Yes, I know. The Cubs lost 8-2 to the Dodgers Sunday night, and ESPN may as well have switched to Australian rules football by 7:30 Central time, because the game was pretty much over after the Dodgers batted around off Sean Marshall in the first inning. The only real hard hit was the two-run double by Mark Loretta over Mike Fontenot's head. There's one instance where the Cubs could have used a taller third baseman -- a nearly identical line drive hit by Derrek Lee was snagged by the 6-0 Loretta. Fontenot is listed at 5-8. Trust me on this one -- he's at least two inches shorter than that.
Anyway, I'm not going to dwell on that. While I know this season is not all puppies, butterflies and rainbows, let's look at some of the positive things both about last night's game and the 2009 Cubs:
- The Cubs had a winning month of May at 15-13.
- The best team in baseball came in and the Cubs fought them to a draw, and shut them out for the first time this season.
- Last night, the bullpen threw 4.2 innings of four-hit ball and struck out eight.
- Reed Johnson had three more hits and pushed his average to .295. (OK, one tiny little negative: he made an ill-advised dash to the plate trying to score in the second inning on a fly ball to short right and was gunned down easily by Dodgers RF Jamie Hoffmann.)
- Jason Waddell threw very well in his major league debut.
- Since the eight-game losing streak started, the Cubs are now 4-10. In those 14 games, the Cubs got outstanding starting pitching in 10 of them; in those 10 games they allowed 3, 2, 3, 4, 3, 1, 2, 2, 1 and 0 runs. If this team gets starting pitching like that in 71% of its remaining games, they will win a lot of games.
- That doesn't mean they don't need more hitting. That wouldn't have helped last night, but pretty much the same starting lineup scored seven runs on Saturday and even last night, had nine hits and did have a chance to get back in the game after scoring two runs in the sixth. One more single, with runners on second and third, would have produced two more runs and made it a game at 8-4.
- Two years ago tomorrow -- the day of Lou's calculated tirade at umpire Mark Wegner -- the Cubs stood at 22-31, nine games under .500 and 7.5 games out of first place. (They would be as many as 8.5 games out later in June.) By the end of that month Rob Bowen was their starting catcher. And yet, that team came back and made the playoffs.
For you ledge jumpers out there, this season is far from over. The Cubs' starting pitching is going to keep them in most games and they sit only 4.5 games out of first place (four in the loss column). Aramis Ramirez is still targeted to come back after the All-Star break, although he may have to have offseason shoulder surgery:
"I'm working to get the strength back and, hopefully, I won't need surgery," Ramirez told the Sun-Times on Sunday. "If at the end of the season, if it is still bothering me, then I'll have to do something. But if I rehab pretty good, and everything goes well, then I don't have to.
"If I have to have surgery, I'm going to have it right after the season. And I should be ready for the next season. I don't know if I'll be ready for spring training, but I should be ready for Opening Day."
In the meantime, enjoy this day off -- the first of four consecutive Monday off-days, a rarity in June. The Cubs will take advantage by tweaking the rotation for the upcoming road trip:
Manager Lou Piniella said Sunday the day off allows him the flexibility of giving Dempster an extra day of rest, using Sunday's starter, Sean Marshall, on Friday in Cincinnati and Dempster on Saturday. Dempster pitched seven scoreless innings Saturday against the Los Angeles Dodgers but has been battling the blister most of the season.
It's a new month, and here's another comparison point: despite all the turmoil of May, the Cubs are only four games worse than they were after 49 games in 2008 (29-20) -- something to keep you in a positive mood.
Finally, if you create a new FanPost today, you will probably go "Whoa!" when you see the new posting box and other new editing features. For a complete rundown on the new posting features -- particularly autotagging and the ability to tweet your posts via your own Twitter account, go here.