White Sox knock the colour out of the Cubs
Wellemeyer's only form of relief on the field came during an unfortunate post-Piercynzski HR shat on the mound
It went from bad to worse. Like a snowball rolling slowly downhill, there was little the Cubs could do to stem the tide over a long June afternoon, one in which the White Sox stomped out a 12-2 win over their Northside rivals.
With the Cubs trailing 3-1 after 4 1/2 reasonably placid innings, Mitre lost his control and the Cubs lost any chance of winning the game. As has been their motif throughout the season, the White Sox scratched and scraped their way to 5 runs, a mix-up of sacrifice flies, RBI singles, wild pitches and graft. Another big inning followed in the 7th, where the Sox kept the bases buzzing with runners with 0 outs on the board, and 4 runs later, the Cubs had been roughly defeated.
There were few bright spots from the Northsiders' perspective. Perez, Derrek Lee, Burnitz, Walker and Barrett all went hitless, stranding 5 runners and sharing 5 strikeouts. Their only runs came from their left-field platoon, with Dubois and Hollandsworth both clubbing line-drive home runs at opposite ends of the game. Mitre (2-3) took the loss, coughing up 7 runs in 4 2/3 innings. Wellemeyer's ERA ballooned in giving up 5 more runs over the next 2 1/3, and Borowski managed a scoreless, hitless 8th, striking out 2.
The lineup is a little flaccid at the moment. While Garcia pitched well for his 7th win of the season, from top to bottom the Cubs appear devoid of energy. Despite all the recent lineup shuffles, we're learning that Corey isn't the most effective, although given 0-5 leadoff performances from both Neifi Perez and Hairston Jr over the last couple of weeks, we have little other choice. I know lots of readers have been commenting about the need to let the team work itself out of these troubles, but in all honesty, if our leadoff hitters continue to be as impotent as the trio who've tried recently, this ship could be all but sunk. I know that seems pessimistic, but I always get the bad games to try and summarize, so sometimes the negativity is overpowering.
Stats of our "leadoff" men:
Corey Patterson -- .245 BA/.279 OBP/.394 SLG
Neifi Perez -- .250/.263/.348 in June
Todd Walker -- .294/.351/.456
Jerry Hairston Jr. -- .250/.276/.321 in June
This is not good enough! Why shouldn't we be trying to trade for a leadoff man? .350 is considered, borderline at best, the lowest OBP we should be finding at the leadoff position. If Neifi's bunt singles aren't working, if Corey is striking out as many times as he is getting a hit (71 strikeouts, 68 hits this season, 28/14 in June), why aren't we in favour of trying to fix this up? If it's not coming from in-house, then surely we have to look elsewhere. I really hope this is an issue Hendry is looking to fix during this trade period. It's killing our team, regardless of having a Triple Crown contender and RBI machine in our lineup. You can't drive in runs at number 3 in the lineup if your lead-off men can't get on base, and that is exactly what is happening at the moment.
The Cubs are currently in the bottom 10 in the league for lead-off men and their OBP.
1. Brian Roberts, BAL (.426)
2. Brandon Inge, DET (.410)
3. Derek Jeter, NYY (.404)
4. Johnny Damon, BOS (.390)
5. Brady Clark, MIL (.388)
6. Craig Counsell, ARI (.381)
7. Brad Wilkerson, WAS (.375)
8. Matt Lawton, PIT (.374)
9. David Eckstein, STL (.373)
10. Scott Podsednik, CWS (.373)
Of the next 10, only 3 are below .300 in OBP. The Cubs' best leadoff man? OBP of .279. That would place him 21st at least on the season.
A definite explanation for the horrendous OBP of our leadoff men is the walks. Corey, it seems, doesn't like to reach 1st base for free, preferring to work hard for his safety on the basepads. While this ethic is admirable, he needs to learns how to take base for free, because the pitcher couldn't find the strike zone. In 95 at-bats in the lead-off position, Patterson is ranked 36th of all major-league players who've batted 1st in the lineup for walks -- a paltry 6. In 277 plate appearances this entire season, Corey has walked 13 times. Yes, that's right, 13 times.
Corey Patterson draws a walk once every 21 at-bats. In contrast, he strikes out once every 4 at-bats.
This is already a lot to think about, without even analyzing the rest of our in-house lead-off candidates.
For a little bit of light-hearted relief, enjoy this awkward and discomforting photograph from the World Champions. It's hard to look at, because the body language offers up all kinds of Freudian possibilities. Look, laugh, and try hard to enjoy the game today. I'm off to Yankee Stadium to enjoy the Subway Series from a luxury suite, thanks to the efforts of a friend. Match reports from Comiskey later on today.
CWS: RHP Jose Contreras • 3-3, 3.83 ERA in 2005 • 1-0, 1.29 ERA vs. CHC in 2005
CHC: RHP Greg Maddux • 6-4, 4.67 ERA in 2005 • 0-1, 3.86 ERA vs. CWS in 2005