Game Sixty-Three – Cubs 2 Astros 9
With Injury Updates on Wade Miller and Angel Pagan
The Cubs continued their offensive struggles against left-handers on Tuesday and lost to Andy Pettitte for the first time. The Cubs are now 7-13 against southpaws and had plenty off opportunities to make the game interesting in the last innings but like too many other times this season they were unable to score those precious runs that can change the momentum of a game. Pettitte arguably had his best outing of the season and Chris Burke reached base 5 times, 4 hits and a walk, and scored all 5 times, one of which was a home run.
Sean Marshall had only his third bad start of the season (out of 13) and from the beginning of the game it was apparent that the young lefty could have a very short evening. As good as he was last Wednesday in Houston he was just as bad on Tuesday night in Chicago….this was his shortest outing of the season at Wrigley Field. Marshall allowed a 1st inning home run to Chris Burke after Craig Biggio just missed leading off the game with a solo home run to centerfield. Marshall barely made it out of the 3rd inning and it was due to a walk and a mental error. Biggio led off the inning with a walk and Burke laid down what should have been a sacrifice bunt, Marshall picked it up and could not make a play….extra opportunities. Jason Lane then singled to score Biggio and Marshall walked Lance Berkman to load the bases. Preston Wilson singled to left to score Burke and then both Brad Ausmus and Eric Bruntlett swung on 3-0 pitches and bailed Marshall out of the inning….Ausmus hit into a 5-2-3 double play and Bruntlett flied out to left. Marshall could not record an out in the 5th inning and the Astros added 2 more to seal the victory against the Cubs. David Aardsma retired the only 3 batters he faced to get the Cubs out of the mess that Marshall had created. In 4+ innings, Marshall allowed 5 runs on 7 hits, struck out 1 and walked 4 on 88 pitches….only 47 were strikes.
The time back in Iowa did not help Angel Guzman and in 2 innings he allowed 1 run on 1 hit with a walk and a strikeout….but he only threw 19 strikes out of 31 pitches and faced just 8 batters. He is still struggling with his command and confidence. Roberto Novoa had a fine outing and Will Ohman allowed 3 runs on 3 hits in the 9th.
The Cubs recorded 11 hits but they did not make Pettitte work and allowed him to get into a groove. Pettitte had his best ball to strike ratio in his last 3 starts and the only run the Cubs scored against Pettitte was a solo home run to center in the 7th off the bat of Phil Nevin….his third in Cubbie Blue. The Cubs left 10 on base and only walked once. The top of the lineup did their job, but Murton, Jones and Cedeno left runners on base at key times in the ball game plus Phil Nevin and Matt Murton were unable to capitalize in the 8th with the bases loaded, 1 out and down by only 5 at that point. The Cubs did add a run in the 9th off of Brad Lidge and he looked very bad….1 run, 3 hits and 2 wild pitches.
It seems that no matter how many steps forward this team takes once they start to string together some wins they play like they did on Tuesday night….incredibly bad, flat and everything they improved upon was suddenly forgotten….they go back to step one. The Cubs had a chance to get to within 9 games of .500, not a good record, but doesn’t 9 games under sound a lot better than 11?
The Cubs have decided to push Glendon Rusch’s next start back to later in the week and they will start Greg Maddux on Wednesday night against Roy Oswalt. Maddux needs to pitch like he did last Friday in Cincinnati.
Wade Miller – Miller is in Chicago and has joined the club. Extended Spring Training is over and he is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Wednesday and batting practice later in the week. Depending on how that goes a Minor League rehab is the next step.
Angel Pagan – Pagan has been cleared to play and should be start his Minor League rehab early next week.