May 2012

5/22 Minor League report – Monday’s games

Jay Jackson gave up six runs on nine hits, including two homers, over three innings on Monday in an 8-2 loss to Tacoma. It was Jackson’s first start since a brief stint out of the bullpen. Anthony Rizzo was 1-for-4 with a double. He has gone hitless in consecutive games twice this year. Iowa Cubs had chances, but were 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position. Chris Volstad scheduled to make his first start for Iowa on Tuesday. Blake DeWitt was 2-for-4 with a double.

Dae-Eun Rhee gave up three runs on eight hits over six innings in Tennessee’s 8-5 loss to Mississippi. Junior Lake and Jae-Hoon Ha each had two hits. Rebel Ridling hit his fourth homer, and second in as many days.

Matt Loosen gave up one run on two hits and struck out eight over 6 2/3 innings in Daytona’s 4-3 walkoff win over St. Lucie. Matt Szczur had two hits and one RBIs, and Greg Rohan hit a RBI double.

Paul Hoilman had two hits in Peoria’s 5-4 loss to Cedar Rapids. Luis Liria pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings in relief.

— Carrie Muskat

5/22 Numbers game

A few stats to think about:

* In three of the Cubs’ last five games, they’ve scored four runs in the ninth inning.

* In the seven losses, opposing starting pitchers have a 2.12 ERA, giving up 11 earned runs over 46 2/3 innings. In the last three games, the opposing starter has not given up a run.

* In those seven losses, the Cubs starting pitchers have served up 25 earned runs over 41 1/3 innings for a 5.44 ERA.

* Matt Garza cannot beat the Astros. He is 0-3 with a 4.64 ERA in five starts, including Monday.

— Carrie Muskat

5/22 Day off

Bryan LaHair was expected to get a day off Tuesday when the Cubs play the Astros in Game 2 of their three-game series. The first baseman is 1-for-19 in his last six games and the Astros will be starting lefty J.A. Happ. Dale Sveum said he would like LaHair to do some early work, then take a breather.

— Carrie Muskat

5/21 Mr. 400

Starlin Castro had two hits Monday night, and now has 400 through the first 325 games of his young career. Among all Major League players who started their career after 1980, Castro is tied for sixth-fastest to reach 400. The players ahead of him are Ichiro Suzuki (268 games), Nomar Garciaparra (302 games), Kirby Puckett (310), Hanley Ramirez (317), Wade Boggs (324) and Alex Rodriguez (325).

Castro also has the most multi-hit games in the National League since 2011 with 74.

— Carrie Muskat

5/21 Lineup stays the same for now

There was no turnover Monday at the top of the Cubs batting order as manager Dale Sveum hinted he might do.

“I didn’t say I was changing it,” Sveum said. “I considered it. I decided not to.”

Why not? Part of the reasoning is Sveum wanted to overload the lineup with left-handed hitters against Astros starter Bud Norris. The other reason is the Cubs will face left-handed starters for three games, beginning Tuesday, and he’ll be using his right-handed hitting lineup for those games. But Sveum did come close to some tweaks.

“Very close, I will admit,” Sveum said. “I decided to give it one more week, the right-handed lineup.”

It isn’t that Sveum is upset at the job David DeJesus, Tony Campana and Starlin Castro are doing in the 1-2-3 spots. The Cubs haven’t been able to turn the lineup over. They’re batting .231 with runners in scoring position.

“The bottom line is we’re still not scoring runs,” said Sveum, whose team ranks 14th in the National League in RBIs. “We’re not scoring runs off the starting pitchers and it’s been going on all year. It’s kind of weird. We’re better against the back end of the bullpen than we have been against starting pitchers.”

For example, in the three-games against the White Sox, all losses, the Cubs were outscored 16-6, and only two of those runs came off a starter, Philip Humber.

“I think the top three, we’re doing a decent job getting on base for the guys behind us,” DeJesus said. “[Sveum] knows what he’s doing — we trust him, we stand behind him and whatever he has in store for us, we’ll deal with it and go out and do it.”

— Carrie Muskat

5/21 Cubs lineup

So much for change. Apparently, Dale Sveum changed his mind, and left the top of the Cubs order the same Monday against the Astros. David DeJesus wasn’t sure what to expect Monday.

“I think the top three, we’re doing a decent job getting on base for the guys behind us,” DeJesus said. “He knows what he’s doing — we trust him, we stand behind him and whatever he has in store for us, we’ll deal with it and go out and do it.”

Here’s the lineup:

RF DeJesus

CF Campana

SS Castro

1B LaHair

LF Soriano

3B Stewart

2B Cardenas

C Hill

P Garza

— Carrie Muskat

5/21 Extra bases

* The Cubs enter Monday’s game riding a six-game losing streak, matching their longest of the season. They also lost six in a row April 14-20.

* Sunday’s shutout was the first in 43 games for the Cubs.

* Alfonso Soriano was batting .311 this month with six doubles, three homers and 11 RBIs. That’s a big improvement after batting .237 in April.

* Matt Garza is one of six pitchers in the big leagues with a 2.58 ERA or less in at least seven starts but two wins or less to show for the effort.

— Carrie Muskat

5/21 Minor League report

Rodrigo Lopez gave up one hit over six innings and struck out five in Iowa’s 2-1 loss to Salt Lake. Brett Jackson hit a double and Jeff Beliveau struck out three over two perfect innings.

Trey McNutt gave up three runs, one earned, on five hits over five innings in Tennessee’s 6-3 win over Mississippi. Rebel Ridling hit two home runs and Jim Adduci hit his third. Ridling finished with three RBIs.

Austin Kirk gave up six runs on eight hits over 2 1/3 innings in Daytona’s 8-4 loss to Palm Beach. Nelson Perez had two hits, including a double.

Gerardo Concepcion gave up four runs on six hits and three walks over five innings in Peoria’s 9-6 win over Cedar Rapids. Concepcion struck out two. Paul Hoilman had two hits and two RBIs and Taylor Davis had three hits.

— Carrie Muskat

5/20 Intracity Interleague notes

* The Cubs won nine of 10 from the White Sox from July 2, 2006-June 22, 2008, but have lost 18 of the last 24 games against them. The White Sox sweep, completed Sunday with a 6-0 win, was their first at Wrigley Field since June 11-13, 1999.

* Alfonso Soriano is batting .311 with six doubles, three homers and 11 RBIs in 16 May games.

* Paul Maholm took the loss, but he has thrown six or more innings in six straight starts for the first time since a stretch of seven in a row, May 15-June 18, 2010.

“Before the last inning, he made three bad pitches and other than that it was as good a stuff as he’s had all year long,” Dale Sveum said. “That was too bad.”

Those three bad pitches resulted in White Sox home runs.

* The Cubs went 0-for-the homestand. The last time that happened for at least five games was June 13-18, 2006, when they went 0-6 against the Astros and Tigers.

— Carrie Muskat

5/20 Sveum may change top of order

Expect some changes at the top of the order on Monday as Cubs manager Dale Sveum tries to jump-start the offense. After losing 6-0 to the White Sox Sunday, Sveum said he may change the 1-2-3 hitters in the lineup. The Cubs were outscored 16-6 in the three-game series, and mustered two runs off the White Sox starters. The Cubs next stop is Houston on Monday. David DeJesus, Tony Campana and Starlin Castro were a combined 2-for-24 on Friday and Sunday.

“I might think about changing things at the top of the order,” Sveum said. “It’s not that anybody is doing anything wrong but just to change something because we aren’t producing any runs that way. We might change things up there.

“We need some production,” Sveum said, “and the bottom line is two months into the season, we have to start producing or we’re going to have to start making some changes.”

Castro, who has hit third all season, finished the five-game homestand 3-for-18 (.167).

“If he moves me in the lineup, it doesn’t matter,” said Castro, who batted leadoff most of last season. “I’m ready to hit in whatever spot in the lineup. Wherever he wants to put me, I’ll do my job to help the team.”

— Carrie Muskat