Cubs’ bats silent in 11-1 loss to Mets

Left fielder Ian Happ slammed his helmet in frustration after striking out for the second time in the game in the sixth inning Friday. That encapsulated the Cubs’ performance at the plate in their 11-1 loss to the Mets.

In 6⅓ innings against left-hander Jose Quintana, the Cubs (36-40) had only four hits, two of them by center fielder Cody Bellinger. Catcher Miguel Amaya got the first non-Bellinger hit when he singled to left in the fifth.

The Cubs had a prime scoring opportunity with the bases loaded and no outs in the first, but they only mustered one run.

Since May 1, the Cubs are slashing .224/.307/.359 with a weighted runs created-plus of 92 — eight points below the major-league average and 22nd in the majors. They also are batting .216 with runners in scoring position after batting .272 last season.

Shortstop Dansby Swanson didn’t have an answer for the Cubs’ offensive woes.

‘‘It’s kind of hard to say,’’ Swanson said. ‘‘Sometimes you hit balls and they get caught, and sometimes you do and they don’t. We’ve got a lot of faith in our guys here to be able to produce in big-time situations. We’ll be looking forward to getting on a roll here soon.’’

Despite the bulk of the lineup returning from last season, it’s fair to wonder whether an offense that scored the sixth-most runs in the majors in 2023 is still there 76 games into this season. Stringing together quality at-bats has been challenging.

With the trade deadline a little more than a month away, it’s on the hitters to turn things around.

‘‘We have a lot of really good and capable players here,’’ Swanson said, ‘‘a lot of young guys that are highly capable of doing some great things in this game. It’s just a matter of meshing it all together. We’ve been able to show signs of that here recently, and we believe in what things are to come.’’

‘Something different’

Reliever Tyson Miller has emerged as an unsung hero out of the bullpen.

Miller, whom the Cubs acquired in a trade after he was designated for assignment by the Mariners, has a 1.23 ERA in 14⅔ innings. A sweeper has aided his strong performance.

‘‘He’s done a great job morphing into something different and, frankly, more effective,’’ manager Craig Counsell said. ‘‘It’s made him a better pitcher.’’

Opponents are hitting .133 against Miller’s sweeper.

Miller’s emergence was necessary after injuries to Adbert Alzolay, Julian Merryweather and Yency Almonte. Hector Neris, who has assumed closing duties since Alzolay went on the injured list with a strained right forearm, has been shaky.

Entering play Friday, Neris had the sixth-highest walks per nine innings (6.75) and the fifth-highest walk rate (16.5%) in the majors.

Brown update

Although the Cubs got promising news about the stress reaction in rookie right-hander Ben Brown’s neck, Counsell emphasized it isn’t a day-to-day situation. The team will continue to operate with caution.

‘‘We’re going to just increase activity as long as there’s no symptoms,’’ Counsell said. ‘‘This could go pretty quickly here, but we’re also going to be careful of re-creating symptoms.’’

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