Dodgers 6, Cubs 2: Predictable

Harry How

You didn't have to stay up late in the Central time zone to figure out what the result of Monday's game was going to be.

I told you the Cubs weren't going to win any games in this series.

Oh, sure, there are two games remaining, but the Cubs' 6-2 loss to the Dodgers Monday night just went to show the vast chasm of difference of talent between these two teams. The Dodgers are hot -- 20-5 in August. The Cubs are not -- 6-18 this month.

Trust me. It ain't gonna get better the next two days. I pronounce myself very, very happy that Tuesday is the Cubs' final late-night game of 2013.

Give Jake Arrieta some credit -- he hung in there with Zack Greinke the first three innings, before the Dodgers took a 2-0 lead on him in the fourth. One more inning and two batters into the sixth, with a frighteningly-large pitch count of 111, Arrieta was out of there, replaced by Carlos Villanueva. Villanueva put the game out of reach by allowing a home run to Hanley Ramirez. Oh, and Villanueva also threw 31 pitches, throwing a second inning of relief and all the pitches he should have thrown Sunday in San Diego. The Dodgers completed their scoring with Yasiel Puig's 13th home run of the season off Michael Bowden.

The Cubs scored a pair of consolation runs in the ninth. Greinke had been sent out to try to complete his shutout, and got the first two men easily before Anthony Rizzo doubled. Greinke then hit Nate Schierholtz and Brian Bogusevic doubled them both in. Don Mattingly had mercy on Greinke, who had then thrown 122 pitches; Brian Wilson struck out Donnie Murphy to end it.

At least Starlin Castro had taken all the suspense out of Greinke possibly no-hitting the Cubs when he singled to lead off the game. Two batters later, he accomodated the Dodgers' wish of getting this thing over with by being thrown out stealing easily.

Do you really expect anything different Tuesday night when the Cubs have to face Clayton Kershaw? Greinke's good, but Kershaw is your likely Cy Young Award winner in the National League. Travis Wood will face him; Wood has had a good year, but nothing like Kershaw's.

I wanted to mention again the quick move of Anthony Rizzo out of the No. 2 spot in the batting order, just one day after Dale Sveum said he was going to stick with Rizzo at No. 2 for a while. Turns out Rizzo complained about it:

Rizzo batted second for five games for the Cubs, and was 7-for-24, hitting two home runs in his first game there last Wednesday against the Nationals. Did it make a difference?

"No, it didn't," Rizzo said Monday. "It really didn't, in my opinion. I was very uncomfortable there in the two-hole but it was what it was and, hopefully, I never go back."

What made it uncomfortable?

"It's more an ego thing," he said. "I've never hit second in my life. If you're the second hitter, you're someone who gets guys over and bunts and slaps and what not. I think our lineup doesn't call for me hitting second. You see the Cardinals and [Carlos] Beltran hitting second, but that's because he has nowhere else to hit. I was there and I tried to make the best of it. Dale [Sveum] says it best, it's just a spot in the lineup. I just didn't like it much."

Five games and he makes this judgment? And he admits it's "an ego thing"? Where's the team-first attitude?

Rizzo was 7-for-24 with two home runs and four walks in his five games hitting second; that's too small of a sample size to make any judgments, really, although in the five games right before the switch, Rizzo was 1-for-16. Personally, I think he made too much of it, and you only really "hit second" the first time through the lineup. Rizzo quotes Sveum as saying "it's just a spot in the lineup." Then stop whining about it, Anthony, and do what's best for you and the team. His statement about what a No. 2 hitter does -- well, that's a stereotype, right? Again, a hitter is only guaranteed to "hit second" once a game.

As noted above, the two teams will go at it again Tuesday night. I'll bet you can predict the result before game time.

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