Game Seventy – Cubs 2 Indians 4
With Injury Updates on Derrek Lee, Kerry Wood and Angel Pagan
The southpaw slump continued on Tuesday night for the Cubs as they dropped their 16th game of the season against left-handed pitching. The Cubs hit the ball hard all night but unfortunately they could not hit green. Greg Maddux pitched into the 8th inning, his longest outing since May 15th, threw over 100 pitches for the first time this season and recorded his 3100th strikeout of his career but he barely made it out of the 1st inning. Maddux gave up 3 runs on 4 hits, threw over 30 pitches and was not comfortable on the mound at the start of the game. After the 1st inning, he settled down and retired the next 10 batters he faced, he kept his team in the game but what has become a recurring theme on the season, the Cubs’ offense could score only 2 runs.
The offense could only plate 2 runs on the evening, one on a bizarre play that Matt Murton scored on and the other on a solo shot in the 6th inning by Aramis Ramirez, his 13th of the season. But the Indians leadoff hitter, Grady Sizemore, also hit his 13th home run of the season off of Greg Maddux in the 5th that put the game out of reach for the Cubs. Once Maddux made it through the 1st inning he regained his control and for a minute it looked the Cubs might have a shot at a comeback win. Maddux retired 11 in a row before the Sizemore home run and only allowed 4 runs on 7 hits in 7 1/3 innings of work. When your Hall of Fame pitcher pitches like he did on Tuesday night you must find a way to win the ball game. The Cubs struggles at the plate are past the point of frustrating and all together the lackadaisical play has become contagious.
Ronny Cedeno had another fine defensive game at shortstop but Jacque Jones has to learn how to throw a ball with accuracy and consistency. Jones had two bad throws on Tuesday, one led to a run and the other just allowed Jhonny Peralta to cruise into second base. Jones needs to look at the tape from Tuesday night’s game when a good relay from Todd Hollandsworth to third baseman Ramon Vazquez to Victor Martinez beat Jones to home plate….Jones was out which kept the Cubs from having runners at 2nd and 3rd with only 1 out. It was a good call to waive Jones home, but the Indians showed the Cubs what fundamental baseball looked like.
Henry Blanco went 1 for 4 on the night with a double and extended his hit streak to 8 games….a career high. Matt Murton added a single and was 1 for 3 to end his 0 for 16 slump. Jacque Jones was 3 for 4 with a double. The Cubs brought the tying run to the plate in the 9th after a one out double by Jones but neither John Mabry nor Henry Blanco could hit the big fly to tie the game.
The Cubs turn to Carlos Zambrano on Wednesday night in the rubber game of the series. Can Zambrano do it again? Better yet, can the Cubs score any runs against C.C. Sabathia?
Injury Updates – Derrek Lee took batting practice on the field for the first time on Tuesday. According to a report during Tuesday night’s game by Len Kasper, Derrek Lee did hit a home run during practice. Kerry Wood had trouble with his simulated game on Tuesday. After 60 pitches, Wood had trouble getting to 70 and will likely miss his next start. The Cubs had hoped to get Wood back for the weekend, he is scheduled to come off the DL on Thursday. Wood could make another rehab start to build up his strength before pitching again for the Cubs. Angel Pagan played 5 innings in Mesa in an extended Spring Training game on Tuesday, his first game action since his injury back in April. Pagan was transferred on Sunday to the 60-day DL to make room for Mark Prior on the 40-man roster.