Cubs 5 @ Diamondbacks 10
Given the unusual nature of the Cubs’ loss Saturday night, I’m inclined to eschew the normal What Went Right/ What Went Wrong pattern and just give you the gist of the game.
At over 70 games into the season, we’re all well aware of these Cubs’ usual pattern for losing. Either the bullpen surrenders a meager lead or the bats don’t show up altogether. Most of our losses come down (in broad terms at least) to one of those scenarios. Saturday night was neither.
Instead, the Cubs did show a lot of life at the plate, especially early against Diamondbacks’ starter Ian Kennedy. In less than 5 innings of work, the Cubs tattooed him for 5 runs on 10 hits, including a homer. If he hadn’t been able to work out of a couple early jams, his night would have been much shorter.
And that homer? It came off the unlikely bat of Cubs’ starter Paul Maholm (just the second HR in his career). Do yourself a favor and watch the highlight of Maholm’s bomb into the RF bleachers. He knew it was gone right away–in fact, anyone who heard the sound it made off his bat knew there was a good chance–and he slowed into his homerun trot much faster than you’d expect of a pitcher. His confidence was Soriano-esque. Maybe even Sosa-esque. Seriously, check it out.
Maholm’s homer briefly put the Cubs up 2-1, but after his lap around the bases he developed a case of Zambrano-itis and couldn’t maintain his effectiveness on the mound. He didn’t make it through the next half inning, giving up 6 runs on his way out. It looked like Maholm had done the bullpen’s usual job for it, throwing away a lead and digging the Cubs into another inescapably deep hole.
But this wasn’t a usual night for the Cubs at the plate. In fact, you could say a couple of them were downright hot–of the Cubs’ 14 hits Saturday night, DeJesus and Castro accounted for 4 each. You read that right–both of them went 4 for 5.
However, of the 8 times they reached the basepaths, they scored and/or drove in a run exactly zero times. Bob and Len spent the later portions of the game talking about how unbelievably difficult it is to be on base that much and not factor in to the final score at all. It’s very hard to get 4 hits in one game–it’s unthinkable that two guys would do it at the top of the lineup and wind up stranded on the basepaths all night long.
And while it was frustrating to watch them get stranded over and over, it’s not like the rest of the lineup didn’t do anything. Aside from the 5 runs they put up, the Cubs hitters did a good job of working counts and seeing a lot of pitches. That’s at least part of the reason they were able to get rid of Ian Kennedy so early (although I suppose you could make a case that the reason they had so much success against him is because he’s Ian Kennedy–the Cubs’ bats did cool off considerably after he left the game.).
However you look at it, this wasn’t the same kind of lousy offensive effort from the Cubs. Yes, they were still pretty lousy, but it was a different kind of lousy than what we’ve seen for most of the year. And frankly, it wasn’t nearly as agonizing to watch as many other losses have been. At least we were competitive tonight–at least there was a chance to get back in it. If anyone had been able to hit at all behind DeJesus and Castro, we might have had a much better outcome.