A scuffling attack and inconsistent pitching have caught up to the Chicago Cubs … again.
After erupting for 55 runs during a 5-1 stretch, Chicago enters the finale of a four-game series in Atlanta on a five-game losing streak, a span that includes three shutout defeats.
The Cubs will aim to snap both the skid and a 20-inning scoreless streak Thursday, all while trying to remain upbeat.
“I don’t think any of us feel like we’ve hit our strides, so to speak,” Chicago right fielder Jason Heyward said. “But I think it’s still early to be talking about any kind of stride. I think, if anything, we all feel fortunate that we’re not 10 games out of first place right now. That’s a positive. And also, we all understand how quickly these things can change in two days, three days, with the way our division is.”
Chicago also should be grateful that Atlanta resides in the National League East, not the NL Central, as where the last-place Cubs are just four games behind the first-place Milwaukee Brewers.
The Braves improved to 5-1 against the Cubs this season with their 10-0 victory on Wednesday. Atlanta belted five home runs, including a fourth-inning blast from pitcher Huascar Ynoa, who pitched 5 1/3 shutout innings.
Atlanta out-hit Chicago 18-5 as five players delivered multi-hit games, led by Freddie Freeman and Austin Riley, who both went 4-for-5 and finished a triple short of the cycle. Center fielder Guillermo Heredia, a spring waiver claim from the New York Mets who has seen accelerated duty after Braves outfielders Cristian Pache and Ender Inciarte were injured in short succession, added three hits.
Heredia is batting .333 through 12 games.
“He’s skilled,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “He has an average to probably a plus arm. He runs really well. He’s done a great job. That’s a big hole when you lose two outfielders in a span of a couple days. We were very fortunate to have somebody like that to step in. His at-bats just keep getting better, actually. He’s done a really, really good job for us.”
The Cubs will try to avoid being swept in a four-game series against the Braves for the first time since 2005. Right-hander Adbert Alzolay (0-2, 5.40 ERA) is set to get the call as he makes his second career start against the Braves.
Alzolay is 0-0 with a 1.93 ERA against Atlanta after allowing a solo home run, walking four and striking out four in 4 2/3 innings during his first career start on June 25, 2019.
Righty Bryse Wilson (1-1, 5.00 ERA) will start for the Braves on three days’ rest. Snitker said he would treat the outing as he might an opener, assessing Wilson on an inning-by-inning basis.
Wilson took a loss Sunday after allowing three runs on four hits in four innings in a start against the Arizona Diamondbacks. He defeated the Cubs April 18 in his season debut, giving up three runs (two earned) in five innings, and he is 1-0 with a 5.79 ERA in two career starts against them.
Chicago expects shortstop Javier Baez to return Thursday. Baez has missed the first three games of the series after experiencing tightness in his left hamstring late in the team’s Sunday loss to Milwaukee.
–Field Level Media