Cubs 7 @ Diamondbacks 2
The Cubs sit at 60-99 after the win on Sunday. As Jeremiah correctly pointed out in Saturday’s recap, the Cubs must win out to avoid 100 losses. On Sunday they took the first step in that direction. The win over the Diamondbacks separated the 2012 Cubs from the 1962 & 1966 versions of this club that each posted 59-103 records. They also secured (though I think it was official a day or two ago) the 2nd to worst record in the MLB this year. They cannot finish below the Astros, and the Astros are the only team that can finish below the Cubs. Before you conclude the inevitability of 100 losses, just know that the Cubs host the aforementioned Astros for the final series of the season. And yes, the Astros have been better in September (11-14), but they have posted only 30 wins since May 25th. That’s 30-83. A .265 ‘winning percentage’. The Cubs are 45-69 in that same stretch, with 7 wins against the Astros.
Ok, So It’s Not All Good News
In their final opportunity of the season, the Cubs snagged a win AT an NL West park. That’s right, if you live in Denver and all points west, the closest geographical Cubs win to you this year took place today. The Cubs had not won in the Pacific or Mountain time zone. They will have to do better than that next year – the new interleague schedule has them out west quite often!
The Game – Bad
We’re going to get this out of the way…this play was HORRIBLE! Valbuena can’t field it bare-handed. Ok, not the end of the world. So he decides to overrun it by 30 feet and never give it a second thought. Moronic. Rusin yields to Valbuena, and also continues to run well into foul territory as if he’s backing up a throw from the outfield to third base. Castro is correctly moving to cover third base on the play (albeit a bit lackadaisically), but none of that matters unless someone fields the ball!! Finally Rusin stops, turns, fields the ball and fires home. Only Recker can’t handle the throw, which would’ve gotten Upton nailed at the plate. The ball kicks away and though it never left the infield, two runs scored and the remaining runners were at 2nd and 3rd. Inexcusable. (The great injustice of baseball scoring by the way, heartthrob Recker was saddled with the only error on this play).
The Game – Good
Almost everything else. With the exception of that play, Rusin looked really good. Five innings, only 68 pitches, mostly around the strike zone. He gave up three hits, two walks, and just two runs (1 earned). Castro, DeJesus, Rizzo, and even LaHair all had a big day at the plate. And the Cubs even benefitted from some bang-bang plays at first that helped score runs. The bullpen was great too, only 3 hits, 1 walk, no runs and 5 Ks in the span of 4 innings. If the Cubs want to finish with only 99 losses, they’ll need to pitch like that against the Astros. I don’t really believe that 100 losses is a terrible stain worth avoiding, but I applaud the Cubs for setting goals (however insignificant or unnecessary) and still attempting to foster a desire for winning. Some teams (the Dodgers!) have completely mailed in the games that don’t matter. Of course, the Cubs have been playing those meaningless games all season, but still…
Final three games at Wrigley. Will the Cubs get a sweep? Even end the season on a series win? Or will the Astros leave the use their final series as part of the NL to embarrass their division foes? I have no idea, but team lackeys for both sides will certainly be busy scheduling a LOT of tee times.