Cubs need to generate some RISP-y business
PITTSBURGH – The Cubs go with their third different lineup in three games as they play the series finale against the Pirates this afternoon (a morning start back home). Dioner Navarro starts behind the plate in place of Welington Castillo, and David DeJesus is back in center field and batting leadoff against James McDonald. We might even crack the 50-degree mark before the day is done.
After last night’s 3-0 loss, Cubs manager Dale Sveum lamented the Cubs being 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position. It’s a small sample size, to be sure, and it has nothing to do with who’s a mythical “clutch hitter” and who’s not. Along those lines, I did as Dale if he likes to see an approach from his hitters with men in scoring position.
“We’ve actually gotten some pretty good pitches to hit,” Dale said. “We haven’t had real bad at-bats. We just obviously haven't had the results. Your approach is to get elevation with men in scoring position to where you get something in the air and don’t ground out to the corners. Pitchers are trying to get you to ground out to the corners and those kind of things, so you’ve got to get the ball up over the plate.
“The at-bats haven’t been bad at all. I’m not concerned with that. Obviously, we just want results.”
The Cubs go this way today:
Travis Wood was 6-13 with a 4.27 ERA last year in a couple of stints with the Cubs. Sveum said he saw progress.
“He learned a lot last year about being able to pitch to his arm (left) side,” Dale said. “Just continue to keep being able to work both sides of the plate. He has to. His off-speed stuff is average. So he’s got to be able to use his cutter to both sides of the plate as well as his sinking fastball to his arm side.”
It’s a little early for trends to develop, but we’ve got these nuggets from the handy-dandy game notes: Beginning tomorrow night in Atlanta, the Cubs begin a stretch of 19 straight games against teams that finished above .500 last season, including 13 games against playoff teams. The Cubs have the Braves, Brewers, Giants, Rangers, the Brewers again and the Reds coming up this month … Cubs pitchers have allowed just 9 hits in the first two games, the fewest amount the club has given up in the first two games since 1993, when Mike Morgan and Jose Guzman combined to give up 6. Morgan gave up 5 hits in 7 innings on April 5, and Jose Guzman threw a 1-hit shutout, April 6. Opening Day that year at Wrigley was Greg Maddux' first game with the Braves after the Cubs let him get away via free agency ... Kyuji Fujikawa earned the save Monday, becoming only the second Cubs pitcher to pick up a save in his big-league debut. Todd Wellemeyer got a save on May 15, 2003 during a marathon game at Miller Park in Milwaukee.
It’s Opening Day for the Cubs’ minor-league teams. Once things get going and we’re blogging, we’ll bring back the minor-league roundup.