Since the Cubs 14-4 blowout victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates last Monday night, the bats have been MIA. They were almost no-hit the very next night after the blowout and scored a few ninth-inning runs in the series finale against those same Pirates.
Apparently, they also forgot to pack their bats for their west coast trip as they managed just a run a piece in the first two games of their series against the Los Angeles Dodgers in back-to-back losing efforts.
Jeff Samardzija got the series opener as he opposed the Dodgers’ Chad Billingsley, who after losing his previous five is on a nice win streak, winning his last two before his victory against the Cubs.
Billingsley outdueled Samardzija, going seven strong innings of one-run ball with seven punch-outs and just four hits. Samardzija lasted just 5 1/3 innings as he allowed five earned runs on eight hits.
Samardzija has been up and down with success every month this season, meaning that he dominates one month and then struggles the next only to follow with another dominant. In May he had a 2.48 ERA and he followed that with a disastrous 10.41 ERA in June and then parlayed that to a 1.91 ERA performance in the month of July. In his lone start in August his ERA is 8.44, so based on the numbers, assume this will be a rough month for Samardzija on the mound.
If Friday night’s opener was unbearable to watch from an offensive standpoint, Saturday’s was just as tough. The Cubs had to face All-Star pitcher Clayton Kershaw and their bats were quieted for a fourth straight night in a 3-1 loss, as Alfonso Soriano drove in the Cubs’ only run. Kershaw also went seven innings of one-run ball and gave up just three hits.
Despite a winless record on the season, Chris Volstad was very impressive for the Cubs on the mound. He too went seven innings but was hurt by Matt Kemp’s two-run blast in the fourth.
So with the offense struggling significantly in the Cubs last four starts and rosters spots needing to be filled with the departure of players at the trade deadline, the future stars (or so the organization hopes) of the Cubs were called up from Triple-A Iowa for the series finale.
Both outfielder Brett Jackson and infielder Josh Vitters were called up for Sunday’s finale with Jackson making his major league debut with the start in center. He got a hit in his second official at-bat (after a ground out and a walk) and went 2-for-4 with a run. Vitters pinch-hit in the seventh, but flew out to left field.
Even though Jackson’s strikeout numbers are high and, defensively, Vitters may not be completely ready for the jump, things for the Cubs cannot get much worse. With one of your pitching aces dealt to the Texas Rangers and the possibility Matt Garza could clear waivers and also be out the door, the organization needs to somehow keep fans coming to the park in the final two months of the season.
Now is the time to head to Wrigley Field and see if these three so-called saviors are really all they have been hyped up to be. With the three of them now all playing MLB baseball, and with Starlin Castro already established in the big leagues, you can now go and see four of the eight position players that are supposedly going to end the Cubs’ World Series drought.
Brining up the rookies didn’t propel the Cubs to a win, but it did end their struggles at the plate as they scored six—their total from their previous four games.
Anthony Rizzo had three RBI on the afternoon including a game-tying home run in the ninth. Welington Castillo also went deep for the Cubs to tie the game 2-2 in the sixth.
But every time the Cubs grabbed the lead or tied the game, the Dodgers had a response, as was apparent with the heart of the lineup due up in the home half of the ninth.
Matt Kemp drew a one-out walk and advanced to third on Andre Ethier’s single to right. The trade for Hanley Ramirez seems to be a good one for the Dodgers, as he came through in the clutch with the walk-off single as the Dodgers swept the weekend series against the Cubs.
Series Dud: Starlin Castro, 0-for-12, 3K’s
Series Stud: Anthony Rizzo, 4-for-12, 3 RBI, HR
Next Series: Monday-Wednesday @ San Diego Padres
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