Game Twenty-Nine – Cubs 1 Padres 2 – 10 innings
For the second night in a row the Cubs and Padres played extra innings and the result was the same….a Cubs loss. Saturday night’s loss was their 5th in a row and the Cubs are now one game under .500 for the first time this season. Rob Bowen hit a 1-1 fastball over the right field wall off of Bobby Howry to win the ballgame in the bottom of the 10th.
On the 8th Anniversary of Kerry Wood’s 20-strikeout performance against the Houston Astros, the Cubs Faithful was treated to another excellent pitching performance by a Cubs’ Rookie. Sean Marshall should have received the win, but again the anemic offense could only managed 1 run while he was on the mound….and they had plenty of opportunities. The Cubs are now 5-1 in games that Sean Marshall has started. Sean Marshall threw another gem on Saturday night and had a no-hitter going into the 6th inning. Marshall was in total control all evening and his curve ball was (and is) very impressive. Marshall finished the game allowing only 1 run on 3 hits, he struck out 6 and walked 3; all on 90 pitches, Marshall has been very impressive this seasonm he never seems to get rattled and for a pitcher without any experience above the AA level before this year he has a poise and presence on the mound that lacks in many veteran pitchers.
The Cubs bullpen was equally impressive, until the 10th, Roberto Novoa pitched a scoreless 1 1/3 innings and gave up only one hit to former Cub, Eric Young. Novoa rebounded well from his last outing against the Pirates and had command of his pitches. Scott Eyre came in the game in the bottom of the 8th and gave up an infield hit to Geoff Blum. Eyre actually picked up a dribbler down the 1st base line to early and Blum was safe at 1st….Eyre argued, but it was the right call. Eyre composed himself and struck out Mark Bellhorn to end the inning and ran off the field pumping his fist….it was a great site to see, a Cubs player fired up, and one wondered if that would effect the offense. Bobby Howry came into the game in the 9th and retired the Padres on 8 pitches and allowed an infield single to Josh Barfield. Cedeno made a good play but could not get anything on the throw and Barfield beat it out….safe at first. Barfield then attempted to steal 2nd, with Rob Bowen at the plate, and was thrown out on a good throw from Michael Barrett. Bowen led off the 10th and ended the game with a home run to right.
The Padres only managed 7 hits on Saturday and Cubs pitching has given up 3 runs in two games.
The offense had plenty of opportunities again on Saturday and could not string together enough hits to plate any runs….the only run of the game was a solo home run by Aramis Ramirez. The Cubs had 9 hits and left 10 on base….again, that is 40 left on base in 4 games. The Cubs had the lead off hitter on base in the 8th, 9th and 10th innings and were unable to score. In the 8th and 9th innings they could not advance the runner to 2nd on two different failed bunt attempts and they had a total of three failed bunt attempts on the night.
Ramirez finished the night 2 for 5 and hit the ball hard all night, with the exception of a pop out in the 6th….that is a good sign. Ronny Cedeno was back in the lineup and went 3 for 5 and other than Ramirez he was the only other Cub with a multi-hit night. Juan Pierre was 0 for 5 and Jacque Jones was 0 for 5 as well with four strikeouts….all four swinging.
On five different occasions the Cubs had a runner on 2nd with 1 out and failed to score the runner and only twice were they able to advance to 3rd. The big play of the night was in the 4th. After the Ramirez homer and 1 out, Michael Barrett tripled and was hustling out of the box the entire way. Jerry Hairston stepped to the plate and after a failed squeeze attempt, Hairston popped out in foul territory and Marshall ended the inning. Bob Brenly said it right, when you are scoring 8 runs a night the little things are not that big a deal, but when you are not scoring they are magnified. The Cubs did steal 5 bases on Saturday all off of Mike Piazza.
The Cubs looked more relaxed earlier in the game but as the night wore on the temperament of the team changed….you could see it. It was great to see the excitement of Scott Eyre and hopefully the rest of the team will be able to feed off that emotion and show the same soon. Right now everything they do is being second guessed….by themselves. They are all professionals and must remember how they got to where they are and just play ball.
Angel Guzman takes the hill on Sunday afternoon. The Cubs ended the scoreless streak now they just need to work on the losing one.