CLEVELAND - The Cubs obviously aren't going to share specifics on their gameplan against the Cleveland Indians pitching staff, but the overall approach remains the same.
The Indians are blowing away the competition with a 1.77 ERA in the postseason, striking out 81 batters in 71 innings and tossing three shutouts in eight games.
The Cubs offense sent a new franchise record for postseason futility by going 21 straight innings without scoring a run during the middle of a tense National League Championship Series only to break out and plate 23 runs in three games since to send the Dodgers back to Los Angeles and an early winter.
Anthony Rizzo and Addison Russell were struggling in particular, combining for only three hits in the first seven postseason games before exploding for 13 hits in the final three games.
"It really wasn't physical at all," Cubs hitting coach John Mallee said. "When you struggle a little bit, usually it's because the pitcher's making pitches that are just executing very well and then you try to change things or try to do too much and then you start chasing out of the strike zone and those types of things.
"Like anybody, they want to do well for their team and then they start to press and that's what slumps are - just pressing. And then with them getting a couple hits and squaring some balls up, all of a sudden the confidence comes back and they feel better again."
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Mallee believes Rizzo and Russell getting hot created a trickle-down effect on the rest of the lineup and the Cubs suddenly got back to their "pass the baton" ways that helped net 103 wins and the No. 3-ranked offense in the majors.
As veteran catcher Miguel Montero said after the Cubs' second straight shutout loss in Game 3 of the NLCS, everybody needs to just focus on doing one good thing and then passing it on to the next guy.
"It's nine on one," Mallee said. "As an individual, you feel like you're letting your team down if you don't get a hit. Pass the baton. You can have a good at-bat even if you make an out if you saw seven pitches on the guy.
"It's the nine-on-one mentality. Just pass the baton to the next guy. Not trying to think you have to do it all yourself."
Mallee also pointed out how much different everything is in the postseason. There are no fifth starters and in some cases, there aren't even any fourth starters.
Teams are throwing their top starters and relievers as much as possible, bringing typical late-inning guys like Indians star Andrew Miller in during the fifth inning and utilizing them for more than three outs.
"You're facing their best guys all the time," Mallee said. "You're facing better pitching: These are the better teams and you're facing the best of the better pitching."
The Cubs also aim to come out firing against the Indians with an eye on getting on the board first.
The team that scored first won eight of the Cubs' 10 postseason games, including all six in the NLCS.
"Overall, it's just to win this series - like every other - score first and win innings," manager Joe Maddon said. "You need to get on top and not have to face their better [relievers] at the end of the ballgame, otherwise you're going to be in trouble."