Cubs' Three Game Winning Streak Ends, 3-2 To Brewers

You didn't really expect this streak to extend to four or beyond, did you?

Someone did. And I'll get to that a little later.

For now, the Cubs' 3-2 loss to the Brewers Tuesday night was more of the same thing we've seen all season long. A Cubs team that jumped out to an early lead. That now makes 30 games lost in which the Cubs had the lead at some point this season. (Win even one-third of those games -- 10 of them -- and you're in the race at 52-51.) The Cubs starter had a bad first inning -- how many times have we seen that?

And then -- nothing. The final score was the same as the score at the end of the first inning. Ryan Dempster settled down and got a quality start out of the game. Jeff Samardzija and Sean Marshall kept it close -- Shark, again, looked like a quality major league reliever Monday night. Keep that up and the Cubs just might keep him. Milwaukee's bullpen was untouchable.

In the sixth inning when the Cubs loaded the bases with nobody out off starter Chris Narveson, Ron Roenicke brought in Kameron Loe, who got Alfonso Soriano to hit into a force play at the plate that really should have been a double play, and then Darwin Barney hit into an actual double play to end the inning. Predictable, really.

So instead of rehashing more about this game, let's talk about two things that happened before the game started. About an hour before game time, Carrie Muskat tweeted this:

Marlon Byrd gets into shouting match with fan in #Cubs t-shirt behind dugout and is now signing autographs behind home plate.less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

That sent the Twitterverse -- and the game preview here -- abuzz. But according to Paul Sullivan, it sounds like a tempest in a teapot:

"That's just him playing," manager Mike Quade said. "He has been swinging the bat good, and he's a fighter. He gets pumped up. I don't even know what took place. That's just back-and-forth banter. I don't think it's frustration. I think Marlon feels pretty good about himself right now and is playing well and isn't going to listen to anyone else."

Byrd was stretching on the field with his teammates when the fan, a middle-aged man wearing a Cubs T-shirt, apparently said out loud that the team "sucks."

Byrd asked him to go change his shirt. When the fan said something back, Byrd told him he was "pathetic" and questioned whether he was really a Cubs fan in the first place. The two went back-and-forth for three or four minutes, with Byrd's voice rising and the fan seemingly enjoying the attention.

The article goes on to quote Byrd as saying he was just defending the team. Sounds like a little bit of trash-talking, mostly in fun.

The other quote that made news Tuesday was Mike Quade's insistence that the Cubs could get back in the NL Central race:

"It's a funny game," Quade said. "We might come out of this road trip in real good shape as far as how we play here. And if we do (well), there's still a lot of baseball left. I take nothing for granted and put nothing past these guys. We won three in a row against Houston, so let's see if we can't win tonight and go from there."

The Cubs [have a] 42-61 record, 13 games out of first-place.

Asked if he really was suggesting the Cubs could get back into the race, Quade replied: "Why not? What are we — 11 back? What if you win 10 out of 12? Who the hell knows?"

As most of you know, I am the biggest Cubs optimist around. But even I know this season was over a month ago. As the Tribune article pointed out, if the Cubs won 10 of their next 12, they'd be 52-63, 11 games under .500. They'd now have to win 19 in a row to get to .500. Only one team in franchise history has done anything like that -- the 1935 Cubs, who won 21 straight in September to nail down the NL pennant. But that was a good team that was 27 games over .500 when the streak started at 79-52. That was the last Cubs team to win 100 games (100-54).

It seems safe to say that a team 19 games under .500 is extremely unlikely to repeat that feat. I like to be optimistic, but I have no idea why Quade said what he did. You can be optimistic about your team's performance as a manager, say you're going to go out and play hard and try to win, especially against good teams like the Brewers.

But back in the race? This race? This year? Sorry, Mike. It's over. The Cubs will try to start another three-game streak (since they don't seem capable of anything longer) tonight at Miller Park.

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