For the Birds

Game Seventy-Nine – Cubs 4 Orioles 11
WP – Radhames Liz (2-0) LP – Jason Marquis (6-4) Save – None

Lou Piniella’s crew became the last team in the majors to record their 30th loss of the season following just their third series defeat at home of the year. The Orioles became only the second team to walk into Wrigley Field this year and leave after taking two of three from the Chicago Cubs.

After a good month and posting a 4-0 record in 4 starts, Jason Marquis was simply horrible. Marquis did not pitch with the same confidence he had in his previous outings and he left after allowing 7 runs, all earned, on 7 hits in 4 innings. The Orioles put the game out of reach in the 3rd inning when they scored 5 times, all with 2 outs. Marquis walked 3, one intentional, and the Orioles managed only 3 hits, but all 3 of the free passes scored.

The Orioles plated 2 more in the 4th and kept tacking on until they built an 11-0 lead in the 6th inning. Aubrey Huff hit 3 doubles, went 4-for-5 with 3 runs scored and 2 RBI’s. Brian Roberts added 2 more hits, scored 2 more runs and recorded 7 hits in the 3-game series. Jay Payton picked up where he left off on Wednesday night and drove in 3 more runs on 2 hits in 5 trips to the plate. Four different Orioles had at least two RBI’s on the afternoon.

The Cubs ended the shutout bid in the bottom of the 6th after Piniella pulled a majority of his starters. Ronny Cedeno scored the Cubs first run after a lead off walk. Daryle Ward, Henry Blanco and Eric Patterson drove in the Cubs three runs.

The Cubs finished their 6-game homestand with a 4-2 record….a little disappointing after winning the first three games. For one of the few times this season the Cubs were beaten in every phase of the game.

One of the concerns Lou Piniella brought up time after time during the off-season was his concern over lack of depth on the roster. With Alfonso Soriano, Reed Johnson and Carlos Zambrano on the DL, along with Kosuke Fukudome being day-to-day, the Cubs must receive contributions from players they were not depending on….and a side from a game here or a game there, the bench has not stepped up the way it needs to. The big names have been doing their job for the most part, but when injuries happen players must fill in and find ways to keep winning games….for a good example, see the other team in the majors that resides in the National League with a bird as their nickname.

The Orioles, for lack of a better description, took batting practice off of the Cubs pitching staff. Baltimore pounded out 13 hits with 5 doubles and scored 11 times without the benefit of a home run….9 of the Orioles’ 11 runs scored with 2 outs.

Unfortunately Jason Marquis was not the only problem. Once Piniella lifted Marquis, Jon Lieber allowed another run after a lead off double by Aubrey Huff and then the Orioles lit up Scott Eyre and Michael Wuertz in the 6th and 7th innings.

Scott Eyre was replaced by Wuertz after giving up a 1-out walk and a single to center by Kevin Millar with an injury. There was not announcement made during the game, but Eyre received a visit from Larry Rothschild and Mark O’Neal during Millar’s at bat and Piniella replaced him after the single. Wuertz gave up a single to Huff that loaded the bases and then a single to left by Jay Payton.

After the game, the Cubs announced Eyre left with a left groin strain and is listed as day-to-day but probably would not be available on Friday.

With the bases still loaded, Adam Jones hit a sacrifice fly to left that plated Millar and the Orioles’ back-up catcher, Guillermo Quiroz followed with a single to left….11-0 Orioles. Wuertz struck out the pitcher to end the inning. Michael Wuertz must start becoming a dependable and consistent option for Lou Piniella….and soon. While Wuertz retired the Orioles in order in the 7th, the 3 runs he allowed to score in the 6th put an end to the game.

Thursday was just one game, but one the Cubs must learn from.

Round two of the Crosstown Classic kicks off on the South Side on Friday afternoon. Ryan Dempster against Jose Contreras in game one.

Quote of the Day

"Don’t ever permit the pressure to exceed the pleasure." - Joe Maddon