Being in a pennant chase/playoff chase is a lot of fun, but there are a lot of ups and downs as every game seems to carry more weight. I don’t know if I have enough Rolaids to last through two more months of this. The Cubs made a gallant effort in an attempt to win yesterday’s game, but fell 5-4 to the Reds. To make matters worse, every other team the Cubs are chasing won. To make matters even worst than that, the Cubs have their number 5 starter, Sean Marshall, going up against the Reds best pitcher, Aaron Harang, who is 10-2 with a 3.45 ERA. The Reds have won the last nine games that Harang started. No one said this was going to be easy.
Struggling With Himself
Rich Hill only gave up two runs, but struggled with his command and emotions again. He struck out eight, and gave up the two runs, six hits and three walks over five innings, throwing 104 pitches.
He needs to learn to settle down and control his emotions. He just seemed to be fighting himself the whole time. On the other side, the Cubs again could not find an answer to Bronson Arroyo. Arroyo went 7 2/3 innings, gave up 0 earned runs, struck out five, and gave up 0 walks. The Cubs struck first, when a single by Ryan Theriot in the first inning went through Ken Griffey Jr’s legs, allowing Theriot to end up on third. Lee his a sacrifice fly to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead. The Reds struck back in the third when Ryan Freel scored on a double by Brandon Phillips. They took the lead on a towering homer by the hero of the game, Edwin Encarnacion.
The Reds scored two runs off Rocky Cherry, who was called up earlier in the day, in the sixth as he walked Ross, the No. 8 hitter, and hit Freel. Both scored on Jeff Keppinger’s double.
"You can’t put the bottom part of the lineup on base and then have the middle part of the lineup beat you," Piniella said.
Unbelievable. The Cubs were finally able to get to Arroyo in the eighth when Matt Murton reached on an error by Keppinger and scored on a double by Theriot. They fought back in the ninth when Aramis Ramirez singled off David Weathers to lead off, and reached third on Cliff Floyd’s single. Ramirez scored on Mark DeRosa’s single, and Jacque Jones hit into a fielder’s choice. Jason Kendall then singled, driving in Angel Pagan, who was running for Floyd to tie the game at 4. Pinch-hitter Mike Fontenot singled to center and Jones tried to score but catcher David Ross held onto the relay from Ryan Freel and survived a head-on collision.
"The guy in center field made a heck of a play, but I didn’t expect our runner to be thrown out," Piniella said. "Give [Freel] credit in center field. He made a bare-handed play and made a real accurate throw. Give the center fielder credit — that’s a Major League play."
Bob Howry came on in the ninth and gave up a leadoff single to Norris Hopper, who was bunted over to second. Encarnacion’s RBI single ended it,
End of game end of story.
Danger Will Robinson
As Milwaukee is facing a dead team in St. Louis, Cincy has new life. They have been strong since firing their manager, and have played with a lot of intensity. The walkoff win was the second in two nights and third of the week for the Reds, who improved to 4-1 on their current homestand. They have won eight of their last nine at Great American Ball Park. They took 3 games from Milwaukee and now threaten to take the series from the Cubs. The Cubs now have 11 more games with CIncy, who the Cubs never seem to play well against. We need to get it together.
Billy Petrick and catcher/infielder Jake Fox were sent down. Matt Murton and Rocky Cherry were called back up. It’s fun watching this revolving door to the farm system.
Milwaukee pounded St. Louis last night, moving the Cubs back to 3 games back. In the wild card, San Diego, Arizona, Philly all won. Atlanta lost to Arizona. The Cubs fell to two games back, and now have more teams ahead of them and tied with them.
The easy one is Alfonso Soriano. He has been stinking it up lately, both offensively and defensively. It seems that as Soriano goes, so do the Cubs. If he’s hot, the Cubs are hot. And if he’s cold, so are the Cubs. Soriano went 0 for 5 last night with no walks. He had another error in the outfield. I recommended that Lou give him a day off. Have Murton play left and let him take one mental day. They need him to get back on track.
Need This One
As I said before, the Cubs have a tough game today. The Cubs need this win, and it is not going to come easy. They need to take some pitches, be patient and get to that horrible Cincy bullpen. Let’s hope Soriano and the Cubs turn it around. There is not a lot of room for error. As Pinella says;
"You know what? Truthfully, the baseball season in earnest starts about now. These first four months are jockeying for position, and now the real race begins. And August is a cruel month in a lot of ways.
"The teams that play well in August are the ones that survive these things and have a real good chance at the end. This is an important stretch for us over the next 30 days or so, starting here in Cincinnati."