Cubs notes: Jackson searches for answers

Cubs notes: Jackson searches for answers
June 9, 2013, 12:15 pm
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Paul LaTour

The numbers paint a pretty grim picture for Edwin Jackson, today’s Cubs starter in the series finale at home against Pittsburgh.

Jackson enters 1-8 with a 6.29 ERA in 11 starts. He’s lost three consecutive starts and allowed a season-high 12 hits in 5 ⅔ innings against Arizona in his last outing.  And he’s yet to win as a Cub at Wrigley Field, where he’s 0-5 with a 7.83 ERA since signing a four-year deal in the offseason.

Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Jackson’s season has been frustrating in a more surprising way than those numbers reveal, however.

“He’s keeping the ball on the ground but in big situations the ball is going through the hole constantly,” Sveum said Sunday before the game. “All it takes is half of the ground balls to be caught. We put a lot
of effort into putting people in the right position and the calculations, and his ground balls seem to be overwhelming to the opposite of where they’re supposed to go. It’s unfortunate that’s happened quite often.”

Stewart showing improvement

Ian Stewart made some positive strides with Triple-A Iowa on Saturday, hitting three home runs and driving in all the runs of an 8-5 victory over Round Rock. Stewart, who was dropped from the Cubs’ 40-man roster last month and demoted to Iowa.

But Sveum wasn’t sure that would be enough to secure Stewart more playing time with the I-Cubs, especially with the solid play of Junior Lake.

“That’s one of the days you dream about having,” Sveum said. “I don’t know who pitched against him, but nobody else did anything against him so it might have been a pretty quality pitcher out there that he did it off of. Hopefully it gets him going. Any kind of guy who gets hot, gets him playing time because of it.”

Stretch of NL Central play begins

The Cubs are in the beginning stages of a stretch where they play 11 of 14 games against the National League Central. So far they are 0-2 and won’t have an easy time of it Sunday against Pirates starter Jeff Locke (5-1, 2.45).

So far the Cubs have scored only two runs in the series and became the Pirates’ MLB-best 10th shutout victim in Friday’s 2-0 loss.

“Their pitching is as good as I’ve seen in a long time,” Sveum said. “Unfortunately for us all this (great) starting pitching is in our division, as well as bullpens, too. These guys have a shut-down bullpen.”

The Cubs enter today having lost five in a row to the Pirates, and are only 6-18 in the NL Central. That’s the fewest wins of any team in baseball within its own division.

“This is one of the elite divisions in baseball, mainly because of the pitching,” Sveum said.