NEW YORK — The Cubs haven’t looked like a champion since sometime in April. And after another lackluster loss Monday against the Mets, manager Joe Maddon had no patience for his team’s failure to at least act the part.
Right-hander Jacob deGrom, coming off back-to-back beatings, returned to his 2015 playoff form against the Cubs, striking out six and inducing four double plays in a 6-1, complete-game victory.
Tough pitcher, right?
‘‘We can’t keep using that as an excuse that the other team’s pitcher is good,’’ Maddon said. ‘‘We’ve got to start beating some better pitchers, period. You don’t go to the promised land without winning games like that, maybe 3-2, 4-3, whatever.
‘‘He was good, no question. But at some point we’ve got to start figuring out how to put some things together to beat those guys.’’
After allowing 15 runs, 18 hits and six walks in his last two starts, deGrom held the Cubs to five hits — and to none in five tries with men in scoring position. None of those scoring-position chances happened after the third, largely because of three of those four double plays.
The Cubs are last in the majors in hitting with men in scoring position and near the bottom in several other categories. And with rookie Ian Happ already up, there isn’t much in the system to offer for an offensive boost.
Maddon said before the game it would be hard to figure out where to play someone anyway, given how many second- and third-year players are locked into starting spots.
‘‘These are our guys,’’ he said. ‘‘And I believe in these guys a lot.’’
Right-hander Kyle Hendricks, who has been on the disabled list since last week because of inflammation in his pitching hand, will throw a light session on the side Tuesday for the first time since going on the DL. He was examined Sunday and cleared to start throwing.
How he fares might affect the schedule of right-hander Jake Arrieta, who has battled a cut on his right thumb in his last two starts. Arrieta is expected to shut down his throwing between starts for the second go-round in a row.
Arrieta is scheduled to pitch Friday in Pittsburgh. But if Hendricks looks ready to pitch at some point in that series, the Cubs might give Arrieta extra time to allow the cut to heal by dropping Hendricks into the series.
Maddon called Arrieta’s cut a ‘‘nuisance’’ more than anything else.
‘‘It’s annoying,’’ he said. ‘‘It caused you to try to do something differently. And whenever you try to do that when you’re releasing the baseball, that’s normally not a good thing. We’ll keep an eye on it.’’
Cespedes leaves with sore heel
Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes left in the fifth inning because of a sore left heel and is questionable for Tuesday.
Follow me on Twitter @GDubCub.