When the Cubs let Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena walk in free agency this winter, it was apparent the 2012 team would struggle to score runs at times.
David DeJesus and Ian Stewart were acquired, but both were coming off down seasons and nobody knew what to expect from career minor-leaguer Bryan LaHair playing full-time at first base.
After putting up eight runs on Cy Young-caliber starters in back-to-back games last week, the Cubs then scored just 10 runs in the next five games, all losses. They entered play Friday averaging 3.5 runs per game on the season and sitting 24th in the majors in runs scored, a big reason for the 3-10 start and 1-5 road trip.
"Obviously, the record is what bothers you," manager Dale Sveum said. "I think being out of a couple games in St. Louis and just not swinging the bats after the first game in St. Louis with men in scoring position and driving the ball.
"We need to drive the ball out of the ballpark to score some runs. It was nice Thursday, Barney hit a three-run triple down the right-field line. We just need more of that. We need more doubles and scoring quick. It's hard to string hits together in the National League when you can pitch to the lineup and get down there and know the pitcher is coming up. Our top of our order needs to do some damage."
Unfortunately for Sveum's squad, Barney's hit in Friday's series finale against the Marlins was the only offense the Cubs were able to muster.
The Cubs entered play Friday 27th in the majors in slugging percentage with a .328 mark. Only Philadelphia, Oakland and Pittsburgh sported lower marks.
"We're a pretty aggressive team," Sveum said. "Slugging percentage happens early in the count. We need to get better pitches to hit early in the count if we're going to swing early. Especially when we're in fastball counts, we have to take advantage of those fastball counts and drive the ball to the middle of the field.
"The fact of the matter is we have to drive some balls in the gaps. That's what we have to get and when people are on base, we have to take advantage of that...It's a full effort from everybody. It's usually an extension of the top of the order."