4/20 Sveum: These are rookie ball mistakes
Dale Sveum has met with the players, they’ve done the drills, they’ve practiced the plays, and they have the talent, which is why Saturday’s game — and this season — is so frustrating. The Brewers took advantage of the Cubs’ sloppy play to post a 5-1 win in front of a sellout crowd of 42,230 at Miller Park in what looked like a repeat of past games this season.
“It seems to be the story every night,” Sveum said. “It seems to be continuing that we can’t seem to catch the ball or make a play when we have to make a play. Edwin [Jackson] pitched a great game, but he was part of that, throwing the ball into center field. We’ve got to step up and somebody has to start making plays and driving runs in because this is obviously getting old.”
Jackson’s throwing error in the sixth led to two of the Brewers’ runs and was one of three miscues by the Cubs in the game. Of the five runs scored, four were unearned.
“I’ve talked,” Sveum said about how he’s dealt with the Cubs. “We’ve been doing this quite a bit. You don’t want to have meetings every night.”
Maybe the problem is youth? Shortstop Starlin Castro committed his fourth error.
“We’re making a lot of the same mistakes,” Sveum said. “Obviously, they’re young but we’re making mistakes that rookie ball people make.”
Jackson (0-3), who signed a four-year, $52 million contract this offseason, took the loss. It’s the first time the right-hander has opened a season winless in his first four starts since 2007 when he went 0-8 with the Rays.
“Everybody knows they can make plays,” Jackson said. “It’s nothing that anyone is panicking over. Clearly, we have to play better and execute better. It’s not an issue that anyone is panicking over. I can’t speak for everyone but nobody is panicking. We just have to make the plays when we have a chance.”
What’s going on?
“I think it’s just a matter of slowing the game down,” Darwin Barney said. “Starting pitching has done such a great job and a lot of the jams they’ve been in have been attributed to miscues. It’s unfortunate. I think a part of it is pressure. I think guys are putting a little too much pressure on themselves and they take that onto the defensive side. As a unit, we need to be better from pitchers to infielders and just all around. It just comes with slowing the game down and being confident and just making the routine plays and keeping them routine.”
Alfonso Soriano also felt the Cubs may be pressing.
“I think we’re better than this,” Soriano said. “I think we’re trying too much. That’s why the team isn’t doing well so far. I think everybody is pushing too much and trying to do too much. We have to come back tomorrow and be relaxed and just let the talent play the game.”
In Spring Training, the Cubs knew they had a rough schedule in the first month and needed to get off to a good start.
“Everybody in this clubhouse, we want to win so bad, we want to show to the other team and the fans that we can do it,” Soriano said. “I think that’s our mentality here. We just have to play the game and have fun and not try to do too much and not worry about making mistakes and play the game.”
The Brewers began the season 2-8, and have won six in a row.
“That’s what drives me crazy, the coaches crazy,” Milwaukee manager Ron Ronicke said. “We try to figure things and how to get the team going and next thing you know they do it themselves. It’s baffling, this game’s very baffling.”
Sveum would like to see the players figure it out. He said he has “options” if the mistakes continue. He admitted to becoming impatient with the poor play.
“To win in the big leagues, you have to have people who perform, and perform 162 games, not once in a while,” Sveum said. “You have to perform. It’s the big leagues. Otherwise, you lose your jobs.”
— Carrie Muskat