Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs first baseman Bryan LaHair celebrates his solo home run with third baseman Ian Stewart against the St. Louis Cardinals in the fourth inning at Wrigley Field. Credit: David Banks-US PRESSWIRE
About 1:10 on Wednesday afternoon, the Wrigley Field grounds crew came out and began removing the tarp and preparing the field for play... while it was still raining pretty hard. Local radars showed that the rain was probably about 30 minutes away from ending, but they pushed hard, announced a starting time of 1:35, had pre-game ceremonies in the rain, had everyone warm up and got started with a first pitch at 1:40.
Why was this? Why couldn't they have waited until it stopped raining and started play around 2:00? What was the huge rush?
There's a huge charity event at Navy Pier Wednesday evening, the second annual Bricks & Ivy ball, and it was scheduled to get underway at 6 p.m. Heaven forbid that anyone on the team be late for this. What if the game went into extra innings? (Which this game did two years ago on the day of a Dempster Foundation fundraiser; that one didn't end until 5:15 and, well, everyone was late.)
The Cubs played like they would rather have been somewhere else on Wednesday afternoon, losing 5-1 to the Cardinals in a game that, at two hours and 34 minutes, was the second-fastest by time this season.
The only Cub highlight (and only run scored) was Bryan LaHair's fourth home run of the season; it was the third he hit to the opposite field. Each day I see LaHair, I admit I'm more impressed with him. Well, apart from the two K's today, but those are going to happen with most power hitters. If he also keeps drawing walks, he'll be just fine.
Still a bit too early to say I was wrong -- we're still talking only a little over 50 plate appearances, a pretty small sample size -- but he's definitely headed in the right direction. Ask me again in a month.
Chris Volstad, again, wasn't terrible... but he made one mistake when he was tiring. One out away from a quality start and leaving (since he was clearly going to be removed after the sixth inning) with just a 2-1 deficit, he gave up a two-run homer to David Freese that essentially put the game away for the Cardinals. That hit took whatever motivation the Cubs had out of them, apparently, because the last 14 Cubs went down in order after a David DeJesus walk in the fifth inning.
As the Cubs were going down meekly 1-2-3 in the ninth inning, Lendy Castillo was loosening up in the left-field bullpen. This, to me, is why someone like that needs to be in Double-A. Castillo has made only five appearances and last pitched on Friday against the Reds. That means if he gets into the Cubs' next game, Friday night in Philadelphia, it would be a full week since his last game action. He's likely to get lit up.
Instead, the Cubs should figure out some kind of deal to make with the Phillies so they can option Castillo to Tennessee where he can pitch at an appropriate level. Having him as the last man in the major league bullpen is, in my opinion, not helping his development.
Anyway, those are some thoughts on a soggy afternoon where the Cubs played pretty much like the weather. Hope they do better at the benefit tonight. Enjoy the off day.