When you see a game as dully played as the Cubs' 2-0 loss to the Phillies Saturday afternoon, you look for any angle that could make it interesting.
Here's that angle: in the last 100 years, the Cubs have played just 13 other games in which they were shut out and had at least 10 hits. The last such game was about two years ago, a 1-0 loss to the Pirates May 25, 2012.
Ah, but if you're looking for the last such game at Wrigley Field, you're going to be looking back a little farther. More than three decades farther, July 21, 1980, when the Cubs were shut out with 10 hits by the Giants.
But! That game went 15 innings.
For the last time the Cubs lost a nine-inning game at Wrigley Field in which they were shut out and had at least 10 hits, before today, you must go back 60 years -- to the first game of a doubleheader June 9, 1954, also thrown by the Phillies. There's only one other such game, May 31, 1942, shut out by the pennant-bound Cardinals 3-0 on 10 hits.
All three of the Cubs teams I just mentioned were bad-to-awful. The 1980 Cubs were on their way to a 98-loss season. The 1954 Cubs lost 90 in a 154-game season (a 67-95 pace for 162), and in 1942, the .442 winning percentage would compare to a 72-90 season in modern baseball.
That's what we have to look forward to, my friends. I won't sugarcoat. Saturday, this team was able to hit -- as noted, 10 of them -- but went 0-for-7 with RISP and stranded 10 (one walk, one double play). Starlin Castro had three of the hits, which is a good thing. He never got past second base, which isn't. Emilio Bonifacio had a pair of hits, and also never saw third base. Cliff Lee and Jonathan Papelbon had both been hit hard so far this year -- both came in with double-digit ERAs. Lee gave up hits but never seemed to be in trouble, and Papelbon retired the side in the ninth 1-2-3 for his first save of 2014.
Jeff Samardzija had his second straight good start, allowing just six hits and striking out eight. The first hit he allowed was a no-doubter home run to Chase Utley (who also had three hits on the game), and, truth be told, the game was really over at that point. Shark isn't doing anything but increasing his trade value with starts like this one. I suppose that's a good thing, in the long run.
The weather was better, with sunshine and lighter winds, though it was still chilly, 41 degrees at game time The Cubs had promised magnet schedules to the first 30,000 fans; despite the fact that nowhere near the announced 30,651 were actually in the park (maybe 19,000 were actually in the house), they somehow ran out of schedules to give out.
Hey, the Cubs are celebrating team history this year. So here's another game to add to team lore, though probably not the kind they have in mind.
Sunday, the Cubs try to avoid the sweep when Carlos Villanueva, who has already posted two losses in relief, gets his first start of the season against longtime Cub nemesis A.J. Burnett. The weather will be warmer. That's about all I've got.