Soriano, Ramirez not alone in postseason slump

Nathaniel Whalen

The Cubs got their money’s worth from Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano during the first 162 games this season, but apparently the big contracts they signed this year didn’t include any mention of overtime baseball in October.

That much was obvious when the two nearly disappeared in the National League Divisional Series sweep at the hands of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

“It’s real disappointing,” Ramirez said after Saturday’s 5-1 loss. “I can’t explain it. I got nothing. They are there for a reason because they got that pitching. But we should have been better than what we did.”

Soriano and Ramirez were hardly alone, though.

The Cubs managed six runs in three games and couldn’t come through in the clutch. They were 2-for-23 with runners in scoring position and, perhaps more incredibly, 4-for-49 with runners of any sort on base.

“If we were hitting,” Cliff Floyd said, “I don’t think we’d be going home.”

With big bucks come big expectations, and it was Soriano (eight years, $136 million) and Ramirez (five years, $75 million) who signed big contracts this year.

They combined to hit .304 with 39 homers and 171 RBI during the regular season, but Ramirez was a big 0-fer -- 0-for-12 -- and Soriano was 2-for-14 against the Diamondbacks.

“I think I made a lot of bad swings at a lot of bad pitches,” said Soriano, who was coming off a Cubs record 14 September homers. “I think I tried too hard; I think that’s the key. Today I was a little more (controlled) -- I had a first at-bat walk. I think that’s the key.

“So they know I’m very aggressive at home plate and they didn’t throw anything good to hit.”

Ramirez came up with men on first and second and two outs in Saturday’s opening frame. He worked a 3-and-0 count from starter Livan Hernandez, but then watched an inside fastball for a strike, argued about an outside slider for a strike and was called out looking on a cut fastball that ran back over the plate.

He had a chance for redemption in the third, coming up again with runners on first and second with one out. He grounded into a 6-4-3 double play.

“We did try to do too much,” said Ramirez, who is the Cubs’ all-time postseason RBI leader with 10. “Some of the offensive players tried to do too much. The adrenaline probably took over and we tried too hard. We didn’t hit. If we don’t hit, you can’t win.”

Soriano had his best opportunity in the fourth when he came up with two outs and Jacque Jones standing on third. However, the crafty Hernandez got Soriano way out in front of a 61 mph curveball and induced a weak fly ball to left.

That brought out the boo birds, who only grew louder when Soriano grounded out to short to start the seventh.

Ramirez got the same treatment when he grounded out to short in the eighth.

“They pay their money to do whatever they want in the game, but I’m very surprised (they did boo) because we tried very hard, we play the game for the fans,” Soriano said. “They can do whatever they want in the game.”

Fittingly, it was Soriano who popped out to end the game and the series.

“All three games we had a lot of opportunities to score some runs, but I think the big hit didn’t come,” Soriano said. “All considered, I think that’s why they won the series. When we gave opportunities to them, they had the hit. They scored some runs. We didn’t do anything offensively.”

-- The Daily Southtown