What do you do in this situation? Your starting pitcher has thrown an amazingly good game; through six and two-thirds innings he's given up just one hit and a handful of walks. Then, in the top of the seventh with two out, he gives up a couple of hard hits; you're leading just 2-0, so the tying run is now on base and one of the better pinch-hitters in the league is coming up. And your starter has thrown 111 pitches.
What do you do? Well, I know what I would have done, but what happened last night was this: the pitcher in question was left in the game. He gets out of the inning by getting the pinch-hitter to fly out -- on another hard-hit ball.
Now this pitcher is scheduled to lead off the bottom of the seventh inning. Your bullpen is ready, and this pitcher is one of the worst hitters on planet Earth (at least, one of the worst major league hitters). What do you do?
Why, of course, if you're Mike Quade, you let Matt Garza bat.
Why on Earth would you do this? You're playing a powerful Phillies team. You could use some more runs. There is virtually no chance that Matt Garza -- 1-for-35 at the time of that at-bat -- is going to get on base. Naturally, he struck out, and although the Cubs did get a pair of runners on base in the inning, they did not score. Maybe they would have if someone had batted for Garza. Instead, Quade burned one of his pinch-hitters, Blake DeWitt, batting for Jeff Baker. DeWitt ended the inning by flying to center.
Are you ready to make a bad thing worse? Quade left Garza in the game anyway. Four pitches into Jimmy Rollins' at-bat, Rollins hit a line-drive single, the fourth hard hit in a row.
So now Quade has to take Garza out, but he's already burned a possible double-switch candidate in Darwin Barney, who came into the game after DeWitt's PH at-bat. That means Sean Marshall goes into the 9 spot in the batting order and will have to be PH for when his turn comes up -- thus, Quade has essentially emptied his bench down to two players -- Kosuke Fukudome and Tony Campana -- and it's only the top of the eighth in a game that might wind up in extra innings. I say "two" because on only four occasions this year has Quade used two catchers in a game. Koyie Hill's going to stay anchored to the bench.
You know what happened next. Marshall has been pretty bad this month -- the five hits and three runs he allowed give him a 7.88 ERA for July. He got hit hard in both the eighth and ninth and the Cubs lost to the Phillies 4-2. It might have been worse if Starlin Castro hadn't made a perfect throw with the infield pulled in to throw out Chase Utley trying to score after Utley had driven in the tying runs with a double.
Hey, I know this season is a lost cause. But Matt Garza threw an excellent game Tuesday night, and moves made by his manager helped lose it, after Castro gave the Cubs a first-inning lead with a two-run homer off Cliff Lee. Lee hunkered down and gave up only five more hits after the first in completing seven solid innings. The Cubs had a shot at getting him out of the game in the first inning; the first three Cubs had extra-base hits, but they could score no more than the two runs.
The Cubs will try to win their first series in over a month (since the Brewers series at Wrigley in mid-June) this afternoon at Wrigley Field. The pregame thread will post at 11:30 a.m. CDT -- and that brings me to a request for all of you.
There were some SB Nation network outages Tuesday evening. When I am at Wrigley, the game threads -- both previews and overflows -- are scheduled to go up at specific times. The server issues apparently prevented these threads from posting on time. If you ever see that a game preview for a home game isn't up by two hours before game time, please email me -- then I can go in and post them manually. I wasn't aware of last night's game preview not posting until about 15 minutes before game time. Thanks.