The saying goes that you hate to hear excuses in sports. But the fact of the matter is that the injuries to the back end of the Cubs starting rotation, two fifths to be exact, has taken a toll on the team record as well as the season statistics for Casey Coleman and James Russell. In the case of Russell, the insult to injury is that he was doing fine as the third lefty reliever in the Cubs bullpen until he was selected to be one of the fill in guys.
To be fair, Russell was not horrible Monday night in LA. He did not walk anyone and kept the Cubs in the ballgame until the 5th inning. But is was that rough inning that gave him another ugly box score line. Hopefully his tough times as a spot starter will not mess with his head once he returns to the pen.
The Cubs offense featured only two highlights. A first inning run, which is always a great way to start a game, and a home run by Alfonso Soriano were the two. The home run was Soriano’s MLB leading eleventh of the year. The growing anti-Carlos Pena segment of the Cubs fanbase was disappointed to see the first baseman back in the line up, but at least Pena was dropped behind Soriano to the seventh spot in the order.
The real disappointment was the fact that the Cubs continued to collect a decent amount of hits for a ballgame, but also repeated the bad habit of being unable to get the clutch big hit to drive in some runs. Part of the issue on that night was Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney going a combined 0 for 8 with five runners left on base. The spark plug duo had been the only consistent positive so far this young season, but Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw was able to keep them quiet. It is unfair to have to rely on these young kids, no matter how good they are, game in and game out when there are other veterans in the line up who have had decent MLB track records not pulling their weight at the same time.
The team just needs to keep their heads up and weather the storm until the starting rotation and batting line up get back on track as a unit respectively. Hopefully it starts tonight with Ryan Dempster making his first start in the month of May. Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley has had troubles with issuing walks, so hopefully the Cubs line up can be patient with a good eye for the strike zone and square up the pitches Billingsley leaves in the zone.