Sunday, May 22, 2005

continued struggling

i'm happy to report that mark prior's complete game saved the cubs from being swept, but this weekend was another picture of frustration for many a cub fan only made more acute by being juxtaposed with the white sox.

for starters, let's look at the starters:

maddux 7.0 IP, 9 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
zambrano 7.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 8 K
prior 9.0 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 7 K

how in the hell does that kind of quality go into a near-sweep, averted only by a two-out wind-aided mistake to jason dubois? in a word, offense.

the cubs were rarely a threat all weekend. on sunday, the cubs never put a man in scoring position with less than two out. indeed, doubles by blanco and hairston in the 8th on saturday constituted the only instance in the three games where the cubs got into that situation. both runners scored.

the sox, by comparison, did so not only in the 8th and 9th that day to win, but in three other innings in the series. they used podsednik's speed once to get them into that situation, and should have again to avoid a crucial 8th inning double play that i'll bet ozzie would like to have back. it was part of the tone of the sox team right from the outset with iguchi.

dusty was admirable in his efforts to move men up on the whole -- three stolen bases and lee picked off leaning on saturday, for example. but the cubs failed to get aboard early in any inning -- part of their general failure to get aboard all this year -- and a struggling offense was the result, managing just eight runs in three games.

a lot of this returns to shopworn criticism of the cubs offense in these parts. wuertz reinforced more of our diatribe as well. and hairston earned his qualified praise by reaching in 5 of 13 plate appearances against good sox pitching.

but it doesn't feel good to be right -- it feels good to win. the cub schedule lets up a bit this week with a couple of direly challenged offensive teams in houston and colorado. the cubs' problems remain -- and will remain until jim hendry does something pretty drastic to fix them -- but will look a lot better in comparison to these two squads.

anything less than five wins will be disappointing, imo -- and maybe lethal. the cubs are seven back, with the division-leading cards facing pittsburgh, washington, colorado and houston over the next two weeks.

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