‘When you’re not hitting and you see Darvish out there — our whole pitching staff just carrying us and not being able to come through — it’s just heartbreaking,’’ first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. ‘‘It’s upsetting. It’s all the above.’’

‘‘We didn’t get the job done,’’ outfielder Jason Heyward said. ‘‘We got outplayed. Either way, this series was one of those . . . in my mind that we played good baseball, but so did they. They played a little bit better. And in the postseason, whoever plays the best wins.’’

The season was difficult, but it seemed to hit the Cubs’ core the hardest. Besides outfielder Ian Happ and Heyward, no player had an extended stretch of offensive success during the season.

Baez, Rizzo, third baseman Kris Bryant and outfielder Kyle Schwarber all had inexplicable seasons and went a combined 1-for-28 against the Marlins, which baffled even them.

‘‘I don’t have that much of an answer to that,’’ Bryant said. ‘‘I guess it goes back to this game being extremely tough. The toughest game sport in the world, no question about it.’’

‘‘We never came around to really swinging the bat,’’ Ross said. ‘‘Had some spots. A lot of these guys, just uncharacteristic of who they are, who we’ve seen for a long time.

‘‘I think there’s a lot of guys that we just never felt like they showed up to be who they were offensively, and it wasn’t for lack of effort or work or concentration. These guys were really trying hard and just couldn’t.’’

The Marlins not only closed the book on the Cubs’ season, but they also might have closed the book on this core, which has grown together and helped the franchise break a 108-year stretch without a World Series title in 2016.

‘‘I mean, it could or couldn’t,’’ Heyward said about the possibility of the team being broken up. ‘‘This game is a funny game. It is the business on one side, and you’ve just got to see who makes moves, who doesn’t. . . .

‘‘I know my mindset every year has always been to go out, try to make the postseason and try to become world champs. I think there is a lot of respect for what it takes to be a champion in this clubhouse.’’

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