Cubs’ skid ends, but Chris Volstad’s continues
BY GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org August 9, 2012 11:06PM
Chicago Cubs' Alfonso Soriano watches his two run home run against the Cincinnati Reds in the eighth inning during a MLB baseball game in Chicago, Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
REDS AT CUBS
The facts: 1:20, Ch. 9, 720-AM.
The pitchers: Justin Germano (1-1, 3.38 ERA) vs. Homer Bailey (9-7, 3.98).
Updated: September 11, 2012 1:41PM
It came too late to lift Chris Volstad’s burden, but Alfonso Soriano’s 20th home run of the season came just in time to ease some of the strain on the Cubs’ big-league toddlers Thursday night.
The two-run shot in the eighth inning lifted the Cubs over the Cincinnati Reds 5-3 in a game delayed 80 minutes and played in a steady rain at Wrigley Field. The victory snapped the Cubs’ eight-game losing streak, which began as soon as they completed a flurry of trades before the deadline last week.
The strain was apparent the last three days, with Starlin Castro slamming equipment Tuesday, Jeff Samardzija breaking a bat over his leg Wednesday and rookie Steve Clevenger getting ejected for arguing strike calls in the fifth inning Thursday.
The victory began a stretch in which the Cubs will face first-place teams in 18 of 27 games.
“It’s just a matter of going out there and competing, and, yeah, it’s tough,” manager Dale Sveum said. “But every major-league game is tough. No matter who we’re playing, this is going to be a 53-game stretch [to end the season] where you’re going to see what guys are made out of, no doubt about it.”
Castro’s two-run double in the sixth and Soriano’s homer didn’t help Volstad snap a streak of winless starts that reached 23 and dates to July 10, 2011. However, Volstad has had two quality starts since returning from the minors last week, posting a 3.46 ERA.
“I don’t know if that’s on his mind. It probably is,” Sveum said of the streak. “I don’t think it can go away. But the fact of the matter is he doesn’t have control over how many runs we score, either.”
Garza on Garza
Not even his trademark over-the-top optimism and exuberance has Cubs pitcher Matt Garza convinced he can return to the rotation this season.
“I’m hoping,” said Garza, who was shut down indefinitely this week because of a “stress reaction” in his pitching elbow. “That’s why I’m working my tail off to get back.
“I was definitely surprised [by the diagnosis Monday]. I was throwing through this thing. But the doc said I’ve got to shut it down. I’ve got to listen to the doc.”
The injury isn’t considered serious, but Garza hasn’t pitched in almost three weeks and there’s only eight weeks left in the season.
After his start July 21 was cut short, the Cubs were unable to trade him at the deadline, and general manager Jed Hoyer said he anticipated having Garza on the team next year.
The Cubs promoted Jorge Soler to Class A Peoria after he went 13-for-54 (.241) with two homers, six walks, 10 RBI, 14 runs and eight stolen bases (eight tries) in 14 games for rookie-level Mesa (Ariz.).
◆ Sveum on Clevenger’s ejection: “He’s got to have a little more composure than that when he’s a catcher. You can’t be getting thrown out of games like that for situations like that.”