The Cubs came into last night’s game as winners of 6 of 10 during their recent ten-game road trip. Chicago got great bullpen work in the Bay Area. Then, if it weren’t for a misguided throw by the recently-returned-to-earth Junior Lake the Cubs wouldn’t have spoiled another solid start by Jackson in Denver. Last night, the Cubs spoiled another solid 7 innings of shutout work by Samardzija and were beaten by both Kyle Lohse and Carlos Gomez. From the start, this game had all the markings of a Cubs win, but the offense couldn’t capitalize on the runners on-base when it mattered most. Nate Schierholtz went 0-4 and many of his at-bats were critical.
The Cubs mustn’t waste these valuable quality starts from their starting pitchers. Dale Sveum’s crew was able to get the timely hits they needed in many situations over the past week and a half. Last night was just a bad night for the offense, and that’s going to happen with a team that is still coming together. Today’s a very important start for Jake Arrieta, who’s coming over from the Feldman deal. The Northsiders can’t expect an empire to be built in a day. Nevertheless, on a day when the offense struggled, focus on the starting pitching. Most of what Chicago did well tonight was negated by the struggling bats of Starlin Castro and Wellington Castillo. Castillo hit a massive home run the day previous, and it looked as if he might’ve been able to provide some spark last night. That didn’t happen and the Cubs fell deeper in the hole against the other wild-card contenders. With this 5-0 loss the Cubs now stand 48 wins and 56 losses, which will put them 10 games back in the wildcard.
The prospect of winning tonight and sweeping this series quickly evaporated when the faithful saw the team let a blooper fall in against a drawn-in infield because of the speed of Carlos Gomez to open the scoring. The stadium had a roar about it tonight that ended in disappointment. The Cubs got their fans excited for a night of optimism that lasted until the 9th inning to dissipate in a loss. It was a tough loss but it was at least nice to see the ballpark have some atmosphere to it.
Chicago’s double-header today will be very tough with the way the bats looked last night. Soriano seemed to be a big wins above replacement over Schierholtz tonight in the cleanup spot. Chicago’s prospect will now be held off for longer as the Cubs will try and get their hitters to gel. The presence of back-to-back lefties seemed to be ill-conceived in the later stages of the game when the top of the order came up in the 7th. The lack of a quality right-handed corner hitting outfielder seems to be a big hole. The question now comes with how long do they wait before they start to think about making a run for it. Jake Arrieta and Travis Wood have three years of salary arbitration left. This also happens to be the amount of years Edwin Jackson has remaining on his contract. The guy who pitched tonight will be around for at least another 2 years, which means you’ve got four starters locked up for the next three years. The Cubs have some of the best prospect and after this year if they finish 8 or 12 games under 500% that’ll still be a big improvement.