Close the Book on the Twenty-Ten Chicago Cubs – Cubs 0 Astros 4

Game One Hundred Sixty-Two – Cubs 0 Astros 4
WP – Nelson Figueroa (7-4) LP – Ryan Dempster (15-12) Save – None

The Cubs season ended the way it began … with a loss. For the fourth season in a row the Cubs lost their final game of the year. The Cubs finished with a record of 75-87, 12 games below .500, “good enough” for fifth place in the National League Central Division … It’s A Way of Life.

The Cubs showed improvement under Mike Quade (24-13) but judging a performance from a player, team or manager in meaningless games is questionable at best. While the play on the field over the last 37 games was a definite improvement from the previous four months, there is still a lot of work to be done for the Cubs to be contenders once again … much less winning a series or three in October.

Even with Sunday’s loss, the Cubs won eight of the 11 series they played with Mike Quade at the helm … they won only 11 in the first 125 games under Lou Piniella.

The Cubs offense had chances again on Sunday. They managed only six hits but left nine on base and finished a miserable 0-for-6 with RISP. Sunday marked the 15th time in 2010 the Chicago National League Ball Club was shutout.

Ryan Dempster gave up four runs, three earned, on nine hits in six innings of work. Dempster struck out seven and came within one of tying his career-high for a single season of 209. An error by Koyie Hill in the second led to the Astros second run and another unearned run for the Cubs staff.

As the old cliche goes, pitching and defense wins ballgames … the Cubs pitching was inconsistent this season while the defense was consistently horrible all year.

Carlos Lee hit the 25th home run allowed by Ryan Dempster in the third. Lee’s solo shot gave the Astros a 3-0 lead and Tommy Manzella drove in the Astros’ other two runs with RBI singles.

Year One is in the books … too bad it looked and felt like so many that came before.

The Astros got on the board in the second … and ended up giving Nelson Figueroa all of the run support he would need.

Chris Johnson singled to left with one out and advanced to third on a single to center by Humberto Quintero. Tommy Manzella singled to center and plated Johnson. With two outs, Nelson Figueroa reached on a infield single and Koyie Hill’s throwing error allowed Quintero to score … 2-0 Astros.

After Carlos Lee gave the Astros a 3-0 lead with his 24th homer of the season in the third, the Astros scored the final run of the game in the bottom of the fourth.

Brett Wallace led off with a triple to center … the first three-bagger of his big league career. Tommy Manzella singled to right with one out and plated Wallace from third.

The Cubs put at least one runner on in the fifth, sixth and seventh but could not deliver with runners on base … how many times did that happen this season?

Wilton Lopez and Brandon Lyon retired the last six batters they faced to end the season.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

The next game the Cubs play that counts will be on Friday April 1, 2011 at Wrigley Field against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Will Mike Quade be managing the Cubs? Who will be at first? How about right field? Stay Tuned … it should be an interesting off-season.

Quote of the Day

"Don’t ever permit the pressure to exceed the pleasure." - Joe Maddon