One Mistake

Game One Hundred Twenty-Eight – Cubs 1 Diamondbacks 3
WP – Doug Davis (11-11) LP – Ted Lilly (13-7) Save – Jose Valverde (39)

In front of the 3rd largest crowd of the season at Chase Field, Lou Piniella’s crew dropped their 20th game of the year against a left-handed starter. The Cubs managed only 1 run on 6 hits in 7 innings against Doug Davis. Davis walked just 1 and tied a season-high with 8 strikeouts, the 1 walk was the 4th time in 27 starts Davis has walked less than 2 batters in a single outing. The Cubs offense could not string together any hits against Davis and left 7 on base, including runners in scoring position in four different innings. Matt Murton ended a 0-for-13 slump with a 3-hit night. The Cubs lone run came in the 6th on a RBI single by Aramis Ramirez. Craig Monroe made his first start as a Cub and could not help out with their season long struggles against Southpaws. Monroe was 0-for-4, left 5 on base and struck out looking in the 8th, with the tying runs on base, on a ball that appeared to be well out of the strike zone.

Ted Lilly tossed a great game but received no run support and took a tough loss. Lilly allowed only 2 runs on 4 hits after facing the minimum the first time through the lineup. Lilly threw 6 strong innings, struck out 8 and did not give up a walk. Connor Jackson hit a 2-out, 2-run home run to left in the 4th inning that was the difference in the game. Kerry Wood gave up the other Diamondbacks run in the 7th. Wood had trouble throwing strikes and gave up 2 hits in 2/3 of an inning.

The Cubs lost their second game of the road trip and dropped back to 4 games above .500 for the season.

The Cubs have to figure out left-handed pitching and fast before it costs them a chance at the post-season. Is it their advanced scouting? Coaching? Or just overly aggressive, free-swingers at the plate? With all do respect to pitchers like Doug Davis, most of the lefties the Cubs have lost to over the past couple of seasons will never be mentioned in the same sentence with quality Southpaws like Barry Zito, Tom Glavine and Cole Hamels….except for in this recap. Lou Piniella recognizes there is a problem and now it is up to him to find a solution.

Lou Piniella received another quality start but unfortunately the offense gave another mediocre pitcher one of his better outings of the season. Ted Lilly did not give up his first hit until the 3rd inning. Justin Upton was 2-for-3 with a RBI on his 20th birthday and reached on a bunt single to start the inning. Jason Kendall tried to make a barehanded pickup but could not find the proverbial handle on the ball. Stephen Drew tapped back to Lilly on the next pitch and erased the lead-off bunt….1-6-3 double play. Davis struck out swinging to end the inning.

Lilly struck out 4 in the first 3 innings while not allowing a ball out of the infield. The first ball hit to the outfield was by Orlando Hudson, he flied out to right for the 2nd out in the 4th inning. Eric Byrnes followed with a single to left, then Jackson homered to left to give Doug Davis more runs than he would need. The home run to Jackson was the 23rd surrendered by Lilly on the season and just the D’Backs third hit of the night.

The D’Backs 4th hit came off the bat of Stephen Drew in the 5th inning. Drew hit a hard grounder that appeared to be routine for Derrek Lee. It went off the heal of his glove and into right field….Lee should have been given an error. When a pitcher gives up only 2 “clean” hits in a game, the pitcher should be rewarded with a win.

Matt Murton led off the 3rd inning with the Cubs’ first hit against Davis. Jacque Jones moved him to 3rd with a groundout to 1st. Piniella called for the squeeze with Ted Lilly at the plate, but Lilly could not get the bunt down and eventually struck out. Ryan Theriot grounded out 2nd to end the inning.

Ryan Theriot singled to left center with 1-out in the 6th inning. Jason Kendall looked at strike three but Derrek Lee walked (the Cubs’ only free pass against Doug Davis). With runners on 1st and 2nd, Aramis Ramirez singled to right to score Theriot. Craig Monroe followed with a fly out to center to end the inning.

Matt Murton singled to center with 1-out in the 7th. Jacque Jones struck out but Murton advanced to 2nd on what was ruled a wild pitch….Murton made a good read on a ball in the dirt. Piniella pinch-hit for Ted Lilly with Cliff Floyd. Floyd popped out to 3rd base on the second pitch of the at bat.

Derrek Lee singled to right with 2-outs in the 8th. Aramis Ramirez walked but Craig Monroe looked at strike three to end the inning….the ball was well outside of the strike zone and even if Monroe would have swung at it, chances are he would have missed. It was a bad call but the Cubs had plenty of other chances.

Craig Monroe flied out to the warning track in center in the 4th….Mark DeRosa flied out to the warning track in right in the 7th, both appeared to be leaving the yard when the ball left the bat. The Cubs have not hit a home run on this road trip, 5 games. Granted they are winning games without the benefit of the long ball but a well-timed 3-run homer never hurts.

While a loss is never good, the way the offense continues to not perform against lefties is more than concerning and must be corrected. The days of “Tipping Your Cap” has to become a thing of the past….

The Cubs will try to win the rubber game of the series on Sunday behind Jason Marquis. A win would give the Cubs a 4-2 record on a difficult road trip. But in order to put the all-important “W” on the board, they have to figure out how to score runs against Yusmeiro Petit.

Quote of the Day

"People who write about Spring Training not being necessary have never tried to throw a baseball." – Sandy Koufax