MINNEAPOLIS Ryan Dempsters time horizon is five days out, not looking beyond his next start. But this Cubs season is slowly coming into a historical focus: Worst. Team. Ever.
Thats not exactly fair, because the expectations are low, theres still 63 percent of the schedule left and Theo Epsteins front office is looking at a bigger picture of the next five or 10 years.
But manager Dale Sveum chuckled and didnt dismiss the idea when it was suggested on Sunday morning before Dempster went out and threw eight shutout innings in an 8-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.
That still left the 20-40 Cubs on pace to lose 108 games, which would break the record for a franchise that began play in 1876. The magic number is 103, which was put up by Cubs teams in 1962 and 1966.
Hopefully, you have to change the pace, Sveum said. You laugh about it, but its definitely there. Its a reality. You dont want any kind of label like that. You better back it up pretty quick, anyway, if you get that label. But, hey, sometimes you bite the bullet on things. Thats just the way it is, unfortunately.
On an everyday basis, yeah, everybody wants you to snap and yell and scream. (But) Ive already done that once, so what are you going to do? Are you going to keep doing it? That doesnt make any sense when the guys are busting their (butts) and preparing every single day. Its not like were throwing balls all over the place.
Sveum wouldnt go into details about his breaking point, but this 10-game road trip wore everyone out. Within the past three weeks, the Cubs have played 16 of 19 games on the road and traveled 6,770 miles through the air.
We just have to be like more relaxed and do the job, Alfonso Soriano said, not try to put too much pressure on ourselves and just let it happen.
Im very surprised where we are, the way we play. Its not the talent. Its the confidence that we lost, and now we got to work to get (it) back.
Soriano got things started with a two-out RBI double in the first inning, and went 6-for-13 with three homers as the designated hitter during this three-game interleague series against the Twins (24-35).
Dempster, who has thrown 15 consecutive shutout innings, also showcased himself, winning both games on this 2-8 road trip.
Were doing good, Dempster said. I mean, as good as can be expected.
Dempster has a 2.31 ERA through 11 starts and would be a positive addition to any clubhouse. The Cubs anticipate this being a sellers market.
We all know what Dempster is, Sveum said. The professionalism and the hard work and obviously the stuff he has on the mound to be one of the top tier guys all the time. (Given) his makeup and his work ethic and his veteran leadership, theres not too many guys like him around that have that whole package.
What will this look like once the Cubs start selling off parts? Well, their hard luck figures to even out a little bit in close games. Anthony Rizzo should eventually give this lineup a jolt, though theyll have to deal with more growing pains once the promotions are made from Triple-A Iowa. The people in the dugout cant think that way.
We just got to get better in certain areas, Sveum said. Thats the way it is. We know that, but unfortunately, that mark is there after 60 games to (bleep) break a lot of records. (Bleep), we got to start winning some baseball games.