Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Chris De Luca and Gordon Wittenmyer

Cubs need more than Rizzo

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By GORDON WITTENMYER
gwittenmyer@suntimes.com

PHOENIX - Can Anthony Rizzo pitch?

Can he hit a five-run homer?

If Saturday night's 3 ½-hour, water-torture loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks offered anything of value to the insomniacs who watched till the end, it might be simply that it served as a reminder how much more than one Great Bright Hype from Iowa these Cubs need.

While Rizzo's imminent callup is a start for some of the things the Cubs' new front office wants to do in their big overhaul plans, it doesn't figure to provide much instant impact beyond ticket sales.

Case in point: A 10-5 loss in which the Cubs get a two-run homer from their starting pitcher for a fourth-inning lead, only to watch Paul Maholm fail to survive a bottom half of the inning in which the Diamondbacks bat around.

``Paul went out after that homer and didn't have much after that,'' manager Dale Sveum said. ``That seems to be our Achilles heel.''

They have a lot more than one of those.

The Cubs actually scored more runs Saturday than they had in their previous three games combined (three), but, as Sveum said, ``We left a few people out there, too, in key spots.''

Despite 14 hits overall, the Cubs went 2-for-11 with men in scoring position - making them 3-for-19 in that situation through the first two games of the series.

``We've got to get better with men in scoring position. That's the bottom line,'' Sveum said. ``Our core guys got to start doing something in the middle of that order.''

The top two hitters in the lineup, David DeJesus and Starlin Castro, each had four hits, but neither scored Saturday night.

One of those core guys, No. 3 hitter Bryan LaHair, had men on base every time he came up Saturday, including four in scoring position and went 0-for-5. He's now 7-for-48 (.146) with men in scoring position.

Asked about moving LaHair out of a run production spot in the order, Sveum didn't seem to have many options.

``You give him a chance,'' he said, ``but the scoring position stuff's getting a little - he's struggled all year with people in scoring position and it just keeps continuing. We've got to change the approach or whatever's going on, but he's got to get better at that.''

And even after the Cubs rallied for three in the fifth to make it a 7-5 game, the bullpen gave up runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth to let it get away again.

Bottom line: The Cubs stay ½-game ahead of San Diego in the race for next year's No. 1 overall draft pick on a night the Padres also lost.

And that worst-record-in-baseball pace has them on track for a franchise-record 107 losses.

How many Rizzos they got down there?

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This page contains a single entry by Gordon Wittenmyer published on June 24, 2012 1:21 AM.

Cubs: Shark watch, winning for losing, and Darwinian theory was the previous entry in this blog.

Rizzo Time! Top prospect makes Cub debut Tuesday vs. Mets is the next entry in this blog.

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