By Nate Johnson
In the midst of a three-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies this past weekend, history was made at Wrigley Field. Unfortunately, as is too often the case, the Cubs were on the wrong side of history.
July 25 saw the Cubs held hitless for the first time in nearly 50 years as Phillies lefty Cole Hamels, embroiled in trade rumors, no-hit the Cubs en route to a 5-0 win. The gem, in which Hamels struck out 13 and allowed only three baserunners (two walks, one fielders choice), was the first time the Cubs had been no-hit since Sandy Koufax did it at Dodger Stadium on September 9, 1965.
Saturday’s performance punctuated a three-game sweep at the hands of the worst team in the majors, a low point for a team still contending for a wild-card spot. The Philadelphia series continued a stretch of underwhelming play since the All-Star break restart, seeing the Cubs average 3.4 runs per game against the Braves, Reds and Phillies, teams who sit a combined 44 games under .500 on the way out of August.
The team’s offense rebounded in a 9-8 comeback win over the Colorado Rockies on Monday, sealed by Kris Bryant’s 2-out home run in the bottom of the ninth. The clutch heroics were necessitated by yet another late-inning collapse by the Cubs bullpen as Jason Motte and new addition Rafael Soriano combined to give up four runs in the top of the ninth, including a go-ahead roundtripper by ultra-hot slugger Carlos Gonzalez.
Chicago continues their stretch of games against sub-.500 teams as they wrap up the visit from the Rockies and welcome in the Brewers for four games, all important wins leading up to back-to-back matchups with two of the teams they’re directly contending with for a wild-card spot, the Pirates and the Giants.
The team could go into that seven-game dogfight with somewhat of a new look as trade rumors continue to swirl. On Monday, team president Theo Epstein reiterated that the Cubs would remain active in the trade market despite their recent woes, targeting both a starting pitcher and a veteran bat, ideally a left-hander with positional flexibility.