Opportunity Knocks and Knocks and Knocks…Maddux Snakebit in the Desert

Game Twenty-Six – Cubs 1 Diamondbacks 5

The professor was on the hill on Wednesday night, but did not have the same genius stuff as he has taught in his previous outings. Unfortunately he has not mastered the Diamondbacks in the past and Wednesday was no different. Going into tonight Maddux has a 1-8 record against the D-backs and 0-4 at the BOB (Bank one Ball Park) now Chase Field. After this evening Maddux is now 1-9 and 0-5 at Chase. The Cubs drop one to the D-Backs 5-1.

Maddux only lasted 5 innings and gave up 5 runs on ten hits. Maddux threw his normal 85 pitches, 55 of which were strikes. He did not have his command on Wednesday, but he was also dealing with a very large and inconsistent strike zone. By no means am I blaming this loss on the “big as the world” (thanks Brenly) strike zone of home plate umpire Eric Cooper, but some of his calls were above the letters. I think this got to Maddux as he was visibly frustrated all night.

The Cubs had plenty of opportunities to take this game; it was bad base running and the inability to get a base hit with runners in scoring position. In the top of the 2nd, Jacque Jones singled to center, his first hit off of Batista in his career. Barrett singled to center, runners on 1st and 2nd with one out. Neifi hit a flare to short left center, Jones closed his eyes and just started running. Luis Gonzalez made the play and doubled up Jones at 2nd, inning over. This is the second time Jones has looked like Alou on the base path. Pretty soon Speier is going to need a megaphone. Arizona scored in the bottom of the 2nd, D-Backs 1 Cubs 0.

Same story in the top of the 3rd Maddux grounded out to 3rd, Pierre walked, Cedeno singled to right, Pierre hustled to 3rd….runners on 1st and 3rd with only one out, Todd Walker then hit into a double play….inning over. Arizona added three more in the bottom of the inning on a Chad Tracy homerun.

The only run for the Cubbies came in the top of the 4th on a bases loaded walk. Again the Cubs had the bases loaded with one out….Neifi then poped up to short, Maddux walked scoring the lone run and Pierre after a nice at bat grounded out to the pitcher. During that at-bat the ump called a strike that was at Pierre’s nose. In the top of the 6th Jones walked, Barrett grounded into a fielder’s choice….Joness out at 2nd. Neifi grounded into yet another double play. I think Neifi’s bat is too heavy; he is swinging like it is made of lead…inning over. And in the top of the seventh Bynum pinch hit for Williamson, he grounded out to 2nd, Pierre reached on an infield single but Cedeno grounded into the 4th double play of the night….a D-back record for double plays in one game.

The Cubs flirted with the idea of making it interesting in the top of the 9th, Barrett got a lead-off walk, Nefi reached on an infield single….runners on 1st and 2nd, no outs. Mabry pinch hit for Howry and K’s swinging….Mabry has not looked the same since the collision with Sean Casey; he does not show any patience nor does he look comfortable at the plate. Pierre walked, bases loaded one out. Cedeno K’s swinging and Walker grounded out to first….game over. D-Backs 5 Cubs 1.

I apologize for the description, but I had to share in detail all of the opportunities the Cubs had to score tonight. The Cubs offense did have 10 hits, much more than we have had in the past home stand, but could not capitalize. The Cubs also had two errors, both by Barrett as pick offs went into center field. I know Barrett’s offense is far superior to that of Blanco but since Mad Dog is so susceptible to the steal should Hank White catch Maddux? Just a thought.

The Cubs had very few bright spots in Wednesday night’s contest, but as always there were some. And there is always a CCO player(s) of the game. The Cubs offense created some opportunities, finally….but a bat later erased those opportunities. Cedeno had a nice game going 3-5 with a stolen base. And the bullpen looked great. Williamson and Ohman each faced 4 batters and Howry faced three. If we can get the lead, these guys will take care of the rest. Getting the lead seems to be the hard part. So tonight the coveted award goes to Cedeno and the bullpen.

But we are Cubs fans and there is always tomorrow. New Cubs Prospect Rich Hill takes on old Cubs prospect Juan Cruz tomorrow night in the Valley of the Sun.

Until next time…..but always GO CUBBIES!

Quote of the Day

"People who write about Spring Training not being necessary have never tried to throw a baseball." – Sandy Koufax