Game One Hundred Twenty-Five – Cubs 5 Braves 16
WP – Mike Minor (2-0) LP – Randy Wells (5-12) Save – None
Sunday marked the end of an era in Major League Baseball … not only for the Chicago Cubs but for the game as well. Two of the best managers of All-Time suited up for the final time at Wrigley Field on Sunday. While Bobby Cox will finish out the season for the first place Atlanta Braves, Lou Piniella called it a career … and one that will not soon be forgotten.
Prior to Sunday’s game, Lou Piniella announced he would be stepping down after the 27th out to go home and spend time with his ailing mother. Sunday was an emotional day at Wrigley Field … and unfortunately another loss for the Chicago Cubs.
Lou Piniella finished his Cubs’ managerial career with a 316-293 record after Sundays’ loss. Piniella posted an 85-77 mark in 2007, 97-64 in 2008, 83-78 in 2009 and 51-74 in 2010.
As Lou said in his final post-game press conference, Sunday was a good day for him to remember … and a good day to forget.
Randy Wells was not good once again. Wells served up three more longballs Sunday afternoon. The three dingers accounted for five of the Braves’ seven runs off Wells … two by Omar Infante and one by Jason Heyward.
Omar Infante recorded the first multi-homer game of his career. Infante drove in four of the Braves’ five runs in two trips to the plate. The former Cub-for-a-minute came into the weekend with only three home runs all season and will leave Chicago with six.
Randy Wells lasted six-plus innings and gave up seven runs, five earned, on seven hits with four walks and five strikeouts.
While Wells was busy serving up home runs, Mike Minor struck out one Cub after the other. Minor set a Braves’ rookie record with 12 strikeouts. Minor was predictably very effective against the Cubs’ pathetic offense. Minor struck out eight of the first 14 he faced and of the first 12 outs the rookie southpaw recorded, 10 were strikeouts.
The Cubs’ defense committed three more errors, and it should have been more, that led to three more unearned runs. The Cubs were credited with just three blunders but they made more than three mental mistakes. Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano also showed why there will not be a gold glove on their mantles anytime soon.
The Braves broke the game open in the seventh and eighth. Bobby Cox’s team scored nine runs in the two frames with more help from the Cubs defense. Derrek Lee recorded his first hit in a Braves’ uniform, a one-out double in the eighth that drove in three.
Derrek Lee finished the game 1-for-4 with a double, a walk, a run scored, three RBI and five left on base.
Jason Heyward hit his second homer of the game in the ninth, a two-run shot off Marcos Mateo. The Braves scored 11 of their 16 runs in the final three innings.
The Cubs’ offense simply could not keep up with all of the extra outs the defense gave the Braves. Starlin Castro (4-for-5 with two doubles and a run scored), Marlon Byrd (3-for-5 with a RBI and a run scored) and Aramis Ramirez (3-for-4 with two runs and two RBI) were the Cubs’ offense. The Cubs managed 13 hits, same total as the Braves, but scored only five runs … 3-for-9 with RISP and left eight on base.
Lou Piniella met Bobby Cox at homeplate and turned in his final lineup card as a big league manager. Piniella’s last starting nine: Darwin Barney (2B), Starlin Castro (SS), Marlon Byrd (CF), Aramis Ramirez (3B), Alfonso Soriano (LF), Jeff Baker (RF), Xavier Nady (1B), Koyie Hill (C), Randy Wells (P). Only Ramirez and Soriano were in Piniella’s first lineup as a Cubs’ manager on Opening Day in Cincinnati in 2007.
Sunday was the second time this season the Cubs dropped a game to the Braves, 16-5. Lou’s crew lost their first game of the year 16-5 on Opening Day in Atlanta.
The Cubs finished the season series with the Braves with two wins in six games … and over their last 17 games against NL contenders, just a 4-13 record.
Sunday marked the Cubs’ sixth loss of the homestand and slipped to a season-low 23 games under .500 with a 51-74 record … The game did not start well for the Chicago Cubs and it got worse. The Cubs played another bad game … Lou’s last as a Major League manager.
The Braves jumped out to a 1-0 lead on Wells’ third pitch of the game. Omar Infante hit his second longball of the series, and the fifth of the year, over the wall in left center. Wells then walked Jason Heyward on five pitches. Martin Prado followed with a single to left … and it looked like it was going to be a short outing for Mr. Wells.
Derrek Lee stepped in and hit a grounder to Aramis Ramirez that should have been a 5-3 double play. Ramirez stepped on third but threw low to first. Lee reached and Prado advanced to third on another error by Aramis Ramirez.
Wells focused and retired Brian McCann on a fly out to short left. Prado held and was stranded when Melky Cabrera struck out swinging.
The Cubs tied the game in the home half of the first. Starlin Castro doubled to right on a 2-1 pitch on a ball that should have been caught by Heyward. Castro drove the ball deep to right and it hit off his glove. Castro took off for third on a 2-2 pitch to Marlon Byrd. Prado broke to cover the bag and Byrd hit the ball in the spot vacated by Prado. Castro tied the game at one on Byrd’s single to left.
Aramis Ramirez struck out and Soriano popped out to Infante to end the inning.
Randy Wells retired the Braves in order in the second … and was very sharp.
Jason Heyward ripped Wells’ first pitch over the wall in right center in the third. Heyward’s one out blast gave the Braves a 2-1 lead. Wells retired Prado on a grounder to short but walked Derrek Lee. Brian McCann grounded out to second to end the inning.
Marlon Byrd jump-started the Cubs’ offense in the third with his second hit of the day. Byrd singled to right with two outs on a 2-1 pitch from Mike Minor. Aramis Ramirez then launched a 0-1 offering into the bleachers in left. Ramirez’s 19th homer gave the Cubs a 3-2 lead.
The Braves took the lead right back in the top of the fourth. Melky Cabrera led off the inning with a bloop single to left. Wells struck out Gonzalez and got ahead of Rick Ankiel 1-2. Cabrera then took off for second on Wells’ 1-2 pitch. Koyie Hill threw low to second, the ball ended up in center … the Cubs second throwing error of the game.
Wells walked Ankiel but struck out Mike Minor on a failed bunt attempt. Omar Infante gave the Braves a 5-3 lead with his second homer of the game. Infante launched a 1-1 pitch into the bleachers in left center. Wells walked Heyward on four pitches before retiring Prado on a ground out to second for the third out.
Lou got a chance to make his final double-switch in the seventh inning. The Braves put the game away due to more horrible defense, extra outs and walks. Piniella ended up using four pitchers to get through the incredibly ugly half inning.
Infante reached on an infield single to third … yet another ball Aramis Ramirez did not make a play on. Jason Heyward singled right and chased Wells from the game. Thomas Diamond came out of the pen and was the victim of the Cubs’ bad defense.
Darwin Barney made his first error in the big leagues and booted a tailor-made double play ball off the bat of Martin Prado. With the bases loaded and no outs, Derrek Lee flied out to shallow center. Piniella made the slow walk and brought in James Russell to face Brian McCann.
McCann hit a grounder to Nady, who threw to Castro at second. Prado was out and Castro’s throw was on the mark to Russell covering first … but Russell had no idea where the bag was and did not touch it in time to end the inning. Infante scored on the mistake … 6-3 Braves.
Russell walked Cabrera to reload the bases then appeared to retire Alex Gonzalez on a short fly to left. But Soriano lumbered in and dropped the ball has he fell to the ground. Two more runs scored and a third crossed the plate on in decision by Starlin Castro. Gonzalez got caught in a rundown and tagged out but the damage had been done … at the end of seven, it was 9-3 Braves.
Justin Berg took the hill to start the eighth … and it got worse for Lou and the Cubs.
After Rick Ankiel grounded out to first to start the inning, Berg hit Eric Hinske then gave up another hit to Infante. With runners on first and second, Heyward singled to right and plated Hinske with the Braves’ 10th run.
Martin Prado blooped a single into left, another ball Soriano should have caught, to load the bases for Derrek Lee. Lee ripped Berg’s first pitch past Aramis Ramirez, another ball he did not get in front of. The ball ended up in the left field corner and cleared the bases.
The Braves took a commanding 13-3 lead but were not done.
Lee advanced to third on a wild pitch. Brian McCann walked and Melky Cabrera grounded into what should have been another double play. But Cabrera beat Barney’s throw and Lee scored … 14-3 Braves.
Aramis Ramirez (single to right center) and Alfonso Soriano (double to left) padded their stats in the eighth. Blake DeWitt singled to left and drove in Ramirez with the Cubs’ fourth run. Soriano advanced to third and scored on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Xavier Nady.
Marcos Mateo issued the staff’s seventh walk of the day in the ninth … and Eric Hinske was on board for Jason Heyward’s second dinger of the game.
Sunday was supposed to be about Lou Piniella, not another poorly played game by the Chicago Cubs.
It was never a dull moment during the Lou Piniella Era and for the most part, the good outweighed the bad over the nearly four seasons he was the Cubs’ skipper. The game moves on but baseball lost one of its characters Sunday when Lou decided to step down as the manager of the Chicago Cubs.
Mike Quade takes over Monday … Casey Coleman against Livan Hernandez in the first of three against the Nationals.