You know, when this road trip started, if you had told me the Cubs would split the series in Colorado, I'd have been thrilled... because I'd have thought that would have followed a two-out-of-three against the woeful Astros.
Instead, it follows an Astros sweep, and the Cubs have lost 9 of their last 14 games after a 6-3 loss to the Rockies this afternoon in Denver.
We all laughed at 36-year-old Tim Harikkala starting for Colorado today. Well, the Cubs laughed well enough -- they did solve him for five hits and three runs in the fourth inning, leaving him with a well-deserved 8.10 ERA, and also taking a 3-2 lead.
What the Cubs forgot is that Clint Hurdle was then going to pull Har-whatever from the game and go to his bullpen, which proceeded to set the Cubs down on zero hits and a harmless ninth-inning walk the rest of the way.
The lack of power in this lineup made itself manifest in this series; even winning the games the first two days, the Cubs hit only three home runs (two by Matt Murton, and one of those was a mostly-meaningless ninth-inning HR in the 6-2 win on Friday). Aramis Ramirez -- who is absolutely, positively, definitely, without question (right?) returning on Tuesday -- was sorely missed, as is Alfonso Soriano, despite all the frustrations we feel with his strikeouts with runners on base.
There's a diary posted by Ross saying, in effect, a fond farewell to Kerry Wood after today's outing, in which he couldn't find the strike zone and couldn't get his curveball to break. I think this is premature. There are dozens of pitchers who have found their breaking ball doesn't break in the thin air of Denver (most of the reason that the late Darryl Kile and Mike Hampton were miserable failures as Rockies), and let's say the pitcher who failed as Wood did today was named Wuertz or Cherry or Petrick or Howry. You wouldn't be calling for his outright release, would you?
Give the Wood experiment till the end of the year. Now, you'd be right if you said that we can't afford experiments in the heat of a pennant race. But up to today, Wood's previous three appearances were decent-to-good, right? I think he deserves a chance at redemption.
Fortunately, the Brewers lost 6-4 to the Astros today, despite another attempt at a ninth-inning comeback (J. J. Hardy hit a two-run HR off Trever Miller), so the Cubs remain 1.5 games behind. The two clubs, with mirror schedules most of the rest of the way, will now have the same homestand -- the Brewers hosting the suddenly-hot Cardinals while the Cubs play the Reds at Wrigley Field, and then they'll swap opponents next weekend. Both teams have tomorrow off, and the Brewers play only a three-game series vs. Cincinnati while the Cubs play four against St. Louis.
So to end this embarrassing day, I wanted to say a brief word about something I heard Pat & Ron talk about late in the broadcast, as they seemingly got bored with the action on the field. They got on the topic of the Hall of Fame, and began discussing the HoF class of 1984, which included five players: Don Drysdale, Harmon Killebrew, Luis Aparicio, Pee Wee Reese, and Rick Ferrell, who's one of the weaker HoF selections, but in nevertheless -- he was a catcher, for the Red Sox, Browns and Senators, in the 20's, 30's and 40's.
And neither Pat nor Ron knew who he was.
That's embarrassing -- that the lead broadcaster for a major league baseball team, who's been in the business for 20+ years, wouldn't know who Rick Ferrell was; and for Ron Santo, who's made most of a late-in-life career out of trying to get IN to the Hall, wouldn't you think he'd have at least made some sort of effort to know who the men are that he'd like to join?
I love Pat & Ron, but this was embarrassing radio; finally, Matt Boltz, the producer, obviously fed some info to Pat and he tried to smooth things over. But it didn't sound very good.
Kind of like this entire road trip. Hope the Cubs get some good rest tomorrow, and come out, Ramirez healthy, bats swinging away on Tuesday night. Thank heavens Z is pitching.
Have faith, incidentally. There are 45 games remaining, plenty of time. (But we could still use another starting pitcher.) I'm off to a block party. Catch you later.