Cubs try to get something going on offense
The Cubs will try to get something going tonight against the Brewers and Wily Peralta on a chilly night. There are a few issues to discuss as the Cubs are in a four-game slide. They send Travis Wood to the mound tonight. We’ll get to the lineups and some of those issues I mentioned. First a couple of quick notes:
--Pitcher Matt Garza played some long toss and did some flat-ground pitching on the outfield grass this afternoon. Manager Dale Sveum said Garza will throw “a couple more bullpens” before going out on a rehab stint. Essentially, said Sveum, Garza is beginning his spring training, which means a likely return date of early May as he comes back from a left-lat strain,.
--Second baseman Darwin Barney will play in a rehab assignment this weekend at a site to be determined. He’s on the mend from a left-knee laceration. Barney will be ready to come off the disabled list in time for next Tuesday night’s game at Wrigley against the Texas Rangers.
We’ll have notes from Brent Lillibridge for tomorrow’s paper on his struggles at the plate. He has not reached in 14 plate appearances.
Overall, the Cubs are 6-for-44 with runners in scoring position in the early going.
“That’s obviously something we’ve got to get better at,” Sveum said. “That doesn’t have anything to do with the wind. That’s just something we have to get better at as a team. Yesterday, we had some great at-bats in that last inning, but we have to sustain those throughout the whole course of the game.”
Dale also talked about how the hitters have to adjust now that spring training is long gone and the regular season is more than a week old.
“They have to adjust to how they’re going to be pitched because of the charts and the video,” the manager said. “There are certain things, just like we get people out, ‘he can’t hit breaking balls, or his slugging percentage is so bad on breaking balls that we’ll keep throwing him breaking balls. He might get a single, but there’s not slugging percentage.’ Other people do the same thing. Coming out of spring training, you almost have to get a little bit used to how people are going to pitch you.”
Travis Wood is coming off one of the better outings of his career, a 6-inning, 1-hit, scoreless performance at Pittsburgh in the series finale last week.
“He had command of his off-side, as good as he’s had in his career,” Sveum said. “That was impressive. Hopefully that continues, to be able to not just to have the control but to keep the ball down on his arm side because he’s got the ability to pitch inside. That was his thing, and he used to do it too much and get hurt by it. Now he’s able to do both, because his off-speed stuff is very average, at best, so he’s got to use his cutter and his hard stuff to both sides of the plate. Now he’s able to do it on his arm side.”
Wood has one of 3 quality starts for the Cubs so far. They’re 2-1, and the starters have an ERA of 0.44 in the quality-start games. When the Cubs don’t get a quality start, the team is 0-4, and the starters have an ERA of 6.75.
From the game notes: Through the first seven games of the season, the Cubs have posted a .186 batting average on 43-for-231 hitting. That’s the second-lowest team batting average in the majors. The Pirates are at .126.
The Kane County Cougars scored their first victory of the season Monday, a 6-5 win in the 10th inning over Clinton. The Cougars had squandered a 5-1 lead. Lendy Castillo, who was in the Cubs’ bullpen last year after being taken in the Rule 5 draft, started and worked 5 innings, giving up 3 hits and 1 run while walking two and striking out one.
Gioskar Amaya was 3-for-5 with a triple and a stolen base. Chadd Krist was 3-for-5 with 2 doubles. Bijan Rademacher also was 3-for-5, with 3 RBI. Rock Shoulders and Pin-Chieh Chen both were 2-for-5.
Earlier today, the Cougars let another lead get away only to win in the bottom of the ninth, 6-5 over Clinton. Shoulders hit his second homer of the season today.
Class AAA Iowa fell to 0-5 Monday with a 13-5 loss at Round Rock. Barret Loux started and lasted just 1 inning, as he gave up 3 hits and 6 runs while walking three and striking out two. Logan Watkins hit his first homer and was 2-for-4. Brett Jackson also was 2-for-4. He had a double and 2 RBI. Donnie Murphy was 2-for-4 with a double and a run. Brian Bogusevic was 2-for-3 with a walk and an outfield assist.
Class AA Tennessee lost its second in a row, 2-1 at Pensacola. Dae-Eun Rhee worked 4.1 innings, giving up 2 hits and 1 run while walking three and striking out one. Matt Szczur (.409) was 2-for-3 with a walk, a run and a stolen base. Arismendy Alcantara was 2-for-4.