Is it May already? Cubs — a red-hot 1-0 this month — happy to put April in the rearview
The quality of at-bats dropped, strikeouts mounted and the team’s fielding went from flawless to fumbling as a 6-4 start turned into 8-13.
MILWAUKEE — New month, new Cubs?
They probably would like to think so after beating the Brewers 2-0 in the finale of a three-game series Sunday. The Cubs were outscored 20-2 in the first two games and ended April in a 2-9 slide.
April was rough, even with a lockout-delayed Opening Day and a 6-4 start by the Cubs that looked at least as good as that record. But the quality of at-bats dropped, strikeouts mounted and the team’s fielding went from flawless to fumbling from there as 6-4 turned into 8-13.
‘‘We’ve got to clean up some things,’’ manager David Ross said. ‘‘Got to clean up the bases, got to clean up some of the mistakes we’ve made in the field. If we do that, we’re two or three games above where we’re at, in my opinion.’’
As it is, they head home — to host the White Sox next — a hefty 5½ games behind the Brewers, who are the defending National League Central champs and the clear favorites to win the division in 2022.
But, hey, 1-0 in May is just plain perfect, right?
‘‘Month to month, you try to assess,’’ Ross said. ‘‘You try to win every game, but you can assess where you’re at, the kind of month you had, try to improve and see some trend lines over that month. That’s kind of how I try to look at it.’’
Ross didn’t have many months to assess in the 60-game 2020 season, his first on the job. He had some tense months before the 2021 trade deadline and some lost ones, roster-wise, after it. What does he have in Year 3?
‘‘We’ve got a group that I believe can win a lot of baseball games,’’ he said. ‘‘I think we’ve got a group that plays together. We’re just going to have to continue to pitch and play defense, [the] staples that kind of show up every single day. If we do that, we’re going to be all right.’’
The Cubs have won only nine games, but three of them have been shutouts and two of them have come at the expense of the Brewers. This one, by the way, put the Cubs back ahead 193-192 in the all-time series.
Here’s something strange, considering the Cubs have been less than stellar offensively for quite a while now: They’ve gone 68 games without being shut out themselves, the longest streak in the majors.
But don’t get too excited about that. This is the same team that scored one lonely run in four of the six games of a 2-4 road trip. Two runs on getaway day almost felt like an outburst.
How psyched is Ross to clash with the Sox at Wrigley Field this week?
Somebody hold him back.
‘‘It’s a really good semi-rivalry,’’ he said.
‘‘I love that series,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s fun for the environment at Wrigley and on the South Side.’’
The Cubs optioned left-hander Locke St. John to Triple-A Iowa and put right-hander Ethan Roberts on the 10-day injured list (retroactive to Saturday) with inflammation in his right shoulder, reducing the active roster to 26.
White Sox at Cubs
Tuesday: Michael Kopech (0-1, 1.42 ERA) vs. Drew Smyly (1-2, 2.79), 6:40 p.m., Marquee, NBCSCH, 670-AM, 1000-AM.
Wednesday: Lucas Giolito (0-1, 2.57) vs. Kyle Hendricks (1-2, 5.47), 6:40 p.m., Marquee, NBCSCH, 670-AM, 1000-AM.