Houston, TX, USA; Chicago Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro reacts to flying out to end the seventh inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-US PRESSWIRE
Here's a list of Cubs pitchers:
Trachsel, Foster, Mulholland, Gonzalez, Tapani, Trachsel, Rojas, Mulholland, Gonzalez
Here's another list of Cubs pitchers:
Cruz, Bere, Borowski, Lieber, Wood, Cruz, Bere, Clement, Lieber
To those lists we can now add:
Dolis, Camp, Volstad, Samardzija, Dempster, Maholm, Garza, Wood, Samardzija
Those are the losing pitchers in the most recent nine-game losing streaks by the Cubs, the first in 1997, the second in 2002, and the third, after Wednesday night's 5-1 loss to the Astros. (It should be pointed out that the "Wood" in the 2002 list and the "Wood" in the 2012 list are different pitchers... and that the "Cruz" in the 2002 list is still pitching as an effective setup man for the Pirates.)
The unfortunate thing is that the third list can, and very probably will, get longer, as the Cubs visit Pittsburgh beginning Friday. Since the Cubs' last pennant in 1945, the team has lost 10 straight four times (1948, 1954, 1962 and 1994), 11 straight twice (1954 and 1973), 12 straight twice (1970 and 1981), 13 straight twice (1982 and 1985) and 14 straight once (the club record, in 1997).
All of those appear in reach, even though the Padres are the Cubs' Wrigley Field opponent beginning Monday and San Diego currently sits just one game ahead of the Cubs.
For the second straight game, the Cubs' only scoring was provided by a solo home run. Wednesday, Reed Johnson homered in the first inning and gave the Cubs their first lead in 60 innings.
Yes, you read that right -- 60 innings, more than six full games' worth of innings. Before last night, the Cubs had last led 2-1 going into the fifth inning on May 16 against the Phillies.
Wednesday night's lead lasted three innings, until the bottom of the fourth. Naturally, something Lou Piniella might have called a "Cubbie occurrence" gave the Astros the lead. With two out and two runners on base, J.D. Martinez hit a sinking line drive into right field. Darwin Barney and David DeJesus converged on the ball; it was actually in DeJesus' glove before a collision with Barney knocked it out. Both runners scored and Martinez wound up with his first career triple (and Martinez has little speed; it might wind up as his only career triple).
It's the Cubs. A catchable ball, which, if caught, would have ended the inning, the Cubs leading 1-0. Instead, it's 2-1 Astros and you knew, just knew, that was the last lead the Cubs were going to have in this game.
Earlier this year, many of us felt Rafael Dolis was getting hit hard because he was getting too much work, too many back-to-back outings. What's the story now, bench coach and temporary one-game manager Jamie Quirk?
Before the Astros broke things open with a three-run ninth off closer Rafael Dolis (which Quirk blamed on "rust" from his not pitching enough)
Such is the story of the 2012 Cubs. Pitchers give up too many runs because they're overworked, so they get less work, and then they give up too many runs because they're rusty. At least this game won't start for calls for Quirk to replace Dale Sveum (who missed this game to attend his son's high school graduation in Arizona); that might have happened if Quirk had guided the Cubs to a win.
Instead, I had to dredge up losing streaks from decades ago to see how many more games it'll take for the Cubs to match up to bad teams from the 1970s, 1960s and 1950s... it won't be long, it seems. Perhaps Sveum could bring a pitcher or two back from his son's high school team. How much worse could it be?
Enjoy the off day. It's the only day this week we can be assured the Cubs won't lose.