Chris Rusin of the Chicago Cubs runs to third base on a triple off of Marco Estrada of the Milwaukee Brewers during the game at Miller Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
Chris Rusin will be able to tell his children, and grandchildren, a lot of stories about his major-league debut. Not that it was a winning one -- we hardly expect that any more from Cubs pitchers, especially on the road -- but that a lot of interesting things happened.
The Cubs lost to the Brewers 5-2, and you can't really blame Rusin for that; he allowed just one hit, and that one, a comebacker by Corey Hart, didn't even leave the infield. Unfortunately, it came in an inning in which Rusin issued a walk and hit two batters, and the single, even though it went less than 60 feet, scored a run.
Rusin also tripled deep into right-center field on the first major-league pitch he saw, becoming the first Cubs pitcher ever to do that. That hit came with one out in the third inning; unfortunately, neither David DeJesus nor Josh Vitters could bring him home. (Story of this season, right?)
So Rusin was lifted after five innings and 76 pitches, and that's when all the walks started. Alberto Cabrera threw just 11 strikes out of 26 pitches thrown, walking three of the first four hitters he faced, loading the bases. You just knew what was coming next, even after pitching coach Chris Bosio went to the mound*.
*Seriously, what is Bosio going to say? "Throw strikes?" Pretty obvious to just about everyone, right?
Anyway, the talk didn't work, as Cabrera wild-pitched in one run, and then Jonathan Lucroy brought the other runners in with a double. Cabrera has a good arm, but he seemed to catch Lendy Castillo-itis Tuesday night. Carlos Marmol gave up the final Brewers run, in part thanks to a passed ball charged to Welington Castillo, which allowed Aramis Ramirez (who had walked -- what else?) to go to second base, where he scored on a single.
Len & Bob seemed pretty weary of calling this mess. They got involved in a detailed conversation about how many brats Bob had eaten during this series and whether he'd break his own Miller Park record for most brats eaten during one series, at Wednesday's season finale. This is the kind of talk you get when the team's going bad. Jack Brickhouse didn't eat bratwursts in the booth -- not to my knowledge, anyway -- but can you imagine having to do this sort of thing for nearly 20 years? That's what Brickhouse had to do from the late 1940s to the mid-1960s, trying to keep viewers' interest in a team that had gone south in almost every way.
Not an easy task, and Len & Bob have 40 more games to go. My hat's off to them; they're always entertaining and fun to listen to, many times distracting from the awfulness on the field.
The Cubs managed a couple of consolation runs in the ninth inning, after having been shut down with just two hits through the first eight innings. It got nervous enough for Brewers manager Ron Roenicke that he called on closer John Axford with two out in the inning. Axford hasn't exactly been lockdown this season -- he's got eight blown saves and a 5.22 ERA -- but he managed to get Castillo on an easy ground ball to end it.
One more note about Rusin: He was issued uniform No. 18, worn since 2008 by Geovany Soto. Rusin is the first Cubs pitcher to wear that number since Dick Drott in 1958. Drott was the Kerry Wood of his time -- check out his 1957 numbers. He got hurt much in the same way that Wood did, and with the medical technology of the time never really recovered from his injuries. Let's hope for better for Rusin.