Cubs give lefty bats a rare opportunity

CHICAGO – So much for that constantly changing Cubs lineup as manager Dale Sveum went with his everyday batting order despite going against a left-handed starter.

Sveum has been altering his lineup to get in more right-handed bats against lefties, but the tactic hasn’t worked. The Cubs entered the game with the third worst batting average against lefties in the major leagues at .221. Only the Indians (.217) and the Astros (.213) are worse.

On Saturday, left-handed hitters David DeJesus, Anthony Rizzo, Bryan LaHair and Luis Valbena were all asked to take on Astros lefty J.A. Happ.

The new look against lefties might be short-lived, though. Sveum’s inspiration for using it Saturday was the fact that Happ doesn’t seem to have any extra advantage over left-handed hitters. Right-handed hitters have a .280 batting average against him, while left-handed hitters have a .275 mark.

“You try to solidify a lineup a little bit but Happ’s numbers against left-handers are the same,” Sveum said. “He doesn’t really dominate left-handed hitters so you just try to give LaHair and DeJesus some at-bats off him too.

“Sometimes you have to let them go because they will have to face left-handers in a game out of the bullpen and stuff in big situations sometimes. You have to get them at-bats on somewhat of a regular basis once in a while just to keep them where they are facing left-handers once in a while anyway.”

So while the left-handed hitters had their day Saturday, the right-handed hitters could be back Sunday when the Cubs face Astros lefty Wandy Rodriguez. Rizzo, though, might get his hacks against Rodriguez, though. Rizzo hit lefties well at Triple-A Iowa and Sveum wants to see what he has in the young lefty power source.