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updated: 5/23/2011 1:14 PM

Cubs schedule eases up, but power lacking

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  • Cubs batters didn't draw a single walk against Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, above, and two relievers in Sunday night's 5-1 loss to the Red Sox.

      Cubs batters didn't draw a single walk against Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, above, and two relievers in Sunday night's 5-1 loss to the Red Sox.
    Associated Press

 
 

How many times have the Cubs and their fans heard this one? After a tough road trip, the Cubs have a "favorable" homestand coming up against teams they should beat.

We've all heard it too many times over the past couple of years. Like when the Cubs would play the Pirates last year.

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After going 3-4 on their road trip to Cincinnati, Florida and Boston, the Cubs come home Tuesday night for a nine-game homestand against the Mets, Pirates and Astros.

Give Cubs manager Mike Quade credit for not buying the hopeful hype.

"The teams that we're playing are going to play just as hard as everybody else has," Quade said. "If we play well, I expect us to have a good homestand. If we don't, I don't care who we're playing. I mean that.

"I can look at records. I know Florida's got a good record, we (swept two) at their place. But I don't ever stop and go, 'Oh, my.' I just want to concentrate on us playing well."

The Cubs enter this homestand with a record of 20-25. Each of the teams they'll be playing is below .500. The Mets and Pirates are 22-24, and the Astros entered Monday's game against the Dodgers at 17-30.

But as our old friend and former Cubs manager Lou Piniella pointed out last year, maybe those teams look at the Cubs as an "easy" opponent.

And after this homestand, the Cubs have a road trip to St. Louis, Cincinnati and Philadelphia.

"We'd like to go home and have a good homestand and hang around for a little longer and have a good run, and at some point, get yourselves back healthy and playing consistent baseball to where you can have a good run," Quade said. "We haven't done that yet, but we're still in this thing. We've hung around for this long."

A power outage

The many Cubs fans who attended the three-game weekend series at Fenway Park did not get to see any of their players hit a ball over the Green Monster.

Carlos Pena crushed a ball Sunday night, but he hit it to right field, where things get pretty unforgiving as the fence juts out from the Pesky Pole, and it went for a long out.

The Cubs hit no homers to any field over the weekend. What should be most disturbing for this team is the lack of power production from Aramis Ramirez all season long and from Alfonso Soriano of late.

Ramirez has 1 homer all season, and it came April 6. His on-base plus slugging percentage is .743, and he has just 17 RBI. With runners in scoring position and two outs, Ramirez is 1-for-20 with 1 RBI.

As for Soriano, he remains the team RBI leader with 23, but he hasn't driven in a run since May 11, and he has not homered since May 2. His RBI total ranks him 27th in the National League.

That's called no bang for millions upon millions of bucks.

The 'don't walk' sign

This Cubs team continues to have an aversion to taking a base on balls with the notable exceptions of Carlos Pena and Kosuke Fukudome. Cubs batters didn't have a single walk against Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield and two relievers in Sunday night's 5-1 loss to the Red Sox.

One of the most interesting things to watch over the weekend was the difference in approaches of the two teams' batters.

The Red Sox hitters saw pitches, had good at-bats and made Cubs pitchers work. In Friday night's 15-5 Boston victory, Cubs pitchers threw 211 pitches compared with 137 for Red Sox pitchers.

Not surprisingly, the Red Sox entered Monday first in the American League in on-base percentage, first in walks and third in runs scored.

The Cubs were third in OBP, sixth in runs but dead last in walks.

Whatever happened to the good old days of 2008, when the Cubs were first in walks, first in OBP, first in runs and first in wins?

Seems we're back to the philosophy of, "It's called hittin'. It ain't called walkin'."

I'll tell you something else it ain't called: winnin'.

• Follow Bruce's Cubs report via Twitter @BruceMiles2112 and join the conversation on his Chicago's Inside Pitch blog at dailyherald.com.

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