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Cubs go down quietly in New York

4/17/2014

NEW YORK -- The Big Apple just took a bite out of the Chicago Cubs' offense.

On a long, cold day and night in the Bronx, the New York Yankees did just enough at the plate, while the Cubs did little there in losing 3-0 and 2-0 in a rare doubleheader shutout sweep. It’s the first time it has happened to the Cubs since June 27, 1962, against the St. Louis Cardinals, according to data from ESPN Stats & Information research.

"Both of them were good," Cubs shortstop Emilio Bonifacio said of Yankees starters Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda. “Their breaking pitches were pretty good, both of them.”

And the Cubs aren’t very good. They just came off a decent seven games on offense but still went 3-4 last week. You get the feeling there will be more days like Wednesday over the course of the next 148 games. They’ve already been shut out four times in their first 14.

"They just have to keep playing. They have to keep getting after it and keep adjusting," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said.

Without much mystery to the talent on the team, the conversation turns back to playing time. Should Renteria play potential core players more, or is he doing a good job of protecting them by platooning?

"We have been giving everyone an opportunity to face as many guys as possible," Renteria said. "We’ll continue to evaluate and allow these guys to get into a rhythm if we can. Everybody has been getting a lot of at-bats. It’s really not for a lack of playing time."

But what’s the point if you’re simply not as talented as most of the league? The Cubs know this. If they’re going to lose 100 games, do it with a purpose. Ryan Kalish and Darwin Barney left a combined 11 runners on base in the nightcap on Wednesday. That does no one any good. At least if Mike Olt or Junior Lake struggle in that way, they can still actually get something out of it. Let’s face it, if Barney or Kalish are in a Cubs uniform in a year it will be a surprise to everyone. That’s not the case with Olt and Lake.

Olt struck out three times against Tanaka during the day game. He looked bad, but this is the time to let him struggle. The more he plays, the better he will be in the future. That’s common sense. The bottom line is the Cubs need to lose with some purpose. There was little of that in New York over the course of their 12 hours at Yankee Stadium.

Castillo bunting: Renteria indicated catcher Welington Castillo bunted on his own in the fifth inning of Game 2 on Wednesday night. With runners on first and second and none out, Castillo laid down a nice sacrifice, but it wasn’t what his manager wanted.

"We wanted him to swing the bat," he said.

The Cubs' Nos. 8 and 9 hitters were due up, as Kalish subsequently struck out and Barney flew out. Renteria has used the bunt often so far this season, so maybe Castillo thought it was the right move. It wasn’t.