It should not have come as much of a surprise the way the Cubs players sent Lou Pinella off during his last game as Cubs Manager. The Cubs lost another series at Wrigley Field with their 16-5 loss to the Braves on Sunday. Despite racking up the same number of hits as the Braves – lucky number 13 – the Braves made their hits count more – scoring 16 runs in the process. Omar Infante and Jason Heyward each belted 2 home runs in the onslaught against Randy Wells and 4 rookie relievers. It was definitely not the way that Lou wanted to go out, but given the fact that he pretty much gave up a long time ago, you can’t really expect too much more from his players. I know Pinella has a lot of personal issues going on, but you can’t help but wonder if he had shown as much emotion during the season as he showed before the game when he announced it would be his last, maybe the results would have been a little bit different this season. Pinella started his tenure as Cubs manager with a lot more emotion and fire. Maybe the Milton Bradley saga was too much for him to bear in 2009, and that frustration and struggle seemed to carry over during the 2010 MLB schedule. He never argued too many calls too vehemently. He never got upset with his players other than to suggest that “his hands were tied” and that they just had to go back out the next day and try harder. And he never really tried to motivate his team as far as we can tell. Sure he tried a lot of different lineups and different arms in the bullpen, but in the end, it wasn’t enough. And maybe his players could tell that he really didn’t care at all as well, so why should they.
That being said, we’ll have a lot more on Lou and the managerial hunt this week. You can’t argue with his 1st 2 seasons at the helm – 2 consecutive NL Central Division titles and 2 straight playoff appearances. The Cubs had not done that in a very long time. On the other hand, the Cubs didn’t win a single playoff game with Lou in charge – losing 6 straight games to the Diamondbacks and Dodgers in 2007 and 2008. Maybe they were underdogs in 2007, but there were no excuses for the top National League team in 2008.
As for Sunday’s loss, it the same old story. Bad pitching. Some good hitting (lots of hits) but no clutch hitting (only 5 runs). Cubs players struck out 13 times as rookie Mike Minor racked up 12 K’s in only 6 innings?! Starlin Castro did have the 1st 4-hit game of his career with 2 doubles. He is hitting .316 and is very close to qualifying for the NL batting crown which would put him in a tie for 4th place with Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols. Marlon Byrd and Aramis Ramirez also had 3 hits apiece.
The Cubs are now 51-74 on the season and the trail the Cincinnati Reds by 21.5 games?! Ouch. Keep checking back this week – we’ll have more on Lou as well as some stories on potential candidates to replace Lou in 2011.