Anthony Rizzo insists 'We got urgency' after Cubs fall to .500: 'It’s not all peachy right now'

Anthony Rizzo insists 'We got urgency' after Cubs fall to .500: 'It’s not all peachy right now'

SAN DIEGO – There’s a fine line between staying calm and not overreacting and assuming this will happen again for the Cubs just because they’ve done it before. 

This appeared to be the perfect setting for a team coming off a three-game sweep at Dodger Stadium where they had been completely dominated and looked nothing like the defending World Series champs.   

The Padres have an Opening Day payroll around $68 million (with more than $30 million going to guys no longer on the team), three Rule 5 picks on their active roster, two players who’ve been DFA’d by the Cubs within the last 10 months (Clayton Richard and Matt Szczur) and the No. 3 overall pick in the June draft. San Diego’s best starting pitcher – Trevor Cahill – is on the disabled list with a strained right shoulder and didn’t make any of the three playoff rosters last year as a Cubs reliever. 

After flying cross-country from Washington the night before, the Padres had to wake up for a 1:40 p.m. first pitch on Memorial Day. And yet there was All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo standing in Petco Park’s visiting clubhouse trying to make sense of a 5-2 loss that dropped the Cubs back down to .500 after 50 games.  

“It’s not all peachy right now,” Rizzo said. “We got urgency. We’re grinding. We got a lot of guys that grind and will continue to – no matter what. We’ll keep playing hard…that’s really all you can do.”

This became a microcosm of the season so far, Kyle Hendricks racking up five strikeouts through three innings, retiring the first 10 batters he faced and working with a 2-0 lead that should have meant cruise control for a National League Cy Young Award finalist and the major-league ERA leader last season.

[MORE: How Kris Bryant became the face of the never-panic Cubs]

The perfect game vanished when Hendricks gave up back-to-back singles and hit cleanup hitter Ryan Schimpf (.167 average) with a pitch. Hunter Renfroe then launched an 87-mph Hendricks fastball into the left-field seats for a grand slam in front of a sellout crowd (41,414) that didn’t come to see the Padres (20-33). 

“I don’t think anybody expected us to be .500, but it doesn’t matter,” Hendricks said. “We’re at where we’re at. The only way we can go from here is focusing pitch to pitch. We got to get back to the basics, just playing the game of baseball. 

“All the attention – all that – we just got to forget about it. Focus on the game and simplifying as much as we can.” 

While the postgame focus became the 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position and the 11 men left on base, Hendricks knows the Cubs won’t feel any sense of momentum when the rotation has a 4.58 ERA and 19 quality starts through 50 games.    

“It’s got to start with us on the mound,” said Hendricks (4-3, 3.75 ERA), who gave up five runs in five innings but has been the most reliable Cubs starter next to Jon Lester. “We’re the ones with the ball in our hands, so we’re the ones that have to stop it. Regardless of how the offense is going, if we throw up zeroes, we got a good chance of winning.” 

Rizzo couldn’t believe it – “Did we walk 10 times?” – when a reporter mentioned another part of the box score. “That’s a formula that usually shoots out more than two runs.”  

But the “Anchorman” theme trip has already been stranger than fiction, going through a 19-inning scoreless streak and then getting 11 hits off Clayton Kershaw in another loss to the Dodgers. The Cubs have obviously been there and done that and come back from much worse. But will that be enough? 

“You just keep playing, that’s all you can do,” Rizzo said. “We just all need to take a deep breath, exhale a little bit and relax. It is what it is. It’s the grind of the season.”

Honda Road Ahead: Can Cubs slow down Nationals bats?

Honda Road Ahead: Can Cubs slow down Nationals bats?

CSN's David Kaplan and David DeJesus discuss the upcoming matchups in this edition of the Cubs Road Ahead, presented by Chicagoland & NW Indiana Honda Dealers.

Maybe a four-game series with the N.L. East-leading Washington Nationals will help the Cubs take off. 

It did last year. 

The Cubs swept the Nats early last season, boosting themselves into first place in the National League - a position they wouldn't relinquish. More than a sweep, though, a positive series is vital for a team that continues to hover around .500. 

To do so, Joe Maddon's pitchers must somehow slow the Nationals offense, which has managed to push across more runs than any team in the majors. 

After D.C., the Cubs are off to Cincy for a three-game set with the Reds. 

Watch David Kaplan and David DeJesus preview the upcoming matchups in the video above. 

Cubs not worrying about a thing after split with Marlins: 'We're right there'

Cubs not worrying about a thing after split with Marlins: 'We're right there'

MIAMI – Jon Jay walked into a quiet clubhouse late Sunday morning, turned right and headed directly toward the sound system in one corner of the room, plugging his phone into the sound system and playing Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds.”

The Cubs outfielder whistled as he changed into his work clothes at Marlins Park, singing along to the lyrics with Anthony Rizzo a few lockers over: “Don’t worry, about a thing, ‘cause every little thing gonna be all right.” 

That’s what the Cubs keep telling themselves, because most of them have World Series rings and the National League Central is such a bad division.

“The biggest thing is to keep the floaties on until we get this thing right,” manager Joe Maddon said before a 4-2 loss left the Cubs treading water again at 38-37. “We’re solvent. We’re right there. We’re right next to first place.”

The Cubs will leave this tropical environment and jump into the deep end on Monday night for the start of a four-game showdown against the Washington Nationals in the nation’s capital.

Miami sunk the Cubs in the first inning when Addison Russell made a costly error on the routine groundball Miami leadoff guy Ichiro Suzuki chopped to shortstop, a mistake that helped create three unearned runs. Martin Prado drilled Mike Montgomery’s first-pitch fastball off the left-center field wall for a two-out double and a 3-0 lead. Montgomery (1-4, 2.03 ERA) lasted six innings and retired the last 10 batters he faced.

“Keep The Floaties On” sounds like an idea for Maddon’s next T-shirt. The 2017 Cubs haven’t been more than four games over .500 or two games under .500 at any point this season. The 2016 Cubs didn’t lose their 37th game until July 19 and spent 180 days in first place.

“That’s what was so special about it,” Rizzo said. “We boat-raced from Game 1 to Game 7 with a couple bumps in the road, but this is baseball. It’s not going to be all smooth-sailing every day. You got to work through things.”