Game Sixty-Nine – Cubs 5 Tigers 6
WP – Armando Galarraga (4-7) LP – Ted Lilly (7-5) Save – Fernando Rodney (16)
The Chicago Cubs are the definition of a .500 ballclub right now. Could things improve? Yes. Could they get worse? Most definitely. This is the reason every year and every team should stand on their own … and their accomplishments should be celebrated as well as their shortcomings criticized. Nothing in sports should ever be taken for granted or looked over and this is way may be going on with the Chicago Cubs.
Most picked the Cubs to run away with the division and looked at October as to when the season would actually start. Lou Piniella’s crew has underachieved through the first 69 games. They have been consistently inconsistent from the season’s first pitch.
On some days they might play a complete game, but those days have been very few and far between this season. The Cubs have shown the ability to run off three or four wins in a row and then show they can just as easily drop the same number.
After winning four in a row in dramatic fashion, the Cubs have now lost four in a row … thanks to the three-game sweep at the hands of the Tigers. The Cubs could have easily won all three as they lost them. On Thursday afternoon, it was not the offense but a rare poor outing by Ted Lilly that was the difference.
Jake Fox came through with the Cubs first hit on the road trip with runners in scoring position that actually scored runs. Fox launched his first career big league home run off of Armando Galarraga with two on and two outs in the first inning. Fox handed Ted Lilly a 3-0 lead before he took the mound.
The Cubs offense tacked on a run in the fourth and led by a score of 4-2 but the Tigers scored all six of their runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings off Lilly.
Lilly served up two longballs that accounted for four of the six runs he allowed over six innings. Ramon Santiago hit his fifth home run of the season in the third. Maggilio Ordonez hit the would-be game winner off Lilly in the fourth … a two-run shot that gave the Tigers a 5-4 lead.
Ted Lilly lost his first game since May 24 after giving up six runs on 10 hits in six innings with a walk and six strikeouts … and on the flip side, Armando Galarraga won his first start since April 26.
Micah Hoffpauir made the game interesting in the ninth with his seventh home run of the season off Fernando Rodney … Hoffpauir cut the Tigers lead in half. Kosuke Fukudome (2-for-4 with a double, a triple and a RBI) reached on a two out double with the tying run but Geovany Soto pinch hit for Koyie Hill and struck out to end the game.
Derrek Lee’s 21-game hitting streak came to an end with a 0-for-4 day at the plate.
After a 1-for-29 with runners in scoring position to start the road trip, the Cubs finished the series in Detroit 2-for-29 with runners in scoring position … and Jake Fox’s home run was the only hit that produced runs.
The Cubs dropped to a game under .500 … with a tough three days on the South Side ahead of them. Alfonso Soriano (2-for-4 with a run scored) started the game with a double to left. Ryan Theriot walked and once again the Cubs put runners on first and second with no outs. Derrek Lee flied out to center and Micah Hoffpauir struck out swinging. Jake Fox then delivered the first RBI’s with a hit on the trip … a three-run homer to left. Fox had a great day at the dish … 3-for-4 with a home run, a double, three RBI and a run scored. Fox and Hoffpauir combined for four of the Cubs’ eight hits on the afternoon.
Jake Fox reached on a one-out single to left in the fourth. Mike Fontenot grounded into a fielder’s choice for the second out. Kosuke Fukudome then tripled to right center and drove in Fontenot with the Cubs fourth run.
Ted Lilly escaped the first inning after allowing a double to right center by Miguel Cabrera … that could have been ruled a home run. Lilly retired the Tigers in order in the second but a misplayed ball in the third set up the two-run homer by Ramon Santiago.
Adam Everett reached on an infield hit on a ball that Fontenot and Theriot collided on. After Lilly struck out Curtis Granderson, Santiago hit a 1-0 pitch over the wall in left … the fifteenth home run allowed by Lilly this season.
The Tigers took the lead for good in the fourth. Marcus Thames doubled to right center for his first hit of the series. Ryan Rayburn followed with a double to left. Thames scored and cut the Cubs lead to 4-3. Brandon Inge grounded out to third for the first out of the inning.
With the infield in, Magglio Ordonez launched a 0-2 pitch from Ted Lilly over the wall in left … 5-4 Tigers, and they never looked back.
The Tigers sixth and final run came in the fifth after a Curtis Granderson single on a 3-2 pitch, a Ramon Santiago sacrifice bunt, a Miguel Cabrera single and a Ryan Rayburn two-out single to right. Ryan Rayburn torched Cubs pitching in the two games he played. Not only did Rayburn hit the game winner on Tuesday night, but he was 3-for-4 with a run scored and three RBI on Thursday afternoon.
Kevin Hart struggled through his two innings of work thanks to missed double play in the eighth. Hart did not give up any runs but once he was faced with adversity he started walking batters again. Sean Marshall struck out Curtis Granderson on three pitches for the second game in a row.
It is past time for the Cubs to start playing to their capabilities …
Randy Wells is scheduled to face Jose Contreras in game one on the South Side Friday afternoon. If the Cubs do not play better against the Sox, it could be a very ugly and long weekend.