First-year manager Rick Renteria knew he was getting into a tough situation when he signed on to help mentor the young Chicago Cubs, but he’s becoming increasingly more impressed with how his players are handling the consistent losing.
That same sentiment isn’t shared by the Colorado Rockies, who have fallen far below expectations this season.
The Cubs look to avoid a third straight defeat by dealing the Rockies a seventh consecutive road loss Monday night in the opener of this four-game series between the NL’s worst clubs.
Chicago (42-61) is the lone team under .500 in the loaded NL Central, and it has dropped 15 of 19 after falling 1-0 to St. Louis on Sunday. Renteria’s task can be difficult with much of the roster acting as placeholders for the Cubs’ blossoming prospects currently in the minors, though he said the upbeat nature of his club has helped.
"The big picture is that we want to win every game, but the way we’re competing and holding our own on a daily basis, I think the attitude that these young men have is in the right place," Renteria said. "I think they’re trying to do things the right way."
Colorado (43-61) tied Chicago for the NL’s most losses with Sunday’s 7-5 defeat to Pittsburgh that ended its three-game winning streak. Despite leading the NL in most major offensive categories and posting a .282 average that is the best in baseball, the Rockies seem headed toward a fifth straight season without a playoff appearance.
It hasn’t helped having NL batting leader Troy Tulowitzki on the disabled list with a left hip flexor strain since July 20, though they’re coming off a solid homestand.
”We (could) have gone 4-2 on the homestand, but it is what it is,” said Nolan Arenado, who homered for the second straight game Sunday.
Colorado enters this series having lost 12 of 13 on the road as it prepares to face Cubs’ starter Tsuyoshi Wada in a pitching matchup featuring rookie left-handers.
Wada (0-1, 5.00 ERA) will take the mound for the third start of his career after giving up five runs and walking four in four innings of Wednesday’s 8-3 loss to San Diego. He’s hoping this outing goes more like his major league debut July 8, when he allowed one unearned run in five innings before Chicago’s bullpen gave up five runs over the final four innings of a 6-5 loss to Cincinnati.
"Compared to that game (against the Reds), I didn’t have control overall," Wada said through an interpreter. "There are very few opportunities that I’ve had here. I didn’t do well (Wednesday) and I feel bad. I’m glad I’m getting an opportunity to pitch here."
Colorado will counter with Yohan Flande for his fifth career start.
Flande (0-2, 7.20) also struggled in his last outing, allowing four runs in 5 1-3 innings of Colorado’s 7-4 loss to Washington on Tuesday. He’s allowed 26 hits in 20 innings with opponents batting .329.
Despite Flande’s issues, manager Walt Weiss is keeping his faith in him.
"The thing that I’m impressed with, with Flande is his ability to throw strikes," Weiss told MLB’s official website. "You try to keep an eye on him as he starts to get around that 80-pitch mark. There seems to be a bit of a trend there the third time through (a lineup)."
Anthony Rizzo is hitting .375 with five homers in nine games since the All-Star break for the Cubs, who have won five of the last seven meetings at Wrigley Field.