Game Ninety-Seven – Cubs 1 Nationals 7
The Cubs loss on Sunday to the Nationals was just another disappointment in a long line this season. Sunday’s loss was the third game of the series that involved a Cubs’ pitcher leaving the game in the middle of an inning due to injury. Friday night it was Scott Eyre, who reportedly is O.K., he has been available for the past two days, Saturday was Sean Marshall, who the Cubs put on the 15-day DL with a strained left oblique before Sunday’s game and on Sunday it was Carlos Marmol. Marmol left the game in the 4th with a contusion (bruise) to his right hand in between his thumb and forefinger, according to Cubs.com it happened during his at bat during the 3rd inning; Marmol is listed as day to day.
After a decent start on Sunday Marmol had trouble throwing strikes in the 3rd inning before leaving in the 4th. Marmol looked sharp and in control early, retiring the Nationals in order in the 1st on three fly ball outs but in the 3rd the leadoff walk to Brian Schneider started the free pass parade. Marmol finished the day in the 4th, going 3 2/3 innings, he allowed 5 runs on 6 hits, walked 4, struck out 2 and gave up home runs to Alfonso Soriano and Ryan Church. The Cubs bullpen did a fine job but the error by Derrek Lee in the 7th cost them 2 more runs. The Cubs are now 1-5 the past two seasons at RFK. Tony Armas pitched his best game of the season and for only the second time (Saturday was the other) in 15 games a Nationals’ starter recorded the victory. Armas went 7 strong innings and allowed only 1 run on 3 hits and he struck out 3. The Cubs did not show any patience against Armas and did not record a single walk on the day while Armas was on the mound….against a pitcher that was making only his second start after coming off of the DL. The Cubs have had a knack of making a mediocre pitcher look like a Cy Young candidate all season….Sunday was no exception. Armas retired the Cubs in order in 5 of the 7 innings he pitched and Sunday was the first time since May 14 that Armas had pitched into the 7th inning.
The Cubs had plenty of opportunities early to score runs and not allow Armas to get comfortable on the mound, they did not and he was able to settle in. The Cubs managed only 5 hits on the day, two by Juan Pierre (a double and a triple) and one by Carlos Marmol. Aramis Ramirez added a single in the 9th and John Mabry added a pinch hit single in the 8th but was strained, along with Angel Pagan who recorded the only walk on the day, when Neifi Perez popped out (for the 100th time on the season….that is sarcasm) to end the inning.
The bullpen of David Aardsma, Will Ohman, Michael Wuertz and Ryan Dempster looked very good in relief. The Nationals managed only 2 hits against the foursome over the last 4 1/3 innings. They recorded 6 strikeouts but the walk issued by Wuertz scored on the Derrek Lee error. Ryan Dempster worked a perfect 8th inning and looked very sharp in the process.
The Cubs were outscored over the weekend 21 to 10 and Alfonso Soriano was a one man wrecking crew out of the leadoff spot. After four extra base hits on Saturday (3 doubles and a triple), Soriano had two more on Sunday (a double and a home run) and is leading the National League in total bases with 231. This was the Cubs 10th straight road loss to the National League East. They are now 23 games under .500.
The Cubs injury problems continued over the weekend as three pitchers, of the already decimated staff, had to leave in the middle of innings. The Cubs also must decide what is more important, winning this season or preparing for the future. It took well into late August (somewhere around the 20th) for the Cubs last season to lose their 60th game….that feat has come almost a month earlier this year. Reports on WGN during Sunday’s telecast did indicate that Rich Hill will start the series opener on Thursday against the Cardinals at Wrigley.
The Cubs will take the train to New York; Greg Maddux will face former Cub Steve Trachsel on Monday night at Shea. Maddux will be looking for his first win since June 9th in Cincinnati and to beat Trachsel….something he and the Cubs could not do on July 14th.