If I told you a certain "Pitcher McPitcherson" put up this line:
7.0IP, 0R, 4H, 0BB, 8K
Wouldn't you assume the Cubs were facing some sort of well-established ace? That's a Johan Santana line, or a Peavy-in-his-prime line, or something like that.
I guess, for tonight at least, it's also a Russ Ohlendorf line.
Russ got through seven innings on 93 pitches, 62 of which were strikes. In other words, Ohlendorf was all over the strike zone, for the entire night, and the Cubs couldn't convert.
Even when Ohlendorf was gone, the Cubs couldn't take advantage of the opportunities that presented themselves later in the game.
In a moment of maximal frustration, the Cubs were unable to capitalize on a no-out situation with runners on 2nd and 3rd in the 8th inning. Soriano struck out swinging on an outside change-up, Fukudome looked at strikes two and three, and Derrek Lee grounded out.
Are Pirates pitchers that good? Maybe.
Is the Cubs offense that bad? Almost certainly.
On a day in which the Chicago Cubs could've been hurdled by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the standing, Rich Harden stood up and delivered 7 strong innings, minus one blip in the 5th in which he loaded the bases and surrendered a run before escaping. Harden was then relieved by Carlos Marmol and Kevin Gregg, both of whom delivered hitless, walkeless, scoreless 8th and 9th innings for the Cubs. Apparently 1-2-3 innings are so rare with those guys that it bares mentioning in this recap. Offensively the Cubs were able to collect 7 hits and draw 2 walks, with multi-hit days coming from Milton Bradley and Jake Fox. How about Fox, by the way? Two weeks ago he was a pinch hitter whose defensive skills were so terrible that the Cubs couldn't possibly think of him in a starting role. Except now he's holding down the fort at third (and whether his defensive skills are on par with Keith Moreland, Ron Cey, or a cardboard box he hasn't cost the Cubs any games over where) while batting .347. Speaking of getting hits, Ryan Theriot knocked his 7th homerun of the year last night. Before this season Theriot had 7 career homeruns, so naturally he's on steroids. I wonder what Colin thinks about him these days? The Cubs remain within striking distance of first place. It's probably wrong to expect a sweep, but a series win would be huge considering that the Cubs play their next two sets against two of the three teams ahead of them in the standings. It's not too late to go on a rampage. Another win today would be heee-yuuuuuge.
On a day in which the Chicago Cubs could've been hurdled by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the standing, Rich Harden stood up and delivered 7 strong innings, minus one blip in the 5th in which he loaded the bases and surrendered a run before escaping. Harden was then relieved by Carlos Marmol and Kevin Gregg, both of whom delivered hitless, walkeless, scoreless 8th and 9th innings for the Cubs. Apparently 1-2-3 innings are so rare with those guys that it bares mentioning in this recap.
Offensively the Cubs were able to collect 7 hits and draw 2 walks, with multi-hit days coming from Milton Bradley and Jake Fox. How about Fox, by the way? Two weeks ago he was a pinch hitter whose defensive skills were so terrible that the Cubs couldn't possibly think of him in a starting role. Except now he's holding down the fort at third (and whether his defensive skills are on par with Keith Moreland, Ron Cey, or a cardboard box he hasn't cost the Cubs any games over where) while batting .347.
Speaking of getting hits, Ryan Theriot knocked his 7th homerun of the year last night. Before this season Theriot had 7 career homeruns, so naturally he's on steroids. I wonder what Colin thinks about him these days?
The Cubs remain within striking distance of first place. It's probably wrong to expect a sweep, but a series win would be huge considering that the Cubs play their next two sets against two of the three teams ahead of them in the standings. It's not too late to go on a rampage. Another win today would be heee-yuuuuuge.
Alright, I didn't actually see the game today as the Gay Pride Parade conflicted, but I'm pretty sure there's nothing to say about a 6-0 loss. If any other Riders would like to add to this "recap", feel free. Instead of a classic recap, I thought I'd pass along some stat fun.
The Cubs offense has been bad. Real bad. And, of course, this is
nothing new to our loyal readers, but I thought I'd just throw out a
few numbers to highlight the tremendous badness of the Cubs' offense.
Why do I do this? Most likely because I hate our readers and want them
to suffer. Or, at least, that my current working theory. Anyway,
here's a list of notable figures:
- Abraham Lincoln
- Joe Cocker
Hmm, not as elucidating as I had hoped. Sorry about that. Let's try a list of stats generated by the woeful Cubs' offense:
- The Cubs have exactly two starters with OPS's above average: Lee
and Fukudome. Yes, despite all Fukudome's efforts to destroy his
leading performance indicators, he still has been above average for
the season. Everyone else? Below average. And if you take out
Theriot (OPS+ of 97), nobody's within 10% of league average
- Of the Cubs non-starters, only Jake Fox, Reed Johnson and...Bobby
Scales have been above average. That's one guy who's been up for a
week, one guy who's on the DL, and one guy who's performing for
farmers. Aaron Miles? He has an OPS+ of 30. 30. Thirty.
Thiiiiiirrrrrtttty. Hey Aaron, the suck store called and they're
running out of you.
- But that's okay, because Ryan Freel's their all time best seller
with an OPS+ of -22. NEGATIVE TWENTY TWO. I don't even understand
these numbers but I'm pretty sure that translates to a VORP of GO HOME.
- Ted Lilly has hit better than Ryan Freel.
- Honestly, so have I.
Get well, Aramis. You are missed. A lot.
So there's your recap. If anyone else who like to share their favorite The Cubs' Offense Sucks moment, feel free to chime in.
None of today's pitchers were particularly effective. Sucks. Dempster threw 104 pitches, 55 for strikes. That means he threw a lot of balls--49, to be exact. (See what I did there? Subtraction is fun!)
I guess the hitting was pretty good, though. Remember that game where the Cubs had eleven hits, seven walks, and three runs? In today's game, the Cubs had fewer hits, less than half the walks--and more than twice the runs. Something about timely hitting, maybe, since the Cubs only had one extra-base hit (a double from Soriano).
At least Marmol didn't walk anybody? Eh. Whatever.
Congratulations, Kurt. Go Cubs!
News flash - if you start a new job somewhere and before your first day all your new co-workers are claiming that you won't work out there, that you will be a problem, and that it will ultimately end badly, then you're in a lot of trouble. If, on your first week you accidentally break the espresso machine, nobody will be surprised. If you nearly come to blows with the mail guy because of a screw-up, everybody will have seen it coming.
In other words, maybe we've made Milton into this monster.
Blame Bradley for his past, and for his "the world is against me" attitude, and for reading his own press and anticipating the boos. But you are a dirty liar if you say you weren't anticipating them, either.
Still, the Cubs won. Jake Fox went 3 for 4 with a double and a homer. Geovany Soto went 2 for 4 on his quest to bat .420. The bullpen was a little shaky but Randy Wells got his second win a lot easier than it took to get his first.
But Bradley has shown us that he is not able to stand up to the pressure. Chicago is not, nor has it ever been a land of loving fans and their losers. The atmosphere there can be great when the Cubs are winning, but Cub fans would turn on their own mothers if she was on the team and batting .220. Nobody -- except maybe Lou -- is immune.
Milton's not immune, either. But I don't think he's the virus they are painting him out to be. He has my sympathy for now, my patient understanding, but let's be honest. If he keeps up with the floundering he will get nothing from me but scorn. Milton, it's time to put on your man pants. Grow the f!_!(k up, kid.
Geovany Soto tested positive for, of all things, pot use back in the spring. BIG F!_!(KING DEAL!! Unless he was baking moments before a game it would NOT have affected his play any more than drinking the night before would have. Blaming his slow start on smoking pot is flat-out ridiculous and we'll just leave it at that.
(P.S. For those wondering ... don't smoke, haven't smoked, will never smoke)
Onward to the even uglier side of things...
Either Detroit is really good or the Cubs are really terrible. Maybe it's a bit of a mix of both. But after winning 4 straight, Chicago has now lost 4 in a row. They find themselves a game under .500, 3.5 back of the division. As Jon Miller said on his show this morning, 3.5 games is basically "a good weekend," and while the Cubs haven't been getting timely hits they have at least been hitting regularly as of late.
At this point we have seen that they are capable of putting up runs, getting bit hits, winning in clusters, and out-pitching their opponents. But we've also seen that it is not the norm. Probably on Monday -- as I will be busy getting married this weekend -- I'll outline a few alternative lineups that Lou has never tried but probably should and we'll keep the debate alive.
In the meantime, guh. What an ugly series. Probably the biggest frustration on my part is the team's lack of doing something -- anything -- to fix the problems.
Current Record: 34-35
Position in the NL Central: 4th place, 3.5 games out
Best Possible Record: 127-35
Worst Possible Record: 34-128
Record needed to win 110: 76-17
On Pace For: 80-82
Carrie Muskat called this one an "excruciating loss" in her recap. Not sure there are really too many other ways to describe it.
Usually the Cubs win when they score four runs, but a pinch hit home run off the Cub closer put the Tigers into the win column in Tuesday night's contest.
Intrepid reader Dizzle pointed out that Gregg's last 9.2 innings had happened without his giving up a run. Beyond that, Kevin Gregg has quietly been having a pretty fantastic June. He's struck out eight and walked just one opposing batter in 10.2 innings of work, posting a 1.69 ERA.
Was Kevin Gregg, in a way, on the wrong side of the "due" list coming into tonight's game? Unfortunately, I'd have to say, kinda.
Does that make him completely useless from here on out? Hardly. Before tonight's disaster, Gregg had an ERA below 3.00 since May 1. Furthermore, he's turning out to be a considerable improvement over the guy the Cubs passed on this offseason.
I hear ya, guys--losing this way sucks. Unfortunately, it's a pretty likely thing to have happen once or twice over the course of a season. Let's hope Gregg can get back on track and be ready to go the next time we need a save in a close game.
Usually when a team gets three hits in the first inning, you expect a good day from your offense. At the very least, you expect one or more runs to start the game off. The Cubs would end up with ten hits in total on Monday, outhitting their opponent by two, drawing three walks in the process--and end up not scoring.
The primary issue this evening: a major power outage. All ten hits were singles.
The secondary issue affecting the Cubs' offensive performance this evening? I'd say they were hurt pretty significantly by another lackluster showing from Kosuke Fukudome. Fuk's first inning GIDP came at a pretty awful time, and from there, Kosuke would become the only Cub position player to go hitless on the night.
On the plus side, Andy White had a 2-for-4 evening, pushing his average up to a scorching .245 ("scorching" as in "better than Soto, Font, Sori, Miles, etc."). Blanco appears to have made his way to Lou's good side; he played a crucial role in one of the Cubs' comebacks against the Indians, and throughout his time with the major league club has shown defensive prowess. Every at-bat he takes from Miles adds a day to my life span, thanks to the amount of anger and stress I am spared from as a result.
Ryan Dempster didn't appear to have his best stuff tonight. That'd be at least the second start in a row of that kind by my count. Still, Demp fought his way through, and held the Braves to two runs in 6.2 innings. After his departure, Sean Marshall and Kevin Hart pitched well in relief.
The most important storyline with Dempster is almost certainly that of the medical issue his family has been forced to deal with. I'm blown away by the fact that Ryan can compete at the level he's shown lately, and I'm certain everyone's best wishes are with the entire Dempster family. Let's all hope for the best, yeah?
With Soriano out of the leadoff spot, the 3-4-5 hitters had a few more base runners to try to bring home. Unfortunately, they couldn't get it done in tonight's game. They got hits, they got walks, they got good pitching--but just couldn't put it together.
In terms of long term impact, I'd say this game has only increased the pressure on a struggling Kosuke Fukudome. He's repeating last year's trend of posting a severely declining batting average in each consecutive month of the season.
As we approach the All-Star Break, it appears we pretty much know what we're going to get from most of the regulars from here on out. Having said that, it'd be nice if a role player like Blanco got hot heading into the break, or if a continually disappointing starter-type (Fuk, Soto) kicked it up another notch (BAM!) for the rest of the season.
For the rest of us, though, it was a small taste of what 2009 should be like. The Cubs played the role of a powerful team with bullpen and bench depth that battled back, overcame adversity, and scored a lot of runs against good pitchers with no room for error.
The team was offensively solid, again, collecting 9 hits while drawing 5 walks. Just like the Cubs of yore. Every regular sans Fukudome managed to get a hit, the 4-5-6 guys drove in all the runs, and the Jake Fox third base experiment continues to ... well, continue. Fox went 1 for 3 today with 3 RBI and he even managed to avoid making any errors!
But probably the best story of the game is Randy Wells. This guy has been through a lot. Despite his 2.57 ERA this year, it took Wells 8 tries to earn his first-ever big league win. I remain unconvinced that Wells will remain successful for the duration of the '09 season, but wouldn't it make for an awesome story if he does?
Anyway, the Cubs are now 34-31. They play again tomorrow night in a theoretically tougher make-up game against Atlanta, who themselves aren't exactly on the right track to the playoffs. After that it becomes a race with jet lag as the Cubs take on the first-place Tigers.
Current Record: 34-31
Position in the NL Central: 3rd place, 2.5 games out
Best Possible Record: 131-31
Worst Possible Record: 34-128
Record needed to win 110: 76-21
On Pace For: 85-78
Friday night's victory, achieved through a walk-off homerun by Derrek Lee against Wood is like nothing compared with today's, in which Wood imploded on the mound giving the Cubs the victory in the 13th inning.
For the record, before the start of June the Cubs had played in three extra inning games. Since June, they've played seven long games out of fifteen possibilities. That's kind of nuts.
It would never have happened without Derrek Lee and Kerry Wood. Lee hit another homerun today, this time a 2-run shot, which put the Cubs on the board in the 5th. That was followed with a homerun by Micah Hoffpauir in the 6th, which briefly gave the Cubs the lead until Carlos Marmol came undone in the 7th (his 3rd straight appearance, by the way), which is how the game would look until the 13th.
Amazingly, the Cubs probably should have lost. They had 12 total hits and 6 walks, failing to score on 19 separate opportunities, and to add insult to injury Dave "Bonus Baby" Patton served up the go-ahead homer to Luis Valbuena in the top of the 13th. (Valbuena had 2 homeruns himself today against the Cubs.) That's when Kerry Wood came into play.
Wood came in and promptly surrendered a single to Fukudome but was able to negate a potential hit-and-run by striking out Three Finger. The only problem was that Fuku managed to steal second anyway and, thanks to a bad throw by Kelly Shoppach was able to advance to third. At that point Andres Blanco singled home Fooky, reached third on an Aaron Miles single, and scored on a Wood wild pitch.
Thanks, Kerry. You managed to let yourself get beat by two of the worst hitters on the Cubs roster, and a third Cubs hitter who hasn't so much as scratched the ball since the beginning of May. If you were still a Cub we'd be livid.
Actually I'm being a little unfair to Kosuke. He had a 4 for 5 day against the Indians pitchers and also drew a walk. But still -- getting beat by Blanco and Miles is sort of like losing a boxing match to your 120 pound girlfriend. Moy embarassing.
The Cubs play for the sweep tomorrow. Hey, I'm not one to complain or anything but ... maybe they can try to win before their last at bat of the game for once? Just a thought.