Game Sixteen – Cubs 2 Cardinals 8
WP – Mitchell Boggs (1-0) LP – Sean Marshall (0-1) Save – None
Ron Santo summed up the last week perfectly after Joey Gathright was picked off first base in the seventh inning with the Cubs down 3-1, “Oh my God! I cannot believe what I am watching!” The Cubs were embarrassed once again by the Cardinals on Saturday afternoon.
The Cubs had their opportunities early on before Albert Pujols hit his second grand slam of the season off David Patton in the seventh inning…and put the game away. To quote Pat Hughes, “Their offense is simply flatter than a pancake.”
Both runs scored by the Cubs on Saturday were unearned.
The Cubs first run came in the fifth inning after a bases empty 2-out error by Brian Barden allowed Sean Marshall to reach. Ryan Theriot drove him in with a single to left. After Kosuke Fukudome singled to right and a wild pitch by Mitchell Boggs put the tying runs in scoring position, Alfonso Soriano struck out on a ball in the dirt to end the inning.
For as good as Soriano has been this season he was equally as bad on Saturday. Alfonso Soriano finished the game 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and three big runners left on base but it was his fielding in the fourth inning that changed the game.
With runners on first and third with one out, Khalil Greene hit a high drive to left field. The ball appeared to be enough for a sacrifice fly and a 1-0 Cubs deficit but Soriano misplayed the ball, it went for a double. For some reason the Cubs cannot retire Brian Barden and he followed with a single to left. Barden is 8-for-12 on the year against Cubs pitching.
With the way the Cubs are not hitting, the 3-0 Cardinals lead seemed insurmountable and Lou Piniella’s crew played the rest of the game that way.
Sean Marshall did his job and if not for the misplayed ball by Soriano his day might have been a lot different. Marshall gave up three runs on six hits in six innings with a walk and five strikeouts…and other than Rich Harden’s outing against the Reds, arguably the best outing by a Cubs’ starter in well over a week.
For the first time in his brief Cubs career David Patton performed like a pitcher that had never pitched above Class-A ball before this season.
With the Cubs down 3-1, Patton gave up four runs in the seventh…with the big hit coming off the bat of Albert Pujols. The best player in the game hit his second grand slam of the season and in the process became the sixth player in Cardinals’ history to drive in 1000 runs. Pujols began the day two short of the milestone and flew past it on David Patton’s first pitch.
The Cardinals added another run off Patton in the eighth for good measure.
For the first time since the second game of the season, Lou Piniella’s crew has a .500 record, dead even at eight wins and eight losses…and will begin play on Sunday four games back in the division. It is time for the manager to take charge of his team and for the GM to quit allowing a certain player to dictate whether or not he is put on the DL.
The Cubs lack of offense is taking its toll on the pitching staff and Sean Marshall’s line does not do his performance justice. He pitched a great game and kept his team in it all afternoon…Marshall retired the last six batters he faced and had only one tainted inning.
The Cardinals took the lead in the fourth after a misplayed ball in left center by Reed Johnson led to a lead off double by Ryan Ludwick. Yadier Molina followed with a single to center, Ludwick held at third and Marshall retired Chris Duncan on a come backer to the mound. Khalil Greene followed with the misplayed double and Brian Barden put the finishing touch on the inning with a single to left. As mentioned, when a team is pressing and not hitting a 3-0 deficit might as well be a 10-0 hole.
David Patton made his first appearance since April 16 in possibly the biggest game of his very young career…and he pitched like it. Brian Barden singled to center to start the inning. Patton then walked Rick Ankiel. Brendan Ryan sacrificed both runners to second and third but Patton walked Colby Rasmus ahead of Albert Pujols.
Albert Pujols launched Patton’s first pitch over the wall in left…and the game that was already over received an exclamation point.
The Cubs lost their fourth straight on 10 hits and two walks. They left nine on base and were 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position. With all due respect to Ryan Theriot, when he records the only two RBI in a game, the Cubs offense is struggling.
The Cubs have scored a total of six runs in the last four games.
Sunday is a new day…
Rich Harden will face Todd Wellemeyer in the series finale on Sunday afternoon.