Game Forty-Two – Cubs 2 Padres 7
WP – Chris Young (4-2) LP – Ted Lilly (5-4) Save – None
The Chicago Cubs are in a freefall and are playing their worst ball under manager Lou Piniella. The Cubs dropped their seventh game in a row after another lackluster performance by the offense, the longest streak for the organization since an eight-game skid in May of 2006. After the sweep at the hands of the Padres, the Cubs are back to even on the season at 21 wins and 21 losses. There is no other way to say it right now…this team is in trouble.
Ted Lilly did everything he could to keep his team in the game early on. Chris Young retired the first 14 batters he faced until a bloop single by Mike Fontenot finally found green with two outs in the fifth inning. Lilly kept the Padres off the board until the bottom of the fifth…and it was a swinging bunt that led to the game’s first run.
Chase Headley reached on a soft tapper to the first base side of the mound, Lilly could not make the play on the Padres’ third hit of the game…and like so many other times over the past week, that is all the opposition would need. Drew Macias followed with a double to right and Lou Piniella decided to intentionally walk Josh Wilson to load the bases for Chris Young.
Chris Young ripped the first pitch from Lilly into left, two runs scored and before the Cubs could relax a little, David Eckstein dropped down a bunt. The suicide squeeze worked to perfection and the Padres took what appeared to be an insurmountable 3-0 lead.
Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Kouzmanoff hit back-to-back doubles in the sixth that gave the Padres a 4-0 lead.
The Cubs offense finally put a crooked number on the board in the seventh. Milton Bradley singled to right with the Cubs’ third hit of the game and Reed Johnson followed with his first dinger of the year…a two-run homer to left center. The Padres lead was cut in half and they appeared to have life.
That all changed in the bottom of the inning. Ted Lilly gave up a pinch-hit double to Edgar Gonzalez to start the inning. David Eckstein sacrificed him to third and Piniella went to the pen. Aaron Heilman struck out Scott Hairston with a huge second out but after an intentional walk to Adrian Gonzalez he hung a slider and ended the game.
Kevin Kouzmanoff ripped a three-run shot over the wall in left center. The Padres went up to 7-2 and the Cubs went in order in the eighth and ninth innings.
Aaron Heilman has allowed nine of 15 inherited runners to score this season.
Ted Lilly pitched better than his line indicates, five runs on eight hits in 6 1/3 innings with two walks and four strikeouts. The Cubs offense is making it very difficult on the pitching staff…right now they have no room for error.
The Cubs managed only four hits, just four, and scored two runs…their first double-digit output of the road trip. The Cubs have lost seven as a row, as mentioned, and on the six-game road trip they managed a total of five runs on 30 hits.
The long plane ride back to Chicago should give Piniella and his coaching staff plenty of time to dwell on the worst week for the organization under their watch. Toward the end of the game Ron Santo said, “I have not seen this…I don’t remember it being this bad in my 20 years.” The Cubs are pressing and are not performing. They are wasting good pitching performances that will come back to haunt them later in the season. Piniella closed the batting cages before the game as well as the video room. Piniella reportedly addressed the entire team before the game and told them to relax and have fun….
Lou Piniella said during his pre-game show, “Baseball is a game, not life and death.” The Cubs’ skipper is exactly right and there are more important things than baseball games…it is too bad the players on the roster cannot relax long enough to enjoy the game and put up a couple of wins on the board.
From everyone here at the CCO, Happy Memorial Day and thank you to all of the men and women that have given their lives for this country.
Ryan Dempster is slated to face Paul Maholm on Monday night at Wrigley.