The Chicago Cubs' disappointing season continued on Monday, September 4, with a 2-1 Labor Day road loss to the Washington Nationals. The defeat gives the Cubs a record of 51-83, and the team's offensive struggles continue. As a Cubs fan, even knowing the goal now is to improve for next season and beyond, it is difficult to watch each game as the team consistently fails to produce wins.
The Cubs wasted a solid pitching effort by starter Jeff Samardzija, whose record dropped to 8-13 for the season. Despite his losing record, Samardzija is the closest thing to an ace pitcher currently on the active roster. His season ERA is a respectable 3.91, and he gave his team a chance to win the game, walking only one and striking out eight hitters through seven innings. Unfortunately the offense could not come through with clutch hitting once again.
The middle of the Cubs' lineup got on base enough in Monday's game. Shortstop Starlin Castro and catcher Wellington Castillo had two hits each, while first baseman Anthony Rizzo and outfielder Alfonso Soriano each collected one. Only Castillo's last-inning hit, however, managed to drive in a run. The rest of the lineup combined for zero hits in 15 at-bats.
Joe Mather generally looks out of place when hitting leadoff, and his strike out to start the game set the tone. Meanwhile, rookie Josh Vitters struck out again and went 0-for-3 to bring his batting average down to .081. Fellow rookie Brett Jackson struck out in a pinch hit appearance and is now hitting .188.
The Cubs simply need to find a way to improve the top and the bottom of the order. Fans wanted to see the young guys play, and now they're here. If the strike outs, lack of clutch hits and disappointing outcomes are all benefiting the future, it will be worth it. For now, we just have to hope that is the case.
Up next, the Cubs and Nationals will play game two of the four-game set. Starter Chris Rusin is scheduled to take the mound for Chicago, after allowing one run in five innings during his first career start on August 21.
Mike Patton is a sports fan who grew up in New Orleans cheering for the New Orleans Saints, Chicago Cubs, and LSU Tigers. As a kid in 1987, he made his first trip to Wrigley Field and also slept outside of the Louisiana Superdome to purchase playoff tickets for the Saints' first postseason appearance. Follow Mike on twitter @MikePattonGBS.
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