Game One Hundred Forty-Two – Cubs 3 Braves 7
Wade Miller made his Cub debut on Saturday night in Atlanta and threw 74 pitches in 3 innings, only 36 strikes, that stat alone tells the story of his first game back in the Major Leagues this season. Miller looked awkward and uncomfortable on the mound, everything he threw was up and when they were not called a ball the Braves hit Miller hard. The Braves hit 3 more home runs off of Cubs’ pitching, that is 6 in 2 games and 14 home runs in the last 3 games against the Cubs.
With the loss on Saturday night the Cubs have lost 17 of the last 20, 8 straight road games, they are 1 1/2 behind the Pirates for last in the National League and a new season low….30 games below .500. Wade Miller walked 5 and struck out 3 but of the 5 hits he allowed 3 were for extra bases and if not for Willy Aybar missing 3rd base when he attempted to score on a triple by Adam LaRoche in the 1st inning his stats could have been a lot worse. Miller did not look like the “Miller of Old”. His pickoff throws to 1st base looked painful and when he attempted to start a double play in the 3rd his arm motion did not look normal. While Miller has struggled with his recovery from shoulder surgery he looks like he is still favoring the shoulder and is unsure of out it will perform….he may be pain free but he was obviously favoring it on Saturday.
Jae Kuk Ryu threw O.K. in relief of Miller but gave up a solo homer to Andruw Jones to leadoff the 5th inning after recording a 1-2-3 4th inning. Dusty used Les Walrond, Scott Eyre, Michael Wuertz and Ryan Dempster in relief after Ryu, and the other 4 relievers were not as effective as Ryu. Walrond got Ryu out of trouble but Michael Wuertz could not do the same for Eyre and gave up a hit to Jeff Francoeur that allowed Jones to score. Ryan Dempster had another rough outing and if not for a good defensive play by Derrek Lee would have given up more than the run on 2 hits he did. The pitching staff is in total disarray.
The Cubs scored single runs in he 2nd, 3rd and 5th innings and recorded only 7 hits on the night to go along with just 1 walk. Braves’ pitching retired the last 15 Cubs to finish the game. Jacque Jones did hit a bloop single in the 9th but was erased on a 1-4-3 double play to end the game. They could not string together any offense on the night against rookie left-hander Chuck James who threw well but by no means was he a dominating figure on the mound.
Matt Murton hit his 11th home run of the season in the 2nd inning to get the Cubs on the board. Jacque Jones followed with a double and with 2-outs, Jeff Francoeur made a very good sliding play to rob Ronny Cedeno of a hit. In the 3rd Juan Pierre singled to right with 1-out, stole 2nd (number 50 on the year) and attempted to steal 3rd. Theriot hit a sinking liner to 2nd, Giles attempted to catch it with Pierre running, he missed the ball and it skipped into right field. Theriot stole 2nd but was stranded. Pierre got the Cubs on the board again in the 5th after a single to center, he stole 2nd (number 51 on the year), went to 3rd on a throwing error by Brian McCann and scored on a sacrifice fly by Aramis Ramirez.
The Cubs have not won in Atlanta since April 11, 2004 and if they cannot keep the Braves in the park that string will stretch into 2007. The “Bag People” invaded Turner Field on Saturday, maybe they have the right idea….does anyone have a brown bag in a size 7? Just curious….
Juan Mateo is scheduled to take the mound on Sunday afternoon against Lance Cormier. Hopefully Mateo will put an end to the Cubs struggles for one day.