Ouch. The Cubs suffered a painful loss yesterday, after having achieved an early lead of 4-0. In case you were wondering, this 7 run loss is not their worst defeat of the season, it just feels that way because the Nationals are just as bad as most of the Cubs teams that we grew up watching. Point of fact - the Cubs lost 9-0 against the Reds back on May 7th, they lost 10-3 vs. the White Sox on June 27th, they suffered a 9-2 beating against the Diamondbacks on July 22nd, and the Cardinals beat them 12-3 just this month on August 9th. What is true is that 13 runs is the most surrendered by this pitching staff all year long, although they were outscored 21-7 over a span of two days on the 26th and 27th of June.
Blowouts are certainly painful, although Len and Bob pointed out during yesterday's broadcast that the Cubs have lost something like 19 games by 1 run. I think that's worse.
Coincidentally, while the Cubs were getting beaten up by the Nationals, the Brewers and Cardinals were also participating in a couple of blowout games, although they were on the right side of them. Milwaukee won their game against the Pirates 10-4, and the Cardinals defeated the Braves 18-3. Unfortunately for all involved Central Division parties, it still only counts as 1 in the standings.
So, looking at the game yesterday, I'm sure that you - like I - am asking a single, simple question: wha' happen'd?
After scoring 4 unanswered runs in the early stages of the game thanks to a sweet steal of home by Soriano and homeruns by Derrek Lee and Mark DeRosa, Cubs starting pitcher Jason Marquis suddenly remembered in the 6th inning that he sucks. He surrendered a leadoff single to Bonifacio, and then he misplaced the strike zone, walking Guzman and Zimmerman. Lastings Milledge sac'ed in Bonifacio, Belliard doubled in Guzman, and as Jason Marquis Walk of Shamed his way off the mound, Piniella turned to Neal Cotts to get the team out of that ugly little mess. Cotts proceeded to walk Austin Kearns and surrender a grand slam to Willie Harris. Harris, by the way, is a .255 hitter who went 2 for 4 with 2 homeruns and 6 RBI on the day. When he gets his next contract, he should promise to divvy up 5% of it to Cotts and Chad Gaudin.
After Cotts exited the game, Lou apparently decided that it wasn't possible to win it, so he turned to the Gas Can who gave up 2 hits and another run in his one inning of work. Then, Gaudin must have drawn the short straw, because although he clearly didn't have his best - or any - stuff, Lou forced him to pitch 2 innings of brutalizing, demoralizing baseball. The Nationals scored 6 more, adding insult to insult, and for a day the worst team in baseball beat the hell out of the best team.
Luckily, the Cubs have 2 days to extract bloody revenge. Ryan Dempster, 14-5 with a 2.92 ERA, will be taking on the 5-9 Odalis Perez. Rich Harden, 8-2 with a 2.04 ERA (1.50 since joining the Cubs) will be squaring off with the 2-9 Jason Bergmann. There's no such thing as a guaranteed victory in baseball, but I think we'd all agree that the Cubs have to be the favorites this weekend.
If there is any justice in the world, the Cubs will sweep this series with extreme malice aforethought.
You may recall a couple of weeks back, when Kurt penned some posts about the Overwork of Carlos Marmol, during the stretch of time Carlos Was Getting His Groove Back. This also happened to be a time when Wood was soaking his blister in pickle juice, or Moises Alou's peepee, or whatever foreign substance finally served to toughen his skin. I felt I understood Uncle Lou's motivation at the time to get Carlos some ninth-inning reps, for future reference.
Marmol is back to being the Marmolator, but now I find myself coming over to Kurt's camp. Sure, I like seeing his filthy-ass stuff as much as the next guy, but I know that you can't run the stud out there every day. The human arm DOES have a tendency to fall clean off the bone when it is asked to perform the unnatural act of throwing corrosive sliders day after day. It can unhinge itself at the elbow by shearing its ligaments, or at the shoulder by tearing its labrum.
Point is, if all goes as planned, we should have three eighth-inning leads to hold this weekend, as well as three ninth-inning leads to close. Let's see somebody else besides Marmol and Wood out there slamming the door?
UPDATE - Soriano just stole home. Need I say more about the Nats?