Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro hits an RBI double against the Boston Red Sox at Wrigley Field. Credit: Rob Grabowski-US PRESSWIRE
For some inexplicable reason, the Worldwide Leader chose as its featured Sunday night game, a matchup between two last-place teams.
They played like it, too; both teams made errors that resulted in runs crossing the plate. Eventually, the less-bad last-place team, the Red Sox, defeated the Cubs 7-4 on a gorgeous Sunday evening. I mention that because the weather was about the only good thing for the Cubs fan to witness in the final game of the homestand.
I was much intrigued by a couple of comments made Sunday, one during, one following the game. Here's the first one:
Red Sox just...do...not...swing at first pitches. First-pitch strikes tonight have been called strikes. #Cubs Maholm has pitch count of 76— Bruce Miles (@BruceMiles2112) June 18, 2012
That tweet was sent out at the end of the top of the fourth inning. For the rest of the game, just 11 Red Sox hitters swung at the first pitch. Many of those had good results, too; three of them were hits and two were sacrifices (a sac fly and a squeeze bunt) that scored runs. The Cubs could learn important lessons from this.
Here's the other statement that intrigued me, a quote from manager Dale Sveum regarding the Cubs' 3-15 record against lefthanded starters:
Sveum said he has thought about defying the book and playing them against all pitchers, but they "just are not doing anything on a consistent basis against left-handers to warrant that."
And the righthanded-hitting lineup you're putting out there against LHP is, Dale? After 18 games, 15 of them failures, you're still running a lineup out there against LHP that simply... doesn't... win?
I mean, seriously. If you try something over and over and over and it doesn't work, why not try something different? More from the Tribune article linked above, referring to Bryan LaHair:
That is not good news to LaHair, who is trying to prove to the Cubs — and other teams that might have interest in trading for him — that he can hit any pitcher.
This is so blindingly obvious that I simply don't understand what Sveum is doing. Yes, usually platooning righthanded hitters against lefthanded pitchers is a useful thing to do, though I think current major-league managers go overboard in doing it by rote, rather than by situation or matchup. Yes, LaHair hasn't hit LHP this year, though 3-for-28 is a pretty small sample size. And I didn't quite understand why, with two runners on base and a run already in off Alfredo Aceves in the ninth inning, Sveum didn't send LaHair up to hit for Reed Johnson. You know, Dale -- platoon advantage and all?
Starlin Castro had three hits Sunday night and came to the plate in the eighth inning with a chance to hit for the cycle. He needed a home run, not the easiest thing to do, and hit a line drive right at right fielder Darnell McDonald.
Ah, well. Lost season, not-talented team, maybe Dale is as shellshocked as the rest of us. At 22-44, the Cubs are still on pace for a record 108 losses, and now they have to go play at the Cell for three days, a house of pain where they've gone 3-9 since 2008. I fully expect the White Sox to sweep this series.