Game Eighteen – Cubs 2 Diamondbacks 7
WP – Dan Haren (2-3) LP – Ted Lilly (2-2) Save – None
Dan Haren tossed his first complete game since September 16, 2008 and the seventh of his career…and not only pitched a gem but drove in the winning run with a two-out, two-run double in the fourth. The Cubs managed only one baserunner on the night, a broken bat single by Ted Lilly in the third inning. The Cubs other two hits…solo home runs by Alfonso Soriano and Mike Fontenot.
Lou Piniella’s struggling offense did not manage a single baserunner after the third inning. Haren struck out 10, did not walk a batter and threw only 111 pitches.
The Cubs not only miss Aramis Ramirez and the offense he brings to the park every night, but his defense. Mike Fontenot was involved in several key plays and he committed two of the three Cubs’ errors on the night.
Justin Upton reached on a one-out infield single that Fontenot simply took too much time to make the throw. After the Upton single, Ted Lilly retired Ryan Roberts but walked Chris Snyder to load the bases with two outs.
Dan Haren chopped a ball over the head of Fontenot, who was playing a little too shallow at third. Haren ended up with a double and with more than enough runs to go the distance. Chris Young continued his dominance over Ted Lilly and followed Haren with a double into the gap in left center that gave the D’Backs a 5-1 lead…all four runs were scored with two outs.
Ted Lilly did not have it on Monday night. He struggled with his command and could not keep the ball down. Lilly allowed five runs on six hits in five innings with four walks and three strikeouts…five of the six hits were for extra bases.
The Diamondbacks ran all over Cubs’ pitching and Geovany Soto. The Cubs had allowed only six stolen bases in the first 17 games and Arizona swiped five bases on Monday out of six attempts…and the sixth one was successful after Mike Fontenot dropped the ball.
Other than Alfonso Soriano’s 52nd leadoff home run of his career, there were only three other highlights on the night for the Cubs. Mike Fontenot’s second home run of the season. Jeff Samardzija put together a very good eighth inning in relief of David Patton…and Kosuke Fukudome threw out Mark Reynolds at the plate to end the second inning.
Two teams entered play on Monday night struggling offensively and under performing on the young season. One looked lifeless and was totally dominated in every facet of the game while the other picked up their eighth win of the year. Right now the Cubs are playing like an average team and they have a .500 record to show for it. The Cubs have always struggled at Chase Field and dropped to 14-28 all-time in that park (not counting the two losses in the 2007 NLDS). No matter how bad the Diamondbacks are playing leading up to the Cubs coming to town, they always seem to play very good ball when the park is filled with Cubs fans. Monday night marked the first back-to-back win for Arizona all year.
The old cliché goes sometimes you have to tip your cap to a superior pitcher but the Cubs lack of offense against quality pitching (the top three pitchers in a team’s rotation) is becoming more than concerning. The “well-balanced lineup” that Jim Hendry and Lou Piniella assembled over the winter has yet to click on all cylinders either due to injury, the weather or any other excuse that can be thrown out.
After Alfonso Soriano started the night on a very positive note, Ted Lilly retired Arizona in the bottom half in order…the only time in five innings.
Mark Reynolds led off the second with a double down the left field line. Eric Byrnes flied out to left and with Justin Upton at the plate, Reynolds took off for third. Geovany Soto made a strong throw and Lou Piniella’s old buddy, Mark Wegner, actually called him out…but Fontenot dropped the ball and Wegner reversed the call. It was the first of two errors on the night for Fontenot.
Justin Upton then hit a fly ball to medium right field. Kosuke made the catch and made a strong throw to the plate that nailed Reynolds and preserved the 1-0 lead.
Chris Snyder launched his first home run of the season on a 1-2 pitch from Lilly in the third. With the game tied at one, Lilly gave up a 2-out hustle double to Chris Young and walked Augie Ojeda. It was obvious at that point, it was going to be a short night for Lilly. He labored through the inning, threw a ton of pitches and after he retired Connor Jackson on a ground out to third he’d already thrown 53 pitches.
The fourth inning was a combination of bad defense and bad pitching. The free-swinging Mark Reynolds walked on four-pitches to start the frame, stole second and advanced to third on the grounder to Fontenot. Justin Upton hustled down the line and Fontenot’s inexperience hurt the team…he simply took too much time. While the entire team was responsible for the loss, that play changed the course of the game.
After the two-run double by Dan Haren gave the D’Backs the lead, Chris Young ended the game in the fourth with his two-run double.
David Patton’s days as a Cub could be coming to an end. He gave up two more runs in the seventh.
Augie Ojeda led off the inning with a single and advanced to third on another wild pickoff attempt. Ron Santo proclaimed after Ojeda slid into third, “You know we’ve done this too many times. I don’t get it.” With the infield in, Connor Jackson reached on Mike Fontenot’s second error, Ojeda scored, 6-1 Diamondbacks.
Connor Jackson then stole the Diamondbacks fifth bag of the night and advanced to third on a fly out to right by Reynolds. Jackson scored the final run of the night on a wild pitch by David Patton. Two runs in the seventh on one hit, two errors and a wild pitch.
Every team deals with injuries during the course of a season but winning teams receive contributions from unlikely sources to get them through the tough times…and the Cubs have not had anyone to step up to this point. Jim Hendry mentioned the 25-game mark as when he likes to evaluate where a team is, with the way this team is playing coupled with the Cardinals winning on a nightly basis, Mr. Hendry might have to move his time frame up.
There are a lot of games left and the season has just begun but the Cubs are playing truly uninspired baseball right now…and Lou Piniella must be getting close to erupting.
Carlos Zambrano will try to keep the Cubs from falling below .500 on Tuesday night. Bob Melvin will send Yusmeiro Petit to the mound.