Cubs 0 @ Padres 2

Box Score / Highlights / Condensed Game

One of the best things you can say about Monday night’s game is that it was over quickly, only lasting 2 hours and 25 minutes. I do appreciate that about our Cubs: they have the decency to not drag out the nightly pain and frustration.

And with brevity in mind, I’ll spare you the retread of the well-worn story lines. There are no surprises when this team loses–either the starting pitching falls flat, the offense can’t support a quality start, or everything comes together and the bullpen blows it late. Tonight it was Option B, with Travis Wood unable to hold the Padres to negative runs and the Cubs’ offense in absentia.

Instead, let’s look at the one aspect of the game that still matters–the performance and progress of the Cubs’ young talent.

  • Brett Jackson lived up to the ugly side of his stat line, striking out 4 times Monday. Even if he’s going to struggle against big league pitching, I like the move to bring up Jackson (and Vitters) and make the most out of the otherwise meaningless at-bats. And Jackson’s night wasn’t a total loss, making a couple nice catches in Petco Park’s cavernous outfield.
  • The top third of the Cubs lineup went 1-12 Monday night. The one hit was a double off the bat of Darwin Barney–who continues to inch his way up toward “keeper” status. Don’t get me wrong–I don’t think the Cubs should or will build on or around Barney. But as he improves at the plate and continues to flash the leather in the field, I think a longterm answer at 2B becomes less and less of a priority for Theo & Jed.
  • Ex-Padre Anthony Rizzo probably had some flashbacks to his crummy stint in the majors last year, with a couple long fly balls getting eaten up in the pitchers’ paradise of Petco Park.
  • Starlin Castro continues to struggle at the plate, but he did take a walk Monday. So far he’s 0-15 on this West Coast roadtrip.
  • Not to be outdone by Jackson, Josh Vitters also recorded a couple strikeouts in his first big-league start. He didn’t get a hit, but he did make a nice play along the third base line to save a run in the 6th inning. One of the knocks against Vitters has been frequent reports of his less-than-stellar defense. And while one play come close to answering all the questions, I did wonder watching the replay if Dale’s propensity for defensive shifts might be able to mask some of Vitters’ weaknesses in the field. At least it’s something to keep an eye on these last couple months of the season.
  • I already mentioned Travis Wood, who might be one of the few pitchers we might consider investing in for the future. Wood wasn’t at his sharpest, but he pitched he kept the game within reach–well, at least hypothetically within reach. The left-hander has been on the losing end since mid-July, but Monday was probably his best start since his last win on July 6th.
  • Seriously, not a lot happened in this game. As you can see by following the link above, has a whopping five highlights from the game. In fact, the best play of the night came on a grounder down the wall along the third base line in foul territory, by a guy holding a surprisingly undisturbed baby. Honorable mention goes to the young lady seated next to him–the child’s mother?–for never flinching despite the questionable parenting tactics on display.

One last piece of bad news for you. Matt Garza’s injury is worse than originally reported. It’s now being called a “stress reaction” in his elbow–whatever that means–and although he’s been put on the 15-day DL, Cubs’ GM Jed Hoyer said he could be out indefinitely. Not great news for a team already short on big league pitchers, and not a good sign for Garza’s offseason trade value.

Tonight left-hander Brooks Raley makes his big league debut for the Cubs. Hopefully he can get the run support Wood didn’t have Monday.

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