For Cubs, no DH necessary

For Cubs, no DH necessary
May 19, 2013, 3:45 pm
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Tony Andracki

With talk of the designated hitter coming to the National League, count the Cubs among those opposed to the idea.

[RELATED: In Vogelbach, Cubs could already have their DH of the future]

For the second straight game, the Cubs received a shot in the arm from the pitcher's spot in the lineup as Travis Wood drove home the first two runs of Sunday's game against the Mets on a long home run to left.

Cubs pitchers lead Major League Baseball with 11 RBI, four more than the Giants, the next closest team. What's even more interesting: The Cubs have 16 RBIs from the No. 9 spot in the lineup, the same total they have received from the cleanup spot in the order. Cubs hurlers are tied for the MLB lead with two homers and lead the entire league with five doubles and seven extra-base hits.

All 11 runs batted in have come in May, a month in which Cubs pitchers are hitting .306 (11-for-36) with five doubles, two homers and seven runs. They hit just .060 (3-for-50) with three runs in April. The last time Cubs pitchers drove in 11 runs in a calendar month was September 1971, when they plated 14 runs.

The 11 RBI are actually more than seven American League teams have gotten from their No. 9 hitters, including the White Sox, Rangers and A's.

"So far, our pitchers have really held up that nine-hole," Wood said.

[RELATED: Sveum pushing Castro to the next level]

The Cubs' pitchers have been especially hot of late, with nine of those RBIs coming in the last eight games. Jeff Samardzija hit his second career homer against the Rockies at Wrigley Field Wednesday and Scott Feldman drove home a pair with a double in Saturday's win over the Mets.

Edwin Jackson, who entered the season with just seven career RBI, also delivered a two-run double off Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg last weekend in the nation's capital.

In all those instances, the added offense from an unlikely source helped vault the Cubs to victory. On Sunday, it was a different story, as Wood's two-run shot was most of the team's offense on a day when the Mets plated four runs.

[MORE: Wood extends streak, but Cubs drop series to Mets]

"We got good athletes that can swing the bat," manager Dale Sveum said after Sunday's 4-3 loss. "They're being aggressive up there and taking advantage of the mistakes. It's been a huge bonus.

"It's too bad we didn't win that game today because of Woody's home run. That was two of our runs today. We had a chance of being able to break that game open in different situations and didn't take advantage of it."

The problem Sunday was the rest of the Cubs' offense, the position players who face live pitching on a daily basis. The Cubs were just 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position, and that lone hit was Wood's homer.

Three separate times in the game, the Cubs had a runner on second with nobody out (and narrowly missed a fourth occurrence as Ryan Sweeney was gunned down on a close play at third base trying to stretch a double into a triple to lead off the fourth), but only once did the runner come around to score.

"Our biggest problem going forward is having those at-bats and getting those guys in from third," Sveum said. "We did a nice job of getting them over today and then we couldn't get 'em in."

Catcher Welington Castillo ended up with two hits on the afternoon -- including one of the leadoff doubles -- and scored on Wood's longball, but was also part of the problem, striking out in the sixth with Nate Schierholtz on third base and only one out.

"Everybody's trying to do their part," Castillo said. "Nobody wants to hit into a double play. Everybody goes to the plate aiming to do their best.

"Sometimes they make their pitch and that's baseball."