Cubs’ supporting cast picking up slumping stars

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So how did the Chicago Cubs right their ship with a series sweep of the Miami Marlins this week despite stars Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo going 2-for-23 over the course of three games?

It starts with pitching — 22 scoreless innings to finish the series helps — but that doesn’t explain 17 runs scored without one being driven in by either of the team’s two biggest sluggers. For that, you would have to dig deep — as in way down the lineup. The Cubs boast the highest batting average in baseball (.310) from their 5-8 hitters.

Those aren’t household names, but Descalso is one of those guys who leaves his mark no matter what team he’s on. Nearly forgotten during the winter of no spending by the Cubs, Descalso was the lone addition to the position player base. He was slowed in the spring by a sore shoulder — further putting him in the shadows in the public’s eyes — but once the calendar turned to April, Descalso woke up. He’s hitting .571 with two outs and runners in scoring position, having driven in nine runs overall in limited playing time. That has helped make up for the slow starts of Bryant and nike nfl jerseys paypal

“I felt good once the regular season started, the games mattered and things were for real again,” Descalso said.8

Descalso is another version of Ben Zobrist, a professional off the field and in the batter’s box. But those guys are limited in ability. If the Cubs are going to shoot past .500 — they’re one game under after the sweep — the real thunder has to come from Bryant, Rizzo and Javy Baez. Baez is more than doing his part, picking up where he left off after his near-MVP season of 2018. But Nos. 2 and 3 in the Cubs’ batting order have started slowly.

“We need to get Bryzzo going,” Maddon said. “Once we get KB and Rizz working in the right direction … and of course there’s Javy.

Baez hit two home runs among his eight hits in the series against the Marlins. He’s nearly the lone run producer right now among the first four hitters in the lineup, who have totaled 10 home runs this season. Meanwhile, batters hitting fifth through eighth in the order have 16 homers. Bryant, in particular, has been in the crosshairs of some fans. He’s slashing just .219/.324/.344.

“You’d love to have balls fall in, but I’m happy with my swings,” Bryant said before Wednesday’s game. “There’s just not hits. It’s frustrating. That’s what this game is all about. Hits.”

Bryant is Pete Rose compared to Anthony Rizzo, who is batting just .159. Rizzo traditionally is a slow starter, but he’s not coming off an injury like his good friend Bryant. For whatever reason, Bryant has been under the microscope more. Maddon has taken notice.