The Cubs started the second half of their season almost exactly as they ended their underachieving first half - scoring one run in another meager-hitting loss despite good enough pitching that the team ERA went down again.
``We've got to hit. Fifteenth in the league in runs scored isn't going to get it done - period,'' Piniella said during a pregame rant today against the lack of first-half hitting.
So what's left to do with the big-bucks lineup?
Forget a trade that adds payroll - or any trade for that matter, considering all the immovable contracts.
Ramirez is back, so that's not an excuse anymore. Soriano's not batting leadoff, so that's not either. And almost every combination of lineup shuffle has been tried by Piniella this year.
Do you sit and wait?
Do you assume the break-out days are only a matter of time for hitters with track records? ``I think so,'' said Ryan Theriot, one of the few productive hitters the first half. ``I hope so. I don't think you've seen our best, for sure. ... I hope we do.''
When asked about taking more risks, Piniella asked for suggestions. When hitting-and-running and stealing bases were suggested, he pointed out that they have hit and run, and that they've been forced into being very selective in trying to steal bases because they don't have many players who are any good at it.
Meanwhile, they take a 16-inning stretch into Friday's series opener against the Cardinals in which they've scored only one run and amazingly had only three guys even reach scoring position.
``We can mask this any way we want to mask it,'' Piniella said, ``but we've got to start scoring more runs more consistently to win baseball games. We hit the ball and we continue to pitch, we're going to be just fine. If we don't, it's going to be a struggle.''
So what's the answer? By the end of today's game, Lou didn't have any more answers.