Game Seventy-Four – Cubs 1 Twins 8
The Cubs out hit the Twins, 11 to 10, but they also committed more errors (3) and opportunities (too many to count) that led to 6 runs for the Twins. The only two runs of the game that the Twins actually earned were the home runs by Torii Hunter and Luis Rodriguez. Although the Cubs were credited with three errors there were several more that changed the game and led to extra runs given up by Sean Marshall. While the ineffectiveness of Marshall will be discussed….the horrible Cubs defense and anemic offense were key contributors to Marshall recording his sixth loss of the season.
The only run the Cubs were able to score came in the 9th with the game more than under control for the Twins and that run came off of Scott Eyre’s brother, Willie. The younger Eyre allowed the 1 run on 3 hits that included the third hit of the day by Juan Pierre and a RBI single by Henry Blanco. The Cubs pathetic performance wasted the return of Derrek Lee and another good performance by Sean Marshall. When your defense creates two throwing errors that allows runners to move into scoring position it changes your approach to the next hitter and it changes the defensive approach in the infield….welcome to Sean Marshall’s world. “Mr. Everything”, Neifi Perez led the defensive collapse on Sunday. Perez committed four blunders on Sunday after being inserted into the starting lineup to replace Ronny Cedeno who has not committed an error since May 31st in Cincinnati and has limited his mental mistakes over that same time span as well. Neifi’s throwing error in the 6th cost the Cubs a run and his lack of ability to take charge and make a decision to call off a player with little Major League experience led to the runner being on base that later scored on the error by Neifi himself. In the 3rd after an unexplainable play by Todd Walker and Phil Nevin, Neifi could not get the ball out of his glove on a grounder by Torii Hunter that would have been a sure double play and ended the inning but Neifi had to settle for the force out at 2nd that allowed Michael Cuddyer to score from 3rd. For whatever reason and Dusty has yet to make the excuse for starting Neifi in place of Cedeno, Dusty’s infatuation with finding anyway and everyway possible to get Perez playing time will be one of the many reasons that Dusty is shown the door.
One of the few aspects of the game that has gone right for the Cubs as of late is their defense but not on Sunday. For those of you that missed the bouncing ball that went between Todd Walker and Phil Nevin in the 3rd inning consider yourself fortunate. The play led Bob Brenly to say, “I do not know what to say to that.” That play summed up the 2006 Cubs….waiting for someone else to make the play.
As hard as I have been on Jacque Jones’ defense this season, the throwing error he was credited with in the 3rd should not have been credited to him. The throw was off line a little but it did beat the runner and short hopped Henry Blanco. Nick Punto “landed” on Blanco, the ball rolled away and the runners advanced. If Blanco could have come up with the ball, Punto was out….it was a good throw. The Twins scored two unearned runs on Sunday and it should have been more. Ryan Dempster had another bad inning and gave up a home run to pinch hitter Luis Rodriguez with 2 outs in the 8th. Granted Dempster has not pitched since last Monday but he must be able to get the batters out he does face, bottom line is that Dempster has given up 16 runs on 23 hits in his last 20 1/3 innings of work since May 1st but his 7.56 ERA in the month of June to go along with 5 walks and 11 hits in 8 1/3 innings of work is the most alarming stat.
While Derrek Lee did go 1-4 on Sunday in his 1200th career game, the Cubs pathetic offense continued to leave runners on base and in scoring position. The Cubs had two runners on base in each of the first three innings and were unable to score a run until the 9th….the Cubs were 1-9 with RISP and 0-3 with RISP and 2 outs before the 9th inning. The one single came in the 2nd inning, after a 1 out double by Jacque Jones; Matt Murton beat out a ground ball to the hole at short. The Cubs were unable to take advantage of Brad Radke’s typical generosity and this was the first time in 16 starts this season that Radke had not allowed a run in one of his outings. In Radke’s defense he tried to let the Cubs score….they just would not take the hint. The Cubs left 9 on base and only walked once on the day against Radke.
The Cubs were swept by the Twins for the first time and are now 18 games under .500….this was the 8th time this season the Cubs have been swept.
The hard-hitting, light fielding Brewers come to Chicago to start a 4-game series on Monday. Which Greg Maddux will make a trip to the mound and will Dusty put Phil Nevin in left field?