Starlin Castro of the Chicago Cubs reacts after being hit by a pitch in the 7th inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
I suppose I could sit at my keyboard and complain about all the things that went wrong during the Cubs' 4-3 loss to the Reds on another cold day at Wrigley Field.
But really, what good would that do? Do you really want to read a litany of complaints every single day in the game recap? (I'll be watching for Gibbon Jockey to answer my rhetorical questions in the comments.) Because we are now 10% of the way through the season -- 16 games of 162 -- and the Cubs are playing .250 baseball, what the 1962 Mets played. Do I think they're going to play .250 baseball all season? Probably not; though this is not a good team, I don't think they're 1962-Mets bad.
Oh, what the heck. This game was so awful that I have to go through all the bad things (and there were plenty, for both sides).
- There were 13 walks issued, including the first two free passes issued by the Reds' Aroldis Chapman this season. (Didn't matter; the Cubs stranded both those runners.)
- In connection with the above, the Cubs left 12 men on base, including leaving RISP in the first, third, seventh and eighth; they were 2-for-11 with RISP and left the bases loaded twice.
- The teams combined for five errors, including errors on back-to-back sacrifice bunt attempts in the Reds' decisive sixth inning.
Had enough? Probably, but I'm going to keep going, after the jump.
Could someone please tell
Mike Quade Dale Sveum that spring training is over, and he shouldn't give his hottest hitter the rest of the day off by double-switching him out of the lineup after the sixth inning? There didn't seem to be any other reason to take Bryan LaHair out of the game; if the point was to let Rodrigo Lopez throw multiple innings, Sveum threw that plan out the window by yanking Lopez after four batters.
Now, that wasn't all Lopez's fault; the aforementioned errors, both by Geovany Soto on bunt attempts, helped lead to a pair of unearned runs. Most of that was Scott Maine's fault, because Maine hit Ryan Ludwick (after doing a nice job striking out Joey Votto) and walked Jay Bruce with the bases loaded. That turned out to be the decisive run.
Maine's always had a good arm. He's also always had trouble throwing strikes, which is why he's never really been able to stick in the Cubs' major league bullpen.
All of that happened after Randy Wells, recalled to take Ryan Dempster's scheduled start, threw five innings that were... well, not bad, but not good either. He issued five walks himself, although none of those runners scored. The Reds scored a pair off him in the second inning. Wells might have thrown well enough to rate another start -- or maybe he gets sent back down tomorrow when the just-acquired Michael Bowden is activated, and RoLo gets the next Dempster-slot start (which would be Saturday).
Credit where credit is due: Shawn Camp threw two good innings today. That very likely saved his job.
Then Starlin Castro -- who had been hit on the left elbow by Logan Ondrusek -- led off the bottom of the ninth off ex-Cub Sean Marshall wearing elbow armor, and proved that the HBP didn't really affect him by tripling over the head of Drew Stubbs in right-center field. If not for the wind howling in at almost 20 miles per hour, that would have been a 400-foot home run. Castro scored on a Jeff Baker groundout, but Ian Stewart -- probably overmatched against Marshall -- was called out on strikes to end it.
Here's the problem with the aggressive double-switching that Sveum did (beyond losing LaHair's bat for the last three innings). What if the Cubs manage to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth? Sveum used up all his position players. Steve Clevenger was in the game at first base, so there's no backup catcher; nor is there anyone to pinch-hit if the game had gone into extra innings, except pitchers, and, including today, Cubs pitchers are 0-for-28 this year with 15 strikeouts.
It doesn't matter, really, in this season that's already pretty much lost. But if this is the way Dale Sveum manages, we haven't really seen anything change.
The crowd was announced as 35,801. Maybe 22,000 actually showed up; most of them were long gone by the 8th inning, due to all the walks and sloppy play, not to mention the cold weather. We apparently had June weather in March here in Chicago, and now it's March in April. What will May bring, apart from more losses?
Tomorrow, the Cardinals come to town, having won seven of 10 and in first place, with the Cubs already seven games behind them. Fun for everyone! It's Matt Garza vs. Jaime Garcia in the first game of the series.