Inbox: Should Cubs tweak approach at plate?

Beat reporter Carrie Muskat answers questions from fans

Inbox: Should Cubs tweak approach at plate?

CHICAGO -- Meatballs, catchers and the wave are topics in this week's Cubs Inbox.

The Cubs score a lot of runs and then they go through phases when they score no runs and they don't swing at strikes and they strike out looking way too much. Any talk of having them swing at first-ball fastball strikes? Why are the Cubs not way more aggressive, instead of just standing there taking meatballs?
-- John L., Colorado Springs, Colo.

If pitchers threw the Cubs' batters fastballs in the strike zone, they're most likely going to try to make contact. Sometimes you have to give the opposing pitchers credit for mixing it up and keeping batters off balance, which is what the Brewers did this weekend in a three-game sweep.

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During the Cubs' six-game winning streak from Aug. 28-Sept. 2, they collectively batted .327, struck out 46 times and had a .382 batting average on balls in play. In the eight games since then, the Cubs batted .212 with a .280 BABIP and 73 strikeouts -- and the team is 2-6.

The offensive focus in the second half for the Cubs has been to use the whole field more and not try to pull the ball as much. By doing so, they hope to improve their batting average with runners in scoring position. They currently rank 13th in the National League in batting average with RISP at .246.

The bottom line is that the Cubs' offense has been inconsistent.

"We aren't hitting," manager Joe Maddon said after Sunday's loss to the Brewers. "We came off winning two in a row in Pittsburgh, and before that, we won six in a row. And in this series [against Milwaukee], we chose not to hit. Hopefully, we'll start hitting soon."

With Willson Contreras coming back soon, assuming the Cubs make the playoffs, do you see them carrying three catchers in the postseason?
-- Samuel S., Dubuque, Iowa

If you count Kyle Schwarber as a catcher, the answer is yes.

When the Cubs get a hit, what are they doing with the wave?
-- John N., Las Vegas

Remember last year, when the players would put their hands on their helmet after getting a hit? It's just a variation of that. After a player gets on base, he waves back to the dugout to his teammates. It's just a way to get the team involved.

Who was the first player to hit a Major League home run for the Cubs?
-- Christian C., Plainfield, Ill.

Ross Barnes hit the first home run in Cubs franchise history in 1876.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.