Fri, 18 Jun 2021

Cubs seeking offense as they take on streaking Tigers

Field Level Media
14 May 2021, 16:40 GMT+10

The Chicago Cubs' offense has stalled over the past week. It will look to heat up during a visit to Detroit this weekend.

The three-game series against the Tigers begins on Friday night.

Chicago has scored three or fewer runs in four of the last five games. That's been the major reason they'llcarry a three-game losing streak into the interleague series.

In a 2-1, 10-inning loss to Cleveland on Wednesday, the Cubs left 15 runners on base.

Injuries have contributed to the offensive malaise. Second baseman Nico Hoerner is on the 10-day injured list with a forearm strain. Shortstop Javier Baez is trying to play through lower back discomfort. Third baseman Kris Bryant got sick this week and was hit on the wrist by a pitch as a pinch-hitter on Wednesday.

"I don't want to make excuses, but we've done a really nice job of having good at-bats up and down the lineup. Then it just gets to a spot that we just haven't been able to come through, right?" manager David Ross said. "We are banged up."

Hoerner is expected to be activated for the weekend series.

"Everything seems to be progressing well for Nico," Ross said.

The same thing could be said of Jake Arrieta, who is penciled in as the starting pitcher in the series opener. Arrieta is on the IL due to a right thumb abrasion.

Arrieta (3-3, 4.31 ERA) was torched for seven runs, including three home runs, in his last start at Cincinnati on April 30. Before that clunker, the 35-year-old right-hander didn't allow more than three runs in his first five starts.

In four career starts against the Tigers, Arrieta is 2-1 with a 3.91 ERA.

He'll be opposed by rookie left-hander Tarik Skubal (0-5, 5.67 ERA). His last start was encouraging, as he held Minnesota to two runs in five innings while matching his career high with eight strikeouts.

The Tigers have won four straight after sweeping a three-game series from Kansas City. It's not a coincidence that Miguel Cabrera's bat has heated up.

He's had two hits in four of his last five games while also drawing five walks during that stretch.

"To me, he's commanding his at-bats," manager AJ Hinch said. "He's not in swing mode. There's no panic to him even when he's missing some pitches. He hangs in (during) the at-bats -- the walks as well as the base hits -- and he's hitting the ball hard. There's a lot to build on from this series."

With Detroit's top two catchers on the injured list, Eric Haase made his season debut on Thursday and contributed two hits. He also noted Cabrera's impact.

"We needed a couple of guys to get hot," Haase said. "Any time Miggy is swinging the bat well, that's just adding to the rest of the lineup and putting guys in good spots."

The Tigers have also found another back-end reliever for their bullpen. Michael Fulmer, who has turned into a jack-of-all-trades, recorded his second save in Thursday's 4-3 victory. He bailed out closer Gregory Soto, who gave up two ninth-inning runs.

"It's another good weapon, and we talked earlier in the year how it could evolve to this," Hinch said. "I like having multiple guys out there we can rely on. Fulmer being down there really does give me a lot of options."

--Field Level Media

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