Where did it all go wrong for GM Jim Hendry and Manager Lou Pinella with this frustrating 2009 Cubs ball club? The Cubs lost to the Phillies 4-1 in 13 innings on Tuesday night as Jayson Werth’s 3-run HR off of Jeff Samardzija gave the Phillies their 10th straight win. That wasn’t surprising. What was surprising was how good Rich Harden looked and how bad the Cubs bats are on a daily basis.
First Harden – as I wrote yesterday, I expected the Phillies to knock Harden around, but he threw a season high 117 pitches in 7 solid innings. Harden gave up only 1 ER on 4 hits and 2 walks and the lone run scored on a Jimmy Rollins solo home run way back in the 3rd inning. Harden also had 6 K’s. The rest of the bullpen was up to the challenge too – Carlos Marmol worked 2 scoreless innings, Angel Guzman tossed a scoreless inning and Sean Marshall and Aaron Heilman combined for a scoreless 11th inning. Jeff Samardzija even looked good – he retired the 1st 5 batters he faced over the 12th and 13th innings, but got into trouble when he walked both Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez with 2 outs in the 13th. Not a good move – because walks always come back to haunt you. Then Samardzija served up the game-winning HR to Werth and the Cubs had dropped the 1st 2 games to the Phillies at Citizens Bank Ballpark.
But the big issue is the Cubs hitting. After knocking around one of baseball’s worst pitching staff’s against the Nats in DC over the weekend, it was back to the “real-world” for the Cubs. The Cubs should have felt good as Citizens Bank Ballpark is one of the best hitter park in the big leagues. Batters improves their statistics each night they get to play in the ball park. But not the Cubs hitters. In 22 innings, the Cubs have managed just 2 runs off of the mediocre Phillies pitching. Worse than that, they managed only 6 hits in Monday’s loss and only 5 hits in Tuesday’s loss. After drawing only 3 walks on Monday, the Cubs didn’t walk once on Tuesday night. Not 1 walk in 13 innings!? How can that be? Only 3 Cubs players had hits in both games – Alfonso Soriano had 3 hits on Monday and 1 hit on Tuesday, while Ryan Theriot and Kosuke Fukodome each had 1 hit in each game. Derrek Lee is a combined 1 for 8 while Aramis Ramirez is a combined 0 for 7 in the series. What makes it even worse is the fact that the Cubs seem to waste good pitching outings with horrible hitting performances. Rich Harden’s Tuesday night start was another quality start for the Cubs starting rotation. The Cubs now have 57 quality starts on the season, but only 47 wins to show for it. When you don’t win quality starts, you are not going to be near the top of your division.
This team is only still in contention because the rest of the NL Central is so bad. The Cubs are 47-45 and are tied with the Brewers and Astros for 2nd place behind the Cardinals. I feel like I’ve given the team (and Hendry and Pinella) the benefit of the doubt in 2009, but after 92 games, it’s time to step up and take accountability for your play on the field. Stay tuned for some more critical posts about the state of the Cubs and what they need to do to make sure the team can stay competitive for the forseable future…