CHICAGO – Life comes at you fast in Major League Baseball as so many players and teams have found out over the years.
That reality is setting in for the Cubs, who may be starting down the end of an era of the team after it appeared that might not happen just a week-and-a-half ago.
On June 24th, the Cubs threw their first combined no-hitter in team history in a 4-0 victory of the Dodgers in Los Angeles. At that moment, they were 42-33 and tied for the lead in the NL Central division, with reports of the team looking not to sell at the July 31st trade deadline starting to surface.
Fast forward to July 5th at Wrigley Field, and everything is completely different.
In their return home after losing the last nine games of their road trip, the Cubs allowed nine runs in the final two innings to the Phillies in a 13-3 defeat. It’s the latest in a line of defeats that’s now reached ten, the most for the club since 2012 and just the second time in this century they’ve had a streak over double-digits.
The team’s not that far away from their modern record of 14-straight defeats in a single season. They started out the 1997 season with that stretch and never recovered, and the club actually dropped 16-straight since they lost their final two games of the 1996 season.
Because of it, the Cubs find themselves with a hill to climb in the standings, trailing the Brewers by 8 1/2 games in the NL Central and seven back in the Wild Card race. That’s not going to help the core player’s hope of staying together and not getting broken up when the trade deadline arrives on July 31st.
Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, and Anthony Rizzo are all in the last year of their deals and could leave the Cubs without the team getting much back at the end of the season. All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel is also on the last of his three-year deal and could prove valuable to a team more in contention.
All of these things are on Jed Hoyer’s mind as the club falls farther behind in the standings with the deadline fast approaching. Selling may not have been on his mind as much just a week-and-a-half ago when the Cubs were at the top of the division, but things changed in a hurry for the group.
Baez was asked on Monday after the team’s tenth-straight loss if the possibility of the team’s core getting broken up has crossed his mind.
“No, not really,” said Baez. “I’m looking more towards the (All-Star) break now and get this rest and see what happens in the second half. We’ve got to finish strong. We’ve got to start winning, obviously, and see what the second half brings to the table and we’ll go from there.”
But for the here and now, there’s no where to go but up for a club that’s lost all it’s early season momentum when they least needed it to happen.