Game Recap: Nationals 3, Cubs 2
If only a starting pitcher could buy runs like a contestant on Wheel of Fortune buys vowels. I'm pretty sure Ryan Dempster and most of the Cubs starting staff would be in favor of the idea. The Cubs offense once again fell short against the Nationals, this time for Dempster, in a game the team should have won. Moreover, it marred the dream that Dempster could go 30-0 on the season and win the Cy Young. Ok... maybe only Len Kasper's dream based on the booth discussion today. Even more disappointing, the Cubs once again continued the franchise trend of losing to a young pitcher that I've never heard about.
To cut to the chase, the Cubs dropped the opening series of the homestand because of the lackluster offense. The team scored a total of 7 runs over those three games. Despite the resurgence of Soto and Soriano, the SWP-ness of Theriot, and the hustle and clutch hitting of Marlon Byrd, the offense seems to be dead. The impotence of the offense really can be traced to two culprits: Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez. On the season, Lee and A-Ram have combined to go 29-163, .178 AVG, .331 SLG percentage, with a 42:22 K:BB. Not exactly acceptable statistics. To a degree, I have hope for Lee as it appears that in most of his recent at bats he is hitting it hard, but just at people. On the other hand, Ramirez looks lost at the plate in such a manner that can only be described as Soriano circa 2009. A-Ram swings at bad pitches, mis-hits mistakes, and looks completely off balance every time he swings. I know he was dubbed as a savior in the offseason, but if Rudy Jaramillo wants to earn his paycheck, he needs to figure out what is going on with A-Ram... and soon.
The offense was not without opportunities. In the fifth inning, the bases were loaded with only one out for Marlon Byrd. Marlon failed to get the ball out of the infield and the inning ended when Fontenot grounded out. In the seventh, the first two batters reached base only to have A-Ram step into the box and ground into a double play. Finally, in the eighth, Byrd led off the inning with a double but never advanced any further than second base. No sac bunt, no grounder to the right side, no deep fly for a tag. He was stranded where he started the inning. For this last part, I have no words (that are at least printable).
Despite all these failed opportunities, I was surprised to learn that the Cubs are second in the NL in runs scored with two outs and runners in scoring position. Moreover, they are fifth in batting average with RISP and two outs. I'm not sure if those stats should give me hope or cause me to spiral into an even deeper level of disappointment.
Oh, and on a brighter note: Marlon Byrd is a magician.
The Diamondbacks roll into town for a four game series starting Thursday. They've been pretty hot and cold so far this season, and mainly the latter on the road (3-6). Hopefully they got out all of their frustration in the 12-11 victory against the Rockies and their bats are lulled into a deep sleep for at least 3 out of the 4 games.