It’s been a frustrating week of Cubs baseball.
While the starting pitching was brilliant the offense was anemic.
Chicago squandered a plethora of scoring opportunities with RISP against Atlanta and Cincinnati.
As a result, four of the last five games lasted into extra frames, and four of those contests were decided by a single run.
This also spelled a heavy work load for the bullpen, which was the deciding factor in the Cubs 3-2 record over this span.
Meanwhile, Milton Bradley pulled up lame with a sore calf muscle. Mike Fontenot made two costly fielding miscues at third, and Carlos Zambrano made the announcement he’s retiring once his contract expires in 2012.
For certain, there’s much to be concerned about as a Cubs fan.
However, if the last two postseasons sweeps have taught us anything, it’s that the regular season means little come October. Just reaching the postseason is all that matters.
From this perspective, Chicago is still in decent shape to win the division.
Despite all the worries, the Cubs are 8-3 in its last 11 games. By winning the Cincy series they also jumped the Reds into third place, and gained three games in the Central over the weekend with loses from St. Louis and Milwaukee.
Furthermore, the arrival of Angel Guzman has bridged the gap to Marmol and Gregg. Jose Ascanio is appearing more comfortable, as well.
Add these guys behind the rotation’s league-best 33 quality starts, and top-five ranking in both opponent’s batting average and ERA, and the pitching is quite formidable.
Now, if the offense could only score more runs!
I look squarely at Alfonso Soriano for this matter. He’s the catalyst to an offense desperately missing Aramis Ramirez and Milton Bradley.
Aramis’ return is still uncertain, and Bradley is hardly a reliable source to stay healthy even when not playing.
No other hitter has more pull in this lineup than Soriano. He’s paid the big-bucks to hit, and now it’s time to earn his money.
Averaging just one more run per game could easily put the Cubs in the division lead by the end of the month. Soriano will play a major role, but the rest of the order is responsible too.
It’s perfectly fine to feel unsettled with the Cubs play through the first 54 games, but let’s not get carried away and write the season off during the second week of June.
There’s still too much baseball left to be played.