Norichika Aoki belts two homers, including walk-off shot, against Cubs
BY GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org June 7, 2012 9:30PM
Updated: July 9, 2012 6:20AM
MILWAUKEE — Another day, another punch line for the Cubs. The only thing missing was Jeff Foxworthy.
As in, you know you’re a 2012 Cub when … a 5-9, 30-year-old outfielder who has never hit a ball over a major-league fence does it twice in one 10-inning game to beat you 4-3.
“To lose a game because [Norichika] Aoki hits two homers, that’s kind of the way things are going,’’ manager Dale Sveum said Thursday after the Cubs lost for the 18th time in 22 games. “You’d expect [Ryan] Braun or Corey Hart to hit two homers.’’
Before Aoki’s homer in the fourth inning off Matt Garza and walk-off shot against Casey Coleman leading off the 10th, the rookie’s only home run had been an inside-the-park job.
“He had one hell of a game,’’ said Garza, who allowed two runs in six innings before leaving for a pinch hitter in the seventh. ‘‘So you tip your cap, and the next time you face him, you go right back in and shove it down his throat and make sure he doesn’t like trying to sit and spin on stuff anymore.’’
“It’s black and white,’’ said first baseman Bryan LaHair, whose two-out, two-run pinch home run in the eighth tied the game. “It’s not fun to lose. We’re losing a lot. But we work so hard. If you’re going to lose, at least you can look at yourself in the mirror and say, ‘Did I give it my all today?’ And I feel everybody in this clubhouse is doing that.’’
How much is Sveum looking forward to having an extra hitter when the Cubs get to Minnesota on Friday and can use a designated hitter?
“Quite a bit,’’ he said.
And almost as big a benefit for the Cubs is that their oldest player and hottest slugger — Alfonso Soriano — will get a three-day rest from the pounding his sore left knee takes when he plays left field.
“It’s coming just at the right time,’’ Sveum said of the interleague trip, where he plans to DH Soriano all three days. ‘‘I’ve been playing him every day. He’s that one threat in our lineup, so it’s hard to give him days off.’’
Catcher Welington Castillo (groin) is scheduled to head to Class AA Tennessee on Friday to start a rehab assignment.
† Catcher Geovany Soto (knee) isn’t ready to start his rehab assignment this weekend as originally hoped, Sveum said, but it’s not considered a setback. He could be ready by early next week.