First Star: Matt Capps (.205 WPA)
Second Star: Luis Atilano (.177 WPA)
Third Star: Tyler Clippard (.144 WPA)

I said at the beginning of the series that we need to not take the Nationals for granted. It’s a team that can be you if you allow them to. This series, today especially, the Cubs allowed the Nationals to beat them.

  • The Cubs left 11 men on base, including one very careless one in the first inning. After Ryan Theriot reached base to start the inning on a single, Fukudome drew a walk to put runners on first and second with no one out. Things looked primed for a big inning to start the home half of the inning. Derrek Lee hits a long fly ball to RF in which the throw went late to third. Theriot, being the greatest ballplayer in the entire world, took third on the play. Unfortunately Fukudome didn’t get the memo that you’re allowed to tag on a fly ball. He failed to take second and instead of second and third with one out, the Cubs had first and third with one out. Aramis Ramirez hits a long fly to LF, which advances Theriot home and leaves two outs with Fukudome on first. Tyler Colvin, on a pop up that should have been caught by Adam Kennedy close to home plate, reaches first base. Fukudome simply jogged to second, taking advantage of the fact that Kennedy would make the catch. Had he run hard from the moment of contact given the fact that there were two outs, he could have reached third easily. That doesn’t seem like a big deal except when you factor in the other baserunning gafff. Had he been on the ball, the Cubs get another run in the 1st and potentially win this game. Bob Carpenter, the Nats play by play man, said “He’s done a bad job of baserunning this inning.”
  • For the most part, Ryan Dempster has looked really good this year. Today, a costly mistake probably cost him the game. In the 2nd inning, with two outs and a man on second, Dempster was facing the # 8 hitter in the lineup in Will Nieves. On a 3-2 pitch, with the pitcher on deck, Dempster gives Neives something to hit and got burned for an RBI single to give the Nats a 2-1 lead at the time. Atilano would end the inning on a ground ball to Fontenot, but the damage was done. I understand the concept of trying to be aggressive with the 8th hitter in the lineup to keep the pitcher in the on deck circle to lead off the inning, but when your team is struggling to score you have to take away any opportunity your opponent has to put up a run. That was an opportunity for the Nats and the Cubs would have been better served to pitch around Nieves on that pitch.
  • Adam Dunn hit a home run today and the moment he hit it all I thought about was all the talkers that come out from under the rocks every now and then to praise Dunn and rip Jim Hendry for not trying to bring him to Chicago to play for us. I’d say this: Dunn is a great home run hitter. He always seems to beat us with the long ball. That’s about all he does, though. Look at his numbers. It’s HR or BB for Dunn. Factor in his atrocious defense that makes even Soriano blush, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Cub fans in the bleachers would tear Dunn up every time he makes a bonehead play in the OF, which is the only place you could play him due to the personnel we have in house.
  • Marlon Byrd made a crazy grab on a fly ball that was lost in the sun off the bat of the pitcher in the 5th. Carpenter and Rob Dibble were raving about how it was the play of the year. I’m sorry, but the play of the year does not happen on a ball you essentially lose in the sun. That said, plays like that are reasons why Wrigley Field needs a jumbotron. I’ve not been to Wrigley in a long long time, but I know how frustrated I would get when I couldn’t see a replay either on a close play or a great play. You shouldn’t have to record a game and re-watch it just to see a replay.
  • At what point do you need to consider moving Lee lower in the order. He’s hitting so bad lately and yet Lou continues to march him out there as the # 3 hitter in the lineup. I’ve decided that when your middle of the order hitters are struggling the way Ramirez did about a week or so ago and the way Lee is now, you need to move guys that are hitting the baseball into those slots. Soriano and Soto are both swinging the bat well. Fontenot has been hitting the ball hard. You don’t have to have a home run hitter in there to drive in runs. If you’ve got a runner on second, all it takes is a single.

Tough to lose this series coming off the great Brewers series that featured offensive explosion, but the Cubs brought this on themselves. Three of four would be perfect against the snakes next series.

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Joe Aiello is the founder of View From the Bleachers and one of the lead writers. Growing up in Chicago, he fondly remembers attending games in the bleachers before that was the popular thing to do. Currently Joe resides in North Carolina with his wife and three kids and helps people protect their assets as an independent insurance agent. Connect with Joe via Twitter / Facebook / E-mail