The Cubs went with James Russell again as the spot fifth starter on Tuesday night. The young lefty, who has struggled as a starting pitcher, continued the trend. He served up three more home runs last night, including two to left handed hitter Todd Helton, to repeat the dubious feat he accomplished in his last start against the Padres. The bullpen chipped in five innings of scoreless baseball to do their part to keep the Cubs in the game. Justin Berg has been solid since being called up to eat a few innings for what is becoming an over used bullpen. Sean Marshall’s ERA and WHIP are now down to 0.82 and 1.09 respectively, as he continues to quietly cement his status has a top tier set up reliever.
The Cubs offense was able to score two runs in the bottom of the first in their attempt to support the beleaguered Russell as a starting pitcher. However the rest of the evening mirrored their inability to string hits together as a unit and get the clutch hit to do some major damage run wise. Darwin Barney collected another multi-hit performance with a 2 for 4 night, and thankfully Jeff Baker got a start at first base over the struggling Carlos Pena. Baker continued his hot hitting with a 2 for 4 night as well. Alfonso Soriano hit his seventh home run of the 2011 campaign to lead off the bottom of the 9th inning off Rockies closer Huston Street to bring the Cubs within one run, but the rest of the hitters behind him went down quietly.
At least on Tuesday night the defense was not to blame for the loss. As has been the case most of this April, the Cubs were not able to get a complete team effort, with the starting pitching being the culprit for the loss on the night. The silver lining is that the Cubs have been in a majority of their ballgames despite the dysfunction between the pitching, offense, and defense. The bullpen has been pretty steady with the exception of a couple blown save losses, and the offense has been serviceable when you consider that most people expected better results from the starting rotation. Hopefully all three units come together soon over the next couple weeks or Cubs fans will be in for another long season.