After three games the Cubs lead the National League in only one offensive categoryrunners left on base.
If there were an objective way to measure frustration, they might top the charts in that too.
"A couple things in our offense aren't clicking," manager Don Baylor said Thursday night after the Cubs' 3-1 loss to the Reds. "Guys aren't swinging like they will be shortly."
There are many exceptions. Alex Gonzalez is batting .545; Corey Patterson is hitting .455; Delino DeShields (.417) and Todd Hundley (.364) are contributing. Sammy Sosa already has homered twice.
But the Cubs have been dreadful in clutch situations, consistently leaving runners out in the cold.
"We can't get that one hit," Baylor said.
Roosevelt Brown tried to deliver a key hit in the eighth inning against Reds closer Danny Graves. But with two outs and two runners on, Graves struck out Brown on a 1-2 sinker that was low and away.
Brown responded by slamming his bat to the Cinergy Field turf, breaking it in two.
"I'm emotional," Brown said. "And I was just letting it out. I'm normally patient, but I took the exact opposite approach."
The Cubs blew another opportunity in the ninth. After Gonzalez and Hundley led off with back-to-back singles, pinch-hitter Darren Lewis lined out to the warning track in left field.
With his team trailing by two runs, Baylor was not about to play for a tie on the road.
With one out, Mark Bellhorn sent another shot to deep left field that landed in Reggie Taylor's glove. DeShields grounded out to end the game.
"We were getting good swings against Graves," Baylor said.
But they didn't get good results.
The Reds did just enough to win. They scored two runs in the second after Sean Casey's leadoff double. First baseman Fred McGriff could not corral Aaron Boone's one-hopper, leading to two unearned runs.
Juan Cruz (0-1) was erratic in his season's debut. The 23-year-old right-hander lasted just 42/3 innings, walking four and allowing three hits.
He recorded his final four outs with a blister on his right middle finger that isn't a cause for major concern.
Brown said his slow start also should not be a concern.
"I need to be more disciplined, that's all," he said. "I need to go home, relax and get patient. I'm not worried. [But] we should have swept [the Reds]."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times