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Baseball Thu Jun 11 2009

Cubs' Offense Spoils Good Pitching Yet Again

For the second straight game, Geoff Blum delivered the game winning hit for the Houston Astros against the Cubs. With two outs in the bottom of the 13th inning, Blum hit a sharp ball down the first base line, driving in Hunter Pence from second. Also, for the second straight game, the Chicago Cubs had only one solo home run to their offensive credit. Despite the Cubs' starters giving up only two runs in the 21.2 innings they pitched in the three game series, the Cubs will leave Houston with only one more win than they came in with.

Ryan Dempster delivered another strong effort by Cubs pitching, allowing one run over seven innings. In his last three starts, Dempster has pitched 20 innings and allowed only earned run, a sac fly in the first inning of today's game. His ERA has fallen by a full point during the three game span and it looks like he may be returning to last year's form.

But as enjoyable as it has been to watch the Cubs' pitching post a team ERA of 1.55 during the month of June - the best in all of baseball - it has been just as painful to watch the rest of the team hit. To put it in perspective just how bad the Cubs' offense is compared to their pitching, think about this: If the Cubs scored exactly four runs in every one of their previous 27 games, their record over that period would be 19-4 - plus four games being inconclusive as they would have resulted in a 4-4 tie. Let's say, for fun, that they split those four extra inning games and went 21-6 since May 9th. Their new record would be 37-20; good enough for the second best record in baseball and first place in the NL Central by at least four games. Instead, they have gone 13-14 during that period.

If four runs a game seems like an unreasonable number to expect, remember that they averaged 5.3 runs a game last year. We know that eventuality the pitching will cool down, no team can maintain a 1.55 ERA for too long, but will the bats ever start heating up? So far Derrek Lee seems to be the only one up to the task but it will be a long season if no one else follows suit.

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