The Cubs and White Sox are in varying states of development, harboring eclectic groups of transient veterans and emerging young players.
In the cases of many of these players, it will be: Now you see them, now you don’t.
In the meantime, the work-in-progress teams remain on public display against each other this week, and Tuesday night the Sox won their second straight from the North Siders, 5-1, before a crowd of 34,305 at Wrigley Field.
“Our approach wasn’t very good, and our guys know that,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said.
Gordon Beckham collected four hits, including a homer off Neil Ramirez to put the Sox ahead 2-1 in the eighth.
“It was great. He has been trying to find that swing and tonight was it,” Sox manager Robin Ventura said of the slumping Beckham’s breakout game. “He made a couple of adjustments in batting practice … felt good … I mean, it looked good. He hit the ball all over the place. With him you always want to get that going. He has been trying to find that since he came off the (disabled list).”
Moises Sierra, a last-minute addition to the starting lineup when Adam Dunn was scratched, also collected a career-high four hits.
Sox starter Hector Noesi went five innings and tamed the Cubs on four hits while allowing one run. He struck out six and walked one.
“(Noesi) threw great,” Ventura said. “Even the last game he threw — he got through three (innings) and then that little bump with four … but he’s stretching it out where he’s throwing more pitches. He’s making that adjustment, really, on the fly. It’s impressive that he’s able to step in and give us that kind of effort.”
The Sox padded their lead with a three-run ninth on with RBI doubles from Tyler Flowers and Jordan Danks.
Cubs reliever Pedro Strop left with a groin injury as Carlos Villanueva took over and retired the final two batters. Strop, who said he initially injured his groin five days ago during lunge drills, is scheduled for an MRI on Wednesday.
Sox relievers Zach Putnam, Scott Downs and Daniel Webb throttled the Cubs and Putnam earned the victory.
“They have helped us, kept us in games,” Ventura said of his bullpen before the game. “They really have given us a chance. If they’re not holding it down, you don’t really have a chance. It’s not an easy job, but they’ve been doing it.”
One of those transient veterans on the Cubs is right-hander Edwin Jackson, who was on top of his game through seven innings, limiting the White Sox to one run on six hits. He struck out nine before giving way to James Russell to start the eighth.
Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer is asked almost daily about the prospect of flipping productive veteran players such as Jeff Samardzija for valued young prospects and/or draft picks.
“No, no. Nothing new,” Hoyer said Tuesday when asked for an update. “It’s May 6, teams still are trying to figure out who is going to be good. They are still solving their own injuries. Going through their own systems … it takes a while to really get past that. Teams have to have a sense that they can’t fill a hole internally, or they can’t make a big enough improvement internally. People don’t usually come to that conclusion in May.”