What to take from the Cubs offense’s high-scoring Cincinnati trip

The Cubs’ first two series of the year had polar-opposite conditions.

SHARE What to take from the Cubs offense’s high-scoring Cincinnati trip
Cubs outfielder Cody Bellinger warmed up his bat against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park this week in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Cubs outfielder Cody Bellinger warmed up his bat against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park this week in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Dylan Buell/Getty Images

CINCINNATI — Cody Bellinger has gone on 0-for-9 or 0-for-11 hitless streaks before.

“All the time,” he said after the Cubs’ 12-5 win against the Reds on Tuesday.

There’s just something about starting the season, even if it’s just for a few games, on a hitless streak.

The offense got rolling in Cincinnati this week, scoring a season-high six runs on Monday and then doubling that mark Tuesday.

This squad was built on run prevention — something that has been lacking the last couple games. And it’s hard to predict how productive the offense will be over the course of the season from a five-game sample size. Their first two series of the year had polar-opposite conditions: frigid temperatures in Chicago against the Brewers’ high-end starters, versus humidity in Cincinnati facing the back end of the Reds’ rotation.

Cubs manager David Ross did, however, take note of a couple factors in his team’s two-game scoring spree that he expects to have lasting implications.

“There’s not a whole lot to read from two really cold days against [Brewers pitchers Brandon] Woodruff and [Corbin] Burnes, just trying to scratch out wins and offensively get into your rhythm,” Ross said. “The at-bats are starting to become more comfortable. The calmness of the at-bats has been better here, just not pressing for some of the new guys and trying to get that first one out of the way.”

That first one for Bellinger was a three-run homer in the first inning of the Cubs’ 7-6 loss Monday.

“That first one is always probably the hardest one to get for whatever reason. And before that I was feeling good and balls were hit right at people, which is the game. Just stuck with the process and continued to try to hit my pitch.”

The next day he went 3-for-5 with a walk.

First baseman Eric Hosmer broke his two-game, 0-for-7 streak with a three-hit game Monday. In Cincinnati, his season batting average swung from .000 to .294. That’s the early-season effect.

“The first one is always nice to get out of the way,” Hosmer said. “It’s a sense of relief.”

Hosmer also recorded four RBI in two games.

“Hoz has always had a knack for driving in runs,” left fielder Ian Happ said. “He’s been a pest for a long time, he’s really, really good at that. And so watching him drive in timely runs, it’s like, ‘Yep, that looks like what I’ve seen for the last few years.’ ”

As the middle of the order got into a groove in Cincinnati, the top of the order continued its hot streak. Nico Hoerner, Dansby Swanson and Ian Happ, the Cubs’ No. 1-3 hitters, combined to go 24-for-60 (.400) in the first five games.

“It really just simplifies the game,” said Bellinger, who has been hitting fourth. “. . . When there’s guys on base, the moment’s bigger than you, and you want to get the job done for the team. And they’ve been unbelievable. So it’s been a really fun start.”

The last couple of games have provided a glimpse into what this offense can look like when every hitter is clicking at the same time. That only happens at rare points throughout a season.

Each player will go through his own peaks and valleys. Sometimes the whole lineup will sink into a slump. But it’s clear that this squad can be effective stringing together base hits, as opposed to relying on the long ball. The rest of the month, an AL and NL West-heavy schedule, will test the offense’s consistency.

The Latest
The boy was inside a car about 5:30 p.m. in the 8300 block of South Cottage Grove Avenue when someone approached him and fired shots, police said.
Lisa Kudrow leads the bumbling marauders in Apple’s funny follow-up to 1981 film.
Two men, a 46-year-old man from Washington state and a 55-year-old man from Franklin Park, were hospitalized in serious condition following a fire about 3 p.m. Tuesday. Their boat burned.
Hoyer revealed Monday that the Cubs likely wouldn’t be focused on acquiring rental talent for second half.
Notes: Cody Bellinger hit on the field Tuesday, taking a step in his injury rehab.