Another Shutout….Welcome to the Middle of the Road

Game Twenty-Eight – Cubs 0 Padres 1 – 11 innings

For the first time since April 5th the Cubs are a .500 baseball team….their record is now 14-14 with the 11 inning loss on Friday night to the San Diego Padres. For the second game in a row the Cubs were shutout and have only scored one run in the last 3 games. Carlos Zambrano pitched a great game, but so did Chan Ho Park. Park threw 9 innings of shutout ball and only allowed 2 hits….one by Michael Barrett the other by Jacque Jones.

The lack of fundamentals, mental errors and patience played a big part in the Cubs dropping their fourth game in a row and six out of the last seven, during that time span the Cubs have only scored 5 runs and have been shutout 4 times.

Carlos Zambrano pitched his best game of the season on Friday night. Everything was working for Zambrano….he looked sharp and confident on the mound and stayed ahead of most of the batters he faced, although he walked 3. Zambrano pitched a solid 7 innings and he looked like the Zambrano of old….he struck out 10 on 107 pitches and only gave up 4 hits, he deserved the win. Zambrano is now undefeated in 6 starts against the Padres.

The pitching staff did a fine job on Friday and recorded 13 strikeouts and only 5 walks, but it was the walk in the bottom of the 11th that cost the Cubs the ballgame. Scott Williamson took the mound for his second inning of work and walked Khalil Greene to start the inning. Greene stole 2nd and for the second time the middle infield of the Cubs could not make the tag (will get back to this in a minute), Josh Barfield then singled to center, only the 5th hit of the evening for the Padres, and Greene made it home easy on the throw from Juan Pierre….

Scott Williamson walked two batters in the 2 innings he worked and both were safe at second because Neifi Perez and Jerry Hairston did not make the tag and did not cover the bag properly while doing so. Michael Barrett delivered the ball on both occasions it was Perez and Hairston that could not make the play. Both were on the wrong side of the bag and allowed the runner to get in under the tag….both were good slides by Brian Giles and Khalil Greene, but if Perez and Hairston would have been in position both would have been called out….one did not matter, but the second one cost the Cubs the game.

Freddie Bynum got the start in left field on Friday night and committed two very bad errors. In the 4th inning with Mark Bellhorn at first base, Vinny Castilla hit a single to left, Bynum lost the ball in between his legs and showed little urgency to get the ball….the runners advanced to 2nd and 3rd. In the 9th after Vinny Castilla was hit in the back, Eric Young pinch ran for Castilla and Geoff Blum came in to pinch hit. Blum hit a lazy fly ball to left, Bynum looked lost….could not find the ball and dropped the easy out, a la Brant Brown. Bynum played a good second base on Thursday night, his natural position….he looked very bad in the outfield and went 0 for 5 at the plate.

The offense had opportunities on Friday and could not capitalize. For the second game in a row, Juan Pierre was up with the bases loaded and two outs and could not get a run in. The Cubs left 8 on base on Friday and two of the last three innings they had the leadoff hitter on and could not score. Jerry Hairston even struck out (three straight foul balls) on a bunt attempt in the 10th trying to advance Jacque Jones to second base after a leadoff single. The Cubs could not layoff the first pitch all night and several times those swings resulted in pop ups for easy outs. (by my count the Cubs popped out 5 times on Friday)

The Cubs lost their first extra inning game of the season and are in 5th place in the central, 5 games behind division leading Cincinnati. Sean Marshall takes the hill on Saturday and hopefully the offense will be able to put an end to all of the zeroes that have been following their name as of late.

Quote of the Day

"Never discourage anyone who continually makes progress, no matter how slow." - Plato
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