The Wrigley Field Defensive Blues

Game Eighty-Nine – Cubs 3 Mets 6

Mark Prior Placed on 15-Day DL on Friday

Greg Maddux had another rough start and lost his 10th game of the season against just 7 wins and only 2 since May 3rd. Maddux received little run support from the Cubs anemic offense and was not aided by the Cubs inconsistent defense. A missed double play in the 4th cost Maddux and the Cubs 2 runs and they were not able to recover against former Cub Steve Trachsel. How many times this season have former Cubs been responsible for beating the current boys in blue?

The Cubs managed only 6 hits on the day and after a 2-run 1st inning they were able to plate only one other run in the game, in the 9th off of Billy Wagner. The Cubs hit the ball hard all afternoon, three of their hits were for extra bases but the solid Mets defense robbed the Cubs of several hits on the day including two excellent defensive plays in the 3rd inning by Cliff Floyd and David Wright to take away hits from Juan Pierre and Derrek Lee. The lack of fundamental defense cost the Cubs a chance at a 4-game winning streak and they still continue to struggle at home.

Friday started with the news that Mark Prior was placed on the 15-day DL retroactive to Wednesday, July 5th. Prior is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Saturday, Sean Marshall will take his place in the rotation and start Sunday against the Mets. Carlos Marmol will start against the Astros on Tuesday. Ryan Theriot was called up from Triple-A Iowa to take Prior’s spot on the roster. Theriot has been with the Cubs once this season and saw little playing time, the Cubs must play Theriot and see what they have in the young infielder.

When the Cubs took the field on Friday the hope was for the team to show improvement over the second half of the season and for a while it looked like they just might. After the Mets struck first with a run in the top of the inning, Derrek Lee hit a 2-out double in the bottom of the inning and after a walk to Aramis Ramirez, scored on a double by Jacque Jones. The ball was just short of a home run. After the 1st inning Steve Trachsel settled down and did not allow another run. In fact the Cubs managed only one more hit off of Trachsel and walked twice against him in 6 innings of work. The third run of the day came off of Billy Wagner in 9th after a Michael Barrett double and a 2-out single by Phil Nevin. But between the 1st and the 9th, the Cubs had trouble catching and throwing the ball….not even the 45 minute rain delay could wash away the Cubs troubles.

The Mets are the best team in the National League for a reason….they know how to hit, score runs and play good defense. The Mets do not beat themselves and that is what the Cubs continue to do, game after game after game. Greg Maddux is no where near as effective at this point in the season as he was in April but he is not pitching as bad has his record and stats indicate. Yes opponents are hitting at nearly a .300 average against him but the Cubs defense has given teams extra chances in seemingly every start Maddux has made and Friday was no different.

The 4th inning was the difference in the game as the Mets put up 4 runs on 4 hits and the Cubs committed two very big errors only one will be seen in the box score. Ronny Cedeno is in a slump at the plate and his inconsistent defense cost Greg Maddux again. Not only is Cedeno hitting at a .255/.281/.342 clip, he is hitting .121 (4-33) in his last 10 games and is 1 for his last 21 but when you don’t bring the lumber, you must bring the leather and Cedeno’s 15th error of the season cost the Cubs 2 big runs in the 4th.

David Wright singled to tie the game at 2 and Cliff Floyd doubled with 1-out to score Carlos Beltran to give the Mets the 3-2 lead and the double put runners on 2nd and 3rd….again with 1 out. Maddux intentionally walked Xavier Nady to get to Chris Woodward. Maddux got Woodward to hit a grounder to Todd Walker, he forced Nady at 2nd but Cedeno threw the ball away, 2 runs scored and Woodward went to 2nd on the throwing error. While the difference in the game was 3, errors like that with a fragile team that lacks leadership usually spells defeat. The Mets added a run in the 7th after a triple by Chris Woodward and a sacrifice fly by Eli Marrero.

The Cubs must figure out a way to win games at Wrigley….plain and simple. After Friday’s loss they are now 14-26 at what is being called the “Unfriendly Confines” and with a majority of the remaining schedule at home (41 of 73) it could get worse instead of better if the front office does not make changes and do everything they can to improve the product they are putting on the field.

Carlos Zambrano will make his scheduled start on Saturday against the Mets and hopefully he can send the Faithful home with a smile.

Quote of the Day

"Don’t ever permit the pressure to exceed the pleasure." - Joe Maddon