CHICAGO -- Hitting coach Bill Mueller wasn't even aware that the Cubs had struck out 44 times in three games against the Rays. All he knew was that Tampa Bay's pitching staff leads the Major Leagues in strikeouts, and did so even before the Interleague series against the Cubs.
"Sometimes it's not who you're facing but when, and they're rolling pretty good," Mueller said on Tuesday. "You look at any teams they've been facing, and you're going to see a lot of strikeouts."
In fact, the Cardinals fanned 43 times in four games against the Rays. The Cubs do rank second in the National League in strikeouts, and have at least 10 whiffs in 39 of their 117 games. But Mueller is quick to point out that the series against the Rays was the only one in which the Cubs totaled double-digit Ks all three games.
"The bad part about that is, we only get one small glimpse at them," he said. "We don't get to come back and get them back. We get three games, and we're done. You face a tough strikeout team only one time, I think they're going to have the advantage."
But he's not proposing a home-and-away Interleague series against Tampa Bay, at least not yet.
"It's August; our guys have been playing their [tails] off," he said. "We had great series in Colorado and [Los Angeles]. You're going to have some ebbs and flows throughout the season."
The 44 K's against the Rays was a Cubs' franchise record for most in a three-game series. Ever.
"When I hear, 'Oh, you had 55 or 40 something [strikeouts],' I'm like, 'OK, if you look at the league, they're No. 1,'" Mueller said. "We knew that going in."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. Teddy Cahill is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @tedcahill. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.