Game Forty-Six – Cubs 3 Marlins 9
Updated – 7:33 pm C.T.
….And the Cubs can’t get out of it. With the sweep on Wednesday complete, the Cubs are now 5-20 since April 28th and have fallen to 10 games under .500. Greg Maddux, once a surprise, is now looking like the 40-year old that he is and is fitting right in with the rest of his teammates….underachieving, to say the least. To say this season has fallen by the wayside, at least by the actions of the players on the field, is an understatement. How can a team that played so well before April 19th be playing so bad on May 24th? The Marlins completed the 3-game sweep of the Cubs on Wednesday afternoon by scoring 9 runs for the second time in the series. This was the first sweep for the Marlins since the end of the 2005 season against the Braves. The Cubs were up 3-1 with 2 outs in the bottom of the 5th and before Maddux could record the final out, the Marlins scored 5 runs on 4 hits including a 3-run home run by Joe Borchard….again all with 2 outs. Greg Maddux started the day by retiring Hanley Ramirez, something Cubs pitching had not done to often during the series. Hanley Ramirez was traded to the Marlins from the Red Sox in the Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell deal and it is easy to see why the Red Sox did not want to give up this very exciting player. Ramirez caused the Cubs trouble throughout the series and was 4 for 10 with 6 runs scored, 4 walks and 2 RBI’s. Dan Uggla hit a bloop single to right field that Jacque Jones could not get to and scored on a double to left field by Miguel Cabrera. Maddux was very effective until the 5th inning and only allowed 3 hits in 4 2/3 innings and that was when the Ole Professor lost control of his class.
With two outs, Hanley Ramirez hit a ball up the middle, Cedeno could not get it out of his glove and by the time he did, Walker could not make the scoop and Ramirez was credited with an infield single. Dan Uggla tripled to left center to score Ramirez and Mike Jacobs doubled to score Uggla. Maddux intentionally walked Cabrera and Joe Borchard hit a 3-run homer to right field….5 runs on 4 hits and an intentional walk all with 2 outs, can you say quicksand?
Greg Maddux gave up 6 runs on 8 hits, walked 2, struck out 4 and threw 97 pitches….63 for strikes. He has now lost 4 out of his last 5 starts and his ERA for the month of May is 7.81 and for the season 4.28, climbing almost 3 full runs per game in his last 5 starts. Maddux has to provide the Cubs some stability and like the rest of the team, May of 2006 will be a month Maddux will want to forget.
Roberto Novoa took the mound in the 7th and gave up a lead off single to Dan Uggla, walked Mike Jacobs and surrendered a 3-run homer to Miguel Cabrera that put the game out of reach for the underachieving, anemic Cubs’ offense. Miguel Cabrera had a huge day going 2 for 2 with a home run, 2 walks, a double, 2 runs scored and 4 RBI’s. Will Ohman replaced Novoa and walked Joe Borchard, the first batter he saw, but got out of the inning without any further damage. Glendon Rusch pitched a perfect 9th.
The Cubs continued their struggles with runners in scoring position, patience at the plate and taking walks. They only recorded 2 walks on the afternoon and one was in the 9th by John Mabry. The Cubs grounded into two very costly double plays, one by Matt Murton in the 2nd inning with 2 on and 1 out and the other by Aramis Ramirez with 2 on and no outs in the 6th, both times with runners in scoring position. Ramirez has grounded into 3 double plays in the last 2 games.
The Cubs scored all of their runs on the afternoon in the 4th inning. Todd Walker led off the inning with a single to right, Barrett also singled to right and with 1 out Aramis Ramirez tripled to right and scored on a sacrifice fly to left by Matt Murton. The Cubs had the lead off hitter on base in 5 of the 9 innings, including a lead off double in the 6th by Greg Maddux and he was stranded at 3rd after a sacrifice bunt by Juan Pierre.
The Cubs left 7 on base and only walked twice on Wednesday. They continue to refuse to take pitches….for example in the 8th inning down by 6, Ronny Cedeno swung at the first pitch and popped out to center. Aramis Ramirez did the same in the 9th, with a different result….he flied out to left. For the series the Marlins really showed the Cubs how to play smart, fundamental baseball. The Marlins scored 23 runs on 28 hits, while receiving 20 free passes….that is 48 base runners in 3 games, 16 per game. The Cubs scored 8 runs on 22 hits, while taking only 5 walks….that is only 27 base runners, 9 per game. No wonder the Cubs got swept under by the Fish….
The Cubs have Thursday off and the very hot Atlanta Braves and Tim Hudson take the field at 1:20pm C.T. on Friday at Wrigley….this could be an ugly weekend unless the Cubs wakeup.