I was just way too irritated to even do a post on Sunday. This could be one of the most frustrating Cubs teams to follow in the last few years. No clutch hitting, no concentration, no desire to win, no emotion, no nothing. Unless the Cardinals lose the rest of their games, I don’t see how this team will be able to win a 3rd straight NL Central crown.
The Cubs actually showed some grit in Saturday’s 6-5 win. The Cubs took a 2-0 lead in the 4th inning on a Kosuke Fukodme double and a Ryan Dempster walk, only to have Dempster give back 4 runs right away in the bottom of the inning. But the Cubs responded with 4 runs in the next 3 innings to take a 6-4 lead. As they had done so many times earlier this season – Angel Guzman, Carlos Marmol and Kevin Greeg worked relatively easy scoreless innings of relief to preserve the 6-5 win.
Looking to build off the big win after losing Friday night, the Cubs looked to Randy Wells to put forth another solid start. Wells had one of his worst outings of the year, and although the Cubs generated numerous scoring chances against Jason Hammel early in the game, they could only push across 3 runs in the game’s 1st 5 innings despite racking up an incredible 11 hits. No clutch hitting once again, and the Cubs found themselves trailing 8-3 by the end of the 6th inning. Wells ended up giving up 5 ER on 8 hits and 2 walks in 5 1/3 innings, while Jeff Stevens got lit up for 4 ER on 5 hits and 1 walk in his 1 inning of work that spanned the 6th and 7th innings. All in all, it was bad day for the Cubs.
The loss pushed the Cubs 3 games behind the Cardinals for 1st place in the NL Central. The Cards took care of business sweeping a weekend series over the Pirates in Pittsburgh.
Carlos Zambrano is back on the DL with lower back soreness that could have been aggravated by over-swinging during batting practice before Friday’s game. Does Big Z realize he is a pitcher 1st and that the Cubs already have starting pitcher Ted Lilly on the DL? Obviously not. Big Z is scheduled to come off the DL on Friday, August 21st and Jeff Samardzija will likely make 2 starts during Big Z’s absence.
Aramis Ramirez has been dealing with right shoulder soreness from his early season dislocated shoulder. Ramirez left Saturday’s game early and Jake Fox started for Ramirez on Sunday. It is unclear if Ramirez will miss anymore time.
With Kosuke Fukodome batting great in the lead-off spot, I’m extremely confused as to why Manager Lou Pinella all of a sudden decided to re-jigger the lineup in Colorado. Pinella had Ryan Theirot leading off, Milton Bradley batting 2nd and Fukodome batting 5th. The players produced in the new lineup (Ryan Theriot had 3 hits on Saturday and 2 hits on Sunday; Bradley had 2 hits on Saturday and 4 hits on Sunday and his average is up to .266; & Fukodome had 2 hits in each game), but it seemed odd that Pinella would mess with a good thing, especially when the Cubs had already found themselves in so many poor hitting droughts several times during the 2009 MLB schedule.
Pinella did his best to motivate the club by getting thrown out of the game for arguing a horrible call at 2nd base on a double play ball that thwarted a Cubs rally, but in the end, the Cubs players looked like they wanted to join Pinella in the showers early instead of trying to win a baseball game.
The Cubs are still just 2 games behind the Cards and the Giants and Rockies for the wild card race, and they have even played 4 fewer games than the Cards and 2 fewer games than each of the Giants and Rockies, so there is room to gain ground. But this team is too inconsistent, too prone to give up way too soon, and too apt to follow a 3-game winning streak with a 5-game skid. I have officially given up – I’ll still root for the Cubs and report on the positives and the negatives, but at the end of the day, this is a middle of the road team, not a division leader…