Three and Out

NLDS – Game Three – Cubs 1 Diamondbacks 5
WP – Livan Hernandez (1-0) LP – Rich Hill (0-1) Save – None
Diamondbacks Win Series, 3-0

The end of the marathon…. The Chicago Cubs ended their 2007 campaign with a disappointing finish. The Cubs were swept out of the playoffs for the 4th time in the history of the organization and once again the Faithful had to endure another team celebrating a series win in the post season at Wrigley Field. The Cubs’ offense struggled, they were 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position, had runners on base in all but one inning, left 9 on base and hit into 4 double plays. Alfonso Soriano finished the series 2-for-14 while Aramis Ramirez was 0-for-11. The ‘Big 3′ were not a factor but the entire team went cold at the same time. Jason Kendall drove in the lone Cubs’ run in the 4th inning with a ground out to short.

Rich Hill gave up a home run to Chris Young on the first pitch of the game and was not able to get into a rhythm or much less gain any confidence. Hill gave up 3 runs on 6 hits in 3+ innings. Hill struggled with his command and pitched with runners on base in all 4 innings. Carlos Marmol gave up his second home run of the series, a solo shot to Eric Byrnes in the 6th. Bobby Howry gave up a hit and struck out 4 in his 2 innings of work. Kerry Wood gave up a home run to Stephen Drew in the 9th that put the game away.

All of the deficiencies the Cubs had during the regular season were magnified during the 3-game series against the Diamondbacks. Lou Piniella’s crew made a lot of improvement over last season but came up short of the Promised Land.

The Cubs had plenty of chances to win this series. Over the last 2 games, 18 innings, they put runners on base in all but two and came away with just 5 runs, 6 total in 3 games. No team can win a series with that little amount of production….much less in the post season. The Cubs all went cold at the same time, dug themselves a hole and played entirely too tight to mount any kind of comeback. Teams have to learn how to win together and hopefully Lou Piniella’s learned a very valuable lesson this year.

After Chris Young led off the game with a home run to left, it did not look good for Rich Hill. Hill proceeded to give up a double to Stephen Drew, walk a batter, give up a RBI single to Justin Upton and hit Augie Ojeda to load the bases. Hill threw 31 pitches in the 1st inning alone and allowed 8 men to step to the plate….not the way to start an elimination game.

Hill gave up a single to Drew in the 2nd, along with a stolen base but worked around the trouble and did not allow anymore runs to score. Conor Jackson doubled to start the 3rd but Hill retired the next 3 batters he faced to end the inning.

Miguel Montero led off the 4th with a walk. Livan Hernandez faked a bunt then lined a single to right. Piniella made the slow walk and brought in Michael Wuertz. Wuertz walked Chris Young but struck out Drew on 3 pitches. Eric Byrnes followed with a groundout to 3rd. Aramis Ramirez tried to go around the horn but Mark DeRosa could not get the ball out of his glove. Byrnes beat out the throw, Montero scored and the D’Backs took a commanding 3-0 lead….the replay showed the throw barely beat Byrnes. Lou Piniella argued to no avail.

The Cubs just could not get anything going offensively in this series. Only 1 home run in 3 games and countless numbers of times failing to hit with runners on base. This team learned how to hit with runners on during the power drought this summer but forgot how to in October.

The next regular season game for the Cubs will be on March 31st at Wrigley against the Milwaukee Brewers….6 months is entirely too long.

The CCO will be here throughout the off-season with the latest from the rumor mill and other Cubs news and happenings. So check back often for the latest on the Chicago Cubs.

Quote of the Day

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