The '62 Cubs — with future Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Lou Brock, Billy Williams and Ron Santo on the roster — wound up taking two of three from the expansion team, finishing with a franchise-worst 103 losses, to the Mets' major league record of 120.
Astros starter Lucas Harrell shut out the Cubs on two hits over six innings, and the Astros bullpen combined for three hitless innings. Jason Berken (0-3) got the loss, allowing two runs over 4 2/3 innings.
After saying Sunday he expected a "playoff atmosphere" from his players, manager Dale Sveum was displeased with the lack of "quality" at-bats.
"A little bit of sleepwalking at the plate today," he said.
Alfonso Soriano said the Cubs will "learn from this next year" but wouldn't bite when asked if they had checked out two games early. Asked if the Cubs were ready to "get out of here," Sveum replied: "Who knows? It's that time of year. You don't put words in people's mouths, but we didn't take our at-bats like were ready to stay here for a few more days."
Sveum said the Cubs were in the same boat as "a lot of other teams with a lot better records" and that the numbers of losses doesn't matter "if you're not going to the playoffs."
No matter what happens the final two games, the Cubs hope the season is a low-water mark in their "foundation of sustained success." Sveum said beforehand this is not exactly the way they envisioned things in the spring.
"I don't think you ever expect 99 losses, but I didn't expect to compete for a World Series either," he said. "That would've been icing on the cake, or we would've had to have diamonds in rough step up and do ridiculous things for us to be one of those teams that competes for a World Series."
That's not what Sveum was saying back in February when the Cubs convened in Mesa, Ariz. After addressing his players before the opening workout, Sveum was asked what he told them.
"I just let 'em know that's a team that can compete and do really well," he replied. "We're not here to rebuild. We're here to try to win the World Series this year."
With an announced crowd of 32,167, the Cubs surpassed the 2.8 million mark in attendance — a feat few 100-loss teams can claim. More than half of Monday's tickets went unused, however, as season ticket holders and scalpers took yet another bath.
But the "future is bright" mantra continues to be spread by the Cubs, 100 losses or not. Whether that's false advertising or not remains to be seen.
"I think the owner and the president did a very good job with a nice group of people, so everyone feels fine here," Soriano said. "It was a tough season here, but most of the people we enjoyed (working for). We're working hard every day to get better. That's all we can do, so let's see what happens next year. … It's not fun when you're losing 100 games. Everyone is extra tired when you lose a lot of games."