REDS AT CUBS
The facts: 1:20 p.m., Ch. 9, 720-AM.
The starters: Bronson Arroyo (10-9, 3.51 ERA) vs. Chris Rusin (2-1, 3.08).
Updated: August 14, 2013 12:21AM
Slumps, youth, waiver-claim lineups and high-quality pitching on the other side — it’s not that hard to explain why the Cubs have struggled to score runs lately, no matter what team officials say publicly.
But for all the attention the recent home shutout streak got, don’t discount Alfonso Soriano’s absence as a big factor in the Cubs’ two-week offensive downturn.
Since the last time Soriano played for the Cubs, just ahead of his trade to the New York Yankees, the team has averaged only 2.7 runs (through Monday) — down more than a run per game from their average with their former cleanup hitter (4.1).
Manager Dale Sveum won’t use it as an excuse for the guys left behind.
‘‘Nobody’s getting pitched differently because Soriano’s not there,” said Sveum, who last week felt compelled to bat David DeJesus cleanup for the first time in the leadoff man’s life.
“It has an impact because he’s obviously able to hit three-run homers and stuff when he gets hot and can carry a team for a week or two. . . . But people are getting plenty of good pitches to hit.”
In fact, Nate Schierholtz used one from Homer Bailey in the second inning Tuesday to end the Cubs’ 332/3-inning home scoreless drought. He hit a tying two-run homer against the Cincinnati Reds.
From the last two games of the previous homestand through opener Monday of this one, the Cubs had been shut out at home three consecutive games for the first time since 1924.
Mr. Cub ceremony
The Cubs celebrated team legend Ernie Banks’ selection for the Presidential Medal of Freedom with a pregame ceremony.
“Is this a great country or what?” said the Hall of Famer, one of 16 recipients to be honored by President Obama at the White House in November. “It’s almost like the Nobel Peace Prize to me.”
Outfielder Jorge Soler, one of the top prospects in the system, likely will miss the rest of the Class A season after an exam on his fractured tibia showed he’s not ready to have his walking boot removed. Team president Theo Epstein said the Arizona Fall League is still a possibility
† Epstein said one of the ways the team plans to address a catching deficit in the farm system is by targeting three players for position changes during the instructional league.
† The front office plans to discuss this week when to slot Class AAA right-hander Jake Arrieta into the rotation for the rest of the season, likely during the next time through. Arrieta, who made an impressive Cubs debut in a spot start two weeks ago, was acquired from the Baltimore Orioles on July 2 in the Scott Feldman deal.