The Keystone Cubs….Swept in Pittsburgh

Game One Hundred Thirty-Three – Cubs 9 Pirates 10 – 11 innings

For the first time since 1999 the Cubs were swept by the Pirates in Pittsburgh and for the second consecutive day, the two worst teams in the National League played 11 innings and Ryan Dempster took the loss. Everyday is an adventure, to say the least, with this “team” and as of late the defense, or lack thereof, has been the reason for their downfall….Wednesday was no exception. The Cubs were unable to turn several double plays that would have gotten them out of innings despite the fact that their own aggressiveness at the plate resulted in 3 inning ending double plays turned by the Pirates.

The Cubs injury problems continued on Wednesday as well. Juan Mateo left the game in 3rd inning after being hit by a line drive off the bat of Jose Bautista. Mateo left the game and the injury was diagnosed as a bone bruise on his right forearm. David Aardsma was hit 2 batters later on the back of the leg by Jason Bay, Aardsma stayed in the game but left after the 3rd inning. The Cubs took a 2-run lead into the bottom of the 11th but Ryan Dempster gave up 3 runs on 4 hits and a walk, that put the winning run in scoring position, to hand the Cubs their 6th loss in a row and their 11th sweep of the season. The Cubs are just 1 game in the win column ahead of the Pirates for last in the National League and are now a season low 25 games under .500….with 29 games left and 79 losses, a 100-loss season seems inevitable.

This was an ugly game. The two teams combined for 19 runs on 40 hits and left 28 on base. The Cubs jumped out to an early lead with 3 runs in the 1st. Ryan Theriot had a huge game; he was 5 for 6 (a career high) with 2 runs scored, an RBI and a stolen base. His 1-out single in the 1st resulted in the first run of the game. Ramirez recorded a broken bat single to center and Phil Nevin recorded an infield single to score Theriot from 3rd. Jones singled to Xavier Nady at 1st, he made a great play to keep the ball in the infield and almost threw out Nevin at 2nd (the ball hit Nevin). Barrett fouled out and Matt Murton singled to left with 2 outs and the bases loaded to drive in Ramirez and Nevin.

The Cubs added a single run in the 6th after Jones reached on an error by Sanchez at short and he scored on a double by Ronny Cedeno. Cedeno had a better day at the plate (1-5, 1 run, 2 RBI with a double and a sac fly) but his fielding was still an issue; he committed his 22nd error of the season to tie him with Rafael Furcal for the most among NL shortstops. The Cubs added another run in the 8th after a Ryan Theriot double, Ramirez walked, Bynum sacrificed them 90′ and Jacque Jones (4-6, 2 runs, 1 RBI) grounded out to score Theriot. In the 8th the Cubs tied the game after Derrek Lee (2-2 with a walk and 1 run) recorded a pinch hit single, Pierre followed with a single to left and Lee scored on a single by Theriot.

The Cubs added 2 huge runs in the 11th, again what was thought to be the game winners, after a leadoff single by Pagan and a single by Jones. Barrett lined a single to left to score Pagan and Cedeno drove home the 2nd run with a sacrifice fly to center.

The offense, despite all of their problems, scored more than enough runs to win this series. The Cubs inability to make easy outs defensively is killing their pitching staff and is causing an already tired staff to work even harder. The middle defense has to be improved upon and hopefully when Izturis returns that will happen. The Pirates ran on Juan Pierre’s arm all series and while his offense and ability to cover a lot of ground in center is a plus, his below average arm is cause for concern and should cost him money in free agency.

September could be a long month on the Northside of Chicago. The young Cubs must take advantage of the opportunity they have been given. Ryan Theriot is opening eyes and with Rich Hill scheduled to take the mound on Friday both could go a long way at being considered for spots on next season’s Opening Day roster. The roster should start expanding on Friday with activations from the DL and the Cubs should take full advantage of the extra players they can call-up after the Minor League season is over on September 4th.

The Cubs are off on Thursday, their last for 20 games, and Rich Hill is scheduled to face the Giants at Wrigley Field on Friday afternoon against Noah Lowry. Hopefully the bumbling and stumbling will stay on the road.

Quote of the Day

"From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life." – Arthur Ashe