For all the distractions and potential turning points in their season as defending champions, the Cubs will wake up Saturday morning with a .500 record.
The roller coaster season continues as the Cubs went 7-2 on their last homestand before an 0-6 trip out west and then a 5-0 start to this current homestand.
But with Friday's 5-3 loss to the red-hot Colorado Rockies in front of 41,229 fans at Wrigley Field, the Cubs have now lost three straight and sit at 30-30 overall on the season.
Mike Montgomery finally got his opportunity in the rotation, filling in for the injured Kyle Hendricks and giving up only two runs over four innings, both of which came on a two-run homer by Colorado catcher Ryan Hanigan in the second inning.
Seth Frankoff — the 28-year-old right-hander who was recalled from Triple-A Iowa this week when Hendricks hit the disabled list — made his MLB debut and gave up a two-run shot to Charlie Blackmon in the fifth inning and the Rockies never looked back from there. They added an insurance run in the seventh on Nolan Arenado's two-out RBI hit off Carl Edwards Jr.
Meanwhile, the Cubs offense struggled again, picking up only three hits on the afternoon.
They scored two runs with two outs in the first inning when Jason Heyward's single was bobbled by Blackmon in center, allowing Ben Zobrist to score from first-base.
But a Heyward RBI ground-out was the only other offense the Cubs could muster up despite nine walks and two hit-by-pitches and the Rockies' starting pitcher (German Marquez) lasting only three innings.
The Cubs threatened in the ninth against Rockies closer Greg Holland for the second straight day, this time by working three walks in a row with one out. But Zobrist popped out to shallow left and Jason Heyward struck out and chucked his bat toward the Cubs dugout in frustration.
"I wish I would've come through in that at-bat right there," Heyward said. "We did a good job against the closer getting the bases loaded. We had a couple shots to get guys in. Wish it would've ended differently.
"You want to have opportunites — we had 'em."
The only three Cubs runs came home on Heyward's at-bats (two RBI plus Blackmon's error fielding Heyward's first-inning hit). Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo combined to reach base seven times, but scored just twice on the afternoon.
The Cubs forced the Rockies to throw 182 pitches, but weren't able to break through with that big hit.
"We saw 180-something pitches today and scored three runs," Joe Maddon said. "That's nearly impossible with the number of walks, hit batters, etc. That just speaks to we do have to do a better job with hitting with runners on base, runners in scoring position. Make adjustments to move the baseball to the middle and opposite field — been talking about that pretty much for the entire season.
"We made our noise by walking and getting hit by a pitch. At the end of the day, when you see that many pitches — 182 — you should be able to score more than three runs."
Maddon compared this recent three-game losing streak to the Cubs' 0-6 West Coast trip in terms of a punchless offense.
"I can't overemphasize enough — we've seen this happen too often where we've seen a lot of pitches and not made the adjustment with runners in scoring position," Maddon said. "That's the next challenge for us."