Game One Hundred-Nine – Cubs 5 Rockies 11
WP – Jason Hammel (7-6) LP – Randy Wells (8-5) Save – None
Three errors, two more unearned runs, an ejected manager and only five runs on a season-high 17 hits … just another day at the park for the Chicago Cubs. Hitting the ball was not the problem, driving the runners in continued to be an issue for Lou Piniella’s crew. The Cubs offense put runners on base, and in scoring position, in every inning except for the fifth. But as has been the case for a majority of the year, the offense could not come up with a clutch hit when they needed one.
Before the Rockies blew the game open in the sixth and seventh innings, the Cubs had plenty of opportunities against Jason Hammel. Seven of their 11 hits off of Hammel came in the first 2 1/3 innings but they managed just one run … it was that kind of day.
Lou Piniella was ejected for the second time this season in the top of the second. Second base umpire, Chris Guccione blew a call at second base. Guccione called Koyie Hill out at second when Clint Barmes was nowhere near the bag. Jeff Baker would have scored the Cubs first run and cut the Rockies lead to 3-1 but his blown call resulted in an ending inning, rally killing double play.
Lou Piniella ran out to argue and was promptly ejected. It was a vintage Piniella explosion … as he left the field Piniella pinched his nose to let Guccione he thought his call stunk. And it did …
It is not too often a team pounds out 17 hits and manages only five runs. While Randy Wells did not have it on Sunday afternoon, the offense once again could not take advantage of countless opportunities. The Cubs finished the afternoon an embarrassing 5-for-19 with runners in scoring position and stranded 13 runners.
Milton Bradley put together his first four-hit game as a Chicago Cub. Bradley finished the afternoon 4-for-5 with a double and a RBI. Every starter, with the exception of Alfonso Soriano (0-for-4 with five left on base) recorded at least two hits but as a team, they did not manage a single walk while striking out nine times. The Cubs aggressiveness early in the game against Jason Hammel set the stage for an extremely frustrating afternoon.
Jason Hammel posted his first win at Coors since June 14 with a very shaky, at best, five-plus innings of work.
Randy Wells struggled with his command from the outset. Wells uncharacteristically walked the Rockies lead off hitter and ended up allowing three runs to score in the first inning. Wells could not find a rhythm and took a lot of time in between pitches in his first start at Coors Field. Wells left in the sixth after allowing a career-high seven runs, five earned, on eight hits with two walks and three strikeouts.
Jeff Stevens gave up the final four runs of the game in relief of Randy Wells. Stevens could not keep his team close and allowed four runs on five hits in an inning of work. Stevens did not fool any of the Rockies’ hitters.
While the pitching staff did not help matters on Sunday afternoon, five runs on 17 hits with no walks is unacceptable for a big league team.
With the loss the Cubs dropped to 4-5 on the 10-game trip with one left to play, the Cubs fell to 15-8 since the break and slipped two games back of the Cardinals in the Central Division … Sunday was anything but a pitcher’s duel. The two teams combined for 16 runs on 31 hits with only four walks 15 strikeouts. Both teams were aggressive but the Rockies’ took advantage of just about every opportunity they had … and were given.
Randy Wells fell behind early and often in the first inning. Dexter Fowler walked to start the game on five pitches. Carlos Gonzalez reached on a swinging bunt that a diving Randy Wells could not make a play on. Todd Helton then singled to left on a 2-2 pitch. Fowler scored easily, Gonzalez advanced to third and Helton took second on the ninth error of the season by Alfonso Soriano.
Troy Tulowitzki followed with a single to left, Gonzalez scored the Rockies’ second run. Brad Hawpe then grounded into a 4-6-3- double play that allowed Helton to score the Rockies’ third run. Wells struck out Ian Stewart swinging on his 27th pitch of the inning.
Wells retired the Rockies in order in the second after his manager was ejected. But the fourth error of the year by Derrek Lee led to the Rockies fourth run. Dexter Fowler reached on the error, stole second with Todd Helton at the plate and advanced to third on Koyie Hill’s throwing error … the ball ended up in right center after Hill could not get the ball out of his glove. Wells then uncorked a wild pitch on a 2-2 offering to Helton, Fowler trotted home. Helton and Tulowitzki grounded out to end the inning.
The Cubs started chipping away at the Rockies lead but every time the offense scored a run, the pitching staff would allow Colorado to answer.
Dexter Fowler led off the fifth with a single to right. Jeff Baker robbed Carlos Gonzalez of a single to right with a great diving catch in the hole. Todd Helton (7-for-12 in the series) followed with a double down the right field line on a hit and run with Fowler … the Rockies’ centerfielder scored easily. Tulowitzki and Hawpe grounded out to end the inning.
The Rockies put the game away in the sixth. Ian Stewart led off with a single to right. Clint Barmes tapped back to the mound but Wells threw to first for the sure out. Yorvit Torrealba singled to left center, Stewart scored and chased Randy Wells from the game.
Jeff Stevens replaced Wells and pinch-hitter Seth Smith promptly doubled to right center, Torrealba scored 7-3 Rockies. Dexter Fowler struck out swinging but Carlos Gonzalez blooped a single into left center and plated Smith with the Rockies’ eighth run … and third of the inning. Koyie Hill threw out Gonzalez attempting to steal second to end the inning.
The frustration continued to mount in the seventh inning. Todd Helton doubled off the scoreboard in right. Tulowitzki struck out swinging. Brad Hawpe singled to left to put runners on first and third with one out. Stevens then walked Ian Stewart on four pitches to load the bases.
Clint Barmes was hit on a 0-1 pitch from Stevens that forced in Todd Helton, 9-3 Rockies. Then Yorvit Torrealba singled to right on a 2-2 pitch that drove in Hawpe and Stewart with the Rockies final two runs of the game.
Aaron Heilman replaced Stevens and struck out Franklin Morales and Dexter Fowler swinging to end the inning.
Milton Bradley reached on an infield single with one-out in the first inning. Bradley broke his bat but hustled down the line and beat out Clint Barmes’ throw. Derrek Lee flied out to center. Jake Fox then reached on a ground rule double … that cost the Cubs a run. Fox’s ball bounced over the wall in right center and sent Milton Bradley back to third. Kosuke Fukudome struck out swinging on three pitches to end the inning.
The second inning was a joke. And if Lou Piniella is fined for his actions, the second base umpire should be as well. The missed call did not cost the Cubs the game, but it changed it.
Jeff Baker (2-for-5 with a double, a triple and a run scored) reached on a one-out double to center. Koyie Hill (3-for-5 with a run scored and a RBI) blooped a single into right. Randy Wells followed and squared to bunt … but Wells pulled the bat back and hit a grounder to third. Ian Stewart’s throw pulled Clint Barmes off the bag, but Hill was called out and Wells was out by a mile at first … a 5-4-3 inning ending double play.
The Cubs finally got on the board in the third inning. Ryan Theriot and Milton Bradley reached on back-to-back singles. Derrek Lee popped out to shallow left on the first pitch from Jason Hammel. Jake Fox was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out.
Kosuke Fukudome singled to right on a 2-0 pitch, Theriot scored but Alfonso Soriano hit a weak bloop to Tulowitzki right behind the bag at second. Jeff Baker struck out swinging to end the inning.
Koyie Hill led off the fifth with a single to center. Randy Wells dropped down his fifth sac bunt of the season, Hill advanced to second. Ryan Theriot flied out but Milton Bradley ripped Hammel’s first pitch down the left field line. Hill scored, 4-2 Rockies.
Derrek Lee looked at strike three on a 3-2 pitch that ended the inning … the ball was inside and high.
Jeff Baker tripled to center to start the sixth. Koyie Hill singled him in and cut the Rockies lead to 5-3 … and that was as close as the Cubs would get on the afternoon. Randy Wells sacrificed Hill to second but Theriot and Bradley stuck out swinging to end the inning.
The Cubs scored a meaningless run in the eighth after two-out and no one on. Ryan Theriot singled to right, Milton Bradley blooped a single into left center … Bradley’s fourth hit. Derrek Lee then doubled to right, Theriot scored … 11-4 Rockies.
Jake Fox struck out swinging to end the inning.
Kosuke Fukudome doubled to right to start the ninth. Sam Fuld reached on an error by Omar Quintanilla that allowed Fukudome to score the Cubs’ fifth and final run.
Monday is a new day and despite as bad, and as frustrating as Sunday was, the Cubs can still post a .500 record on the 10-game trip with a win in the finale.
Tom Gorzelanny will face Jorge De La Rosa on Monday night in the final game of the series.