Wow – how a season can turn. Heading into last Friday’s game against the Rockies, the Cubs were tied for 1st place in the NL Central and just 2 games out of the NL Wild Card race. 6 losses in 7 game later, and the Cubs find themsleves in a very difficult situation.
On Wednesday night, the Phillies crushed the Cubs 12-5, behind a solid outing by Pedro Martinez. Martinez made his 1st start of the 2009 MLB schedule and pitched 5 innings, allowing 3 ER on 7 hits and 1 walk. He struck out 5. Once again, the Cubs had scoring chances early, but failed to take advantage of the situations – they left 13 runners on base. Ryan Theriot was the only Cub player with more than 1 hit and he raised his batting average to .300 even. Theriot and Derrek Lee have been the only consistent hitters for the Cubs all season long. Starter Jeff Samardzija -3 1/3 innings, 7 ER on 8 hits (1 HR) – and Sean Marshall – 3 1/3 innings, 5 ER on 6 hits (2 HR’s) and 3 walks – were downright awful. The Cubs sent Samardzija down to Triple-A Iowa after the loss.
In Thursday afternoon’s series finale, Cliff Lee shut the Cubs down with ease. Lee won his 3rd straight since coming over in a trade from the Cleveland Indians. Lee hasn’t allowed more than 1 ER in any of the 3 starts. Not too shabby. The Cubs did have 6 hits and 3 walks against Lee, but struck out 8 times and left 16 runners on base. Jeff Baker had 2 hits and 2 walks and scored the only run for the Cubs on Ryan Theriot’s RBI single in the 5th inning. Ryan Dempster lost his 6th game for the Cubs this season. He pitched 7 innings which gave the Cubs bullpen a welcome rest. He gave up 6 ER on 8 hits and 2 walks, and he struck out 8 Phillies hitters. Justin Berg who was called up from Triple-A Iowa to take the place of Samardzija pitched the games final 2 innings. In his major league debut, Berg allowed 2 hits and a walk but did not allow a run.
With the sweep, the Cubs are now 4.5 games behind the Cardinals for 1st place in the NL Central and 5.0 games behind the Colorado Rockies in the NL Wild Card race. There’s always next year Cubs fans – although with essentially the same team locked in for 2010, it’s hard to imagine much better results in 2010…