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Cubs Explode With 5 Home Runs, Crush White Sox 12-3

Luis Valbuena of the Chicago Cubs is greeted by Geovany Soto after hitting a three-run home run against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Luis Valbuena of the Chicago Cubs is greeted by Geovany Soto after hitting a three-run home run against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Things that are inexplicable:

Where did that come from? The Cubs scored only one fewer run than they had scored in their last four games combined. The five home runs, 15 hits and 12 runs were all 2012 bests. Let's give credit where credit is due: home runs were hit by Alfonso Soriano, Bryan LaHair, Geovany Soto (in his first game back off the DL), Starlin Castro and Luis Valbuena. Everyone in the starting lineup scored a run; everyone except David DeJesus had a hit; and everyone except DeJesus and Tony Campana drove in a run.

For Valbuena, it was his second home run in three days, and for White Sox fans, it was a familiar sight. In 64 career plate appearances at the Cell, Valbuena is now hitting .364/.429/.600 with three doubles, a triple, three home runs and six walks. Maybe Theo & Jed should call up Kenny Williams -- the White Sox, after all, are using an out-of-position Orlando Hudson at third base and he's hitting .176 for them.

For Soriano, it was his fourth home run in 18 at-bats as a DH. Overall as a DH, he's 8-for-18 with a double, a walk and the four homers. I realize this is a very small sample size, but you'd think some AL teams would come calling at some point. Soriano seems to adjust very well to being a designated hitter.

LaHair, in addition to his home run, played right field for the first time this season, and in addition to the home run, made a nice running catch on a Gordon Beckham fly ball in the first inning. You're probably going to see more of this; Phil Rogers talked to Dale Sveum about it:

I asked Sveum afterward how often he would use the DeJesus/LaHair tandem in that way. "After today, probably every day," he said, laughing. "Depending on what we do at first base, LaHair is going to be out there quite a bit, with DeJesus in center field, against right-handed pitchers."

David DeJesus in center field against righthanders? Ummm, okay; he did all right Monday night, but I don't know that I want to see this all the time, especially on non-DH days when you wouldn't see Tony Campana in left field as you did Monday night, but instead have Soriano out there. DDJ would wind up having to cover an awful lot of ground in between Soriano and LaHair.

Speaking of LaHair, he faced a righthanded pitcher three times Monday night and went 2-for-3, a single and the home run. He faced a lefthanded pitcher twice and struck out twice. I've been in favor of letting him play against LHP to see what he can do, but...

The other story of the game was the attendance -- 33,215, which was the smallest in the 88-game history of the Cubs/White Sox regular-season interleague series, and about 7,000 below the official listed capacity of the Cell (40,615). I would not expect this attendance number to grow the next two nights. While it was 12,000 more than the White Sox average before Monday (21,333), the lack of a sellout is reflective of several things:

  • The Cubs' poor play; there were far fewer Cubs fans than I had seen at any previous such game at the Cell, though they represented loudly for the home runs;
  • The high ticket prices for this series; like the Cubs, the White Sox priced these tickets far higher than for most of their games, and the response of their own fans, despite the team entering the series in first place, was to stay home;
  • And, I believe, the general apathy about having two of these series each year. While Bud Selig says he's trying to "protect" the home-and-home series between city rivals like the Cubs and White Sox, Yankees and Mets, Dodgers and Angels and Athletics and Giants when the leagues realign in 2013 and schedules have to be changed, my response is, "Why bother?" Fans have made their opinion loud and clear -- one of these a year, alternating between parks, is enough.

Part of what happened Monday night was, of course, Zach Stewart; the Cubs had hit two two-run home runs (Soriano and Joe Mather) off him at Wrigley Field in one inning back in May, so they clearly had a shot at scoring some runs, and did so. Less expected were the four runs scored off one of the White Sox' better relievers, Nate Jones, who gave up hits to all five batters he faced and saw his ERA jump from 2.14 to 3.21.

Matt Garza gave up a pair of homers to the White Sox (A.J. Pierzynski and Paul Konerko), but it didn't matter; he left after six with a quality start and his first win since April 29.

There is one more true story to tell. Walking down Princeton Avenue to my car after the game, I encountered a man sitting on the front stoop of his house, with a small girl, maybe four years old. Seeing my Cubs garb, he said, "Hey Cubs fan, she has something to tell you." And the little girl looked at me and said, "Cubs suck!"

True story. Why do people do this?