Cubs, White Sox seem to be fairly mediocre teams

SHARE Cubs, White Sox seem to be fairly mediocre teams

So where are we, baseball-wise, after the first half of the Crosstown Cup series?

The White Sox won this half at Wrigley Field, two games to one, even though they lost 3-1 on Sunday to the Cubs and complete-game pitcher Jake Arrieta. (Note here: This Arrieta dude is on fire. He already has 10 wins, with an ERA of 2.66. How about that, Jon Lester, with your 4-8 record, 3.59 ERA and $155 million contract?)

So the Sox can feel energized a bit. But not a whole lot.

Indeed, everything that happened the last three days comes with qualification.

For instance, the Sox won two of three, but they scored only seven runs while doing it. Hitting — scoring — has been their downfall all season. And there’s nothing that says the offense will change for the better.

Nobody is hitting the long ball the way general manager Rick Hahn had hoped.

New guy Adam LaRoche was supposed to bring some power. So was Melky Cabrera. Together, they have only 13 homers and 67 RBI.

The critical No. 2 spot in the order, the player who must have power, finesse and hopefully speed and baseball intelligence, has been a disaster. A half-dozen Sox have been plugged in at the spot, and nobody seems right. For this series, rookie Tyler Saladino got the call.

Saladino got a hit against Arrieta, a meaningless single in the fourth inning, raising his average to .200. Maybe he’ll grow into something.

But a bigger problem has been Cabrera, who fizzled at the 2-spot and has only four home runs in 333 at-bats. He had 16 homers and 35 doubles last year for the Blue Jays, numbers he won’t get close to this season.

But then, picking on him isn’t fair, when the Sox have duds everywhere. Leadoff man Adam Eaton is batting .245, with only five stolen bases and an on-base percentage of .309.

We won’t go on, but for those who think the 41-45 Sox can make a charge and overtake at least a half-dozen teams to get a wild-card spot, consider they are last in all of baseball in runs, slugging percentage, RBI, OPS, total bases and even at-bats.

Pitching, they’re better at — even their losing pitcher, the hard-luck Jose Quintana, gave up only three earned runs in 7„ innings. But move ahead and be a factor in the pennant race? Very, very slim chance.

Which means the two victories over the Cubs were nice, but now what?

Do the Sox start quickly selling players such as Jeff Samardzija to contenders? Or do they get all sentimental and start buying hitters to make a run at the postseason? Good luck, Hahn.

Then there are the Cubs.

On offense, they have first baseman Anthony Rizzo and a bunch of kids. (We’ll say dreamy six-year vet Starlin Castro, 25, is like Peter Pan, a perpetual child at heart.) That offense is almost as lame as the Sox’ — the Cubs are 28th in the majors in hits, for instance, ahead of only the Mets and Sox.

They have that Arrieta guy and some nice pitchers, and, of course, they have Joe Maddon, the manager who could make a sewer explosion seem like fun.

‘‘Seven-plus right now going into the break, we’ll take that,’’ Maddon said of the Cubs’ 47-40 record going into the All-Star hiatus.

‘‘I do believe that there’s a lot to look forward to on the other side.’’

Uncle Joe likely would look forward to a dunk in a shark tank: ‘‘See all the fishies!”

But the Cubs are actually proving to be quite average.

Yes, they would be the last National League wild-card team if the season ended today, getting to play the 52-35 Pirates in a one-game showdown in Pittsburgh. (Not a good thing.)

But here’s their record going back to June 22: 5-5 during this homestand, 3-3 during the last road trip, 2-2 during the previous homestand.

That’s 10-10, folks.

Maybe average is enough to get to the postseason. But it’s not enough to do anything.

Who are the Cubs?

‘‘I don’t think that there’s a definitive answer for that,’’ Arrieta said.

Definition time is coming, Cubs and Sox. Go for it, gang.

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