Giants, Cubs look to end skids

CHICAGO — Joe Maddon acknowledges that the Chicago Cubs‘ inability to find any measure of consistency this season has allowed some level of frustration to creep in.

Before Chicago dropped back-to-back games to the Cleveland Indians this week, the Cubs had attempted to build some momentum, albeit against the last-place Cincinnati Reds.

But as the Cubs prepare to open a weekend series Friday afternoon against the San Francisco Giants, another opponent with a losing record, Maddon still holds firm to the notion that the Cubs aren’t that far off from where they want to be.

But still, continuing the Cubs struggles — especially in close games — remains an issue.

“Of course, it’s frustrating,” Maddon told reporters Wednesday, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “We’ve lost that (close) game several times this season — really close, low-scoring, unable to get the big hit when we need it.”

The Cubs managed only two hits in Wednesday’s 1-0 loss to the Indians when they were no-hit by rookie Adam Plutko for six innings before Anthony Rizzo led off the seventh inning with a double. Still, the Cubs scored only one run in the back-to-back losses as their inability to produce offensively on a regular basis continued.

Like Maddon, however, players remain hopeful that things will turn around.

“I think we’re better than what our record shows,” Cubs left fielder Kyle Schwarber told reporters after Wednesday’s loss, according to the Sun-Times. “We’ve just got to be able to continue to be us and play our game. If we continue to do what we believe in, good things are going to happen.”

Kyle Hendricks (3-3, 3.40 ERA) will start the opener of three-game series for the Cubs.

Hendricks is in search of his first victory since May 7 and has allowed three earned runs in three of his four starts this month. Hendricks is coming off a no-decision against the Cincinnati Reds in which he lasted just five innings and allowed four runs (three earned) while striking out six.

Hendricks is 2-2 with a 3.49 ERA in five career starts against the Giants.

Like the Cubs, the Giants will enter this weekend’s series at Wrigley Field having lost two straight. The Giants were able to only score one run off Justin Verlander in a 4-1 loss to the Houston Astros on Wednesday afternoon.

The Giants could get outfielder Mac Williamson, who has been sidelined for a month after tripping over a pitcher’s mound while chasing a fly ball into foul territory and landing on the concussion list. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Williamson has spent less than a week at Triple-A Sacramento and homered in his first two games, had two hits on Tuesday and tripled on Wednesday.

“It’s a possibility (to rejoin the team in Chicago) sure,” manager Bruce Bochy told reporters Wednesday, according to the Chronicle. “If you look at how much he’s playing and doing, sure. He’s real close. The good thing with Mac and all the time he’s missed, he’s gone down there and continued to swing the bat well.”

Derek Holland (2-5, 4.94) will make his 10th start of the season for the Giants and is hoping to bounce back from a loss to the Colorado Rockies when he threw 112 pitches, the most he’s thrown since 2015 and allowed four runs over six innings. Holland is 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two career starts against the Cubs.