The Achilles’ Heel

Game Six – Cubs 4 Brewers 9
WP – Chris Capuano (1-0) LP – Wade Miller (0-1)

After 31 shutout innings, dating back to last season, the Cubs finally figured out to score runs against Chris Capuano but by the time they put up a 4 spot against him in the 6th inning it was a case of too little too late. Chris Capuano’s change up kept the Cubs off balance and off base most of the afternoon, with the exception of Derrek Lee, until the 6th. The Cubs offense had plenty of opportunities late in the game but Ronny Cedeno and Daryle Ward could not come through with runners in scoring position.

Wade Miller had trouble throwing strikes and when he did the Brewers made him pay for his mistakes. The Cubs were looking for their first sweep in Milwaukee since 2003 but it turns out the Brewers offense is pretty good after all as they put up 9 runs on 13 hits on Easter Sunday.

Wade Miller lost for the second time in his career against the Brewers and looked bad in the process. Miller had trouble with his command and with several miles missing from the fastball that made him an elite pitcher in the league several years back, the Brewers looked like they were taking batting practice against Miller in the 2nd inning. Miller ended his day after pitching to three batters in the 5th and he allowed 6 runs on 9 hits, walked 2 and gave up back-to-back home runs in the 2nd inning to Geoff Jenkins and Gabe Gross.

Miller gave up a leadoff walk to Prince Fielder in the 2nd, Jenkins followed with a “monster shot” to right, and Gross hit a long homer to right in the next at bat. Damian Miller followed with a double to right and moved to 3rd on a ground out to 1st by Tony Gwynn Jr. Chris Capuano, with the infield in, dumped a single into left to plate Miller. After a Rickie Weeks single to left, Craig Counsell and J.J. Hardy were retired to end the inning. Of the nine that went to the plate in the 2nd inning, Miller threw first pitch strikes to only four….29 pitches, 18 strikes. Miller left several fastballs up and at 88 MPH, he did not miss too many bats.

Miller seemed he had settled down in the 3rd, he threw first pitch strikes to two of the four he faced and other than a walk to Gabe Gross, the Brewers went quietly in the inning. In the 4th, Tony Gwynn Jr. reached on a bunt single to lead off the inning, Chris Capuano popped out to Aramis Ramirez in foul ground….Ramirez made a good play on the railing of the dugout to make the out. After Weeks was retired, Miller pitched out and Michael Barrett threw out Gwynn trying to steal 2nd. Miller faced just 3 batters in the 5th before Piniella went to the pen.

Craig Counsell doubled to right center to lead off the inning, J.J. Hardy followed with a single to right and Prince Fielder singled to right to score Counsell. Piniella went to the pen for Neal Cotts and did a double switch with Theriot going to left, Jacque Jones entering the game in right and Matt Murton an early exit. Neal Cotts allowed a grounder to Mark DeRosa that scored Hardy from 3rd to close the book on Wade Miller. On the play, for some reason DeRosa threw back to 2nd (with his momentum headed toward 1st base), the throw beat Fielder but Ronny Cedeno pulled up his leg with Fielder barreling down on him. It was the old “in-the-neighborhood” call that went against Cedeno….DeRosa was charged an error but Cedeno has to remain on the bag to get the out. Bad play on both ends. Cotts struck out Gabe Gross and Damian Miller before Gwynn Jr. flied out to center to end the inning. Neal Cotts did a very good job, threw strikes and for the second time this season, was very effective.

Michael Wuertz pitched the 6th and did his job. Wuertz allowed a 2-out single to Counsell but struck out J.J. Hardy swinging to end the inning. Will Ohman did the same in the 7th and retired the Brewers in order. Scott Eyre had another rough outing and his defense, especially Michael Barrett, did not help. He retired Miller on a pop out to Derrek Lee but Gwynn Jr. reached on his second infield single of the day….DeRosa could not throw him out at 1st. With Kevin Mench at the plate, Barrett dropped the ball, lost it momentarily, and Gwynn advanced to 2nd. Mench hit a liner down the 3rd base line that Aramis Ramirez made a great play on to save a run. With Weeks at the plate, Eyre uncorked a wild pitch that Barrett should have been able to handle….they intentionally walked Weeks after the wild pitch. Piniella left Eyre in the game, after a bizarre visit to the mound, and Craig Counsell tripled down the right field line to empty the bases. Eyre allowed 3 runs on 3 hits….his season ERA stands at 22.50. At this point….the possibility of a sweep was put to rest.

Chris Capuano did not allow a run against the Cubs in 2006 and it looked like he was going to keep the string going on Sunday. Capuano had an unbelievable changeup, one the Cubs kept swinging at and missing. He threw first pitch strikes and had most of the Cubs hitters on the afternoon in 0-2 counts before they had a chance to settle into the batters box. It only took Capuano 10 pitches to retire the side in order in the 1st, 11 in the 2nd. Ronny Cedeno was the first Cub that Capuano fell behind and it was not until the 3rd inning. In the 4th, Derrek Lee singled with 2 outs for the first runner of the day.

In the 6th with 1-out, Jacque Jones single to left and advanced to 3rd on a double by Alfonso Soriano. Jones scored on a grounder to 1st off the bat of Ryan Theriot that Fielder bobbled and Capuano dropped. Derrek Lee doubled off the base of the right center field wall to score Soriano and Theriot. Ramirez walked and with 2 outs, Barrett singled to score Lee. Cliff Floyd walked to lead the bases but Cedeno flied out to left to end the inning….2 of the 3 outs in the 6th inning were made by Ronny Cedeno. The Cubs cut the lead to 6-4 and it appeared they were going to come back and take the game.

In the 8th, Derrick Turnbow hit Lee to lead off the inning and Ramirez singled to center to put runners on 1st and 2nd with no outs….down by 2. DeRosa struck out looking for his 4th k on the day….the Golden Sombrero. Why was DeRosa not bunting? Was there a sign missed? Barrett flied out on a liner to left that almost got over Jenkins’ head, it might have scored Lee. Daryle Ward struck out swinging to end the inning.

The Cubs had a good road trip to start the season. They won their first series of the year, received very good starts on 4 of their 6 games and could easily be 4-2 at this point. The Cubs are better, but right now are a Jekyll and Hyde team to say the least. This organization has not played good baseball over the past couple of seasons at the Friendly Confines, if they hope to be playing in October this will have to improve. The home opener is Monday against the Astros….Ted Lilly against Woody Williams and 14 of the next 16 games are at Wrigley….time for Lou to reverse the recent home records.

Quote of the Day

"Now there's three things you can do in a baseball game: You can win or you can lose or it can rain." - Casey StengelĀ 

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