Cubs 2, Brewers 4

Box Score / Highlights

Before The Game
Kosuke Fukudome was dealt to the Cleveland Indians for two prospects, neither of particular renown. The Cubs also sent Kosuke to Cleveland with a bag full of cash for his new employer. So we paid to dump Kosuke, and we got next to nothing in return. What is especially sad is that we really can’t hope that any other potential trades will go differently.

Hendry is allegedly still picking up the phone if a team calls about Soriano, Zambrano, Pena, Ramirez, and Byrd (there might be more, but no one that we expect would produce a notable return). It’s quite possible the Cubs would have to send each on their way with similar cash considerations…we’re even BEGGING teams to take Soriano or Zambrano and offering to pay “a substantial amount” of their remaining salary.

Seeing as how we paid 80% of what remained to rid ourselves of Fukudome, I shudder to think of the cost to trade any of our remaining players. It says less about today’s trade, and more about the great free agent binge of the last 5 years or so. We REALLY need to shed payroll, unfortunately this trade didn’t really accomplish that objective (and it doesn’t look like any future trade will either).

The Game
It’s been a rough go of it offensively in Milwaukee. Until Soriano drove in a run in the 6th, only Aramis Ramirez had managed to collect an RBI (three actually) for the Cubs in this SERIES!

The sweep in Milwaukee was the first since 2005 – and that’s also the last year in which we lost the season series to the Brewers. The biggest difference in this iteration of the Brewers is their pitching, especially in the bullpen. We got nothing on any reliever in any of the three games – that includes, unbelievably, LaTroy Hawkins.

It’s the sixth paragraph, and that means I’m overdue for some Mike Quade hate. First inning – you know, the inning that Cubs pitchers (especially Randy Wells) have struggled with all year – Wells gets the first out and then loads the bases. The WGN production crew had a better feel for the game at this point; they flashed shots of both Riggins and Quade who weren’t anywhere near one another (in case they might want to discuss what Wells could change to get a second out!). Riggins is sitting casually on his hands seemingly daydreaming. Quade is hiding behind a wall, clapping his hands in encouragement. No, Wells hadn’t been particularly wild, though he did walk Fielder to load the bases. But Wells HAD been deliberate, slow even. He needed to pick up the pace, and we can thank the Brewers for swinging early and often at the next couple of offerings. They got two runs and the lead, and thanks to an amazing relay from Castro that’s all they got. Someone should’ve been out to get Wells’ head straight and have him pick up the pace – even if it was just Soto.

Castro’s relay was stunning. Betancourt hit a bullet to the left-centerfield wall. Byrd corralled it, turned and fired almost instantly. Byrd gets credit for the assist, but Castro made this relay. Castro caught, turned and fired from about 160 feet on a line to Geo. Even though it was Fielder that was thrown out, it required a perfect throw. I hope Castro quickly improves his defense on the routine plays, I love him as a SS and I hope we don’t wind up needing to move him to another spot.

Braun was the difference – basically beating us alone. He had the pivotal at-bat in the first where after going 0-2 he worked out a single, then a HR in the 3rd and an RBI double in the 5th. He ended just a triple sort of the cycle (Soriano would’ve been happy to oblige I’m sure).

Samardzija put together a surprisingly efficient two innings, 19 pitches in all. Proving yet again that his best work is often in our losses. Hendry is drafting an extension while we speak, I’m sure.

There was a lot to like from individual at-bats, the hitters were working counts and we put several guys on base in multiple innings. Especially early in the game it seemed to happen after we already had an out or two in the inning. But collectively, we can’t get the big hit – going just 1-for-15 in the series with RISP.

After The Game
The Chicago Tribune quoted Aramis as saying, “(General manager Jim Hendry) hasn’t talked to me about trading me. Or, who’s that other guy — (team President Crane Kenney)? Or the Ricketts’ (family)? Nobody has talked to me (to ask) about if I’m willing to waive my no-trade clause.” I love Aramis – I only wish I could’ve heard it in his magnificently high voice with my own ears. That other guy!

I believe it’s Buster Olney who typically ends his columns with the line “and today will be better than yesterday.” I’ve always found it a weird way to be optimistic – what if your kid dies or you lose your job – today won’t necessarily be a better day. For the Cubs, today wasn’t any better than yesterday, and I don’t have any hope for tomorrow either. We’re 1-5 against the Cards this year, and our last trip to STL was…I don’t even want to bring it up. About the only thing we’ve got going for us is the pitching matchup. But seeing as how we’ve screwed Garza so many times this year, we could probably produce the recap for tomorrow’s game in advance of the first pitch.

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

1st Star – Ryan Braun (.208 WPA)

2nd Star – Shaun Marcum (.169 WPA)

3rd Star – John Axford (.080 WPA)

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