As it turned out, Tuesday night's 7-4 Cubs loss to the Brewers could have been stopped after the first inning.
Does that mean that today's game will have a final score of Brewers 7, Cubs 3? It's starting to seem that way.
After three very good starts and one decent one by Cubs starting pitchers, the fifth man in the Cubs rotation, Paul Maholm, was really bad on Tuesday night. Actually, that's not entirely fair -- after the first inning, he threw three decent frames. But that first inning -- what a disaster. Two walks, two hit batters, a double and a three-run homer, not all in that order, produced five Brewers runs and essentially ended the affair before the Cubs had even had a chance to hit. I don't know what Maholm's top velocity usually is, but he didn't break 90 MPH Tuesday night -- not even once, per the Wrigley pitch speed meter.
Maholm is a frequent tweeter. He hasn't tweeted since the game Tuesday night, but somehow, the last tweet he did send out, just before the game, seems appropriate:
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. (Romans 12:12 ESV)— paul maholm (@paul_maholm) April 10, 2012
Tribulation would be the operative word in that one, I'd say.
The Cubs tried to make a game of it; trailing 6-0 going into the bottom of the third, they scored three runs. All that did was lengthen an already very long (the first two innings took nearly an hour) and cold (40 degrees) evening; the game slogged on for three hours and 19 minutes.
Rodrigo Lopez, making his season debut as "long" reliever (that is, if you consider a two-inning appearance "long" relief), managed to keep the Brewers scoreless, although he also hit a batter (Alex Gonzalez), who was erased on a double play when Jonathan Lucroy struck out and Geovany Soto caught Gonzalez stealing. Other relievers Monday night: Rafael Dolis had trouble throwing strikes and issued three walks (there were 12 walks in all during the game. contributing to its length, and Lendy Castillo managed a scoreless inning, though he too had trouble throwing strikes (only nine in his 17 pitches).
Soto hit his first home run of the year leading off the ninth inning, and when Bryan LaHair, pinch-hitting, walked, it looked like the Cubs might be starting another ninth-inning rally like Monday night's. But David DeJesus was called out on strikes and Darwin Barney grounded out to end it.
The announced crowd of 37,265 was maybe 21,000 in the house, and it emptied out quickly after the seventh inning; no more than about 3,000 were left when Barney's groundout finished things.
They'll play again this afternoon; it's not supposed to be much warmer (upper 40s), though the sun being out will help. Somehow, I thought Maholm would be at least competitive. At the very least, the Cubs are ahead of 2011 in this respect: they managed to get all the way through the starting rotation's first start without getting anyone injured.