So much for righting the ship against the lowly New York Mets – Carlos Zambrano took the loss in the Cubs 4-0 loss against the Mets on Tuesday night. But this wasn’t all Zambrano’s fault. Sure, he had trouble with his control early on. And his walk to the pitcher with 2 outs in the bottom of the 2nd inning kept the inning alive for the next batter – Jose Reyes – to stroke a 2-run triple to left center field to give the Mets the early lead. But Big Z found a way to work 6 strong innings, giving up just those 2 runs on 6 hits and 3 walks. He racked up 9 K’s. It was the Cubs 4th quality start in the last 6 games, but the Cubs have a 1-5 record during that stretch. During the team’s current 4-game losing streak, they have scored just 6 total runs. That is completely unacceptable, especially when you are playing the worst team in the NL Central – the Astros – and the worst team in the NL East – the Mets.
Pretty much every Cubs batter is in a funk, but no one is struggling more than clean-up hitter Aramis Ramirez. Ramirez is hitting .145 with a .213 on-base percentage. He leads the team with 19 strikeouts in just 14 games. Ouch. Ramirez is frustrated with his effort thus far — “I’m not seeing the ball good right now. I’m swinging at too many bad pitches… I just have to stay focused and get some better pitches to hit… I'[m trying to do too much and trying to hit a four-run home run with nobody on base… I haven’t gotten the job done. No excuses. I’m 100 percent. I just have to keep working and try to get out of it.”
Manager Lou Pinella is also frustrated as even his tinkering with the batting order each night in New York hasn’t worked — “I don’t think anybody is too pleased… We had chances. We just don’t seem to get base hits with men on base or men in scoring position.”
I feel like I am writing a bunch of similar posts to the ones I wrote during the Cubs 2009 atrocious season. See my thoughts on how good the Cubs starting pitching was in 2009 and how well the pitching staff did down the stretch despite limited run support. My biggest fear is that the Cubs hitters get on track only to have the starting pitching go down the drain. Guess we have to be patient – it is only April 21st, but if the Cubs continue to under-perform with the highest payroll in the National League, look for the Ricketts Family to make some changes (hear that Jim Hendry, Lou Pinella?) this off-season.