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August won’t be an easy time for Cubs

Updated: August 29, 2014 1:10PM

The next few days are clock-watching time in the majors as Thursday’s non-waiver trade deadline nears.

The Cubs could make another move to acquire more prospects, but the challenge now is more about trying to make what is left of the second half meaningful — and, at the least, avoid a 100-loss season.

That makes August a difficult time; it’s too early to invite a flurry of call-ups and too soon to be motivated as spoilers.

‘‘I’m not trying to envision us in any particular place other than to make sure we have these guys push and just play the game,’’ manager Rick Renteria said. ‘‘Try to eliminate some of those aspects of, ‘Where are we in the season? What are we as a club? What are we competing for?’

‘‘The reality is you’re still playing for your teammates, you’re still playing for the city, you’re playing for each other and you’re trying to still be professional.

‘‘The biggest thing we have to understand is the season isn’t going to stop just because of where you are in the standings. You still have to play. Everyone deserves a good effort. The fans deserve it when they come to watch you play, that you’ll give your best effort and you’re still trying to play the game the right way. You’re still trying to scratch out victories every day because you’re still moving forward.

‘‘The aspects of being spoilers or anything, that’s [what comes from] results. You’re just trying to play good baseball. If you happen to become a spoiler in the process, so be it.’’

Measuring quality

Quality starts — when a starting pitcher goes six or more innings allowing three or fewer runs — can be a measure for success. But it hasn’t been true for the Cubs.

The staff has 51 such starts, including Kyle Hendricks’ outing Sunday. But only 22 have been victories for the starters involved. That statistic was reflected in Jeff Samardzija’s record before he was traded July 4 (2-7 in 17 starts).

Starters have 19 no-decisions in the quality starts as well as 10 losses. The Cubs’ record in the 51 quality starts is 27-24 despite a 1.83 ERA (70 earned runs/3452/3 innings) by the starters.

The master

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny was asked about new Hall of Fame member Greg Maddux.

‘‘I would have enjoyed catching him, for sure,’’ he said. ‘‘I would have enjoyed trying to understand how he thought about the game.

‘‘I remember one time here, he put one right down the middle. ‘Hit it as hard as you want because the wind is screaming in,’ and I smashed it as hard as I could smash it, and it went nowhere. He just gave a grin.’’

This and that

Anthony Rizzo has hit safely in 11 of the last 12 games and went 2-for-4 Sunday. He’s hitting .333 (15-for-45) in that span.

† The Cubs were shut out for the 12th time with the 1-0 loss. They are 0-5-1 in their last six series at Wrigley Field.

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