It has been a disappointing season for the Chicago Cubs, and things have gotten even worse since they’ve been officially eliminated from the playoffs.
The sluggish Cubs look to get their offense back on track and avoid losing a fourth straight game Saturday when they host the Arizona Diamondbacks.
This season has not gone like Chicago (82-77) envisioned after winning back-to-back NL Central titles. The Cubs had hopes of making a run for the World Series, but an early-August slump left them unable to catch division-winning St. Louis.
Although their playoffs hopes have essentially been over for weeks, the Cubs weren’t officially eliminated until Tuesday. Things have gotten progressively worse since.
After being outscored 12-2 in losing a doubleheader to last-place Pittsburgh on Wednesday, Chicago fell to last-place Arizona 12-3 in Friday’s series opener. The Cubs left eight runners on base against the Diamondbacks (69-91), and are batting .194 in their last three.
“You don’t like to get beat up like we have been,” manager Lou Piniella said. “There’s no excuse for going out there and getting whomped on.”
While Chicago’s offense continues to struggle, Arizona scored its most runs since plating a season-high 14 in a victory over Houston on Aug. 28.
It was an encouraging performance for Byrnes, who has been hampered by injuries the last two seasons.
After hitting 21 homers and stealing 50 bases in 2007, the left fielder has been limited to 14 home runs and 12 stolen bases in 134 games the past two years. He missed 64 games earlier this season with a broken hand and was batting .194 with a homer and two RBIs in his first 19 games since coming off the disabled list.
“It’s very important for me to finish the season strong,” said Byrnes, whose previous multihomer game was May 30, 2007.
After notching eight wins in a nine-start span between June and August, Wells’ name was being mentioned as a possible Rookie of the Year candidate. But with only three victories in 10 starts since, the right-hander’s stock has significantly dropped.
Wells allowed five runs and a season-high 10 hits in 5 1-3 innings of Sunday’s 5-1 loss to San Francisco, the third time in four starts he’s yielded five runs.
“It seems like it’s a broken record with me putting the team in a hole early,” Wells said.
While Wells has been in a bit of a funk, things have been even worse for Arizona’s Daniel Cabrera(notes) (0-5, 6.07). Cabrera has appeared in 14 games this season, and the team he’s pitched for has lost each one.
He started the year in Washington’s rotation and went 0-5 with a 5.95 ERA in his first eight outings before being sent to the bullpen. He was eventually released June 3 and signed a minor league contract with Arizona on Aug. 10.
Since being called up from Triple-A Reno on Sept. 3, the right-hander has made five appearances out of the Diamondbacks’ bullpen, recording a 7.50 ERA and no decisions.
This will be Cabrera’s first start with the Diamondbacks and first appearance against the Cubs.