You'll recall, I'm sure, the saying I've been posting here every now and again: "Even bad baseball is better than no baseball."
It's still true, but games like the Cubs' 6-2 loss to the Marlins Tuesday night make me wonder.
Two of the worst teams in baseball did not distinguish themselves with the baseball they played at Wrigley Field in front of a crowd that began to depart even before another mediocre rendition of "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" during the seventh-inning stretch, which must have occurred... at midnight? 1 a.m.?
It only seemed that late, and the baseball only seemed that bad. There was just one error in the game, a booted ball by Starlin Castro (and that likely means little in Castro's offensive and defensive renaissance; things like that are going to happen). But walks, hit batters, missed opportunities (the Cubs, once again, 0-for-5 with RISP) and just the general slogginess of a game that dragged on for three hours and 21 minutes made this one of the more forgettable games of a forgettable season.
As I said, the saying is still true: even bad baseball is better than no baseball. Personally, I wouldn't mind watching good baseball, even in a losing effort.
Edwin Jackson was, once again, Edwin Jackson. This start -- five innings, seven hits, two walks, three earned runs -- could be placed in a time capsule, labeled "Generic Edwin Jackson Start", and no one would really know the difference between it and almost all his other starts this year. Jackson leads the major leagues in losses; his 4.91 ERA ranks tied for 77th among 83 qualified starters, and he has just 12 quality starts in his 27 starts this year. Incidentally, if you think Jackson is overpaid, imagine how the Yankees feel for paying CC Sabathia $23 million to have essentially the same year Jackson is having. The two have identical ERAs; Jackson's ERA+ is 80, Sabathia's 82, and Jackson has a slightly better WAR: -0.1, to Sabathia's -1.3 (using baseball-reference WAR).
Once again, Logan Watkins remained nailed to the bench, even while Darnell McDonald and Darwin Barney were having completely ineffectual pinch-hit at-bats, and even while both Alberto Cabrera and Zach Rosscup made relief appearances, becoming the 51st and 52nd Cubs to appear in uniform this year. The team record is 53, set last year, and when Justin Grimm and J.C. Boscan get into at least one game each, that record will fall.
Rosscup showed good velocity in his two-thirds of an inning of work, despite issuing a walk, and he also recorded his first big-league strikeout. He definitely has talent and should be in the mix for the 2014 bullpen, as it would be nice to have more than one lefthander there.
Despite the final score, the game appeared headed toward yet another one-run loss for the Cubs until Blake Parker's bad eighth inning turned it into a blowout. There was a curiosity for those interested in scoring rules; the Marlins led throughout, but because Miami starter Tom Koehler didn't finish the five innings required for a starting pitcher to get a win, the official scorer follows Rule 10.17 (b):
(b) If the pitcher whose team assumes a lead while such pitcher is in the game, or during the inning on offense in which such pitcher is removed from the game, and does not relinquish such lead, is a starting pitcher who has not completed (1) five innings of a game that lasts six or more innings on defense, or (2) four innings of a game that lasts five innings on defense, then the official scorer shall credit as the winning pitcher the relief pitcher, if there is only one relief pitcher, or the relief pitcher who, in the official scorer’s judgment was the most effective, if there is more than one relief pitcher.
In this case, the scorer obviously judged Ryan Webb, who threw two perfect innings, as the "most effective" Marlins relief pitcher, and Webb was credited with the win. For whatever that's worth these days.
The Cubs dropped to 27-44 at home, and 5-18 at home since the All-Star break. With 10 home games remaining, including Wednesday afternoon's series finale against the Marlins, the Cubs must go 5-5 to avoid losing 50 home games in a season for the first time in franchise history. Positive note from the game about the Cubs' offense ... man, I've been looking for one... Oh. Brian Bogusevic homered. That's about it. One more note: I spotted Scott Baker in the outfield shagging fly balls during batting practice. That doesn't mean he'll actually appear in a game:
#Cubs Baker said velocity wasn't there in outing Monday. Not sure next step.— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) September 3, 2013
My guess: Baker won't appear, and won't be re-signed.
In the meantime, bad baseball... still better than no baseball. The game preview will post at 11:30 a.m. CT.