It has been a problem all season long – the Cubs get a great scoring chance and only push across 1 run or 2 runs and then go on to lose a close game. In the 1st inning, the Cubs put together 4 straight 1-out hits but end up stranding runners on 2nd and 3rd base with only 1 out. Different night, same story. Starlin Castro singled and Derrek Lee sent Castro to 3rd with a double. Marlon Byrd then drove home both men with a single to left field. Blake DeWitt kept the rally going with a double to put runners on 2nd and 3rd base with only 1 out. But Alfonso Soriano failed to push across that 3rd run when he grounded out to 3rd base and Darwin Barney – making his 1st ever major league start – flied out to left field to end the threat. Instead of a 4-0 1st inning lead, the Cubs settled for a 2-run lead. Cards pitcher Jake Westbrook settled down after that rough 1st inning and the rest if history. Westbrook gave up just 2 hits and 1 walk from the 2nd through the 6th innings and he picked up his 1st win in 3 starts for the Cards since being traded from the Indians. Sure the Cubs added a home run by Lee in the 8th inning to cut the Cards lead to 603, but by then, it was too little too late.
Thomas Diamond made it 3 losses in 3 starts for the Cubs. He needed 87 pitches to labor through 4 innings and his time as a Cubs starter for the remainder of 2010 is numbered. He gave up 4 ER on 6 hits and 4 walks and just didn’t put his team in position to win on Friday night. Casey Coleman made a good case to be bumped up into the rotation with a 2nd straight scoreless outing. Coleman has had his share of troubles in his 1st two appearances (8 ER on 10 hits and 4 walks in 5 1/3 innings pitched), but he has tossed 3 straight scoreless innings now and has given up just 1 walk with 4 K’s in the process. Manager Lou Pinella is open to the competition among his young pitchers: “I would think everybody that comes up here would get an opportunity to pitch and get some playing time, and obviously the ones that are doing better will get more than the others… The young kids that come up here to pitch, we’ll pitch them, and the position players? The same way… We’re still trying to compete and win some games, and we’re playing a lot of teams in pennant contention so we’d like to beat them and derail them too.”
Couple of positives to take in the loss:
Lee was back in the lineup and had 2 hits. He was the only Cubs player with more than 1 hit.
Castro had another hit and is getting close to getting enough at-bats to qualifying for the NL batting crown. He is hitting .319 on the season and should have enough AB’s to crack the top 5 in hitting at some point next week. Carlos Gonzalez leads the NL in hitting with a .324 batting average and Joey Votto is 2nd with a .320 average. Castro would slide into the 3-spot on the list in front of Placido Polanco with his .317 average. Good work – Starlin! Manager Lou PInella is thrilled with his progress: “Isn’t that wonderful… This kid here, he’s a player. He’s gotten better and better as the season has progressed. He makes his rookie mistakes, but we live with them and work with him. He’s really coming along. He’s taken to that two-hole.”
Big Z gets the start today on FOX’s Saturday game of the week. Let’s hope he has better control than he showed when he walked 7 batters in 5 innings of a loss to the Giants on Monday night.