The Chicago Blackhawks beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-2 last night, taking a 3-2 series lead and with one more win, will be in a conference final for the first time in 14 year. The 'Hawks...
Oh, wait. You mean this hasn't turned into a hockey blog? It might as well have after last night's ridiculous 12-6 Cubs loss to the Brewers.
If the Cubs can salvage the final game of this series, they will come home with a winning road trip, something I suspect they could really use after the three losses so far in Milwaukee (yes, I said "three": two lost games and one lost third baseman).
Don't blame A-Ram's injury for this one: the Cubs generated some offense even without him last night, with 11 hits and seven walks. That produced six runs. It should have been more: the seventh inning was particularly ugly, when the Cubs loaded the bases with one out, only to see Micah Hoffpauir strike out and look bad doing it and Geovany Soto hit a meek little grounder to Craig Counsell for a ofrce to end the inning. (Credit where credit is due: Hoffpauir's two-run homer in the fifth had been the only Cub offense up to that time.)
That was when the score was only 3-2 Milwaukee. Why Lou chose to send Ryan Dempster, who had thrown 111 pitches and might have had other things than baseball on his mind (there were radio reports yesterday that Dempster's new baby has been in intensive care since birth a month or so ago), out to throw the seventh inning is beyond me. Dempster had nothing left and gave up a pair of solo homers to Counsell (who hadn't homered since last June 17 and had only that single roundtripper in his previous 380 at-bats) and Ryan Braun. Even that might have been manageable, but Neal Cotts and David Patton got pounded and the inning ended with the score 9-2 Milwaukee.
I've been lobbying for the last couple of days for Chad Fox to be removed from the roster -- and he will be now, because the inevitable Fox elbow injury happened during his 8th-inning appearance. I actually feel bad for him; he is, from all accounts, a good guy and a hard worker. To see him led off a major league mound, injured, and probably for the last time, was sad. He'll be placed on the DL, and as we have discussed, that way he'll pile up the service time he needs to get to 10 full years in the major leagues and get an increased pension. I hope the Cubs recall Jeff Stevens, who has been impressive at Iowa, to replace him on the roster. (While they're at it, bring up Jason Waddell and let Cotts go.)
The Cubs mounted a comeback during a bizarre eighth inning during which half the lights at Miller Park went off, forcing a 10-minute delay. When they got the lights back on, Milton Bradley doubled in Kosuke Fukudome, bringing the Cubs to within 9-6, but between the injured Fox and the wild Aaron Heilman, they put the game out of reach at 12-6. Cubs pitchers walked nine last night -- way too many.
Finally, there's enough blame to assign some to Lou. In addition to leaving Dempster out there too long, his original lineup had Ryan Freel at 3B, but Bobby Scales got the start because Freel came up with tightness in his left hamstring. I wanted Scales in the lineup, but at 2B, not 3B. Scales isn't a very good third baseman and it showed in the first inning, when Braun tried to steal third. Geo's throw got away; the error was charged to Geo but perhaps Mike Fontenot, who should have been at 3B with Scales at 2B, would have stopped it and kept the first-inning damage to a single run.
Enough. Win today and the road trip is, at least, a modest success. The pregame thread will be up at 11:30 am CDT.