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Despite plate struggles, Baez contributing

2nd baseman maintaining positive attitude, playing strong defense
MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

LOS ANGELES -- Last year, Javier Baez was co-Most Valuable Player in the National League Championship Series against the Dodgers. This postseason has been a different story for the Cubs' second baseman.

NLCS Game 3: Tuesday, 9 p.m. ET/8 CT on TBS

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LOS ANGELES -- Last year, Javier Baez was co-Most Valuable Player in the National League Championship Series against the Dodgers. This postseason has been a different story for the Cubs' second baseman.

NLCS Game 3: Tuesday, 9 p.m. ET/8 CT on TBS

View Full Game Coverage

Baez is 0-for-19 in the postseason with eight strikeouts in seven games. According to Elias Sports Bureau, only Jimmy Sheckard had a longer hitless streak to open a postseason for the Cubs, going 0-for-21 in 1906. Last fall, Baez tied a Cubs record by opening the playoffs with a six-game hitting streak.

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The Dodgers won Game 2, 4-1, on Justin Turner's three-run, walk-off homer off of John Lackey, and took a 2-0 lead in the NLCS presented by Camping World.

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"He still can [contribute]," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said Sunday about Baez. "He's still capable. Javy's been that guy throughout his Minor League, and even Major League, career who can be awful for a couple days at the plate and then be spectacular. I always have that in my mind with him."

Baez hasn't let his offensive struggles affect his play in the field and on Sunday, he made an awkward catch of Austin Barnes' popup for the second out in the Dodgers' fourth inning.

"The game in Washington could not have been won without his play at second base," Maddon said of the second baseman. "Of course, we need to hit right now.

"Javy, he loves this time of year. He's good. He's just pulling off everything now. We have to get him back in the middle of the field somehow. He could get just as hot."

Baez is trying to make adjustments in-game.

"These two games, I felt really good at the plate, even though I had three strikeouts in seven [at-bats]," Baez said. "Watching videos and making my adjustments, it's just tough. At this point, everybody's good and everybody's here for a reason. It's tough to make the adjustment when pitchers are throwing this hard.

"I'm not giving up," he said. "I've been in a slump before. I'm just still working on my routine and trying to get back."

Baez was encouraged by his first at-bat in the third inning against the Dodgers' Rich Hill when he drew a walk.

"Today, the three [at-bats] I had, I felt exactly how I wanted to," Baez said. "My first at-bat was good and I didn't chase pitches and I took a 3-2 walk. My timing was there."

What about the Barnes' catch?

"I was worried about [right fielder Jason Heyward] and the wall," Baez said. "Early this season, I crashed with 'J-Hey' and I've been paying more attention to the wall and the other player. I kind of over-ran it a little bit."

His glove work is not an issue. In 2016, Baez batted .318 in the six games in the NLCS against the Dodgers with five RBIs and four doubles. He hasn't looked the same this year.

"That guy has the most confidence that I've seen in a player," Chicago's Albert Almora Jr. said. "It's really special to see. Even now. Even now. He's not where he wants to be, obviously. We all know that. He knows that. But the smile on his face, he comes here to work, and he's ready to go.

"In this game, unfortunately, things happen," Almora said. "You're not going to be perfect. You're going to have your week or two that you're not feeling at your best. I know I went through it. The way he's handling it, he's not bringing anybody down. On the contrary, I actually saw -- one of the first guys I saw when I looked into the dugout when I hit the home run [in Game 1] was him cheering. So he's a winner. He's here for us, and I want him in that starting lineup every day."

Baez isn't the only one scuffling offensively in the postseason. The Cubs collectively are batting .117.

"These are our guys, this is how we got here," Maddon said. "I cannot run away from that."

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.

Chicago Cubs, Javier Baez