Cubs learn nice lesson about sub combo

CHICAGO – Get your nicknames in now Cubs fans, Reed Johnson and Joe Mather are going to need a witty moniker if they are going to continue to deliver off the bench like this.

Bench Mob has been used. Super Subs lacks pizzaz. Substitute Teachers – you know, Math(er) and Reed-ing – seems too obscure and a bit of a stretch. Cold Cut Combo probably has copyright restrictions.

Whatever you want to call them, it wasn’t their fault the Cubs fell to the Washington Nationals as they each delivered on offense Saturday and were both out of the game by the time the opponent rallied for the victory.

After watching from the bench at the start of Thursday’s season opener, Johnson and Mather were put at the top of Saturday’s lineup and didn’t waste any time delivering.

Mather might have been thrown out at home plate as a pinch runner on Opening Day, but he walked in the first inning Saturday and scored on a wild pitch. Three innings later, after the Nationals had just taken the lead, the duo went back-to-back with a two-run triple (Johnson) and an RBI single (Mather).

Both RBI hits came with two outs, a problem for the Cubs that has not only existed in the recent past but continued to plague them during spring training.

Both played because the Nationals were starting left-hander Geo Gonzalez, which meant left-handed hitters David DeJesus and Ian Stewart were spectators in the early going. Expect the same lineup the next time the Cubs go up against a lefty.

“I think we did a lot of good things today,” manager Dale Sveum insisted in the aftermath of a second consecutive disappointing defeat. “[Matt] Garza pitched good, we got some timely hitting, guys ran the bases well, aggressive, took advantage of some things. So it’s just a couple of unfortunate innings so far two games into the season.”