West Coast’s Choppy Start

After winning six in a row the Cubs have dropped their last two games, and appear to be in prime position to again fall below 20-games over five-hundred when they face the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw tonight at Dodger Stadium. The Cubs got a first hand look yesterday at Giants ace and NL Cy Young candidate Madison Bumgarner who struck out 12 over six innings. Marlon Byrd hit a three run homer and the Giants put it away later in the game when Kelby Tomlinson hit his first career home run in the form of a grand slam to left.

The Cubs only saw Bumgarner once this year in the seven games they played against the Giants, and it was a big reason they won the season series so decisively 5-2. The big fail for Chicago was on Wednesday when they couldn’t take advantage of opportunities against Jake Peavy. The Cubs got up 2-0 in the first but couldn’t add on to the lead, eventually watching Kyle Hendricks give it back and then some losing the game 4-2.

The matchup tonight in Los Angeles doesn’t look good for Chicago not only because they face Kershaw, but also because Jason Hammel is going to the hill for Chicago. Hammel hasn’t been nearly as effective as he was earlier in the season, and it was a big reason why Theo Epstein decided to make a move for Dan Haren who himself declared he isn’t holding up his end of the bargain in regards to the trade that was made for him last month.

Chicago still has a comfortable lead to play in the Wild Card, but they’ve got to right the ship this weekend. 3-3 was seen as acceptable on this road trip, but the loss to Peavy wasn’t good. The Cubs will probably struggle tonight, but after Hammel Chicago will again watch their two studs close out the road trip against pitchers not named Greinke or Kershaw. Also the Dodgers suffered injuries to Puig and Gonzales who’re not expected to play this weekend in LA. The Cubs added Fernando Rodney to the bullpen mix for cash yesterday. We’ll see how this move turns out as Rafael Soriano didn’t pan out and the Cubs nearly blew a huge lead on Tuesday that could’ve stopped Jake Arrieta from keeping himself in the NL Cy Young Race with his league leading 16th win on the season, company that now includes Madison Bumgarner as of yesterday.

The Cubs lead the Giants by 5.5 games in the National League Wild Card Race, but are now trailing the Pirates by four after Pittsburgh took three of four in Miami this week. Chicago trails St. Louis by 8.5 in the NL Central.