Cubs feeling the heat from Brewers: ‘Don't count us out'


The good news is that the Cubs won't see any more of the Brewers this year. At least in the regular season.

Thanks to Wednesday night's 5-1 loss, the Cubs are holding on to what feels like a tenuous one game lead in the NL Central. And amidst a grueling stretch that will ultimately keep them going for 30 days without a break, they'll have 17 games to hold that lead.

But despite what feels like something of an ominous loss, Kyle Hendricks, who tossed 5 two-run innings Wednesday, wasn't feeling the doom and gloom.

"We’ve been through so much adversity," Hendricks said. "We’ve been through a lot. It kind of makes you tougher in the end, so that’s the approach we take. Don’t count us out."

Hendricks acknowledged that the scenario of traveling to Washington for one game and then returning home Friday forced by the bad D.C. weather last weekend is a tough one, but he said that the team has been through other brutal travel days, so they expect to be just fine. They're tired, he admitted, but not out for the count.

In this tough stretch, the Cubs have had some of their best pitching of the season, so the problem has been with bats that have gone collectively quiet for days at a time. The offense can be contagious, for good or for bad.

Manager Joe Maddon talked before Wednesday's game about how some of that lately has been due to fatigue, he suspects, and unfortunately, there's no rest coming soon.

"I don’t have any solid reasons other than, without making excuses, there just might be some fatigue in that they’re just not admitting to," Maddon said of his flagging offense. "We do need a rest. It’s not happening for another week."

The problem with Thursday's makeup game, Maddon stressed during his pregame press conference Wednesday, isn't about the weather. It's about 30 days in a row and what that does to a team fighting a very tough battle to win its division.

The offense mustered a run Wednesday in the 5th inning, which at the time pulled them within a run of Milwaukee, but they posed no real scoring threat after that. There was plenty of hard contact, but it all seemed to find leather instead of grass.

"We hit the ball pretty hard the whole series, just right to somebody," Javy Baez said after Wednesday's loss.

That kind of contact, the kind that Maddon said throughout the series against the Brewers has been lacking, can often mean that a turnaround is soon to come.

"We’re just trying to do our best to take off, and I feel like that’s coming soon," Baez said.

If the offense does start clicking again and it lines up with the quality pitching the Cubs have had, the next 17 games could go rather smoothly. Otherwise, it might be a grind to the end and leave the rain delay and rescheduling debacle of the last week to loom large.

Both Baez and Hendricks spoke to the team's experience as being on their side, especially when it comes to overcoming adverse situations like rough scheduling. And maybe that self-belief is enough to help them soldier through for another week before their next day off.

"Obviously it’s been a tough stretch for us, but we’re fine," Hendricks said "We know where we are, we know where we want to get to, and we always have confidence in the group that we have in that clubhouse, so we know what needs to be done."

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