Alfonso Soriano of the Chicago Cubs hits a two-run home run into the third deck at Target Field against the Minnesota Twins in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS -- If you're looking for a themed recap to Friday night's 8-7 Cubs loss to the Twins, I'm not going to do those this weekend; having driven six-plus hours to get to Minnesota, I figure I'll do these normally, then perhaps get back to something different when I (and the Cubs) return home.
Instead, let me sum up the game this way, as I did on Twitter while on the Minneapolis light-rail system late Friday night:
In a season of dreadful, that might have been the worst. #cubs— Al Yellon (@bleedcubbieblue) June 9, 2012
Yes, and that includes the Carlos Marmol blowup in Cincinnati, among other horrid finishes. "Worst", in this case, is more of a judgment on esthetics, rather than how bad the blowup was -- the game was just played badly by both teams.
It didn't seem to matter who the Cubs ran out there to pitch -- and they ran everyone in the bullpen except Marmol, Casey Coleman (who lost Thursday's game in Milwaukee) and Manuel Corpas onto Target Field -- not one Cubs pitcher could hold a lead. The category of "save opportunity" is a bit misleading, because you can get a "blown save" at any time in a game (and the Cubs had two of them Friday), but Shawn Camp is now the fourth Cub to attempt to close a game in the ninth inning. Add him to the ninth-inning list of failures.
Camp did manage to work himself out of a situation with the winning run on third base and nobody out in the bottom of the ninth -- after he allowed a single by Josh Willingham and a triple by Justin Morneau that tied the game. But all that accomplished was dragging out an already draggy game by about half an hour so that he could lose it by allowing three singles in the bottom of the 10th.
Hyperbole alert: this could be the worst bullpen in major-league history.
Well, no, that isn't quite right; they don't even have the worst bullpen in the National League this year. However, it is fairly high on the horrific list. The Cubs bullpen is second-worst in allowing inherited runners to score, has the third-most blown saves (10), the lowest save percentage (44%) and the fewest saves (in the second-fewest opportunities).
It was one of those games when you figured it was good to be the home team, because the Twins' pitching staff could hardly get anyone out, either. The Cubs piled up 14 hits, tied for their second-most in a game this year, although that was helped by some generosity by the local official scorer. This individual gave Joe Mather a hit on a ball that was dropped by Twins reliever Matt Capps. On the other hand, the same scorer gave a single to Ben Revere on a soft line drive that Ian Stewart dropped. It strikes me that this person has probably seen a lot of this sort of thing this year.
Meanwhile, Alfonso Soriano was enjoying the DH role.
DID YOU HEAR THAT, AMERICAN LEAGUE TEAMS?
Soriano went 3-for-5, including two home runs, the second of which landed in the third deck in left field. How far away is that?
Twins have a chart that measures home runs. The third deck wasn't on the grid so they guessed. The front of the second deck is 380 feet.— Doug Padilla (@ESPNChiCubs) June 9, 2012
Put it this way, Soriano's first HR went 431 feet and this was much farther. Had to be 470 feet at least, not 440 like they said.— Doug Padilla (@ESPNChiCubs) June 9, 2012
Other tweets estimated it at 450 or thereabouts. The outfield decks at Target Field are very high and steep; I have no trouble believing 470, or possibly even longer. Reports Friday night were that there's been only one other home run hit into that deck since this stadium opened two years ago (by Corey Hart of the Brewers).
Still want no DH in the National League, Cubs fans? At least that way, the Cubs could get some value out of the two years left on Soriano's contract, and not have to see him hobble around left field any more.
The Great Poor-Man's Home Run Race: Soriano 11, Albert Pujols eight.
I'll write more about my impressions of Target Field in the recap to Saturday afternoon's game; nice to run into quite a number of BCBers and there were many thousands of Cubs fans in the near-capacity crowd of 38,014 (you could probably hear them each time a Cub hit a home run; Starlin Castro also homered).
In the meantime, chew on some of these numbers. The Cubs lost their 12th straight game decided by one run on Friday night (and overall, they're 6-16 in one-run games); the last one they won was in St. Louis on May 14, the day before all this losing began. Since then the Cubs are 4-19.
They are also now 20 games under .500. The last, and in fact only, time a Cubs team dropped to 20 games under .500 with 58 or fewer games played in any season was in 1966, when they first hit 20 games under .500 on June 3 (13-33).
That team was one of two that set the franchise record for defeats, tying the 1962 record. But, as I have written many times, those teams had the seeds of better teams to come in players like Ron Santo, Billy Williams and Fergie Jenkins, all Hall of Famers. The 1966 team played near-.500 ball after August 1 (27-32).
This team isn't going to do that. That franchise record is going to fall, and probably by a lot.
The game preview for Saturday's afternoon contest will post at 11:30 a.m. CDT.