The Chicago Cubs (16-28) pull into Petco Park to face off against the San Diego Padres (21-26) in a four game set. The Cubs, who for the majority of the season have done everything possible to live up to their lovable losers reputation have all of a sudden found a bit of a hot streak, and look to keep it going as they move into Southern California. They are winners of three of their last four games, which include two against the NL Central’s first place Brewers, and a split with the AL East’s first place Yankees. The Cubs were the first team of the season to hand Masahiro Tanaka, the Yankees’ right hander from Japan his first loss of the season, but then blew a two run lead in the ninth inning the following night, and went on to lose in thirteen innings.
The Cubs may have found a slight piece of solid ground to stand on, but their 16 victories on the season still leave them with the fewest wins in MLB. If the Padres are looking for a golden opportunity to add some wins into the win column, they could not ask for a better back-to-back series than they will get from the Cubs and Diamondbacks.
The problems facing the Cubs on the season looks very similar to the issues that have plagued the Friars. As a team, they have struck out 401 times, struggle to get on base, and sit at number 25 in MLB batting average at .236, and do not have a single player hitting better than .300. They offer very little run support for a pitching staff who has thrown the ball fairly well on the season. Nobody sums up the Cubs pitching staff better than Jeff Samardzija, the 6’6″ right hander from Notre Dame. On the season, he has started 10 games, thrown 68 innings, struck out 54 batters, only walked 21, and is posting the best ERA in MLB at 1.46, yet has nothing to show for it. He is 0-4, and in his 10 starts, the Cubs offense has only managed 20 total runs.
Luckily, the Padres will not face Samardzija this series, but nevertheless, the Friars are going to have to start figuring things out very soon. Perhaps it is time for manager, Bud Black, to stop toying with the lineup and find some consistency with the batting order. What appears to have been an early season slump that has left the Padres dead last in most of the major offensive categories is now beginning to look like their identity.
Tyson Ross was the latest victim of the Friars pitching staff that has lost a game due to zero run support. In his seven innings pitched on Wednesday, he gave up just three hits, allowed one earned run and struck out eight batters. Yet, the Padres only managed eight hits, three of them from Seth Smith, and laid a goose egg in the run column. Goose eggs will not win games, and for them to turn things around, they must find a way to get on base, stop striking out, score some runs, and win a back-to-back series for the first time this season. Otherwise, things could begin to look quite grim for the Padres as they move forward.
Commentary by Johnny Caito