When Alfonso Soriano signed his rich contract with the Chicago Cubs prior to the 2007 season, he pledged that helping the long-suffering franchise end its World Series drought was at the forefront of his decision.
Joining a contender also appears to be the reason he’s agreed to leave the Windy City.
With a deal imminent that would send Soriano to the New York Yankees, the visiting Cubs try to remain focused on their series opener with the San Francisco Giants on Friday night.
Soriano spent six-plus seasons attempting to live up to the eight-year, $136 million contract he signed with the Cubs in November 2006. He helped Chicago win NL Central titles in 2007 and ’08, but many fans felt his numbers weren’t on par with his salary.
The 37-year-old agreed to waive his no-trade rights to be sent back to New York, where he played from 1999-2003 before being dealt to Texas for Alex Rodriguez. Soriano is flying to New York and will wait there for the trade to become official.
”I don’t know what the Cubs get, but I’m happy and think they are happy, too,” Soriano said. ”They are getting something back and I am happy going back to New York, where I started my career.”
Soriano said Wednesday when rumors began swirling that he wanted “another chance to get in the playoffs, to get in the World Series.” He had that opportunity in 2012, but he turned down a deal what would have sent him to San Francisco, which beat Detroit for its second title in three years.
With this trade all but completed, he was pulled from the lineup prior to Thursday’s 3-1 loss at Arizona.
”You just don’t fill that void,” manager Dale Sveum said. ”I know it impacted a lot of people on that field.”
The Cubs (45-55), who are 3-4 on their 10-game road trip will send Edwin Jackson (6-11, 5.03 ERA) to the mound as he bids for a fourth win in five starts.
The right-hander had his three-start winning streak snapped after giving up four runs - three earned - in seven innings of a 4-3 loss to Colorado on Sunday. He’s 5-3 with a 3.51 ERA over his last eight outings after beginning the season 1-8 with a 6.29 ERA through his first 11.
That rough stretch included giving up five runs in 5 1-3 innings of a 10-7 loss to San Francisco on April 14.
Pablo Sandoval, who is 6 for 11 with a homer lifetime off Jackson, drove in two runs Thursday against Cincinnati, but the Giants fell 8-3 for their fourth loss in five games.
San Francisco (46-55) had 15 hits - including five from Hunter Pence - but stranded 15 men on base and went 4 for 16 with runners in scoring position. It is averaging 2.4 runs over its last eight.
”If you look at the numbers, they’re not all that bad except for the timely hitting,” manager Bruce Bochy said. ”That’s what wins ballgames for you.”
Solid pitching would help as well, and Matt Cain will be looking to build off a solid performance.
Cain (6-6, 5.00) earned his first win in more than a month after allowing two runs in five innings of a 4-3 victory over Arizona on Saturday. His numbers are far off from the 16-5 record and 2.79 ERA he posted last season, though he’s focused on moving forward.
“You have to turn the page and let things go,” Cain said. “You can’t dwell on it; it’s already been done.”
The right-hander had a solid outing against the Cubs on April 12, though, giving up two runs in seven innings before Chicago rallied for a 4-3 win. Cain had gone 3-0 with a 0.72 ERA in his previous seven starts versus the Cubs before allowing seven runs in 12 innings over his last two outings.
The Giants have won five straight at home and 10 of 12 overall against the Cubs.