An All Too Familiar Feeling

Game One Hundred Fifty-Nine – Cubs 4 Marlins 6
WP – Scott Olsen (10-15) LP – Steve Trachsel (7-11) Save – Kevin Gregg (31)

The Chicago Cubs lost their 10th game in a row to the Florida Marlins and for the second time in two seasons they were swept in a season series. The Marlins won all 6 games against the Cubs this year, the last time they beat the Fish was April of 2006. The Cubs had plenty of chances to put a win on the board but left 10 on base and finished the 3-game series 3-for-20 with runners in scoring position.

Aramis Ramirez was 4-for-5 with a run scored and a RBI. Jacque Jones added 2 hits and a RBI but struck out with the bases loaded and the Cubs down by 1 in the 7th. Alfonso Soriano was 1-for-9 in the first two games but was 2-for-4 with a RBI on Thursday and just missed a 3-run home run in 6th. Several Cubs continued to hit the ball hard in the series but the horrible-should-never-be-used-for-baseball park the Marlins call home kept the ball from leaving the yard.

Steve Trachsel had another rough outing. He gave up 3 runs in the first 2 innings and left after surrendering 5 runs on 5 hits in 4 1/3 innings. The bullpen did a good job once again, with the exception of Ryan Dempster. Dempster continued his string of giving up at least one run per appearance, 3 runs on 4 hits in his last 3 innings with a walk. Kerry Wood pitched 2 innings of scoreless relief and got his team out of a bases loaded jam with no outs in the 6th inning on 6 pitches.

When the Cubs opened the 3-game series on Tuesday the playoff talk was rampant. Everyone thought the Cubs would roll right over the Marlins and possibly clinch the division in Miami, someone forgot to tell the Fish. The Cubs dropped their 3rd game in a row and are back to 7 games above .500 with 3 left to play. With the Padres winning at Miller Park on Thursday night, the Cubs still have a 2-game lead in the division.

Is this the swoon, or just a “bump” in the road? The Cubs do not match up well against the Marlins, and have not for years. They constantly put together lineups that give the Cubs’ pitchers trouble while their pitching staff seemingly gets younger year after year. The Marlins have the foundation of a very good team and they proved it to the Cubs once again. The upcoming series against the Reds will be very tough but maybe being swept by the Marlins was the best thing that could have happened to this team….

Ryan Theriot got the Cubs offense started in the 1st inning. He walked with 1 out and advanced to 3rd on a double down the 3rd base line by Derrek Lee. Aramis Ramirez followed with a single to left….Theriot scored and gave the Cubs an early lead. With runners on 1st and 3rd, Mark DeRosa popped out to shallow left and Geovany Soto struck out to end the inning.

Scott Olsen pitched a good game but the Cubs left 4 runners on base in the 1st and 2nd innings combined. Jacque Jones doubled with 1 out in the 2nd. Soriano walked with 2 outs but Theriot flied out to left to end the inning. Olsen retired 11 of the next 12 batters he faced after the walk to Soriano. The Marlins were up 5-1 going into the top of the 6th.

The Cubs finally broke through in the 6th….thanks to an error by Miguel Cabrera. Aramis Ramirez led off the 6th with a single to left center. DeRosa flied out to left. Soto singled to left. Craig Monroe hit what appeared to be an inning ending, 5-4-3, double play but Cabrera threw the ball away. Ramirez scored the Cubs second run.

Jacque Jones followed with a single to center, the Marlins lead was 5-3. Fredi Gonzalez brought in Matt Lindstrom to face Matt Murton. Murton struck out but Alfonso Soriano doubled to left….Soto scored and Jones advanced to 3rd. In any other park in the majors, Soriano would have had another home run. With runners on 2nd and 3rd, Theriot grounded out to 2nd to end the inning.

Aramis Ramirez doubled off the scoreboard in left center with 1-out in the 7th. DeRosa struck out. Cliff Floyd pinch-hit for Geovany Soto. Former Cubs’ farmhand, Renyel Pinto walked him on 4 pitches. Craig Monroe walked to load the bases. Jacque Jones stepped in and after taking ball 1, swung at 3 pitches out of the strike zone to end the inning.

Soriano singled with 1 out in the 8th. Theriot followed, swung at the first pitch and grounded back to the pitcher….a 1-6-3 double play to end the inning. The Cubs went in order in the 9th to end the game.

Steve Trachsel likely pitched his last game for the Cubs. He could not give Piniella the start he needed. Hanley Ramirez led off the 1st inning with a double to center that almost left the park. Jeremy Hermida singled to center with 1 out and advanced to 2nd on a bad throw from Jones. Piniella intentionally walked Cabrera. Mike Jacobs hit a sacrifice fly to right, Ramirez scored to tie the game. Trachsel struck out Todd Linden to end the inning.

Miguel Olivo led off the 2nd with a single up the middle. Alejandro De Aza then doubled off the wall in left center….Olivo scored all the way from 1st. Scott Olsen sacrificed De Aza to 3rd, Ramirez followed with a sacrifice fly to right….3-1 Marlins.

Trachsel settled down and retired the next 7 batters he faced. Hanley Ramirez hit his 29th home run of the season to center. Trachsel walked Dan Uggla on 4 pitches to end his afternoon.

Will Ohman retired Hermida on a fly out to the wall in right. Piniella brought in Kevin Hart to face Cabrera. Cabrera doubled down the right field line, Uggla scored, both Derrek Lee and Lou Piniella argued….the ball was very close to line and both thought it was foul. Hart struck out Jacobs to end the inning.

Scott Eyre took the mound in the 6th and quickly loaded the bases. A single by Linden, a walk to Olivo and a single to right by De Aza. Piniella went to the pen for Kerry Wood….no outs and the bases loaded.

Wood struck out Jason Wood for the first out and got Ramirez to ground into a 5-3 double play to end the inning. Wood was pumped, Lee pumped his fist but the Cubs could not build on the momentum.

Ryan Dempster gave up a leadoff walk to Linden in the 8th. Olivo fouled out. Dempster struck out De Aza but Cody Ross doubled off the top of the wall in left center….Reggie Abercrombie scored a very important insurance run.

The Cubs played a horrible 3 games in Florida….hopefully it is out of their system.

Carlos Zambrano opens the final series of the regular season on Friday night in Cincinnati against Bronson Arroyo….Lou Piniella’s crew must not think the Reds will just roll over for the last 3 games. They are planning on knocking the Cubs out of the playoffs.

Quote of the Day

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