You'll forgive me for the "Volstead Act" pun in the headline, I hope. I don't want to do that too much this year; maybe I'll wait until Chris Volstad cleans up his pitching act before using it again.
One bad inning? Saturday afternoon, Volstad had two bad innings and that was all the Dodgers needed for a a 5-1 win over the Cubs on a gloomy, cold, foggy afternoon that just about matched the potency of the Cubs' offense.
It didn't start out that way. A leadoff popup by David DeJesus was dropped when Dee Gordon and Jerry Hairston bumped into each other. One out, a single and a walk later, the Cubs had the bases loaded. Good, right?
Not so much. Alfonso Soriano was called out on strikes and Ian Stewart struck out swinging, two of the seven K's that Chris Capuano registered. No runs at all. That gave the Dodgers an opening, and they took advantage in an ugly three-run second inning that was all the scoring they actually needed.
The key play in the inning was really the intentional walk given to James Loney. Loney came into the game hitting .221. It loaded the bases and strategically might have been the right call, but maybe the Cubs should have pitched around Loney. Matt Treanor followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 1-0; Capuano was the next hitter. Good news, right? Pitcher batting, .135 lifetime hitter who hit .071 in 2011 and who was 0-for-5 so far in 2012?
In what felt like an oh-so-typical Cubs event, Capuano smacked a double past Joe Mather in center field to make it 3-0. Volstad set the Dodgers down easily in the next two innings, then got in trouble again in the fifth; the two more runs he allowed made it 5-0, which, given how Capuano was pitching, made a Cubs comeback about as likely as seeing sunshine and warmth was on Saturday afternoon. Apparently, we had all the nice spring weather in March, so we're making up for it now.
Not long after that, former Cub Ted Lilly was ejected, not that it mattered, as Ted isn't scheduled to pitch in this series. Here's the explanation:
Lilly said he complained from the visitors' dugout about a called second strike on Bobby Abreu in the fifth inning. Timmons turned to Lilly and put his index finger to his lips, as if to tell Lilly not to complain about his call.
"He told me to be quiet with his hand gesture, so I was quiet," said Lilly. "I showed him with my hands that the pitch was low, and he kicked me out."
Replays showed the pitch by Cubs starter Chris Volstad was near Abreu's ankle. Lilly's teammates were seen laughing in the dugout as he was ordered by Timmons to head to the clubhouse.
Shortly thereafter, there was a Lendy Castillo sighting! (The Lilly ejection and the Lendy appearance are not thought to be related events, though.)
Castillo made his first appearance in 14 games (15 days), and actually did quite well, throwing two scoreless innings and allowing a harmless single to Mark Ellis. The bullpen in general had a good day, throwing four innings, allowing just that hit and one other off Michael Bowden. Carlos Marmol, who was booed when his name was announced, walked the first man he faced, eliciting some more boos, but got out of the inning unscored-upon. It's a start, anyway.
The Cubs really had no scoring threats whatsoever after the first inning until the ninth, when Starlin Castro had his third hit of the day, took second on defensive indifference (which they actually indicated on the center field message board), then scored on an Ian Stewart double off Jamey Wright for one of the more meaningless runs in recent Cubs history.
And then I thought, "Jamey Wright is still pitching?" The Dodgers are Wright's ninth team; among Wright's teammates in his rookie year for the Rockies in 1996 was Milt Thompson, who made his major league debut in 1984... a year the Cubs made the playoffs.
Which seem a very long way away. Random thoughts about a dull game in a year that's getting duller by the day. They'll play the rubber game of the series Sunday;