Hayes was out! Brett Hayes of the Florida Marlins dives back to second base as shortstop Starlin Castro of the Chicago Cubs fall over him on a pickoff play during the eighth inning at Wrigley Field on July 17, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images)
The Cubs are 20 games under .500, and it's July 18.
The last time a Cubs team was at least 20 games under .500 on July 18 was in 1966. Entering the games of July 18, 1966, the Cubs were, in fact, thirty games under .500 at 29-59 -- and that was after a win over the Cardinals. It got worse: on July 31, 1966, which is the last date on which a Cubs team was at least 20 under on any date in July, they lost to the Mets, making them 32-71. That's a .311 winning percentage; had they kept up that pace in 1966, they'd have finished 50-112. They wound up playing a little better over the season's last two months, going 27-32 to finish a club-record-tying 59-103. (And they had to lose that year's last four games to tie that record.)
(Note: the 1981 team spent much of the season pre-strike 20+ games under .500. They reached it at 8-28 on May 24 and never again got better than 20 games under. I'm leaving that club out of this discussion because... it didn't play in July, and in the post-strike half-season played near-.500 ball.
As noted on the right sidebar, this year's team will have to go 21-45 just to equal that 59-103 record. That's a .318 pace.
Don't say it can't be done, because it has been, although the only Cubs team since 1966 to play that badly over that long a period of time was the 1999 bunch, who went 19-42 from August 1 until the end of the season. The winning percentage of that record? .311.
With that cheery thought, on to tonight's matchup.
Fukudome RF, Castro SS, Ramirez 3B, Peña 1B, Byrd CF, Soriano LF, Hill C, Barney 2B, Lopez P
Rollins ss, Martinez 3b, Utley 2b, Howard 1b, Ibanez lf, Ruiz c, Brown rf, Mayberry cf, Halladay p
|Today's Starting Pitchers|
|2011 - Rodrigo Lopez||1-2||13||4||0||0||0||0||31.1||37||17||14||4||8||16||4.02||1.44|
|2011 - Roy Halladay||11-3||19||19||6||0||0||0||143.1||129||40||39||8||17||138||2.45||1.02|
Rodrigo Lopez pitched twice against the Phillies in 2010. You really don't want to know what he did against them; if you insist, highlight the blank space here (I put it in white text so anyone who doesn't want to look doesn't have to): two starts, 8.18 ERA, five walks in eleven IP. Anyway, current Phillies are hitting .337 (30-for-89) against RoLo, with six doubles and two home runs. Clearly, we are doomed.
Roy Halladay -- who Cubs teams had actually hit fairly well in three starts from 2005-2010 -- gave them just six harmless hits and struck out nine on June 10 in Philadelphia. That game was only close because Jose Contreras had an awful inning. I wouldn't expect much more off Halladay tonight.
Today's game is on WCIU, which means a lot of you won't be able to watch it. Perhaps you're happy about that. It's also on CSN Philadelphia. Here is the complete MLB.com Mediacenter for today.
Today's first pitch thread will be up at 7:05 p.m. CDT and the overflow threads will post at 8 pm, 9 pm and 9:45 pm CDT. If you need more overflows due to extra innings or rain delays, post them in the fanshot section.
Discuss amongst yourselves.