The Cubs 2-game winning streak ended with a frustrating 7-5 loss to the Phillies on Friday night. Carlos Zambrano did his best to keep his team in the game against the dominant Roy Halladay, but he ran out of steam in the 7th inning after throwing 128 pitches. But was Manager Mike Quade to blame for the loss. Why was Big Z still in there after throwing over 100 pitches in only 6 innings. The game was still close at 3-0, but when Zambrano served up Placido Polanco’s grand slam, the 3-run deficit quickly became a 7-run deficit. But the big question is why was Zambrano even still in the game? Big Z walked lead off hitter Jimmy Rollins. After a sacrifice bunt moved Rollins to 2nd base, the Cubs opted to walk Chase Utley intentionally to bring up slugger Ryan Howard. The move backfired as Zambrano walked Howard to load the bases. At this point, Big Z was over 120 pitches. Where is the bullpen help? Sure they used guys in the extra innings game the night before, but it was clear that Big Z had nothing left. That became obvious when Polanco crushed the grand slam to deep left.
Now I know there are a lot of factors to go into Quade’s decision. Sure Big Z had had success against Howard. And let’s say Big Z or a reliever gets the Cubs out of trouble and the lead is still 3-0, the Phillies probably bring Halladay back out for the 8th inning, instead of pulling him after 107 pitches in 7 innings. If they do that, then maybe the Cubs don’t rally for 5 runs off Halladay and the bullpen in the 8th inning. But you have to put your team in the best position to win. And leaving Big Z in the game and intentionally walking Utley to get to Howard when Big Z was clearly struggling just didn’t make sense to me.
In any event, Kosuke Fukudome and Starlin Castro each had 2 hits in the loss. Darwin Barney went 0 for 4 and hasn’t gotten a hit in 14 at-bats. When Reed Johnson and Jeff Baker come back off the DL next week, look for Barney to get more days off with Blake DeWitt and Baker getting more time at 2nd base.
Matt Garza goes against Cliff Lee in what should be a good pitching match-up this afternoon. Let’s hope the Cubs can steal today’s game or tomorrow’s game against Roy Oswalt before they return home for a nice 7-game homestand against the Brewers and Yankees.