Game One Hundred Thirty-Seven – Cubs 4 Pirates 5
With notes from an interview with Jim Hendry on WGN before Monday’s game
Carlos Zambrano left in the 2nd inning of Monday’s game with what was later reported as back stiffness. Zambrano had his shortest outing of his career….just 1 1/3 innings of work. Zambrano did not look comfortable on the mound, gave up back-to-back walks to start the game, Freddy Sanchez singled to load the bases and the Pirates scored on hits from Jason Bay, a single to center, and a bases clearing double by Xavier Nady….who continues to kill Cub pitching. Zambrano threw 43 pitches, only 23 for strikes, gave up 4 walks and struck out just 1. The bullpen shut the Pirates down but the 5 runs, 4 earned, against Zambrano was too much for the Cubs to overcome on the afternoon.
The Cubs managed to cut the lead to 1 in the 2nd inning. Ryan Theriot continued swinging his hot bat and doubled home 3. Juan Pierre had another good day at the plate, stole 2 bases and in the 7th represented the tying run at 3rd with one out. The Cubs could not get the run in, lost their 3rd in a row, their 4th in a row to the Pirates and are now just 1 game in the loss column ahead of the Pirates, 1/2 game overall, for last place in the National League….a new season low, 27 games under .500. How many times must a Cubs’ starter have to leave a game early with an injury before someone in the organization realizes something is wrong? Countless number of times the past few seasons a member of the pitching staff has left a game with some form of injury, on Monday it was a stiff back….changes must be made.
Carlos Zambrano is the future of this organization yet he continues to be overused by a team that, after Monday’s loss, is guaranteed its second consecutive losing season. Zambrano wants the ball every 5th day, that’s what a team wants their ace to do but with the loss on Monday he has little to play for as far as individual accolades and must not be allowed to take the mound unless he is 100% healthy. The Cubs want to win games, the Faithful wants them to win games not to mention the city and everyone associated with the team but under no circumstances can they risk losing another pitcher, much less one the caliber of Carlos Zambrano, just to attempt to remain 30 games under .500. Dusty Baker said after the game that this is just Zambrano’s back stiffening up, it happens once a year and they were unaware of his back being stiff when the game started but it was that Zambrano was not throwing “like Zambrano” once the game started. The last straw of this season might have fallen on Monday and hopefully Zambrano will not end up being a part of the same conversation that always surrounds Cubs’ starting pitchers.
After the 2nd inning the rest of the game was rather boring, WGN kept showing “fans” in the crowd that had fallen asleep. Ronny Cedeno committed his 23rd error of the season that was the difference in the game. Scottie Moore made his Major League debut after spending just 1 game at the Triple-A level, he was hit by a pitch and scored a run, as previously stated the bullpen was lights out….too bad the offense was as well. WGN’s play of the game was a fan making a nice catch in the crowd, granted it was a nice catch, but that is very symbolic on how this season has turned out for the Cubs. The Pittsburgh papers were stating on Monday morning that if the Pirates could pass the Cubs and finish the year in 5th place that the season would not be a total loss….talking about expectations.
Tuesday night the Cubs turn to another rookie, Juan Mateo, and while there may not be much left for the guys to play for, finishing last in the National League would be a not-so-perfect ending to a lost season. It would be nice to see the Cubs show up and play to their potential for the rest of the season and avoid the first 100-loss season in 40 years….but even that is looking unlikely at this point.
Jim Hendry on WGN – The Cubs’ GM was on the Leadoff man on Monday afternoon. He and Len spoke about all the injuries and Hendry said they will do everything they can to “right the ship” starting on October 1st. They are looking at the kids to play as hard as they can over the last month. He and Len also talked about the rest of the call-ups and Hendry stated that Jae Kuk Ryu and a catcher will be called-up on Tuesday. The Cubs will have 17 pitchers on the active roster once Ryan O’Malley is activated and with the fact that Michael Barrett will likely miss the rest of the season, they feel they need another catcher (Jose Reyes is the only catcher on the 40-man roster that is not on the active roster). Len also mentioned Felix Pie and Hendry said that Pie will likely head to Arizona and work out there before Winter Ball starts and did not indicate any plans the Cubs have at calling him up. Hendry went on to say they want to take a look at Murton, Pagan and Theriot over the last month.