It felt like Grounds Hog Day on Thursday in Houston. The Astros beat the Cubs 2-1, this time in 13 innings. For the 2nd straight day, the Cubs scored only 1 run courtesy of a solo home run – this time by Derrek Lee. The HR was a little more dramatic as it tied the game at 1 when the Cubs were down to the their last 2 outs in the 9th inning. But the Cubs bats were mostly silent the rest of the way, and the Cubs eventually fell in the 13th inning on a run-scoring single by Geoff Blum. It was the 2nd consecutive game in which Geoff Blum had a walk-off hit to win the game for the Astros.
The Cubs had a frustrating road trip. Although the Cubs went 4-4 (good for them on the road), 5 of the 8 games went to extra innings and the Cubs continue to blow chance after chance in each game. The Cubs are getting no clutch hitting in 2009, and because of that, they are losing way to many close games. They outscored their opponents 28-21 on the road trip, but only won 4 games. The Cubs endured 4 1-run losses on the trip and they continue to waste good pitching efforts from the starting pitchers. Ryan Dempster pitched 7 innings, giving up 7 hits and only 1 earned run in the 1st inning. He didn’t walk a batter and he racked up 4 K’s. Carlos Marmol worked 2 scoreless innings without allowing a hit (he did walk 1 batter). Kevin Gregg also worked 2 scoreless innings, but he did have to work out of a few jams as he allowed 3 hits during his work. Jose Ascansion took his 1st loss of the season by giving up the game-winning hit to Blum in the 13th inning.
Manager Lou Pinella had this to say about the frustrating road trip: “What am I going to do? Just keep running them out there and hope it gets better. They’re going to have to find the answers on the field. That’s the bottom line. It sounds cruel, it sounds harsh, but it’s reality. We really did nothing. When we had chances, we’re swinging at bad pitches out of the zone, can’t make contact. Come on. This is Major League Baseball. I know the game isn’t easy to play because I played it for a long time, but it’s not this darn hard.”
The Cubs are now just 1 game over .500 at 29-28. Luckily, the Brewers have lost 4 in a row, so the Cubs are only 2.5 games out of 1st place. The bad news – the Cubs still have to jump over the Cards and Reds to catch the Brewers. The Cubs return home to Wrigley Field for a 9-game home stand. The Cubs will face 3 members of the AL Central division in inter-league play. Friday-Sunday, June 12th-14th v. the Minnesota Twins; Tuesday-Thursday, June 16th-18th v. Chicago White Sox; and Friday-Sunday, June 19th-21st v. Cleveland Indians.