Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Even Wrigley can't save the Cubs; 11 more runners stranded leads to fifth loss in six games

Tuesday: Phillies 4, Cubs 3 (12 inn.)

Tell me if you've heard this one before: The Cubs pounded out a bunch of hits, putting pressure on the other team's pitching all day. But they came up empty time after time with runners on base, and ultimately lost the game.

Oh, you've heard that one before? What's that, you say? That was the case in each of the last two games as well? Hm, come to think of it, you're right.

Perhaps the Cubs don't realize that it only counts if you touch home. Stepping on first, second or third doesn't count in the final score, boys.

But they still had a chance to win because Rich Harden was lights out. Since the All-Star break, Harden has been practically unhittable. In six starts, he's allowed just six earned runs and 19 hits in 37 innings while striking out 47 (1.95 ERA). Harden and Randy Wells are big reasons the Cubs are still afloat with Lilly and Zambrano on the DL.

But once Harden left the game, the tune quickly changed. Let me know if you've heard this one: Carlos Marmol walked three and hit a batter, and he walked in a run.

Yeah, I've heard it too.

What the f*** is wrong with Carlos Marmol? How can a big league pitcher have such bad control? It seems like 75 percent of the time he throws, he has no idea where the ball's going to go. For those of you unfamiliar with the sport of baseball, that's not an effective way to pitch.

Is it worth entertaining the notion of sending Marmol down to the minors to try to find his command? It seems to me that Lou can't just keep trotting him out there in the 8th inning of close games. He could use Grabow and Guzman as the primary set-up men. I realize Marmol has great "stuff," and he certainly has the potential to mow guys down, but perhaps a little time in Iowa would help him figure things out.

Grabow and Guzman came on to pitch effectively, and Gregg had a perfect 11th, but he then allowed a leadoff home run to Ben Francisco in the 12th. That turned out to be the decisive run, and the Cubs lost game one of the series with Samardzija starting tonight and Cliff Lee on the mound for the Phillies Thursday.

With an early 2-0 lead and Rich Harden dealing (he took a perfect game into the 6th), it looked like the Cubs were taking advantage of some more home cookin'. The Cubs' home winning percentage is second only to the Giants in the NL, and they were 8-2 in their last 10 at Wrigley prior to last night.

But after leaving 13 men on base in each of the last two games in Colorado, the Cubs stranded 11 more on Tuesday. They had several chances--especially early--to build a bigger lead, but refused to take advantage. Their .232 average with runners in scoring position is the worst in the league. Contrast that with the Cardinals, who are batting .263 in RBI situations, and you get an idea why the Cubs are looking up at them in the standings. For whatever reason, the Cubs seem to find ways to lose this year after consistently finding ways to win last year.

On the bright side, the Cardinals lost to Justin Lehr and the Reds, so the divisional deficit remains at three games. The Cardinals will have Chris Carpenter on the mound tonight.

By the way, I've talked a lot about the Rookie of the Year competition, which includes J.A. Happ, who pitched well and got a no decision last night. But I need to mention that Tommy Hanson, a 22-year-old Braves rookie who was called up in June, improved to 7-2 last night. He has a 3.05 ERA, and has placed himself firmly in the rearview mirror of Happ and Randy Wells.

And it isn't J.A. Happ who will go to the pen with Pedro coming off the DL tonight, it's veteran Jamie Moyer. And he ain't happy about it.

From the blogs

Is Carlos Zambrano the most overpaid player in baseball? David Kaplan thinks so. Jorge Says No! disagrees, as do I.

The dynasty is over

The Nationals' eight-game winning streak ended with a 8-1 loss to the Braves. Don't look now, Phillies--they're only 23 1/2 games behind you!

Sexual harassment isn't funny ...

... but this is hilarious.

1 comment:

  1. I HAVE heard it all before -- and didn't like it any better this time. Yes... send Marmol somewhere other than our bullpen.