There are going to be games like this one, odds are there are going to be a lot of games like this one, and I’m okay with that. The Cubs have now lost three of their first four games on the season, and probably couldn’t lose three more difficult ways if they tried. Monday night’s episode included two successful squeeze bunts by the Brewers, and a furious ninth inning rally only to end in horrible, mind numbing defeat.
Chris Volstad made his Chicago Cubs debut last night, and he probably thinks that he could have been much better. By no means was he horrible, he was just up in the strike zone with everything, mix that with the wind blowing out and things could have went from bad to worse. Volstad withstood the Brewers attack, and was able to make it through five innings of work earning himself a no decision. Nyjer Morgan got things started for Milwaukee as he almost always does as he lined a base hit to center field in the first inning. Two batters later, a familiar face, Aramis Ramirez, drove Morgan in with a sacrifice fly. The Cubs answered right back in the bottom of the first by scoring on a rarely seen, odd play in baseball, I think it’s called a home run. Yes, that’s right, the Cubs finally hit a home run, the last team in the Majors to do so, and it came from an unlikely source in Darwin Barney.
The Cubs and Brewers then took turns taking the lead and then blowing the lead, then taking the lead again. The Cubs started the process as Bryan LaHair hit an absolute bomb out on to Sheffield to make it 2-1 in the bottom of the second. Milwaukee got that run right back as Rickie Weeks led off the top of the third with a solo shot that looked more like a laser beam than a home run. Both teams traded runs in the 4th and 5th inning with the Brewers taking the lead in the fourth and the Cubs tying it at three in the 5th. Enter the Cubs bullpen in the six, and exit chance of winning the game. Shawn Camp couldn’t get anyone out, and really looked uncomfortable out on the mound. Camp surrendered five hits in two innings of work, and gave up three runs in the process. Lendy Castillo made his major league debut, and promptly struggled with nerves and his command as he also allowed a run to score.
The Cubs of old might have felt sorry for themselves and packed it in for the night, but not this group. Trailing 7-3 entering the ninth inning, the Cubs started what looked to be an epic rally. Ian Stewart led the ninth inning off with a double. LaHair grounded out softly to first which allowed Stewart to advance to third. Geovany Soto followed with a tremendous at bat that resulted in a walk to put guys at the corners with only one out. A Cubs victory looked possible after Aramis Ramirez kicked a Marlon Byrd ground ball which scored a run to make it 7-4 with guys on 1st and 2nd and only one out. It really looked like the Cubs would complete the comeback when Clevenger lined a pinch hit single to center which got away from Carlos Gomez, and just like that it was 7-5 Brewers with Cubs on at 2nd and 3rd with only one out and the top of the order coming up. After David Dejesus couldn’t put the ball in play, Darwin Barney had another great at bat drawing a two out walk to load the bases and set the stage for Starlin Castro. Starlin Castro however, seemed more concerned with solving the long division math problem in his head then getting a game winning base hit. I’m kidding, Castro was overmatched, he struck out on three pitches, game over, Cubs get close enough to get fans excited only to come up short anyway. It’s a story that plays out all too often on the North Side, but at least they went down fighting.
Born on Third’s Thoughts:
Man, these losses are getting hard to swallow. I understand there are going to be losses, and it might be a long year, but these sting. The bullpen is bad, I think a lot if not all of us know that by now. Shawn Camp has got to stop worrying about the baserunners and attack the hitter. He basically gave up the at bat against Gamel because he was too concerned about the baserunner. Marlon Byrd is just a place holder at this point, sure he can run down some balls in CF, but at the plate he is a shadow of what he used to be, no approach, no contact when we need it, no clue really. Starlin, oh Starlin, a chance to be a hero buddy, and he gets caught thinking at the plate. Make no mistake, he was thinking, and when he does that, or any hitter tries to guess whats coming next they are in trouble. See it, hit it, he will more often than not, people forget he’s only 22 and still learning.
Thanks for reading,
– George Cotugno