4/10 Diggin' the long ball
Of the 17 total runs the Cubs have scored in their first five games, 12 have come on home runs. They’d like to manufacture runs a little better and can’t afford to have games like Friday when they stranded 13.
“Today, obviously, the long balls helped us out,” said Jeff Baker, who smacked a pinch-hit, go-ahead solo homer in a 4-3 win over the Reds Saturday, “but we have to get some of these runners in and when we have some traffic out there, making guys pay.”
The Cubs added three more homers to the early season total as Baker, Kosuke Fukudome and Alfonso Soriano each connected. It was the first for each.
Hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo isn’t preaching home runs. And the Cubs don’t want to wait for that three-run blast.
“There’s a lot of games you can get shutout [if relying on homers],” Baker said. “If you run into a tough pitcher, you might not get that pitch you can drive out of the yard. If that’s your only source of offense, it can be a long day.”
Jaramillo is simply trying to help the batters get more balanced at the plate and have good swings.
“I think Rudy’s philosophy is scoring runs, however you want to do it,” Baker said. “[Home runs] are just one facet of the game. Rudy’s a complete hitting coach. He doesn’t get into one area, like ‘Hey, we’re going to try to hit homers,’ or ‘Hey, we’re going to try to play small ball.'”
— Carrie Muskat