Game One Hundred Thirty-Eight – Cubs 0 Astros 3
WP – Roy Oswalt (13-9) LP – Jason Marquis (9-8) Save – Jose Valverde (38)
The Cubs began the first day of the new month the same way they had in four of the previous five months….with a loss. For the first time this season Lou Piniella’s crew lost their third game in a row at Wrigley and were shutout at home for only the third time all year. The Cubs could not figure out Roy Oswalt and managed only 4 hits, all singles, without a walk. The Cubs offense for the third consecutive game did not drive the ball and have not recorded an extra base hit since the game winning home run by Alfonso Soriano in the 7th inning on Friday. The Cubs last 27 hits have all been singles.
When asked about the offense’s struggles against very good starting pitching over the last week, Lou Piniella said, “These are the type of guys you need to hit.” The offensive drought is concerning and it is up to Lou Piniella to figure out a way to get the offense started, especially against the top pitchers in the league.
Jason Marquis, for all of his inconsistency this season, did his job on Monday and turned in a solid outing with a quality start. Marquis gave up 2 runs on 5 hits in 6 innings with 3 walks, one intentional, and a season-high 8 strikeouts.
Jeff Samardzija’s scoreless innings streak came to an end on Monday at 15 1/3 innings. Samardzija surrendered back-to-back singles to Miguel Tejada and Lance Berkman before uncorking a wild pitch that allowed Tejada to score the Astros’ third run. Michael Wuertz made his first appearance in the big leagues since July 2nd and tossed an inning and a third of scoreless ball with a strikeout.
The offense recorded only 2 hits off Roy Oswalt in the first 8 innings and the Astros’ ace faced just one over the minimum. Daryle Ward blooped a 1-out single into left for the Cubs third hit and Alfonso Soriano hit the hardest ball of the afternoon into left. With runners on 1st and 2nd with 1-out, Cecil Cooper brought in Jose Valverde to face Kosuke Fukudome.
Fukudome grounded into a 5-4 fielder’s choice then Derrek Lee stepped in to face the Astros’ closer. With runners on 1st and 3rd, Kosuke stole 2nd and Lee ended up flying out to the track in right to end the game.
The Cubs offense is in a slump….there are no two ways about it. With the Brewers loss on Monday afternoon, the Cubs did not lose any ground in the division. The Cubs will enter play on Tuesday night 32 games over .500 with a 4 1/2 game advantage over Milwaukee. Lou Piniella stated in his post-game press conference that he and the coaches would look at ways to insert a spark into the lineup. Piniella’s biggest job over the next month is to keep the team loose and not allow the pressure associated with playing for the Chicago Cubs get to them. This team has not clinched a playoff spot, all they have done is play the best ball the Faithful have seen in the first 5 months of a season in several generations.
Long-time readers of the site may be a little disappointed with the short recap, but to be quite honest there isn’t much to recap. The one person that can keep this team on track and focused for hopefully the next two months will get the job done. Lou Piniella and his desire to win is greater than any of the managers the Faithful have ever seen calling the shot for the Cubs. Was this a lost weekend for the Cubs, yes. But will Lou Piniella allow it to continue….the answer is a very loud NO.
The Cubs will try to get back on track in the second game of the series on Tuesday night behind Carlos Zambrano. The Cubs’ ace will face Brandon Backe….