Dale Sveum laments runners left on in Cubs’ loss to Diamondbacks
BY GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org June 24, 2012 12:52AM
Paul Maholm gets a high-five from teammate Adrian Cardenas after hitting a two-run home run in the fourth inning Saturday. | Ross D. Franklin~AP
Updated: June 24, 2012 1:58AM
PHOENIX — Can Anthony Rizzo pitch?
Can he hit a five-run homer?
If the 3½-hour, water-torture, 10-5 loss Saturday night to the Arizona Diamondbacks offered anything of value to the insomniacs who watched till the end, it might be a reminder of how much more these Cubs need.
While Rizzo’s imminent call-up is a start for some of the things the Cubs’ front office wants to do, it doesn’t figure to provide much instant impact beyond ticket sales.
Case in point: A loss in which the Cubs got a two-run homer from their starting pitcher for a fourth-inning lead, only to watch Paul Maholm fail to survive the bottom of the inning, in which the Diamondbacks batted around.
“Paul went out after that homer and didn’t have much after that,” manager Dale Sveum said. “That seems to be our Achilles heel.”
They have a lot more than one.
The Cubs actually scored more runs Saturday than they had in their previous three games combined (three), but, as Sveum said, “We left a few people out there, too, in key spots.”
Despite 14 hits, the Cubs went 2-for-11 with men in scoring position, making them 3-for-19 through the first two games of the series.
“We’ve got to get better with men in scoring position. That’s the bottom line,” Sveum said. “Our core guys have to start doing something in the middle of that order.”
The top two hitters in the lineup, David DeJesus and Starlin Castro, each had four hits, but neither scored.
No. 3 hitter Bryan LaHair, had men on base every time he came up, including four in scoring position, and went 0-for-5. He’s 7-for-48 (.146) with men in scoring position.
Asked about moving LaHair out of a run-producing spot in the order, Sveum didn’t seem to have many options.
“You give him a chance,” he said, “but the scoring-position stuff’s getting a little ... he’s struggled all year with people in scoring position, and it just keeps continuing. We’ve got to change the approach or whatever’s going on, but he’s got to get better at that.”
Even after the Cubs rallied for three in the fifth to make it 7-5, the bullpen gave up runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth to let the game get away.
Bottom line: The Cubs stayed a half-game ahead of the San Diego Padres in the race for the No. 1 draft pick next year on a night the Padres also lost.
And they’re on track for a franchise-record 107 losses.
How many Rizzos they got down there?