'Broken record' for Cubs, Rizzo against Reds

'Broken record' for Cubs, Rizzo against Reds
June 12, 2013, 3:45 pm
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The Cubs still have 99 games left in this "broken-record" season.

The fans, the Chicago media and manager Dale Sveum have all seen this before. Travis Wood carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning on Wednesday before taking the tough-luck loss, this time 2-1 to the Cincinnati Reds.

This was a drama-free, no-suspense game that lasted only two hours and 28 minutes, beating the severe storms gathering force, just in time to go watch the Blackhawks and Boston Bruins in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals. Dusty Baker's crew has now won 12 straight games at Wrigley Field, and the ex-Cubs manager has to be loving that.

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The Cubs are 25-38, a season-low 13 games under .500, buried in the National League Central, where the Reds (40-26), St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates all look like playoff teams built to last for years.

"It's going to test everyone's character," first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. "We are far out of it. We obviously aren't playing very well right now. Our pitchers are pitching their tails off and our best hitters aren't getting anything to show for it.

"It's going to be a grind. You're just going to have to have fun. And if you look out there, it doesn't look like anyone's having fun right now."

Mike Leake only allowed a Nate Schierholtz solo home run through eight innings. Aroldis Chapman needed only eight pitches to blow away the Cubs in the ninth, hitting 97, 98, 99 and 100 mph.

So far this month, the Cubs have scored more than four runs in a game only once. Generally speaking, this lineup doesn't draw walks or hit with runners in scoring position. As much as people like to dissect Starlin Castro's game (.238 average), Rizzo hasn't homered since May 18, going without an RBI in 11 of his last 12 games.

"Rizzo hasn't done anything in quite awhile as well," Sveum said. "Castro's probably had better at-bats than he has, really, over the last month, so we got to get these guys going. They're our better hitters and we're just not getting any solid contact or slugging percentage out of them at all."

If the Cubs are marching toward another summer sell-off and a 100-loss season, the spotlight is going to fall on the core players who are supposed to be here when rebuilding time is over.

"Everyone's going to pick apart why he hasn't done this, why he hasn't done that," Rizzo said. "But in this game, hitting's contagious and our best hitters aren't hitting and really no one's doing what we're capable of doing right now. We just got to get out of it and pick each other up."