When You Hit Rock Bottom….Cubs Drop Number 7

Game Thirty-One – Cubs 3 Padres 8

Greg Maddux could not get out of the 4th inning and the Cubs offense could not get a hit with runners in scoring position….if the Cubs made any positive steps on Sunday, they took several steps back on Monday. All of the problems that the Cubs have had over the past week came to a head on Monday at the hands of the San Diego Padres. The Cubs could not score or even advance runners on base with less than 2 outs, they missed the cut-off man and when the only bright spot is Glendon Rusch, you know your team is in trouble.

Maddux had his worst start of the season, and probably one of the worst of his career on a night when the Cubs needed him the most. Maddux had location problems and fell behind most of the hitters he faced. The ever-efficient Maddux threw 70 pitches in 3 2/3 innings of work on Monday night.

Maddux did not have “it” from the minute he took the mound and gave up 2 runs in the 1st inning after a leadoff walk to Dave Roberts. Roberts stole 2nd and scored on a single to center off the bat of Mike Cameron….Cameron advanced to 2nd on a bad throw by Juan Pierre to attempt throw out Roberts, the throw sailed, missed the cut-off man and Cameron advanced to 2nd and scored on a single by Brian Giles. Pierre should have never attempted that throw, there was nothing that could be gained and the only thing it did was take Maddux out of a possible double-play situation and added pressure to the defense and to the pitcher. When there is a play like that, there are many….many affects that can change a ballgame and lately the Cubs are making too many of those plays.

Dave Roberts ended the night 3 for 3 against Maddux and led off the 3rd with a triple and scored on a single by Mike Piazza, after an intentional walk to Brian Giles, to make the score 3-0 but it was the 4th inning when the Padres put the game out of reach. Khalil Greene led off the 4th inning with a solo shot to left field it barely made it over the wall. Maddux made a good pitch….it was up and in and Greene somehow hit the ball out. Adrian Gonzalez singled and after a sacrifice bunt by Chris Young, Dave Roberts singled and stole 2nd. With runners on 2nd and 3rd, Mike Cameron doubled and scored on the second double of the inning by Brian Giles….Maddux was done at that point. Maddux finished the night throwing only 3 2/3 innings giving up 7 runs on 9 hits, walked 2, struck out 4 and his ERA jumped to 3.64. Maddux is 0-2 in May with an ERA of 12.46.

Glendon Rusch came in and recorded the last out in the 4th after back-to-back walks to Mike Piazza and Vinny Castilla. Rusch had another fine outing of the bullpen and kept the Cubs in the game. Rusch pitched 2 1/3 innings of relief on Monday and gave up 2 hits and 2 walks with 1 strike out. Rusch has yet to allow a run in relief. Bobby Howry threw a scoreless 7th and allowed only 1 hit and Ryan Dempster gave up a run on 2 hits in the 8th.

The Cubs offense did pound out 10 hits on Monday, but it was their lack of execution with runners on base that has passed the alarming point. The Cubs left 6 on base and only walked twice on Monday. In Dusty’s tenure as the Cubs manager, the Cubs have the lowest walk total in the National League. The Cubs continue to swing at the first pitch on a regular basis and their lack of patience at the plate has become an issue throughout the entire team. For an example, in the 7th inning after the Cubs had scored 2 runs and Ronny Cedeno was on 3rd after a triple….the Padres went to the pen and brought in Alan Embree. On the first pitch from Embree, Todd Walker grounded out to Greene to end the inning. Why didn’t Walker take a pitch? Embree could have thrown a wild pitch, anything could have happened….but there has to be more than one pitch thrown.

The Cubs scored in the 4th after a leadoff walk to Todd Walker and he advanced on a ground out to 2nd off the bat of Michael Barrett. After a wild pitch advanced Walker to 3rd, Aramis Ramirez hit a sacrifice fly to score Walker. Murton singled off the foot of Chris Young and Jones singled as well before Jerry Hairston swung at ball three to strike out to end the inning.

The Cubs got on the board again in the 7th with a leadoff home run to Jacque Jones and with 1 out, Neifi Perez singled to center and with 2 outs scored on the Ronny Cedeno triple….Walker ended the inning. Juan Pierre finished the series 1 for 18 and now ranks last in on base percentage for leadoff men in the National League. The Cubs are hitting below .110 in their last 10 games with runners in scoring position. One plus from Monday on the offense, every spot in the line-up recorded at least one hit.

On a defensive note, Khalil Greene and Josh Barfield turned one of the better double plays you will ever see in the 8th off the bat of Aramis Ramirez. Greene made a great stop on a ball that should have been a single to center, glove tossed it to Barfield and he turned it with Barrett coming in to take him out….hey you gotta give credit where credit is due, it was a great double play….too bad it was against the Cubs.

The Cubs were swept for the first time ever by the Padres and the Padres have now won 9 in a row, their second longest winning streak in club history (14 games in 1999). The Cubs are now 3 games under .500 and 6 1/2 back of the Reds.

It’s off to San Francisco, Barry Bonds and a possible date with history. Rich Hill is scheduled to take the mound on Tuesday night against Jason Schmidt.

Quote of the Day

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