CHICAGO -- If you’re not happy with Chicago Cubs starter Dan Haren's performance in the Cubs 5-4 comeback win over the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday then you better recalibrate your expectations. Not just for him, but for any fifth starter.
Haren lasted five innings. He gave up two runs on yet another night the wind was blowing out. One was a solo home run to the best hitter in the National League. Yes, it was Haren’s major league leading 30th home run given up -- but his performance was just fine.
“We’re down to 30 or so games left and every one is important,” Haren said afterwards. “The Reds have struggled a little bit this year. It was a really important win.”
The problem with Haren is those home runs. It’s too easy for the opposition to put up big numbers with one swing of the bat. If you’re a Cubs fan you’ve seen the veteran righty give up at least one long ball in every start since being acquired. In fact, Haren has given up a home run in nine consecutive starts going back to before he was traded; that’s the second longest streak in the league, according to ESPN Stats and Information. Haren was asked if he’s ok with the solo shots.
“I have to be,” he said. “I’m going to give up home runs. I pitch to contact. Generally have to keep them to solo home runs.”
Haren says he’s been working on keeping the ball down in the zone, and in fairness to him he was acquired just as both Chicago parks became launching pads. He gave up three solo shots to the White Sox last month.
“It seems like the majority of the runs I’ve given up here have been homers,” Haren stated. “I’m not trying to give them up. If they’re solo you usually don’t lose.”
That was the case on Tuesday, as Haren actually had good stuff in striking out four and walking just one over his five innings.
“Today was a little bit better,” he said.
Haren intends on doing some more nibbling instead of attacking hoping to keep pitches off the sweet part of the bat. He knows he’s under a microscope as Cubs president Theo Epstein rattled off some names before the game in case his team needs a spot start or more. Clayton Richard is available, as are Tsuyoshi Wada and minor leaguers Dallas Beeler and Eric Jokisch. But Haren isn’t giving up his spot just yet.
“Obviously, my leash is a little bit short,” Haren said.