Saturday, June 1, 2013
Cubs suddenly winning with homers
By Bruce Levine
Cubs catcher Dioner Navarro hit three home runs against the White Sox.
CHICAGO -- On the surface the Chicago Cubs do not appear to be a home run-hitting team.
Sure, they have home run hitters like Alfonso Soriano and Anthony Rizzo, but not many other Cubs position players appear to be a threat for the home run or slugging percentage title.
“I don’t think we are a home run team,” Soriano said. “I think we can be a very good hitting team, but not a team that can count on the homer to win every day.”
Recent numbers tell a different story. The club has hit 11 long balls in its last five games. They have also defeated their opponent by five runs or more in this brief four-game cycle.
“Home runs are harder to get now because you have very smart pitchers,” said Soriano, who led the 2012 team with 32 home runs. “It is nice to hit homers but, from what I see, the teams that win championships do the little things and play great defense to support their pitchers.”
Many baseball people believe Starlin Castro will eventually be a home run hitter, however no one on the present roster has hit more than 20 home runs in a season other than Soriano and Scott Hariston.
“We have hit a good amount of home runs already,” manager Dale Sveum said. “We are on pace to have 170 or so, which isn’t bad. Leading the league in doubles and having a high slugging percentage is what really comes in handy. You just cannot replace one swing of the bat scoring a run.”
Although managers love teams that can manufacture runs and score with speed on the bases, not every team has those components.
“We have guys that are capable of driving the ball out of the park,” Sveum said. “We all know that three-run homers win games and these days it is very difficult to string hits together and produce runs that way.”
The Cubs have scored 43 percent of their total runs this season via the home run.