"Give them credit," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of his hitters. "We've seen plenty of pitches this year. It's what we've done when we've got to the 3-1 and 3-2 counts that has put us in jeopardy of bigger innings. Lately, we've been pretty good at laying off the bad pitches in those counts."
The Cubs haven't been consistent at the plate, batting .225 with runners in scoring position, lowest in the Major Leagues.
Sveum and hitting coach James Rowdon have encouraged better pitch selection.
"It's not a mystery that walks come with experience and at-bats in the big leagues for guys who want to take that extra step in their game," Sveum said. "There are some guys who don't take that extra step. When an offense starts rolling, it's when you start winning games just because you're taking those 3-2 walks and not swinging out of the zone trying to be, if you want to call it selfish, or whatever.
"We have to be more prepared and preach it and guys feed off it and everybody starts talking about it, and that's when it starts turning."
Sveum noted that batters like the Reds' Joey Votto don't panic when they are faced with a two-strike count. He wants the young Cubs batters to take that approach.
"People don't realize the more strikes you get on you, the more anxiety," Sveum said. "Those guys [like Votto] don't change with the count. That's what you have to get through to younger hitters and some older hitters -- the anxiety level shouldn't change."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.