The Chicago Cubs are going for their first consecutive wins of the young 2011 season. Alfonso Soriano, like he has so far this season, could play a big factor in that.
Soriano and the Cubs will try to make things a bit easier on themselves as they attempt to continue their success against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the middle game of this series at Wrigley Field on Tuesday.
Chicago (2-2) has alternated wins and losses through its first four games, with each of them decided by three or fewer runs.
That trend continued Monday, when the Cubs opened this three-game set with a 4-1 win over Arizona (1-2) to extend their winning streak in the series to seven – four at home.
“It’d be OK if we came out and took a 10-0 lead (Tuesday),” Cubs manager Mike Quade said. “We’ve got to get better and we still have plenty of work to do, but at least the approach and attitude out of the chute has been good.”
Soriano could make a difference for Chicago after going 4 for 11 with two homers and four RBIs over the last three games after going 0 for 4 in a season-opening 6-3 loss to Pittsburgh on Friday.
The left fielder connected for his second home run in as many games Monday and finished 2 for 3 with two RBIs. He’s hitting .413 with eight homers and 22 RBIs over his last 14 meetings versus the Diamondbacks, leading the Cubs to wins in 11 of them.
Soriano has been even better in seven games at Wrigley in that span, going 13 for 23 with five home runs and 13 RBIs.
“He’s very formidable,” Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson told the team’s official website. “He’s a good player, he’s been playing the game for a long time and he’s done very well against us. We’ll try to do things differently to get him out.”
Barry Enright will take on that responsibility as he makes his pitching debut this season. The right-hander went 6-7 with a 3.91 ERA in 17 starts as a rookie in 2010 after being a midseason call-up.
He was charged with a 6-4 home defeat July 6, yielding three runs and seven hits – two homers – with five strikeouts over 5 2-3 innings.
“Obviously, you want to say you’re going to take it like any other start, but there will probably be some extra adrenaline, sure,” Enright said of starting at Wrigley.
Enright struck out as a pinch-hitter in a 7-6, 11-inning season-opening win at Colorado on Friday.
Andrew Cashner is also entering his first full season in the majors, and will get the nod opposite Enright. The 24-year-old right-hander won a spot in the Chicago rotation during spring training.
“It’s my first start in the big leagues – why wouldn’t you be excited?” said Cashner, who went 2-6 with a 4.80 ERA in 53 relief appearances last season.
Carlos Pena’s status is unclear after leaving Monday’s win after spraining his thumb on his glove hand apparently while trying to field an off-target throw to first in the top of the eighth.
The Diamondbacks stranded 11 runners Monday and are 4 for 34 with runners in scoring position this season.
“We’ll start to get the timely hits as we get going, so the main thing is we’re putting good at-bats on guys,” shortstop Willie Bloomqvist said. “It’s just a matter of putting good at-bats in the right situations.”
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