Before Friday night’s game against the Diamondbacks, Cubs manager Joe Maddon was asked about how long it’d been since the Cubs last had a hit with a man in scoring position.
“Was it spring training?” he said, smiling.
It probably seemed like it to the manager who used to be a hitting coach.
In fact, by the time Junior Lake beat out a bunt single with Jorge Soler at second base in Friday night’s fourth inning, it had been roughly one week, three hours and 10 minutes since the Cubs’ previous hit with a man in scoring position.
“It’s obviously a little bit frustrating, but I really believe part of it is the inexperience and youthfulness of a lot of our hitters,” Maddon said. “And I know we’re going to get better at it.”
Until Lake’s bunt, the Cubs went 31 straight scoring-position at-bats without a hit, dating back to the previous Friday when the Pirates’ Gregory Polanco fell down in right field on Matt Szczur’s routine fly on the final play of the game.
The streak contributed to the .218 season average with men in scoring position entering play Friday (ranking next to last in the National League) – and .319 slugging (ranked last).
On the flip side, the Cubs won three of their five games during the streak, underlining the value of pitching and, maybe the five home runs they hit in that stretch.
“That says that numbers are overrated,” veteran catcher David Ross said. “The only number we care about is in the `W’ column.”
Maddon said the law of averages alone is reason to believe it’ll improve.
“In the meantime, I’ll just take us coming out ready to play,” he said.