The Long and Winding Road

Game Thirty-Four – Cubs 3 Giants 9
Updated – 8:28pm C.T.

Or should I say, “One Step Forward, Two Steps Back”? I usually do my best to just report the game and what I saw that affected the outcome, whether it was good or bad, but after the last road trip the Cubs just completed, this might be more of an opinion column than a game recap. The Cubs just finished one of the worst road trips that I can ever remember, not just because of the losses but because of the lack of desire to play the game and play as a team. The Cubs finished the 9-game road trip 1-8 with the only win coming on a day when they scored 8 runs.

How does the same lineup put up 8 runs one day and only 3 the next and those 3 were scored in the last 2 innings after the game had been decided? Granted Sean Marshall barely got out of the 1st inning, but that is not an excuse for the product the Cubs are putting on the field at this point of the season.

Sean Marshall could not locate any of his pitches and looked unsure of himself from the first pitch he threw….his uniform even looked tattered and torn. Marshall walked Randy Winn to start the game, his third leadoff walk of the series, Vizquel singled to right past John Mabry and they both scored on a double by Lance Niekro. After an intentional walk to Bonds, Pedro Feliz singled to left to score Niekro. Steve Finley stepped to the plate and laid down a beautiful bunt, Marshall did not cover 1st….that loaded the bases for Mike Matheny and he singled to plate 2 more runs and before it was all said and done the Giants sent 10 batters to the plate and scored 5 runs in the 1st inning. The Giants added another run in the 3rd on a single by Kevin Frandsen and 3 more in the 4th off of a bases clearing triple by Steve Finley….that rolled around in right field, that was Finley’s 7th triple of the season, he leads the Major Leagues.

Sean Marshall looked like a rookie for the first time. I have been very surprised with the confidence and poise he has shown all season. Thursday he just could not locate any of his pitches, he was constantly behind hitters and left to many balls out over the plate….he had a bad game. Marshall threw a season low 3 2/3 innings, gave up 9 runs on 9 hits, walked 5 and struck out 2 and recorded his first loss of the season.

The free passes continue to kill the Cubs. Every game the pitching staff continues to give out 3, 4, 5 and sometimes more, but why can the offense not see that? For the past 2 games, the Cubs have recorded 2 walks per game and for the season they only have 92 walks….2 ahead of the Pirates, next to last in the National League. They see the effects of walks on a daily basis yet they refuse to take any themselves. On the flip side, Cubs pitching has allowed 148 walks, the most in the National League; 4 ahead of the Florida Marlins (The Reds are atop of the NL with 97).

The Cubs only had 8 hits on Thursday, 2 walks and left 6 on base. Jamey Wright held them scoreless until the 8th inning and at one point retired 10 Cubs in a row. Of the Cubs 8 hits, one was by Will Ohman in the 9th and 5 of them came in the 8th and 9th innings, that only leaves 3 hits over 7 innings….that is unbelievable! Cedeno, Pierre and Walker were a combined 0-10.

Dusty emptied his bench on Thursday….everybody got a chance to play. Freddie Bynum had a nice triple to breakup the shutout, scoring Jerry Hairston in the 8th. But other than that the Cubs kept swinging at the first pitch and just keep making easy on the pitcher. The losing will continue until the Cubs develop some patience and stop swinging at every pitch they see….take one, take two….make the pitcher work, Steve Kline threw 3 pitches and recorded 2 outs. And everyone is wondering why they are losing, it isn’t lack of desire it is a lack of patience and discipline, both at the plate and in the field.

Barry Bonds went 0 for 3 with 2 walks and 2 runs scored. Both times Sean Marshall walked Bonds it led to big innings for the Giants. Lance Niekro was 2 for 5 and Pedro Feliz was 3 for 4 on Thursday.

The bullpen of Roberto Novoa, Scott Williamson and Will Ohman did a fine job in relief and kept the Giants from adding to their lead.

The Cubs are now done with California for the year, unless they make the playoffs. With this recent road trip and the 3 game set last month in Los Angeles….good riddance to the Golden State. The Cubs start a 3-game weekend series on Friday against the Padres, let’s hope Angel Guzman can give the Cubs a quality start and put them in a position to win the ballgame.

Quote of the Day

"There are places I remember. All my life though some have changed. Some forever not for better. Some have gone and some remain. All these places have their moments ... " John Lennon/Paul McCartney