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Cubs Tue May 29 2012

Cubs Blow Away 12-Game Losing Skid

Cubs_200.pngThat losing streak was painful. You knew the team would be bad this season considering the roster is littered with names that elicit far more raised eyebrows than it does smiles and nods, but you wish it wouldn't go to this extreme.

As a player, 12 games seems like an eternity. Hitters are pressing in every at-bat with runners in scoring position (see Friday's 0-for-12 performance in those situations), pitchers are fearful giving up a single run because the offense isn't scoring, and the bullpen seemingly blows every lead they're given. It got bad enough that general manager Jed Hoyer commented on it by saying it was "torture for all of us."

A 24 mph wind blowing straight out to centerfield during yesterday's Memorial Day festivities was just what the doctor ordered for a Cubs team that averaged just 2.75 runs per game during the abysmal skid. They hit four homers (Darwin Barney, Ian Stewart, Alfonso Soriano, Starlin Castro) to counter the four the Padres drilled off of starter Travis Wood during the 11-7 victory.

The blame for the streak can be pointed in every direction. Bryan LaHair notched just three hits in those 12 games (breaking out with three yesterday), Castro swung at nearly every pitch he was thrown (what else is new), Matt Garza got lit up twice (and may require a psychiatrist before throwing to a base), and Rafael Dolis pitched bad enough to go from closer to Iowa in the matter of two weeks.

Injuries to the entire catching unit didn't help either. With Steve Clevenger already out, the Cubs were left with Geovany Soto and Welington Castillo as the only backstops on the 40-man roster. Injuries to both players forced the addition of non-prospect Blake Lalli (caught just 109 games in his minor league career) to the team along with trading cash to the Cincinnati Reds for former Cub Koyie Hill, who was struggling in double-A at the time of the deal.

And if the calls for Anthony Rizzo (who has quickly morphed into a save-the-franchise super-prospect who can't possibly live up to the lofty expectations being heaped on him) weren't loud enough before the streak began, his continued raking in Iowa has only intensified the situation. It got so bad that when he was lifted from Saturday night's game in Iowa due to a wrist injury, a few erroneous tweets turned the Chicago media into hyper-drive to get the scoop on whether he was being called up (he wasn't - he was hurt).

The moral of the story is the same as it has been from the start, but a double digit losing streak was enough to induce Theo Epstein to comment on the circumstances amid draft preparation. The team is far from contention, and losing streaks, despite the agony everyone feels, come with the territory of a full-blown rebuild. A single transaction won't fix a team like the Cubs.

It just takes time... and money.

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