The numbers say that this should be easier than it is. The numbers say that the Cubs should have come into Miami and taken big steps in the direction of knocking the Brewers out of the playoff picture. All say I have been running through the scenarios in my mind. One win…only one win and only one Brewers loss in four remaining games guarantees at least a game 163 at Wrigley Field on Monday. That is the second to worst case scenario (let’s not talk about the worst case scenario). Which means that if the Cubs would only split these four remaining games against the Marlins and Reds the Brewers would forced to sweep the Padres, who are also fighting for their playoff lives, or not make the playoffs. Sounds easy…
Steve Trachsel was bad again…I mean bad. Following up on the bad from Ted Lilly and Jason Marquis, Trachsel was just as bad. It seems to me that each start from Trachsel was worse than the numbers suggested and today was like that as well…even though his numbers were bad enough. It has been consistently nice to be behind two or three runs in the second or third inning of each game in the series. Trachsel gave up a lead off double to Hanley Ramirez. He scored on a sac fly by Mike Jacobs. Trachsel got out of the first with only one run damage, the Marlins stranding runners and Trachsel throwing 30 pitches in the inning. The Marlins scored two more runs in the second inning as the Marlins scored two runs through their bottom of the order. Trachsel went one, two, three in the third and fourth. In the fifth Hanley Ramirez homered to lead off the inning and Dan Uggla followed with a walk. Trachsel was pulled and Kevin Hart gave up a run scoring double, that was debatably fair, and the Cubs were down 5-1. Dempster pitched the eighth, with the score now 5-4. and gave up a lead off walk and an insurance run scoring double to put the game away. Trachsel’s final numbers: 4.1 IP 5H 5ER 2BB.
Lou Piniella started Geovany Soto again even though he said he would be starting Jason Kendall for the remainder of the year. He also started Craig Monroe in the outfield for “defensive purposes.” DeRosa and Theriot were killer bad today going 0 for 9 and stranding 10. I am wondering if Lou should drop Theriot to eighth again and move Jones back to second. Jones was two for four again today, but struck out being over anxious in a critical bases loaded situation in the seventh.
The Cubs stranded ten runners. They had ten hits: two for Soriano, one for Lee, four for Ramirez, one for Soto, and two for Jones. But the Marlins bullpen shut them down again as they have done all series.
The Cubs made a game of it scoring three runs in the sixth to make the game 5-4. Scott Eyre came out to pitch the bottom of the inning and loaded the bases with none out. Kerry Wood came in and was stellar. Getting a pinch hitter to strike out and coaxing Hanley Ramirez into a double play to end the inning…no runs after bases loaded none out. It looked like the Cubs would ride this into a win. They loaded the bases in the seventh, but Jones struck out flailing at out for the strike zone pitches. The strike zone was goofy all series, as it was again today. The ump was consistently calling a very low strike and DeRosa seemed lost all series. But here’s a note to Cubs hitters: protect the plate and SWING!!! The strike zone was the same all game.
The Cubs move on to Cincinnati to face the Reds. Tomorrow night is Zambrano against Arroyo and Saturday is Hill against Harang. Hold your breath it could get interesting.
The Brewers begin a series against the Padres tonight. I would like to personally thank Ned Yost for the moronic move of hitting Albert Pujols with a pitch in the eighth inning of last night’s game when they were only down 3-2. He gets suspended for tonight’s game, his reliever McClung gets suspended until Sunday, and the Cardinals use that runner to break the game open. Brilliant move Ned! Anyone who thinks that retaliation was more important then keeping runners off base is clueless. Thanks again…it made today easier.
I know this is completely maddening, but take comfort in the fact that this is happening around the league. The D-Backs have watched their lead shrink to one after losing two of three to the Pirates. The Mets are blowing it in the East after getting swept by the Nationals. The Rockies have won ten straight and are battling the Phillies, Padres, Mets, and D-Backs for the wildcard. Who will be in the playoffs next week? Who has a clue?
And yet another reason why I like Lou Piniella: Feeling that the Cubs were pressing too much he invited Bill Murray to join the team on the field for batting practice and the clubhouse before the game.