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Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Slipping Away?

Well, another disappointing day at the Friendly Confines. Once again LaTroy Hawkins couldn't close the deal and blew his 9th save opportunity in 33 tries. Overall, though the pitching was great - you simply have to win games when you give up only 4 runs in 12 innings. The story of the game was lost opportunities by the offense - a theme to this year's edition of the Cubs. Bases loaded chances in the 3rd and 7th yielded only a single run and a first and third with nobody out in the 12th only brought home one run when Moises Alou grounded into a double play. Today's game and the 4-3 loss to the Mets over the weekend will be the two games that the Cubs look back on if they can't pull it together.

Yesterday Steve Stone commented that the Cubs lineup was formidable. He's mistaken. For all their power (227 homeruns) they're only 6th in runs scored at 765. To put that in perspective they are 2nd in the history of the major leagues in homeruns as a percentage of runs with 29.6%. The top 10 before this season...

Year Team HR   R HR/R

1964 MIN 221 737 .300
1957 KC1 166 563 .295
2001 SFN 235 799 .294
1963 MIN 225 767 .293
1961 NYA 240 827 .290
1987 CHN 209 720 .290
1987 BAL 211 729 .289
2003 TEX 239 826 .289
1956 CIN 221 775 .285
1997 SEA 264 925 .285

The reason of course is that they are 14th in walks with only 473. This accounts for the fact that they've hit 135 solo homeruns and that over 40% of their runs score on homeruns. This one-dimensional offensive team simply cannot score runs without the aid of a homerun.

With four games to go the Cubs now need some help from the Padres and Cardinals tonight since they've relinquished their place in the driver's seat. Roger Clemens goes for the Astros against Jeff Suppan while Noah Lowry goes for the Giants against David Wells. Lowry, especially has pitched well recently. In his last three starts he's given up only 3 runs in 22.67 innings. Clemens has also thrown 15.33 scoreless innings although coming off of a 120 pitch effort, his second longest of the season, against the Brewers. The Cubs could easily find themselves in 3rd in the wildcard race tomorrow morning...


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