Game One Hundred Forty – Cubs 5 Pirates 7
Thursday afternoon was a typical day for the Cubs in 2006….horrible defense, leadoff walks and the inability to record the final out in an inning without giving up runs. Last week when the Cubs started their 3-game series in Pittsburgh, the main topic of conversation was that the next 7 games against the Pirates will decide who the worst team in the league is and 11 days later the answer is painfully clear. The Cubs dropped 6 of those 7 games and lost the season series to the Pirates, 6 game to 9. The Cubs were in every game but unable to overcome their shortcomings before the games were eventually decided by the bullpens.
Scott Moore made his first career Major League start on Thursday, recorded 2 hits including his first career home run. Carlos Marmol also hit his first career home run and Aramis Ramirez went deep as well but home runs by Chris Duffy and Xavier Nady off of Scott Eyre and Ryan Dempster in the 9th were the difference in the game. Sean Marshall had a rough start but received no help from his defense. All 3 runs he was charged with in the 4th were due to Freddie Bynum dropping a tailor-made double play ball. Marshall worked slower and looked less confident than in his last start against the Giants, simply said he was more deliberate on Thursday. Chris Duffy led off the game with a home run, his first of the season in 225 at bats and then hit his 2nd of the year off of Scott Eyre that proved to be the game winner. Marshall threw only 4 innings, gave up 5 runs on 7 hits, walked 2 and struck out 1. He threw 69 pitches, 43 for strikes and uncorked a wild pitch. Has Marshall pitched better this season? Yes, but just ask Greg Maddux what a good defense will do to a pitchers stats. Ron Santo even made the comment during the game that the Cedeno/Bynum combination up the middle was not working and that Bynum could not catch a ball and was not a good 2nd baseman. Bynum also missed another double play in the 7th, the play did not cost the Cubs any runs but it caused David Aardsma to face 3 batters they should have never reached the plate in the inning. Good defense helps pitchers, especially young ones and missing routine plays at the Major League level is inexcusable, but we all know Dusty will find one anyway.
The Cubs offense did not give up and kept trying to pull out the win. They pounded out double digit hits again, 10 to be exact but they only walked twice and left 5 on base. The aggressiveness of the Cubs beat them again. The Pirates walked 6 times on the day, those walks led to runs and extra work for Cubs pitching….but those walks just clog the bases, so why should they be patient? The Cubs are in need of an overhaul and it is coming soon. The Cubs are playing out the string, plain and simple. Their heads and hearts are not on the field; they are a last place team and have a very good shot at a 100-loss season. Ryan Dempster even headed toward the dugout like the inning was over but there were only 2 outs….WOW!!! The Pirates showed they wanted to win more than the Cubs.
Mark Prior turned 26 on Thursday.
Off to Atlanta and the Braves, Angel Guzman against Tim Hudson. This could be a good pitching match-up if Guzman has his head on straight and Dusty quits playing Freddie Bynum.