Not Firing On All Cylinders

I never thought I would be so unimpressed with a Cubs 4 game win streak.  In fact, I am more disgusted then happy. Why you ask?  Because the Cubs had to go another 15 innings just to beat the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates.  It just seems like the Cubs are not firing on all cylinders.  Either the starting pitching is good but there is no hitting, or the hitting is good, but the bullpen is bad, or their are defensive mistakes or baserunning mistakes.  One Monday, our number two starter, Ted Lilly, was given a ton of offense, but couldn’t hold on to the lead.  Today, our number 3 starter, Ryan Dempster, pitched a beautiful game, but got no offensive support or help from his former bullpen mates.  Dempster pitched seven innings of one hit ball, giving up zero runs and striking out 5 Pirates.  He had a wicked offspeed pitch that had the Pirates’ hitters fooled all day.  So how does Dempster not win this game?  The offense and the bullpen.  The offense was horrible, scoring only two runs, only one of them earned, in the first nine innings.  The Cubs could never get the clutch hit to put the game out of reach.  The Cubs left a total of 15 men left on base.  If you do the math kiddies, if you add the 15 men the Cubs left on base on Monday and the 15 men they left on base on Wednesday, that equals 30 baserunners the Cubs left in two games !!  We are not facing San Diego with their amazing rotation and bullpen, these are the friggin’ Pirates. 

Carlos Marmol came in to relieve Dempster in the eighth, and gave up one run after the Pirates hit back to back doubles.  The Cubs still nursed a one run lead going into the ninth, when closer Kerry Wood gave up a leadoff homer to Jason Bay to tie the game in the bottomof the ninth.  Bob Howry pitched the tenth, while Michael Wuertz pitched the eleventh and twelfth, keeping the Pirates off the board.  The Cubs had plenty of chances to win the ballgame, but couldn;t.  Finally, in the top of the fourteenth inning, with Derek Lee on first, Aramis Ramirez hit a two run homer to give the Cubs a 4-2 lead.  Unfortunately, Kevin Hart, who had pitched the thirteenth inning, gave up a two run homer to Adam LaRoche , tying the ballgame.  And like Monday, Pittsburgh gave the game away again.  In the fifteenth inning and one out, Geovany Soto drew a walk.  Hart was supposed to bunt him over to second, but instead bunted it back to the pitcher who threw Soto out at second.  Ryan Theriot singled, putting runners at first and second, with Soriano up with two outs.  Pitcher Phil Dumatrait threw a wild pitch, and the runners advanced to second and third.  Rather then pitch to Soriano, they decided to intentionally walk him to get to Felix Pie, who came into the game in the seventh.  Pie hadn’t gotten close to a pitch in his previous three at bats, but hit the game winning double to drive in two runs.  Sean Marshall, recently called up after Carmen Pignatiello threw eight straight balls on Monday, gave up a double in the bottom of the fifteenth, but was able to hold on for the save.

Again, sorry to be negative, but when you play a team as bad as the Pirats, it shouldn’t be this difficult.  The Cubs have spent 118 million on this roster, compared to 48 by the Pirates.  The reason I am so frustrated is that the Cubs can’t seem to go after victories.  They just seem to be lucking in to them.  You may be fine with that, but I am not.  I remember the playoffs last season, do you?  Bullpen giving up runs, no clutch hitting, etc.  We are not going to face the Pirates in the playoffs.  If we make it, we will be facing much better pitching, much better defense, and much better hitting.  My goal, the team’s goal, any fans of the Cubs’ goal, should be a World Series championship.  Do I see a World Series team on the field right now. No. I realize we have only played eight games, but after spring training, there is no excuse for playing as poorly as we are.  If you remember last season, the Cubs would be a very streaky team, bad for long stretches, good for long stretches.  We need to get consistently good, not make stupid plays, play defense, and get some clutch hitting, especially from our big money players.  We have to start playing better.  This is the second straight game we have burned up our bullpen.  That adds a lot of added pressure to Rich Hill, tomorrows starter (who doesn’t handle pressure well and hasn’t been pitching well either) and Jason Marquis (who has the flu and didn’t pitch well in his first game).  Let’s home we can get some innings out of them and get the sweep tomorrow. Hard to believe, but we are going for 5 wins in a row.

Go Cubs! 

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