Poor offense kills once-promising Cubs trip

Poor offense kills once-promising Cubs trip

Posted by Bruce on Thu, 09/19/2013 - 13:00

MILWUAKEE -- After a promising start to this 11-game road trip, the Cubs are trying to avoid a four-game sweep at the hands of the Brewers. The trip began with the Cubs taking two of three in Cincinnati before they lost three of four in Pittsburgh and the first three here.

“Going to Cincinnati and winning two out of three there, obviously, it hasn’t been real good at scoring runs and solidifying innings,” said manager Dale Sveum. “The bottom line is Pittsburgh, their pitching is going to hold you down. They were all close games, in every game. And here, once again, we just haven’t played very good.”

We’ll delve more into the offense for our take in tomorrow’s paper. But for this road trip, the numbers have not been good. Let’s take a look:

Darwin Barney: 4-for-30
Brian Bogusevic: 5-for-22
Donnie Murphy: 2-for-19
Anthony Rizzo: 5-for-37
Nate Schierholtz: 6-for-26
Ryan Sweeney: 6-for-29
Luis Valbuena: 2-for-18

On the good side, Welington Castillo enters today 9-for-26 with 4 homers, a double and 7 RBI on the trip. Starlin Castro is 10-for-38 (.263), but Sveum has like what he’s seen from Castro. Like team president Theo Epstein did the other day, Sveum touched on Castro “being himself,” meaning going back to being an aggressive hitter.

“However long it’s been now, when I talked to him and told him he was going to be in the leadoff spot the rest of the year, I said, ‘Be Starlin Castro. Don’t worry about it just because you’re leading off, about taking pitches and seeing pitches. Just go back to that kid we all know that can hit, free-swinging and just be you and be comfortable in the box so where you don’t have to worry about are you taking enough pitches, are you walking or anything like that.’ Those things can snowball. It’s not for everybody to do that.

“I still see a much more mature-type hitter. He’s going to swing the bat, and his hand-eye coordination is going to do things. It’s one of those things where he’d like to have it back, the season and all that, but at least for one guy, he’s been swinging the bat as good as anybody down the stretch here.”

It’s a day off for Barney today as Logan Watkins makes a rare start at second base. Barney, the Gold Glove winner at second base last year and the front-runner again this year, has a hitting line of .208/.268/.307. an OPS in the .500s isn’t going to get it done.

“Obviously, the batting average is going to help that,” Sveum said. “He’s a great example of a guy that does see a lot of pitches but doesn’t walk that much. He puts the ball in play. He puts the ball in play. He doesn’t swing and miss. So a lot of the borderline pitches we talked about, he puts in play. When he does get to those counts, which is not an easy thing to walk for him because he puts the ball in play. He just doesn’t swing and miss.

“If he hits .270 and drives the ball and hits more doubles and things like that, that is the way he’s going to get his OPS up.”

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