Trade deadline buyers?  Nothing is certain for the Cubs yet

Hear qualifiers when Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts or president of business operations Crane Kenney talk about buying on a deadline.

They were there, and baseball operations president Jed Hoyer and general manager Carter Hawkins were quick to point it out.

“If this stays consistent and we keep winning at the rate we've been winning, that's where we're going to be,” Hawkins said before the Cubs game. 8-5 lost on Wednesday. “And of course, we will be looking to compete if that keeps up. And that's our plan to make it happen.

As hot as it is stretching as the Cubs enter the London Series, they have yet to convince the front office that it's time to add on the August 1 trading deadline.

They are making progress. Three weeks ago, Hoyer said the team needed to go on a winning streak. The Cubs had 11 wins in 13 games, from drawing the Giants to the first game in London.

“You want to evaluate the division, you want to evaluate yourself as well,” said Hoyer in London. “And getting us to play like this, of course, this is the team we felt in April, in spring training. And let's keep playing like this. We did this for 25 games to start the season, but let's carry on.”

So, he still needed to see that? He's not ready to make any statements five weeks before the deadline?

“I hope this is a late deadline for everyone because it's all mixed up,” said Hoyer. “So I hope that we will be nearing the end for a lot of teams.”

The past few days have provided an example of how quickly momentum can change.

“When you're playing well, you don't want any days off,” Ross said in London. “When you play badly, you want as much as you can.”

The Cubs were playing some of their best baseball this season when they were hit with three days off in less than a week to allow travel to and from the London Series.

They still beat the Cardinals 9-1 in Game 1, in a perfect example of what made them click. Newbie Justin Steele set the tone, the Cubs batted hot, and relievers were comfortable in their roles.

However, over the next three games, the Cubs' starting pitch faltered. Marcus Stroman left Sunday's start with an abrasion on his right index finger. Jameson Taillon continued to struggle with consistency against lefties on Tuesday. Drew Smyly made the second-shortest start of the season on Wednesday.

The Cubs lost all three games, recording straight losses for the first time since they were swept by the Angles three weeks ago.

The three game narrow streak was a losing streak, but the Cubs had to prove they could repair the ship quickly, something they failed to do during a rough patch in May.

The Cubs' loss on Wednesday showed some promising signs for the offense.

The team called Jared Young to provide a left-handed hitter off the bench and another option at first base. In his first major league game of the season, he hit the first home run of his major league career.

Even after the Phillies took an explosive early lead, the Cubs continued to bat. Dansby Swanson also came home. Dan the Cubs turned two singles and a pair of walks into the fifth inning with two runs. They stick to the others in the ninth.

What does the front office need to see to break its two-year streak of trading impact players by the deadline?

“More or less the same,” Hawkins said before Wednesday's game. “Consistency unites all three phases of our game: offense, defense and shooting. And obviously, that leads to victory. A win leads to an increase in our playoff odds. And the more we do it, it puts us in a position to buy.”