Levine: Cubs’ Approach Delivers Home Run Outburst
By Bruce Levine
WRIGLEY FIELD (CBS) – A little positive reinforcement and a good approach produced some desired results for the Cubs on Saturday.
After a meeting with his club on Friday, Cubs manager Rickey Renteria received a strong performance from his players. The eight run attack included a patient approach and a varied offensive contribution from his beleaguered team
“He was in there to help us get fired up and to show his confidence in us,” said winning pitcher Edwin Jackson in relation to Renteria’s locker room speech on Friday.
Reds starter Tony Cingrani was all over the strike zone as the Cubs took their walks and produced single runs in the first three innings. Cubs starter Jackson threw five shutout innings before yielding two runs in the fifth and making way for the bullpen.
Solo home runs by Mike Olt and Darwin Barney contributed to the teams first win in over a week. Three runs in the bottom of the sixth, highlighted by Welington Castillo’s two run homer, helped salt away the team’s fifth win of the season. The victory helped snap a five-game losing streak.
Jackson won his first contest of 2014. The 30-year-old veteran is trying to resurrect his career after losing a Major League high 18 games in 2013.
“Today was a great team effort,” said Jackson. “Welington [Castillo] and I got into a groove early. We had a lot of guys putting the bat on the ball. We had some big hits and great defense. When we play complete games as a ball club we have positive outcomes.”
Barney, who has revamped his entire hitting approach, hit his first home run of the season. His new patient approach at the plate has produced seven walks in 29 at bats, a ratio of one base-on-balls for every four at-bats. That ratio is quite a contrast from his career one walk in every 19 at-bats prior to this season.
“This is something as a team we needed to get better at,” Barney said. “For me personally, it was something I wanted to work on and take pride in. I am trying to swing at strikes and make the pitcher work a little harder. I’m looking for the happy medium between swinging at good pitches and being aggressive.”
That sounds like the Cubs’ team mantra for 2014.