Cubs 3, Phillies 4

Box Score / Highlights / Condensed Game

What went right:

  • Aramis Ramirez hit his second home run of the week – he’d only hit two homers all year before the last game in Cincinnati on Wednesday.
  • Solid effort from Doug Davis, he kept the damage to a minimum in the first and third innings.  He’s been much better than his 0-5 record would indicate, and frankly he deserved the win in this game.
  • The road trip ended.

What went wrong:

  • Every MLB bullpen seems destined to have someone struggling at any given point; somehow Quade keeps putting the Cubs struggling reliever du jour on the mound at the game’s most critical points.  Sean Marshall is a great reliever; he’s been terrible two days in a row.
  • The Cubs utterly lack patience at the plate.  Roy Oswalt – yes, Roy Oswalt – saw more pitches in his three strikeouts than every Cub except Fukudome and Hill saw all day long.  When the opposing team can run out a pitcher who works the count better than our hitters, the Cubs coaching staff is at fault just as much if not more than the players.  The Cubs’ plate discipline is severely lacking.
  • A ten game road trip on which the Cubs were 2-8.

The Takeaway:

What plagued the Cubs in their final game of the series at Citizens Bank Park seems like a familiar tale.  Hitters swinging at everything, pitchers giving up big hits at key points late in the game, and a complete inability to build on leads.  Since the start of the series at Wrigley against Pittsburgh more than two weeks ago, the Cubs are 3-13.  They couldn’t beat the Pirates and Astros at home (1-5) and that carried over into a 10 game road trip against serious NL contenders where the Cubs finished 2-8.  They’re now 3-13 in a little more than two weeks and have effectively played themselves out of the race.

Increasingly frustrating is the fact that the Cubs can’t even get the little things straight.  Hitters can’t work a count, pitchers can’t execute pitches, and a manager who can’t manage his personnel.  On Saturday, Quade had Blake DeWitt in left field late in the game.  DeWitt played a two-out single into a “double” that managed to score the fleet Ryan Howard from first base.

On Sunday, Quade runs Marshall back out to the same murderer’s row that beat him up for two runs on Saturday.  It’s great to be able to give a reliever a second chance to get back on the metaphorical horse, but the very next day?  In essentially the EXACT same situation?  Yes, it’s hindsight – but those decisions have been indicative of this staff, especially recently.  It seems that no matter how often those type of calls continue to burn the Cubs, the course will not be altered.  The very definition of insanity; doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

The coming schedule of opponents doesn’t get much easier.  The Cubs need something to change, and quickly.  Maybe it’ll be the health of the players who’ve been piling up on the DL.  Maybe someone, anyone will get hot and start hitting the ball hard in clutch situations.  Maybe our pitchers will all put it together for a string of a couple weeks.

But even if any of that occurs, it’d be nice to see outfielders playing the outfield, hitters taking pitches at the plate, and pitchers getting outs at key junctures late in the game.  Those things CAN be corrected, that doesn’t have to wait until the DL is clear and everyone is back in their proper spot.

Stars of the Game
Based on Win Probability Added (WPA)

1st Star – Ryan Howard (.413 WPA)

2nd Star – Chase Utley (.283 WPA)

3rd Star – Ryan Madson (.158 WPA)

Cubs Hitting: -.315 WPA

Cubs Pitching: -.185 WPA

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