Lou Piniella has seen enough of the Chicago Cubs sputtering offensively.
Coming off a second straight lackluster performance, Piniella is expected to make some changes to the lineup Monday night when the Cubs open a four-game series against a New York Mets team that has its own offensive problems.
Everything appeared to be going just fine for Chicago (5-7) with the team plating 29 runs in its first four home games, but that production has disappeared.
After leaving eight runners on base in Saturday’s 4-3 loss to Houston, the Cubs managed one extra-base hit in Sunday’s 3-2, 10-inning loss to the Astros. Marlon Byrd(notes) had three hits and drove in the only two runs Sunday for Chicago, which is 3 for 14 (.214) with runners in scoring position the last two games after batting .342 in such situations in the previous four.
“Last couple of games we have not done much offensively,” Piniella said. “I’m going to change the lineup around a little bit and spur this offense on a little bit.”
Part of the problem has come from the top of the order with leadoff hitter Ryan Theriot(notes) going 3 for 19 in the last four games. Piniella said he will move Theriot to No. 8 in the batting order and shift Byrd, who is 6 for 9 with three doubles and three RBIs against left-handers this season, to the leadoff spot when the Cubs face left-handed starters.
Niese gave up five runs, nine hits and hit two batters in Wednesday’s 6-5, 10-inning loss to Colorado after allowing three runs and eight hits in six innings of a 3-1 loss to Florida on April 8.
This will be Niese’s 11th major league start, and second versus Chicago. Against the Cubs on Sept. 22, 2008, Niese gave up a career-worst six runs and seven hits in three innings of a 9-5 loss, his first big league defeat.
Like Chicago, the Mets are also mired in an offensive funk.
New York (4-8) has scored three runs or fewer in six of eight games, and managed a season-low four hits in Sunday night’s 5-3 loss to St. Louis. The Mets have gone without an extra-base hit in their last two games, and have lost four straight series to open the season for the first time since 1997.
Jose Reyes and Jason Bay(notes) have been in the middle of this slump. Reyes is batting .154 in eight games this season after starting the year on the disabled list, while Bay is hitting .161 in his last eight contests.
“Offensively, we’ve got to take it up a notch,” New York manager Jerry Manuel said. “We need to get that squared away.”
After allowing six hits in six innings of a 2-0 win in Atlanta in his season debut, Wells gave up four runs and 10 hits with seven strikeouts in Wednesday’s 7-6 home win over Milwaukee, but didn’t get a decision.
The right-hander has picked up where he left off as a rookie in 2009, pitching better on the road than at home. In 14 career starts away from Wrigley Field, Wells is 6-5 with a 2.68 ERA, yielding two runs or fewer in 10 of those outings.
One of solid those performances came at Citi Field on Sept. 6, as Wells gave up two runs and seven hits in six innings of a 4-2 loss.
The Cubs split their six games against the Mets last season.