Wrigley Field’s “friendly confines” have been anything but for the struggling Chicago Cubs, so much so that they may welcome the start of a six-game road trip Monday against the Cleveland Indians at Jacobs Field.
The Cubs (26-42) just completed an 0-6 homestand—in which it was outscored 43-17—with a 12-3 loss to the Detroit Tigers on Sunday. Mark Prior had a disastrous season debut after beginning the year on the disabled list with a strain in his right shoulder. He gave up eight runs and seven hits—four of which were home runs—in 3 2-3 innings, as Chicago fell to a season-worst 16 games below .500.
“I don’t know what’s good for us right now,” said Aramis Ramirez, who hit one of three solo homers for the Cubs. “We’re not doing anything right. We’re’ not hitting, we’re not pitching. How many runs did we give up this series? A lot. We can’t win like that. At the same time, we didn’t hit either. I don’t know what to say—we didn’t do anything right.”
Prior’s lackluster return was a yet another disappointment for the injury-riddled Cubs. Right-hander Kerry Wood is back on the disabled list after experiencing shoulder stiffness following his fourth start of the season.
He joins first baseman Derrek Lee, who continues to rehab a fractured wrist he suffered in April. Lee has taken some soft swings in the batting cage, but there’s no world about a possible return.
“He feels good on some swings, others there’s soreness,” Cubs trainer Mark O’Neal said of Lee.
While Chicago has been swept four times at home this season, the team has played on the road recently. The Cubs have won six of their last 10 away from Wrigley while outscoring the opposition by a 40-19 margin.
Sean Marshall (3-5, 4.82 ERA) will look for his first road win since April 14 as he gets the start for Chicago. The rookie left-hander is 0-4 in his last five road outings.
Last Tuesday, Marshall gave up five runs and seven hits while walking four in four innings of a 9-2 home loss to the Houston Astros.
“I fell behind guys, asking for a little bit of trouble,” Marshall said. “My command was a little off tonight. I think it could’ve been a mechanical think I was doing. Hopefully, I can make the adjustments on the side and figure out what I was doing.”
Cleveland (31-37) will counter with Jason Johnson (3-7, 6.00), who has lost his last three starts. The right-hander gave up six runs and 10 hits over 5 2-3 innings in Wednesday’s 6-1 loss to the New York Yankees. He also hit Yankees catcher Jorge Posada, leading to a warning from home-plate umpire Paul Schrieber.
“I don’t know what he was yelling about,” said Johnson, who has never faced the Cubs. “I’m a sinkerball pitcher. I’ve got to throw inside to lefties. If I throw inside and he can’t get out of the way, that’s his fault.”
The Indians, like the Cubs, suffered an interleague sweep over the weekend. Cleveland dropped three straight games to the Brewers at Milwaukee. Sunday’s 6-3 loss was the team’s 11th in the last fifteen games.
The Indians have won six of eight all-time meetings with the Cubs in interleague play.
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