Since the Cubs seem to have been "up" the place denoted in this photo all year, let me respectfully suggest they might want to start shopping here:
(Yes, I know this has a mild profanity in it. Profanity is not banned here; it's only when every other word in a post is "fuck" that I draw the line.)
Last night's 4-1 Cub loss to the Phillies provides a perfect example of how the 2006 Cubs have lived on the slimmest margin for error all season.
For those of you who didn't see it -- and this, being a WCIU game, was not widely available on TV; I think WCIU's transmitter consists of a couple of gerbils running around one of those pet wheely things, but it does appear on most Chicago-area cable systems.
It's the fifth inning. Wade Miller has thrown pretty well, though put up an ungodly number of pitches (92 through less than five innings), and struck out eight, some on knee-bending breaking balls.
And he finally was lifted after David Dellucci's double scored Ryan Howard (who, I should note, the Cub pitching staff has held down pretty well in this series -- no homers so far), but that only made the score 1-0 -- even though this happened after yet another thing I detest, not being able to get the third out after retiring the first two hitters easily.
After a walk (sigh, another walk, one of seven the Phillies had last night to the Cubs' usual total of zero) to Pat Burrell -- which wasn't such a bad thing, pitching around Burrell to try to set up a force at third or second, Robert Novoa got Chris Coste to do exactly what they'd hoped for -- hit a ground ball to shortstop.
Unfortunately, the Cubs did not have a major league player playing SS last night; they had Ronny Cedeno, who promptly booted the ball, loading the bases.
It's still only 1-0, but you can just hear the air coming out of that balloon, can't you?
Naturally, the next hitter, Abraham Nunez, flared a ball just out of the reach of Ryan Theriot, two runs score, game basically over, because once this team goes down by three runs, they almost never come back.
And that, my friends, is the story of the Cubs' ninetieth loss of 2006; Matt Murton, who is having a hellaciously good September (.356/.424/.627 with 4 HR in 59 AB), hit a home run for the Cubs' only score of the evening.
I had a much better post written for this recap, but a browser burp cost me a lot of it. So instead, I refer you to this diary, in which there is discussion of the idiotic decision to start Les Walrond tonight instead of Jae-Kuk Ryu.
Let's see, we have a 23-year-old pitcher who is a genuine prospect and who has thrown quite well since his recall last month, or a 29-year-old career minor league retread who got hammered in his only start, last month against a team far inferior to the one the Cubs are facing tonight. Who would YOU start?
There's absolutely no excuse for this, and not even the "Ryan Howard's lefthanded, so start a lefthander" one. If that's the case, throw Ryan O'Malley out there. Les Walrond has NO future with this team.
And, so we hope, neither does the manager who made this decision.