Game Fifty-Eight – Cubs 4 Twins 7
WP – Kevin Slowey (9-2) LP – Randy Wells (0-3) Save – Joe Nathan (14)
The Chicago Cubs lost their third game in a row in large part due to non-existent offense. The Cubs managed only one hit off Kevin Slowey in the first five innings without a walk … and after the first bad start of the season by Randy Wells, the 4-0 deficit after four innings made a comeback seem virtually impossible.
The Cubs closed the gap to 4-3 in the bottom of the sixth but it should have been more. Aaron Miles singled to center with the Cubs’ first hit since the opening inning. Bobby Scales stepped in and delivered a single to right. For the record, Scales is 4-for-7 with a triple and two home runs as a pinch hitter. With runners on first and second, Alfonso Soriano struck out but Mike Fontenot walked to load the bases.
Milton Bradley delivered a double off the wall in right that just missed leaving the park. Miles and Scales scored and cut the Twins’ lead in half. With runners on second and third with one out, Derrek Lee grounded out to third, Fontenot scored but for some reason Bradley ran on contact and was tagged out by Joe Crede. Mike Quade talked with Bradley following the inning about his mistake that removed the tying run from scoring position.
With the Cubs down 4-3 in the seventh, Jason Waddell retired Joe Mauer on a fly out to left. Justin Morneau singled to right on a 0-2 pitch and Jason Kubel reached on a routine fly ball hit to Bradley in right. Bradley lost the ball in the sun.
Aaron Heilman replaced Waddell and following a fly out to right center by Joe Crede, Michael Cuddyer blooped a double down the right field line that Milton Bradley dove to try to catch. Morneau scored and the Twins took a commanding 5-3 lead.
The top of the eighth inning summed up the first 58 games of the season with one play and the reason why the Cubs are seven games under .500 when Milton Bradley steps on the field.
Nick Punto singled to center and after the Twins’ second sacrifice bunt of the game, both by pitchers on an American League team, Punto advanced to second. Brendan Harris singled to left to put runners on first and third with one out … ONE OUT.
Joe Mauer worked the count to 3-2 against Aaron Heilman before hitting a routine fly to Milton Bradley. As Milton was positioning to catch the ball he turned and faced the right field foul line and caught the ball out of position to make a throw to the plate. After Bradley made the play, he paused, bent over then turned and tossed the ball into the bleachers. Bradley’s reaction before he threw the ball appeared to be in response to losing the ball in the sun in the previous inning. Bradley posed as the Twins were scoring their sixth run of the game and as Brendan Harris was making his way to third base.
Lou Piniella left Milton Bradley in the game after his incredibly selfish act.
Players make mistakes and the reason Bradley should be benched is not because of the error but his actions. Bradley was trying to prove a point to the fans in attendance and in turn all he did was further alienate a fan base that has already grown tired of his act and lack of production.
In his post-game press conference in response to Milton Bradley’s mistake Lou Piniella said, “I haven’t seen that one before. I’ll be honest with you. First the bad baserunning play, then that … the only positive was the two-run double. It wasn’t a good day for him.” Later in the press conference Piniella added, “I mean do we need to teach math … 1, 2, 3. I’ve never seen it before. Gotta keep your head in the game.”
With another frustrating loss that was taken to a new low by Milton Bradley, the Cubs are back to .500 for the 11th time this season. Randy Wells did not pitch as bad as his line looks. Wells pounded the strike zone early on and threw first pitch strikes to 12 of the first 14 batters he faced. Piniella said after the game that it was not a good start for Wells but he is entitled to have a bad outing after the way he has pitched. Piniella added with his low pitch count on Friday (78, 48 for strikes) it should allow him to be stronger in his next start.
Randy Wells allowed four runs on seven hits in 3 2/3 innings with two walks and a strikeout … his shortest start of the year and the first time he has walked more than he struck out.
Former Cub Brendan Harris (dealt in the Nomar Garciaparra/Matt Murton trade in 2004) led off the third with a single to center. Joe Mauer followed and lined a home run into the bleachers in left center on a 2-1 pitch … his 13th of the season, a new career-high. With the offensive woes, at 2-0 the game appeared over at that point and Randy Wells’ frustration might have gotten the best of him.
Wells got out of the third but issued a leadoff walk to Michael Cuddyer in the fourth. Delmon Young blooped a single into center that Kosuke dove to try to make a play on. Nick Punto followed with a single to center that loaded the bases … with no outs.
Kevin Slowey put the ball in play and helped his own cause. Slowey grounded into a 6-4-3 double play, Cuddyer scored … 3-0 Twins. Brendan Harris stuck it to the Cubs again with a single to left that plated Young with the Twins fourth run.
Kevin Slowey turned in his one of his better outings of the year. He struck out a season-high 10 batters and made the Cubs’ offence look very bad in the process. Of his 10 strikeouts, nine were of the swinging and missing variety.
The Cubs’ fourth run came in the eighth after a one-out single by Alfonso Soriano … to right field. Reed Johnson was hit on the first pitch of his pinch-hit at bat. With the Cubs down by three, Milton Bradley stepped in with runners on first and second with one out.
Milton Bradley broke his bat and flied out to right but Derrek Lee singled to left and plated Soriano with the Cubs final run of the afternoon. Geovany Soto flied out to left center for the third out.
Jason Kubel hit a solo home run off David Patton in the ninth … his tenth of the year put the game out of reach.
Alfonso Soriano finished the game at second base. Piniella said he wanted to leave Micah Hoffpauir in after he pinch hit in the eighth inning. Hoffpauir was on deck when the game ended.
A quick note, it is not if you win or lose, it is how you play the game. Too bad Milton Bradley has yet to learn what we were taught as children.
Rich Harden is slated to be activated from the 15-day DL on Saturday and face Anthony Swarzak on Saturday.