Cubs offense needs a boost

CHICAGO -- Maybe a change of scenery, some warmer weather or the just the addition of the designated hitter will help the Chicago Cubs offense against the White Sox, because it’s been dormant the last two nights.

The Cubs and Sox series moves to U.S. Cellular Field after the Sox took the first two games at Wrigley Field by a combined score of 8-2. If nothing else, the Cubs were consistent on offense in the first two games. They scored one run on Monday on four hits and five walks. Tuesday, they scored the same on four hits and three walks.

“Not very good,” the usually optimistic manager Rick Renteria said after Game 2. “Not very good. The guys know it. We had a chance to work (Hector) Noesi a little bit but we did not do that.”

Renteria noted that the Sox starter -- who had an 11.12 ERA coming in -- “threw better” than in his previous start, but was he all that better or did the Cubs offense make him look good?

Anyone who's followed the rebuilding Cubs knows their bats lag behind their starting pitching right now. Coming into Game 3 of the series on Wednesday night the Cubs rank fourth worst in the majors in batting average (.228) and on-base percentage (.295). They’re third worst in slugging (.348) and OPS (.643). Their starting outfield for Wednesday’s game has three home runs all season.

The offense is so bad they’ve inserted a .162 batter, Mike Olt, as their designated hitter against lefty John Danks. The irony of the Cubs' rebuilding project is that they are heavy in hitting prospects but light on pitching ones. At the major league level it’s the opposite. They’ll throw lefty Travis Wood on Wednesday after Monday and Tuesday’s starters -- Jeff Samardzija and Edwin Jackson –- combined to pitch 16 innings and give up just one earned run while striking out 16 and walking just two, both in Samardzija’s ninth inning of work on Monday. And neither player earned a victory. That’s how bad the Cubs offense is right now.

Several Cubs have a decent history at U.S. Cellular Field, including Starlin Castro. He’s hit .425 in 10 games there with two home runs. They’ll need someone to step up as the first two games of the series have been offensive -- but only to watch.