Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Offense a no show in the 9th, Cubs drop two in a row

Offense a no show in the 9th, Cubs drop two in a row

What is up with the Cubs' offense? Nothing seems to be clicking anymore. Tuesday night in St. Louis Ryan Dempster did his best to keep the game within reach. His teammates did give him a 3-0 lead then came up empty the rest of the game. Seeing these good pitching performances from the starters is frustrating. Dempster pitched 7 innings to allow 3 earned runs on 7 hits and 2 walks. He also had 6 strikeouts. The big mistake he made in this outing was allowing runners to get on base ahead of Albert Pujols who hit a 3-run homer to tie the game in the 6th inning. Aramis Ramirez was the only guy in the Cubs' lineup doing the hitting as he went 3-for-4 with 2 RBIs.

The Cubs caught the worst of a critical situation in late innings. Geovany Soto was instructed to bunt for a sacrifice yet dribbled the ball straight to the pitcher for a double play, taking them out of the promising inning. In that given predicament with the team struggling to score Lou might as well let Geo swing away since he normally makes good contact. I know he was thinking the rookie catcher could put the runner in scoring position, but the guys behind him just weren't hitting last night. Edmonds went 0-for-2 while DeRosa and Soriano combined for 0-for-9. The problem in Game 1 was only one player in the middle of the order was hitting and nobody around him could.

Due to the diminishing run support the Cubs rotation will not have a single 20-game winner this season. That's not of utmost importance, although when the Cubs enter the playoffs and the lineup doesn't produce with regularity it's going to become their own worst enemy. I always feel that pitching can hold down games, but offense actually leads to wins. With the roster fully expanded the Cubs once again have Felix Pie along with a handful of other talented prospects. Using Pie only for defensive purposes and pinch-running as mentioned last night by WGN broadcaster Bob Brenly (yes, I actually got to watch most of this game) isn't enough. Some way Lou Piniella will have to squeeze the most out of his young players on the bench.

The idea of rotating 2 or 3 outfielders to play center would work. Hoffpauir could also get a few starts in left or right field or enter in late innings with a switch. I'd also like to see what this McGehee has to offer so a decent amount of pinch-hitting spots would be good to see. I know Lou Piniella can only stretch things so far, having a tough job on his hands. He's done a excellent job so far this year. Instead of using Fukudome as a pinch-hitter let him have the whole game off to get refreshed and put in another capable option such as Cedeno, Johnson, or Ward. Sometimes a good contact hitter off the bench is the answer. They tend to get overlooked all too often. Today the Cubs need to write the ship, settle back in control as Ted Lilly (13-9) eyes a competitive start against Braden Looper (12-11). Okay, now LET'S SEE SOME RUNS CUBS!

Pete Harvey

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