Cubs Weekly Rap: 5 Up, 5 Down

Cubs Weekly Rap: 5 Up, 5 Down

This week saw the Cubs put together a scoreless-innings streak that stretched 5 days. From the 9th inning of last Sunday afternoon's loss to the St. Louis Cardinals to the 7th frame of Friday's defeat at the hands of the Cincinnati Reds, the Cubs didn't round the bases once.

That included 3 off days and a disastrous double-header in the Bronx during which they were shut out twice. In all, their drought lasted 24 innings, a run Ice Cube might have termed 24 Wit' an L, though it was actually 3 L's. It's interesting to note that that song originally came as the B-side to "Check Yo Self," which is exactly what Rick Renteria and the Cubs need to do heading into a 4-game series with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Actually, both of those songs were featured on the album Bootlegs and B-sides; the Cubs are playing like a bootlegged team right now, with inconsistencies and shoddy quality. And, like some of Ice Cube's lyrics, this team's play has been downright offensive to some people.

Up: Revisiting the Soriano deal

The Cubs traded Alfonso Soriano to the Yankees last summer and the veteran helped his new/old team out immediately.  Soriano looks like a solid addition for the Yankees in the short term, yet the Cubs are pleased with their side of the deal as well.  Holding out for young pitcher Corey Black may pay off for what was a seen my many as a necessary move.

"It looks like a deal that worked out for both sides," Theo Epstein told ESPNChicago.com's Jesse Rogers on Monday, the day before the Cubs and Yankees were rained out in the Bronx. The teams will play a doubleheader Wednesday.

"He had a no-trade clause and the Yankees were a team he felt comfortable with. We were in talks for a while. They said no to all the players [we asked for], including Corey Black. And then eventually they said they would do Black."

GM Brian Cashman may have been nudged by Yankees boss Hal Steinbrenner to get the Soriano deal done, though Cashman didn't want to give in to the Cubs' demands of a player like Black.

"I didn't want to give up Corey Black, but I didn't nix the Soriano deal," Cashman told ESPNNewYork.com in July. "I did not want to do Corey Black. We had been negotiating with the Cubs for a long time. They wanted something more a week earlier and ownership, obviously, in our discussions [felt] we needed to do something.

"They were like, 'Hey, we are not going to wait anymore to negotiate, we have to get this done now.'"

Down: Jeter can't grasp Cubs futility

The Yankees have won five since Jeter debuted for them in 1995 and 27 overall as a franchise. "The Captain" was asked if he could imagine going 105 years without a championship.

"Can I imagine it? No," Jeter half-smirked. "I hear about it, but it's kind of hard to relate to it. But I've definitely heard about it. The Cubs have had some good teams there. It just goes to show you it's difficult to win a championship. They've had some great teams that have gotten close, but it's difficult to do."

Up: Samardzija still dealing

The Cubs ace is finally pitching like one.  Is it kind of ironic the Cubs are finally getting the top-of-the-rotation performances thus far from a guy who may not be with them for long?  Or is this just perfectly opportunistic for the Cubs front office to make another major haul at the deadline?

Either way, Shark keeps pitching his rear off despite  the offense continuing to not give him much support.  This week Samardzija threw 113 pitches in seven strong innings, allowing three runs (only one earned) on six hits and two walks while striking out seven.

Down: Cubs set ugly record

The Yankees had not won by shutout twice in one day since April 9, 1987 against Kansas City (according to STATS), and no team in the major leagues had done it since Minnesota swept Oakland on June 26, 1988. The Cubs had not been blanked twice on the same day since Larry Gibson and Ray Sadecki pitched complete games for St. Louis on June 27, 1962.

Chicago was 9 for 61 (.148) at the plate, and struck out 17 times, dropping its season average to .230.

Up: Jackson bounces back

Following two very rough starts, Edwin Jackson bounced back with a solid performance. It came on the heels of Manager Rick Renteria's team meeting.

"It started with Edwin. You tip your cap to him. He came in, threw strikes, was aggressive, battled out of jams," Rizzo said. "We got some runs early for him, so that always helps. It's a nice win for us. We definitely needed it, especially after the road trip."

Renteria lauded Jackson's intensity and "fight" on the mound and the 30-year-old veteran appreciated his manager's message following Friday's loss.

"He's not in there speaking for himself. He's in there to get us fired up, to get c motivated, to let us know that he has confidence in us and he understands the ability that we have once we take the field," Jackson said.

"Sometimes, it's needed to put that fire into guys and have everybody motivated to play in the next game and play the way we're capable of playing.

Down: Tanaka shows Cubs what they missed out on

Mashairo Tanaka lived up to his hype by allowing only two bunt singles, striking out 10 with one walk in eight innings to coast to a 3-0 win in the matinee portion of the day-night doubleheader.  Tanaka teased Cubs fans with the possibilities of acquiring a potential young top-of-the-rotation free agent talent.  Was he that good?  Or is the Cubs offense that bad?

Time will tell, but it is likely a combo of both.

Down: Renteria calls team meeting in April

This kind of stuff in the early part of April can not be good.  The Cubs skipper thought the Cubs could use a little help refocusing on the field and at the plate. By players’ accounts Saturday, it was more of a one-way conversation.

“When Ricky talks and shows emotion, it means something,” Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney said after the Cubs’ 8-4 victory over the Reds on Saturday at Wrigley Field. “He doesn’t do it very often and we know he’s got our back and is on our side, so when he shows a little fire, it usually works.”

Up: Players respond 

The Cubs snapped their scoreless drought at 24 innings on Luis Valbuena’s RBI single in the seventh, but they still have scored only two runs in their last 32 innings and have lost five in a row.

“I concern myself more with the way we approach the game,” Renteria said. “If our approaches are good, if we’re really focused on what we’re supposed to be doing — both at the plate and in the field — I’m good with it. Today, I think we were a little sloppy in general.

“It’s just a matter of focus. They know it. I think our players know it. It’s a long season, but the reality is good clubs really do grind out every single game.”

Down: Cubs still struggling with RISP

"That's what wins ballgames right there — two-out hitting and doing the little things right and getting guys over," Cubs third baseman Mike Olt said. "We've had games when we've done that. And those games we won."

The Cubs stranded 14 runners and went 3-for-15 with runners in scoring position against the Reds to end their week.

Up:  Core players still shining

Even after a rough week, the Cubs players that truly matter for the future, like Samardzija, Starlin Castro, and Anthony Rizzo, continue to look like themselves at the least, and even are showing signs of development.

Eyes on the prize.

@TomLoxas

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  • UP: The Diamondbacks are worse than the Cubs.
    Down: We don't know about the Federals vs. the Packers.

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