It's really getting old, writing this over and over and over again. Feels like Bill Murray, a huge Cubs fan, should be hosting this "Groundhog Day" scenario.
How many times have we seen this now? The Cubs give up a couple of runs in the first inning -- partly via shoddy defense -- then come close to catching up, although even at 2-1 this game never seemed close.
Then the bullpen comes in and puts the game out of reach. I guess there's one different story today -- the bullpen failure was partly Sean Marshall's. Marshall has been excellent this season, and until today had not allowed a run on the road since August 29, 2010 at Cincinnati.
So there's that, then. Something new, even if it's not good..
Otherwise, same old thing: Cubs starter throws pretty well -- Matt Garza put up a quality start, throwing five good innings after the shaky first -- but the offense could do almost nothing against the opposing pitcher. Give credit to Cliff Lee, who is very, very good and showed it today in throwing eight strong innings and giving the Cubs just four singles and a walk in the Phillies' 7-1 win over the Cubs.
The Cubs have been outscored 48-23 in going 2-7 on the first nine games of this road trip. Since Marlon Byrd got hit in the face in Boston on May 21, a day the Cubs won to stay 5.5 games out of first place, the team is 5-14 and been outscored 101-66.
This is not an excuse, but that is what happens when you put what is essentially a Triple-A team on the field. With Tony Campana, Tyler Colvin, DJ LeMahieu, Lou Montanez, Doug Davis, Rodrigo Lopez and Casey Coleman on the roster, the Cubs have seven of 25 (more than a quarter of the roster) comprised of players who should be playing in Iowa, or Tennessee, or should be on the waiver wire.
Some teams can take injuries by having replacements who come in and are capable major league replacements. The Cardinals, for example, haven't missed a beat this year despite losing key contributors like Adam Wainwright, Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman for significant lengths of time and having to play Albert Pujols at third base. Hasn't mattered.
The Cubs do have good prospects in the system. LeMahieu may eventually become a good major league player, but we're not going to find out when he pinch-hits every other day. The rest of the decent prospects are at the lower levels; you wouldn't want them to be in the major leagues now.
Injuries aren't an excuse, but at least when this team was healthy, they were hovering closer to .500. Pat Hughes remarked today that the 3-4-5 hitters in this afternoon's lineup -- the guys who are supposed to be the "meat of the order" -- had combined for four home runs.
Maybe when all the disabled Cubs come back, they can at least win a few games and not look quite so pathetic. It won't make any difference in the result of this season, but it will at least make Cubs baseball more fun to watch as this summer goes on. We do, at least, have the possibility of being able to see Derek Jeter get his 3000th hit at Wrigley Field next weekend. Jeter is nine hits short of 3000 and the Yankees have five more games left on their homestand before they arrive on Friday. The last (and only) player to get his 3000th hit at Wrigley was Stan Musial, who did it in 1958. Of course, we hope the Cubs can beat the Yankees, but seeing a milestone like that would be pretty cool.
In the meantime, Doug Davis faces Roy Oswalt in the roadtrip finale Sunday. Doesn't leave much room for hope, does it?