The Cubs dropped the 1st game of the big weekend series against the Cardinals on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field 8-3. Not a good way to start of the weekend. Entering the game, the Cubs trailed the 1st place Cards by 3.5 games in the NL Central. At worst, the Cubs needed to split the 4-game series with the Cards to remain 3.5 games out of 1st place. Now that means they must win 2 of 3 the rest of the way before next week’s All-Star Break. A tall task for a team that just can’t seem to buy a clutch hit.
After scoring just 1 run in each of their previous 2 losses to the Braves at Wrigley Field, the Cubs managed just 3 runs against the Cards – all on Derrek Lee’s 3-run HR in the 3rd inning that tied the game at 3. The Cubs did manage 9 hits in today’s loss, but they left 13 men on base. Just awful.
Rich Harden had another atrocious start but did manage to get 2 hits off Cards’ starter Chris Carpenter. Harden struggled through 101 pitches in 5 innings. Harden gave up 4 ER on 7 hits and 4 walks, but did strike out 6 Cards hitters to minimize the damage. Reliever Aaron Heilman was a train-wreck in his one inning of work. Heilman gave up 4 ER on 3 walks and 2 hits and saw his ERA rise to 4.35 and his WHIP rise to 1.65. Heilman has been a major disappointment for Manager Lou Pinella, GM Jim Hendry and the Cubs in 2009.
One positive – Jeff Stevens – acquired from the Indians in the off-season trade that sent beloved Mark DeRosa to Cleveland – made his major league debut and pitched a 1-2-3- 9th inning.
Here’s how the rest of the weekend looks:
Saturday – 3:10PM – Ted Lilly v. Brad Thompson
Sunday – 12:05PM – Randy Wells v. Kyle Lohse
Sunday – 7:05PM – Carlos Zambrano v. Adam Wainwright
Saturday’s game almost becomes a must-win for Lilly and the Cubs…