Prior to the series, if you were told the Cubs would only be outscored by the Giants 23-19 in the four game set, you probably would have been satisfied what probably was a split series with the home team holding their own against the World Series champions. The Cubs certainly held up the competitive part, but unfortunately they lost the series 3-1. But what is more painful for Cubs fans is the manner in which their boys in blue ended up in defeat.
The North Siders pounded out 38 hits over the weekend four game series, almost at a clip of 10 per day. Further evidence of the Cubs offense starting to warm up with the weather were the 19 runs scored or an average of just under 5 runs scored per game in the set. The awakening by Cubs hitters included eight home runs. Even more impressive is that the offense did this against the highly touted San Francisco starting rotation, including the lone win coming from the day ace Matt Cain pitched. With the way half of the rotation has been pitching, this level of production certainly warranted more than one win against the Giants.
The losses despite the offense were a result of a combination of issues, with the ugliest flaw to be discussed a little later. Despite all of the progress from the offense mentioned earlier, the Cubs still struggled to get the clutch hits and runs to put away games over a weekend that featured close contests every day. Then there was the poor defense that cost game one of the series and the bad habit of allowing big innings to the Giants throughout the four game set.
Two words: the bullpen. The lone Cubs win was almost blown away by Kyuji Fujikawa if it weren’t for the heroics of the Cubs offense in the bottom of the ninth. In the series finale, the Cubs pen allowed five runs as a group, with Shawn Camp being the latest “closer” to blow a save before allowing three more runs in the top of the 10th to be hit with the loss. The rubber armed righty, who had been solid in 2012, went to show that the closer’s role is just a whole other animal. You almost would prefer not to give James Russell a shot for the sake of his sanity and the fact that he is perfectly comfortable in his current role as a set up man and left handed specialist.
April 14, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Shawn Camp (54) walks off the field after giving up 3 runs in the 10th inning against the San Francisco Giants at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Reid Compton-USA TODAY Sports
The Cubs dropped to 4-8 on the young season and had an off day today to regroup before hosting the AL West Texas Rangers. The North Siders really just need to get the collective units of their team (offense, pitching, defense) to click at the same time to start turning these tough to swallow losses into a few more wins. The end of the bullpen still remains the biggest concern, but there are still positives that can be taken out of what we have seen from the 2013 edition of the Chicago Cubs.