Game One Hundred Four – Cubs 2 Marlins 3 – 12 innings
WP – Justin Miller (4-2) LP – Chad Gaudin (5-4, 0-1) Save – Kevin Gregg (22)
For only the second time this season the Cubs lost back-to-back games at Wrigley Field after another disappointing loss the the Florida Marlins….the Fish repeated the feat the Brewers accomplished in the first two games of the year on March 31st and April 2nd. The Marlins came from behind for the second day in a row, the 30th time this season, and Lou Piniella’s crew lost a game eerily similar to Friday afternoon’s 1-run loss.
Jeremy Hermida scored all 3 of the Marlins’ runs. He hit solo home runs that accounted for the first two Marlins’ runs….a solo shot off Rich Harden in the 3rd inning that tied the game and another solo home run in the 8th off of Sean Marshall that also tied the game. Chad Gaudin retired the first two batters he faced in the 12th but a 2-out double by Hermida kept the inning going for Jorge Cantu. Cantu followed with a double to left on a 2-2 pitch from Gaudin that drove in Hermida with the game winner.
The Cubs offense is simply horrible right now and the team wide slump continued on Saturday. The only two runs came off the bat of Aramis Ramirez. Ramirez singled in Derrek Lee with 2 outs in the 1st and hit his team leading 18th home run in the 3rd. The Cubs offense left 6 more on base, including 3 in scoring position in the first two innings.
Kosuke Fukudome singled to start the 10th inning and after a sacrifice bunt by Henry Blanco advanced him to second. Alfonso Soriano popped out to 2nd base for the second day in a row with the winning run in scoring position and Ryan Theriot flied out to right field….Jeremy Hermida made a running catch to end the inning.
Following the game Lou Piniella added, “If we continue to swing bats this way the rest of the year, we aren’t going to win many games.”
A call by Rob Drake had a hand in the outcome for the second consecutive day as well. Drake threw Lou Piniella and Matt Sinatro out of the game in the 9th inning after arguing a call on an extremely close play. Mark DeRosa appeared to beat a throw by Hanley Ramirez with a head first slide into 1st base, replays showed it was the right call, but the typically calm Sinatro reacted uncharacteristically and threw his helmet to the ground. Piniella came out and after exchanging a few words, was thrown out of his second game of the year….both by Rob Drake.
The Cubs wasted another solid performance by Rich Harden. Harden struck out 10 batters for his third consecutive start, all swinging, and gave up 1 run on 2 hits in 5 innings on 87 pitches. Sean Marshall made just the one mistake to Hermida in his 3 innings of work. Marshall did not walk a batter, struck out 5 and surrendered the one hit that landed into the basket in right. Five different Cubs’ pitchers totaled 20 strikeouts on the afternoon.
The Cubs defense made a couple of great plays that saved runs, especially late. Reed Johnson turned in another web gem and his throw in the 12th kept the winning run out of scoring position to start the inning. Aramis Ramirez made a leaping catch to end the 5th inning and get Harden out of his only jam of the afternoon.
The Cubs are 3-6 since the break and the offense must pick it up. The pitching is keeping them in games and their record in the second half should be opposite of what it is….the Cubs are 16 games over .500 after another disappointing loss. The old cliche, “Baseball is not a sprint but a marathon” kept popping into the head of this writer as the offensive struggles continued on Saturday. The entire offense is in a slump, only Reed Johnson and Jim Edmonds have hit the ball with any kind of consistency since the break. When a majority of the team is hitting below the Mendoza Line, the end result is only 3 wins in 9 games despite the fact the Cubs’ pitching staff, for the most part, has been just short of spectacular.
The Cubs’ inability to hit and score runs is even magnifying the problems in the bullpen. Bobby Howry was tagged with the loss, and the blame, on Friday and Sean Marshall will undoubtedly receive heat for the blown save on Saturday, but the offense hitting weak grounders and lazy fly balls is the cause for the 6 losses in the last 9 games. Pitchers are awarded with the win, or the loss, or the save….but Bobby Howry and Chad Gaudin should not have been given a loss the last two days.
The game started out on a positive note. Derrek Lee pulled an inside pitch from Chris Volstad down the left field line on a 1-0 pitch with 2 outs. Aramis Ramirez followed with a single to left and Lee scored the game’s first run on a very close play at the plate….Lee made a good hook slide to avoid the tag.
Geovany Soto just missed a home run with 1-out in the 2nd, ended up with a double when the ball hit the top of the wall and Kosuke Fukudome reached on an infield single to the hole at short. Rich Harden stepped in and on the second pitch of his at bat, Volstad threw a high fastball that crossed up his catcher, John Baker. The ball hit home plate umpire, Gerry Davis on the mask near the chin area and after receiving a visit from the Cubs’ trainer, Mark O’Neal, had to leave the game.
When the game resumed Bruce Dreckman replaced Davis behind the plate. Soto and Fukudome had advanced to 2nd and 3rd on the ball that hit Davis and with the infield in, and 1-out, Harden eventually struck out. Alfonso Soriano had a chance to give the Cubs a 3-run lead, but he grounded out to 2nd to end the inning.
The Cubs recorded four of their six hits off of Volstad in the first two innings and left 3 runners in scoring position….
Aramis Ramirez gave the Cubs the lead with another 2-out hit in the 3rd….his 18th long ball of the season ended up into the bleachers in left. After the Ramirez home run, Volstad allowed only one other hit in 6 innings to go along with 6 strikeouts and 2 walks.
The Marlins’ bullpen shutdown the Cubs’ offense. They managed only 2 hits in the last 6 innings….one by Kosuke Fukudome and the other by Sean Marshall.
Rich Harden has to be asking himself what it takes to pick up a win. Despite the fact he lasted only 5 innings, Harden was just short of unhittable again. Harden threw 87 pitches in 5 innings, struck out 10 and walked 3. Another solo home run ended a no hitter and shutout with one swing. Harden could easily be 3-0 as a Cub with an ERA under 1.
The entire team needs to relax and remember what it felt like to score runs in bunches on a daily basis. Everyone is pressing from the players to the coaching staff….
Jason Marquis will try to end the Cubs second two game home losing streak of the year on Sunday against right-hander Rick VandenHurk.