After back-to-back blowout losses, Chicago Cubs must regroup before facing the World Series champion Houston Astros

After back-to-back blowout losses, Chicago Cubs must regroup before facing the World Series champion Houston Astros

MINNEAPOLIS – David Ross, the manager of the Chicago Cubs, described Saturday’s crushing loss to the Minnesota Twins as a stinker, the kind that sometimes occurs throughout the course of 162 games.

And then came Sunday, when the Twins put up an even worse performance in a 16-3 thrashing of the Cubs. The Twins’ 29 runs scored overall against the Cubs set a record for a three-game series at the 2010-built Target Field.

With two outs in the ninth, the Cubs needed infielder Miles Mastrobuoni to finish the game on the mound. The locked-in Twins targeted Mastrobuoni shortly after they destroyed the Cubs’ pitching staff. Mastrobuoni gave up four runs on four hits, including a home run, before getting the elusive third out.

Any hope the Cubs’ series-opening victory Friday would set them up for a strong start to their three-city, nine-game trip was quickly erased over the weekend.

Now the Cubs head to Houston, where they must regroup and get back on track against the defending World Series champion Astros.

“We have no option but to move forward,” shortstop Dansby Swanson said. “When you get down early quickly, it can be tough to come back. It felt like we were trying today, felt we put together some decent ABs, just nothing truly went in our favor. But you’ve got to give them credit.”

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Marcus Stroman, a right-hander, got off to an unusually slow start. He failed to escape the third inning, giving up two walks, seven hits, and six runs in 2⅔ innings. Since Sept. 3, 2018, while he was pitching for the Toronto Blue Jays (1⅓ innings), it was his shortest appearance that wasn’t caused by weather or an injury.

Stroman had a 2.28 ERA and had seven solid starts, but he had trouble with his mechanics. When he wasn’t feeling well last season, he frequently spoke of utilizing breathing exercises on the mound to calm down or would step off the rubber to physically practice a pitch before the next one.

When his rhythm is off, it is more difficult to access those alternatives due to the pitch clock.

“I’ve got to be dialed in mechanically,” Stroman said. “I can’t step off and readjust in game. … I know exactly where I need to get to and work on it with (the pitching coaches). I’m not worried about it. I know I’m going to get there and probably go on another run soon.” Click to read more…

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