Cubs Lose To Marlins In 'Groundhog Day' Scenario

Miami, FL, USA; A familiar 2012 scene: Chicago Cubs pitcher Rafael Dolis meets with teammates on the mound during the seventh inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

I was thinking about the Cubs' 5-2 loss to the Marlins and how to recap it when this occurred to me:

This is the 11th game of the season. How many more recaps do I have to write? Let's see... subtract in the tens column... carry the one...

151 more after today. 151 more game recaps, and after less than two weeks of the 2012 season, they all sound the same. Repeat after me: the starting pitcher goes six or seven really good innings, but the offense can't generate enough runs to put the game away, or even go ahead. Then one bad thing happens and the game's out of reach.

Seriously, if I posted the second and third sentences of that paragraph as the recap to every single game remaining this season -- right now -- I'd probably be right two-thirds of the time. I have to admit it's pretty tempting. It would save me a lot of time and work. I'd just have to come back one-third of the time and change it to what really happened.

Ryan Dempster pitched well enough -- as he has now done in each of his three starts. He struck out eight Marlins, which gives him 23 for the young season. That leads the National League (and he's tied with Justin Verlander and Jered Weaver, pretty good company, for the major league lead). But then there was that one... little... mistake... that gave the Marlins the lead.

Actually, it was a pretty big mistake. Dempster threw a ball way over Bryan LaHair's head for an error, leading to two unearned runs. The Cubs managed to tie the game in the seventh, and Dale Sveum called on Rafael Dolis, who had been pretty good in that role so far this season.

Easy to forget that Dolis is a rookie. Dolis had one good inning, but with Kerry Wood back in Chicago getting treatment on a bad shoulder, Sveum's bullpen was one man short. Dolis was sent back out for the eighth inning, and after another error (this one by Darwin Barney) and a walk, Dolis must have been rattled.

That's when Hanley Ramirez set off the home run contraption with a shot that hit a stairway right near the thing, the longest home run so far at Marlins Park. Too bad it didn't go a little more to the right; maybe it could have broken the thing.

The Cubs wound up allowing three unearned runs for the night, which proved to be the difference in the game. They have allowed six unearned runs so far this season, which sounds like a lot (that would be a pace for 88 for the year), but it's not. 10 other teams have allowed more unearned runs than the Cubs; that list is headed by the Red Sox, who have given up a ghastly total of 19 unearned runs (and 68 total runs, after a brutal 18-3 loss to the Rangers Tuesday night, in which none of the runs were unearned).

So that's all I've got: "Things could be worse." And they could. The Cubs' top three starters have now started seven games and posted a 2.03 ERA and 0.925 WHIP in 48⅔ innings. And what do they have to show for those games? A 3-4 record.

They'll try it again tonight, with Matt Garza facing a familiar adversary, Mark Buehrle.

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