Reds 7, Cubs 4: Nondescript

Jonathan Daniel

The Cubs and Reds played a dull, boring game. The weather was nice.

Since 1916 -- as far back as baseball-reference.com's play index goes, and as long as the Cubs have played baseball at the corner of Clark & Addison -- the Cubs have played 69 games at Wrigley Field that they have lost by Sunday's score, 7-4 (including the one today).

This one, an incredibly dull 7-4 loss to the Reds, had virtually nothing to make it interesting or stand out from the rest of the parade of defeats so far this season. No home runs. No big comebacks. No controversial plays. The most interesting happening Sunday afternoon was four drunks sitting in front of us who continued to heckle Reds left fielder Xavier Paul two innings after he was double-switched out of the game.

That's the kind of game it was. Even the drunk hecklers couldn't pay close enough attention to the visiting players they were heckling (and to make that worse, it was pretty lame, run-of-the-mill heckling, not the least bit clever or creative).

Beyond that, we had more of what we've seen in the previous 30 Cubs games this year:

  • An outing by the starting pitcher that wasn't horrible... but wasn't very good, either.
  • Just enough bad bullpen work to put the game out of reach.
  • More runners left on base, and in scoring position (2-for-12 with RISP and nine left).

The Cubs looked like they were going to lay down and do nothing after Edwin Jackson was touched for three runs in the fourth and another in the fifth, but after two were out in the last of the fifth, a couple of singles put two on for Alfonso Soriano, who lofted a popup into short center field. Shin-Soo Choo and Brandon Phillips collided and two runs scored; both stayed in the game, though Phillips then left in the eighth inning. Another pop to nearly the same spot scored a third run.

So it's 4-3 heading into the sixth... well, that's not such an insurmountable deficit, right?

It is when we're talking about the Cubs' bullpen. Shawn Camp, mostly reliable last year, has been mostly awful this year and was again, giving up two runs on a Joey Votto double, and Kameron Loe issued a pair of walks which resulted in the Reds' seventh and final run. It's the measure of the Cubs' bullpen this year that it seemed almost like a victory that Loe managed to get through an inning without allowing a home run.

What more can be said? Darwin Barney went 0-for-4 and left the bases loaded when he flied to right to end the fourth inning. Barney plays great defense, as we know -- he made a couple of nice plays in this one -- but he has to hit at least 100 points higher than he is in order to be a useful major-league starting player. He's drawing some walks this year, so his OBP doesn't look as awful as the batting average, but he simply has to start to hit or the Cubs are going to have to start considering alternatives.

Other than that, I got nothin' this afternoon. BCBer elgato texted me during the game to say:

Apparently we paid $52 million for Chris Volstad Jr.

I can't really argue with that; after seven starts in 2012, Volstad had thrown 39 innings, posted a 6.92 ERA, walked 12, struck out 22, and the Cubs had lost all six games he started. Through seven starts this year, Edwin Jackson has thrown 38 innings, posted a 6.39 ERA, walked 18 and struck out 34. The Cubs have won one of Jackson's starts, though he did not get credit for the individual win. So that's one more win and a few more strikeouts and walks. In one sense, it's actually less money for Jackson, because Volstad not only cost his own salary of $2.655 million, but the Cubs also paid Carlos Zambrano $15.5 million not to pitch for them.

Not that any of that really matters when you are losing games this way. Eventually, I suppose I'll turn to alternative-style recaps as I had here last year when the team was going bad.

If it makes you feel any better, the Cubs still have a better record than the Toronto Blue Jays, who won Sunday. Toronto is 11-21; the Cubs are 11-20. The difference is that the Blue Jays were actually supposed to be good this season. They still might be; the Cubs almost certainly won't.

One last thing: you probably could have made some money this weekend if you had bet that the Reds' J.J. Hoover would get two saves in the series and Aroldis Chapman would have none.

Monday night, the Cubs will host the Texas Rangers as they make up the game that was rained out April 17. Scott Feldman, who threw the game of his life in his last start, will face his old team. Maybe that'll be more interesting than Sunday's nondescript yawner.

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