This recap of the Cubs' 8-4 loss to the Cardinals Sunday afternoon is going to be mercifully short, while I work on a recap of the Kane County Cougars game I attended in Geneva.
First, I want to apologize -- I neglected to attach all the game threads to the stream, as I normally do; was going to do that via my phone and simply forgot. I see that you found them anyway; this won't happen again.
The game was long enough -- a ridiculous three hours, 44 minutes, and here I thought the 3:08 game time of the Cougars game was dragging -- that I was able to listen to the last two innings in the car heading home from Kane County. I shouldn't have bothered -- every other minute, it seemed, Cardinals hitters were getting hits off Cubs relief pitchers, and there is the story of the game.
The Cubs did a nice job of coming back from a 4-1, third-inning deficit to tie the game with a pair of runs in the top of the sixth. Unfortunately, Edwin Jackson, having thrown a ton of pitches yet again (84 in five innings) had to be lifted for a pinch-hitter during that rally (Logan Watkins, who grounded into a force play), and the bullpen simply couldn't handle success. Blake Parker, Hector Rondon and Michael Bowden coughed up seven hits, three walks and four runs to the Cardinals from the sixth through the eighth inning; only James Russell was untouched, but by the time he came into the game, Parker had already given up the lead.
So for those of you who slogged through this mess of a game, I'm sorry. If there's one Cubs game this month that I had to miss watching, this appears to have been a good one.
Starlin Castro had three hits, including a double, and has his batting average over .250 (at .252) for only the second time since early June (it was also over .250 for a brief stretch on the last road trip, too). Let's hope he can continue to build on this; since his enforced day off in Milwaukee June 25, Castro is hitting .293/.326/.435 in 184 plate appearances, which is much closer to the career norms he established in his first two seasons. Keep that up for the rest of the year, and that should lead to good things going forward.
But first, the Cubs have to fix the back end of the bullpen.
Now, if you'll excuse me for a bit, I will be writing and posting a recap of the Kane County Cougars game, probably within an hour or less after this one goes up. The Cubs will open a series against the Reds Monday night at Wrigley Field, with Travis Wood facing Mat Latos.