HOW IT HAPPENED: The Cubs were shut out for the second time in three games at San Diego and went winless on a six-game road trip to Southern California. In four games on the trip, the Cubs scored one run or less four times. Jeff Samardzija gave up just one run over seven innings, but without any run support it hardly mattered.
WHAT IT MEANS: Something about the non-waiver trade deadline has seemed to take the wind out of the Cubs’ sails. Since the day the deadline arrived the Cubs have lost eight consecutive games, including a near no-hitter by the Pirates’ A.J. Burnett last week. Manager Dale Sveum has said the passing of the deadline has not affected morale, but the Cubs seemed to have much more focus before July 31 and barely any since.
OUTSIDE THE BOX: Starlin Castro was hitless in his first 21 at-bats on the road trip before he delivered a two-out single to right field in the sixth inning. It was the longest stretch without a hit in Castro’s career. His struggles actually extend long before the road trip, though. Castro entered play Wednesday batting .197 (28-for-142) over his previous 37 games. He had a .308 batting average on June 24 and saw that reach .264 after Wednesday’s game.
OFF BEAT: Samardzija pulled off his best Carlos Zambrano impersonation in the seventh inning. After striking out for the final out of the top of the seventh inning, Samardzija reacted in frustration and snapped his bat in half over his knee. It’s a fairly curious move from somebody whose batting average dropped to .128 after the at-bat, but Samardzija’s ire might have been more related to the Cubs’ recent struggles more than anything.
UP NEXT: The Cubs will send right-hander Chris Volstad (0-8, 7.22 ERA) to the mound Thursday against Cincinnati in the opener of a four-game series. The Reds will counter with right-hander Mike Leake (4-7, 4.51) in the 7:05 p.m. start from Wrigley Field.