The Cubs opened the homestand dropping two of three to the NL Central division-leading Cincinnati Reds, who they trail by 4.5 games. They followed that up by doing the same against the St. Louis Cardinals, who sit in second place in the division. The Cardinals and Reds wrap up a three-game set in Cincinnati on Sunday.
Manager Mike Quade went into this homestand knowing it would be a big measuring stick for his team as they faced some division rivals. But the results weren’t what he had hoped for.
“We were in [some] of the games we lost,” Quade said, “You take two of three from [the Reds and Cardinals], it’s a huge difference, but you gotta take them.”
There was a positive to the rainout: The Cubs missed Giants ace Tim Lincecum, who is fifth in the NL in ERA (2.11) and strikeouts per nine innings (10.73). Carlos Pena wanted a win Sunday before they head on the road, but a day off could be a positive as they try to get back on the winning track in Cincinnati.
“It’s disappointing for us, but at the same time we feel fueled,” Pena said of the homestand. “We’ll go on the road, hopefully we’ll have some better weather [on the trip]. Whatever it may be to encourage us to keep playing hard and come back from the road trip with a good record.”
Pena tried to focus on the positives of the past eight games as well, saying that he was pleased with the approach the offense has been taking. But he acknowledged that it’s no fun to hit in some of the bad conditions the players have faced at Wrigley Field.
“It is discouraging when you crush a ball into the wind and it gets caught and doesn’t even make it to the warning track,” Pena said, “You kind of hope you get it back double. I’ll let [the wind] take this one, but I’m expecting two back.”
Quade was pleased with the starting pitching recently, and with the addition of Doug Davis to the rotation, he feels a little more confident in the back end of his staff. Quade still focused on the Cubs' inability to drive in runs and come up with the big hit in key situations. The Cubs have shown signs of breaking out of their season-long struggles with men on base, hitting .346 (18-for-46) with runners in scoring position in the past five games -- prior to that stretch they were hitting .213 (59-for-277) with runners in scoring position. However, in many of their losses, failing to hit with men on proved to be their downfall.
“There were more missed opportunities to score runs than anything else,” Quade said, “The problem is, for each opportunity missed there, then if you do make a mistake, [it’s magnified].”
Sunday's scheduled starter, Carlos Zambrano (4-1, 4.35 ERA), will pitch Monday night in Cincinnati against Homer Bailey (2-0, 0.69). Matt Garza will wrap up the quick two-game set against the Reds while Ryan Dempster and Casey Coleman will start against the Marlins in Florida. Davis will make his second start with the Cubs when they open a series at Fenway Park against the Boston Red Sox on Friday.