Meltdown In Steeltown….A Walk-off Win

Game One Hundred Thirty-Two – Cubs 6 Pirates 7 – 11 innings

The Cubs dropped their 5th in a row….again in embarrassing fashion. Ronny Cedeno committed another throwing error on a tailor made double play that would have ended the game, Bynum missed the throw, was credited with the error, the tying run scored and after an intentional walk to Chris Duffy, Ryan Dempster walked home the winning run. The Cubs played an incredibly sloppy game; they committed 4 errors and would have been more if not for two very good catches; one by Ryan Theriot and the other by Derrek Lee.

Carlos Zambrano looked unhittable, and was, until the 5th inning. Zambrano lost his composure, that led to him committing 2 errors and the Pirates scored 5 runs, 3 earned, off of Zambrano in the last 3 innings he pitched. Derrek Lee looked more like the “pre-DL Lee” than the first time off the DL, he had a huge game and was 3 for 6 with what looked like the game winning hit in the 11th. Aramis Ramirez was 3 for 3 on the night with 3 walks but the Cubs defense and Zambrano’s temper cost them another game….the Cubs are now 24 below .500 and just 2 games in the win column ahead of the Pirates for the cellar in the National League….they have no one to blame but themselves.

The Cubs defense was the main reason they lost on Tuesday night. On 3 different occasions the Cubs had a chance to turn a double play to end the inning and on all 3 they committed errors and they last one cost them the game. Carlos Zambrano was in full control until the 5th when he fell apart. After a leadoff double by Xavier Nady that ended the no-no, Ryan Doumit singled to right and Nady was held at 3rd with 1 out. Jose Castillo then hit a tapper back Zambrano that he barehanded and threw into centerfield. Nady scored and Jeromy Burnitz drove in the 2nd run of the inning with a long single off the wall in right. Duffy then singled to cut the Cubs lead to 4-3 before Zambrano struck out Bautista and Sanchez to end the inning. The Pirates scored 3 runs on 4 hits off the 2nd error for the Cubs in the game.

In the 6th Zambrano was on the ropes again after Nady singled and Paulino walked; Dolmit hit a grounder to Derrek Lee, he fielded it, threw to 2nd to Ryan Theriot and he made a perfect relay to Zambrano covering first….Zambrano did not catch the ball, the ball rolled into the dugout….game tied, 2nd error of the game for Zambrano and 3rd for the Cubs.

Zambrano left after 7 innings, he gave up 5 runs, 3 earned, on 5 hits, walked 1 and struck out 7 on 111 pitches, 73 for strikes. Phil Nevin pitch hit for him in the 8th and Zambrano received a no-decision and was unable to become the first to 15 in the National League. Zambrano seemed to lose his composure after the Theriot in the 3rd. The Cubs pitching staff has had to deal with poor defense all season long, and while that is no excuse for Zambrano’s performance, it has to be incredibly frustrating to give it your all night after night, day after day, and to not be able to trust that the 7 guys behind you will make the play.

The Cubs offense score 6 runs on 12 hits but left 12 on base because they walked 7 times on the night, those walks must have led to the defeat (the continued reminder of one of the most idiotic statements ever heard will stop soon). The middle of the lineup (Ramirez, Lee, Barrett and Murton) had another huge night, 10 for 20 with a double, 4 walks, 4 runs scored and 3 RBI’s. Ramirez reached all 6 times on the night and Freddie Bynum added a double and what was thought to be the winning run.

The mismanagement also continued on Tuesday. Ronny Cedeno has little to no confidence left; that is easy to see. Cedeno was supposed to sit for the first 2 games of the Pirates series, yet he was put in a pinch hitting role with the game on the line and his defense cost the Cubs the game….way to put a player in a position to succeed. In the 10th inning, Pagan singled with 1-out. Dusty went to the bench for Jacque Jones, he struck-out swinging and Cedeno stepped the plate. He eventually did the same and looked very bad doing so. Jones pinch hit for Theriot, why not let Theriot hit or at least let him take some pitches and try to give Pagan a chance to steal 2nd? Theriot has struck out only 7 times in 45 at bats this season and only 4 times in his last 32 (1 in every 8 plate appearances) while Jones has struck out 92 times in 436 at bats and 21 times in his last 82 at bats (1 in every 3.9 plate appearances). Try to move Pagan into scoring position, pinch hit for the pitcher’s spot and leave a fragile, frustrated young ballplayer on the bench until it is absolutely necessary to use him. Dusty likes playing all of guys regardless of what it may do to them and the team.

Ryan Dempster did not throw strikes and despite the fact that was his 2nd consecutive blown save and his 7th of the season, Dempster made the pitch to get out of his mess and win the ballgame. The Cubs did not turn the double play and the result was the 78th loss of the season and while 90 losses are inevitable, a 100-loss season, the first in 40 years, is looking more probable. The Cubs have won just 1 game in their last 10.

Get out your brown bags!!!

Rookie Juan Mateo is scheduled to take the hill on Wednesday morning, after a humiliating defeat they have a 12:35 ET start time. Mateo will try to salvage the last game of the series and the road trip before a day off on Thursday and an afternoon game at Wrigley on Friday with the San Francisco Giants.

Quote of the Day

"When you play, play hard; when you work, don’t play at all." – Theodore Roosevelt