Cubs, fresh off blowout win, open series vs. Angels

The Chicago Cubs and visiting Los Angeles Angels open a three-game series on Friday, both wishing they could rewind their seasons to an earlier date.

The Cubs, who are in last place in the National League Central, would like to rewind to May 12, when they were 24-17. Since then, the Cubs have gone 16-31, and they are 3-8 in their past 11 games.

“You’re going to have times when things don’t feel right,” said Cubs left fielder Ian Happ, who hit a pair of three-run homers Thursday in Chicago’s 10-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies. “Part of that is believing that you’re gonna hit one of those hot streaks and get back on track.

“For me, personally, the first six weeks were a struggle and really difficult and challenging, and believing that I was going to get to that place where I was going to right the ship was tough.”

The Angels wouldn’t mind replaying the entire month of June.

The team’s core of young talent — catcher Logan O’Hoppe, shortstop Zach Neto and first baseman Nolan Schanuel — shook off a tough first two months and put together a 15-11 record in June. Los Angeles ran off a six-game winning streak June 24-29, rekindling bright feelings.

However, the Angels haven’t won in July. After dropping the finale of a four-game home series against the Detroit Tigers, they were swept in three games at Oakland to begin this week. The A’s beat the Angels by a 5-0 count on both Wednesday and Thursday.

Angels manager Ron Washington said perhaps the six-game winning streak drained his team.

“They looked tired,” Washington said. “It takes a lot out of you to win, it really does. And they haven’t understood that yet. What they did on that win streak is what they have to learn to bring every single day, and they’ve got to learn to do it. And they just looked tired. That’s all.

“The bats were heavy (against the A’s). The pitchers just couldn’t consistently put the ball in the strike zone. The guys you don’t expect to do things out there on the defensive side that’s not good for you, they were doing it. We just gotta turn the page and head on to Chicago.”

The Angels will send right-hander Griffin Canning (3-8, 4.71 ERA) to the mound against Chicago left-hander Justin Steele (0-3, 3.20) on Friday.

Canning was one of the few Angels who didn’t perform his best in June, losing his first four decisions of the month. In his most recent start, a no-decision against the Tigers on Saturday, he gave up five runs (four earned) on six hits in six innings.

Steele is still searching for his first win of the year despite a solid ERA and WHIP. He has pitched six or more innings in each of his past five starts, but he has four no-decisions and a loss to the Cincinnati Reds on June 7 in that stretch.

On Saturday, Steele gave up three runs on seven hits in six innings against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Canning has never faced the Cubs in his five-year career, and Steele has never faced the Angels in his four major league seasons.

–Field Level Media