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Cubs step up plate production entering series with Tigers

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Home plate umpire Scott Barry and Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras prepare for a pitch to the St. Louis Cardinals in the first inning on June 17 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

By Jeff Arnold, The Sports Xchange
CHICAGO

At times this season, the Chicago Cubs have struggled to produce offensively, especially when it comes to situational hitting that turned hits into runs.

[post_ads]But as the Cubs prepare to open a brief two-game series against the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday at Wrigley Field, any concerns about run production seems to have subsided. At least for now.

The Cubs will carry a four-game winning streak into Tuesday after producing 46 runs during their winning streak, which they extended with an 11-10 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Sunday.

Although the bullpen struggled to protect leads at times, the Cubs' bats did more than their fair share. Now, the Cubs will attempt to remain hot against the Tigers, who have won two straight but have lost 11 of their last 13 games.

The Tigers beat the Toronto Blue Jays 3-2 on Monday.

After Sunday's victory, the Cubs found themselves leading the majors in hitting (.266) and on-base percentage (.345). Despite the times this season when the hits weren't coming, the Cubs haven't experienced any change in confidence now that they're averaging more than 10 per game in their last four games.

"We've been the same offense for quite some time now," Cubs left fielder Kyle Schwarber said Sunday, according to the Chicago Tribune. "Things happen. We're just going to keep this going."

Cubs pitchers have enjoyed plenty of run support of late, which is something Tuesday's starter, Kyle Hendricks, wouldn't mind seeing continue against the Tigers. Hendricks (5-8, 4.21 ERA) has experienced inconsistency this season and has battled his mechanics all the way through.

Hendricks went 1-4 in June and is coming off an outing in which he allowed a season-worst six runs in just 2 2/3 innings on June 27 against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

He hopes to right the ship in a new month against a team that has struggled offensively during their recent skid. Hendricks will face the Tigers for the first time in his career.

"I'm just searching right now -- it's just bad," Hendricks told reporters after his last start, according to the team's official website. "Mechanics, I'm trying to focus mentally and going pitch to pitch and I'm doing that, but something's just off. I'm searching now."

The Tigers' back-to-back victories come after their losing streak reached a season-high 11 games. With Miguel Cabrera out for the season and other veterans like Victor Martinez struggling at the plate, manager Ron Gardenhire has been forced to work with a lineup full of young hitters.

Before snapping the skid with a victory Sunday over the Blue Jays, the Tigers finished June hitting .222.
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"We've had a lot of struggles offensively, for sure," Gardenhire said Sunday, according to the Detroit Free Press. "I think our pitching has held up OK. (The) bullpen had its good and bad moments. Offensively, we've really scuffled, especially the past couple week here. We all know that. Offensively, we have to get a lot better. More consistently."

On Monday, the Tigers placed closer Shane Greene on the 10-day disabled list with a right shoulder strain. Joe Jimenez, who is considered the Tigers' closer of the future, will move into the role for the time being, Gardenhire said. Jiménez has a 2.77 ERA, 44 strikeouts and nine walks in 42 appearances covering 39 innings.

Michael Fulmer (3-7, 4.20) will start Tuesday for the Tigers. Like Hendricks, Fulmer struggled in June, losing three of his five starts with a no-decision. Fulmer will face the Cubs for the first time in his career.

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Sports - U.S. Daily News: Cubs step up plate production entering series with Tigers
Cubs step up plate production entering series with Tigers
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