CHICAGO -- The Cubs haven’t had much luck at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field as of late. Maybe the “Unfriendly” Confines would better describe the way things have been going for the club at its home ballpark over the last month.
Sunday afternoon’s 9-1 loss to the Royals was the club’s 13th consecutive home loss, breaking the record previously held by the 1994 team that experienced a 12-game home skid from April 4-May 3. Chicago hasn’t given the Wrigley Field crowd a victory to watch since Javier Báez -- who’s been with the Mets since July 30 -- delivered a 6-5 walk-off win over the Reds on July 26.
“Obviously, losing is not fun,” said Alec Mills, who took the loss against Kansas City. “There's really no other way to put it.”
On Saturday morning, a reporter brought up to Cubs manager David Ross that a loss that day would tie the franchise’s 12-game record. Postgame on Sunday, another reporter let Mills know that the loss broke it.
In both instances, neither Ross nor Mills were aware their team was setting some sort of record for home futility.
Maybe that’s simply some ignorance on their part to a specific record they would rather not think about. Or maybe, when the losses pile up as they have on the Cubs over the past few weeks, the difference between a home loss and a road loss loses some of its significance.
It wasn’t that long ago -- just under two months, actually -- that the Cubs no-hit the Dodgers on June 24, putting them nine games above .500 and in a tie atop the National League Central with the Brewers. Since then, Chicago is 12-39 and far closer to last place in the division than first.
“I think everybody, when you're at this level, wants to win, and it's frustrating when you don't,” Ross said. “Listen, it's no fun to lose. It's like nobody is having a good time.”
“I wouldn't say we've had too many conversations [between the players] as far as what's going on. We just want to win,” Mills said. “It's obviously not a fun clubhouse after games right now, but we're doing everything we can and we plan on really doing some things to help us out in the future.”
Since that walk-off win over the Reds, the Cubs have gone 4-21 (0-13 at home, 4-8 on the road). In the 13 home losses themselves, Chicago has been especially lifeless:
• The Cubs have been outscored 99-33
• Hitters own a .199 (83-for-417) batting average
• Pitchers sport a 7.34 ERA, including a 7.97 ERA from the starters and a 6.62 ERA from the bullpen
Per Cubs historian Ed Hartig, Chicago went 29 calendar days between wins at home from May 30-June 28, 2006. The club hasn't matched that total in the 15 years since, but Sunday marked its 27th consecutive day without a win at Wrigley Field.
The Rockies come into town on Monday for a three-game set, so there are still two more chances for the Cubs to avoid passing another record. For a team that could really just use a win in general, though, it probably wouldn’t matter where the next win happens.
“We're all here putting in the work, doing the best we can, and really just trying to put our best foot forward and win some ballgames,” Mills said. “It's not happening right now, but at the same time, I think everybody's learning, and we're really just trying to get better every day and become a better ballplayer.”
“What I do know is we all should be really thankful that we're in the Major Leagues and get a chance to put on this uniform and play baseball for the Chicago Cubs,” Ross said. “These guys work their tail off and they go out there and compete as best they can. Now, sometimes that doesn't work out, sometimes it does. Right now, it's not working out a lot, but we'll put our pants on tomorrow and go out and try to take it to the Rockies.”