For a brief moment today, the Cubs were only 1 1/2 games behind the Brewers, Jason Marquis, coming off a great start his last time out, on the mound, the Cardinals struggling mightily. Unfortunately, a classic Marquis meltdown prevented the Cubs from sweeping the series. St. Louis erupted to score 11 runs off the Cubs. As disappointing as this loss was, the Cubs need to get ready for an important series against Cincinnati. The Cubs have more games left with Cincinnati than any other team, 12 games. Milwaukee found out how tough the Red can be, and the Cubs need to get focused and bounce back quickly.
Marquis is following his usual pattern of starting out hot in the first half, then stinking it up as the summer months come along. Marquis started out the year 5-1 in his first seven starts, Marquis is 2-5 since with a 5.81 earned-run average. Marquis allowed six runs on five hits and four walks in five innings in tonight’s game, the third time in his last four starts he has allowed six runs. Marqui started out great in the first few innings before giving up a solo home run to Scott Rolan. Then he completely unraveled in the fifth. Aaron Miles led off the inning with a single. Then, Marquis walked the pitcher, Brandon Looper, who was trying to give the Cubs a free out by bunting. Marquis walked the pitcher, who is hitting .167 on the year unacceptable. David Eckstein advanced the runners on a sacrifice bunt, then Marquis walked Jim Edmunds, who is batting .230 to face Albert Pujols. Never a smart move to walk a guy to face Pujols. But Pujols had struggled in the series, going 0-9 in the first two games, and 0-2 in the first three innings in this game. So what does Marquis do? He hits him with the bases loaded, giving the Cardinals a 2-0 lead. Marquis could have gotten out of it with minimal damage, but the next batter, Chris Duncan, hit a mammoth grand slam that essentially ended the game. Derek Lee hit a solo home run for the Cubs only run of the game. Then in the bottom of the sixth inning, Pinella raised the white flag. He put Billy Petrick in the game to pitch, and Ronnie Cedeno at third, ending Aramis Ramirez’s night. The Cards added four more runs off of Petrick in the sixth including a three run homer by Pujols. In the seventh, Soriano and Lee came out for Angel Pagan and Jake Fox. Lou even put in back up catcher Koyie Hill in right field. Hill had never played in the outfield before. By the time the bloodshed was over, the game was 11-1.
The Cubs do not need to make a major move. They need guys to perform up to their abilities. Derek Lee has only 9 homers, and tonight’s homer in St. Louis was his first homer on the road. Cliff Floyd with 4 homers? Jacque Jones with 2? These guys need to start hitting for power, and Soriano, who has been hitting the long ball, needs to become more consistent. If these guys can catch fire, we’ll be in good shape.
What a blown opportunity by the Cubs. Nearly every team we are chasing or we are competing with in the pennant race lost tonight. Milwaukee lost to Cincy in extras, and Cincy took the series 3 games to 1. The Cubs were within 1 1/2 games before tonight’s loss. The good thing is that Francisico Cordero blew the game. As I’ve been saying, the Brewers look less and less invincible. San Diego, Atlanta, Philly, and Colorado, all in the wild card picture with the Cubs, all lost. Only Arizona won. The Cubs would have been tied for the wild card lead if they won tonight.
This weekend will be a crucial series for the Cubs. As I wrote earlier, the Cubs will face the Reds 12 more times this year. Milwaukee is hurting and the Cubs need to make up games quickly. The Cubs are 2-4 against the Reds this year, but both series took place in the first two weeks of the season. They need to make a statement this weekend. The bats need to come alive and the pitchers can’t keep walking batters. The Cubs need to come out and take game 1 of the series like they did against the Cardinals. The key hear is winning series. The Cubs have won 7 of the last 9 series they have played. If they keep that up, they will win the division. Unfortunately, the Cubs seem to struggle against the Reds, especially in the Great American Ballpark. The Reds have momentum after taking 3 of 4 against the Brewers, including two extra innings victories. Rich Hill goes up against Bronson Arroyo. Hil needs to keep his head in it and cut down on the walks. The only good thing that came out of tonight’s loss in that it might give the Cardinals hope and that may carry over against Milwaukee. Let’s Get Some Runs!
Let’s Get A Win!