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This is a case of GMTA (Great Minds Think Alike, if you are acronym-challenged), because I was going to title today's post this way even before I read Ross' comment in the game thread.

Fortunately for me, I was at a piano recital for both my kids when the sixth-inning carnage occurred, so I was spared Neifi?'s extremely poor exhibition of fielding, which allowed the Nationals' winning run to score in yet another dispiriting loss, 5-4 to Washington this afternoon.

Mark played a song called "The Chase" by Cornelius Gurlitt, and Rachel played "My Heart Will Go On" ... somehow, both of those titles seem appropriate for what's going on with the ballclub right now.

The loss, the second in three games in DC, negated the gains the Cubs made in the Mets series at home last week, and sends them on to Pittsburgh four games under .500 again at 16-20.

I'm beginning to wonder about the focus of this team. We learn here that:

  • Michael Barrett spent the day with his wife and baby playing tourist in Washington;
  • Jason Dubois entertained several members of his family from nearby Virginia Beach, Virginia, and is going back home with some of his uncle's barbecue sauce.
Excuse me, but where's the focus on baseball here? Yes, the article reminds us that Barrett wasn't going to be starting on Saturday, but maybe a little extra BP wouldn't have hurt? Or going over the hitters with Greg Maddux for today's start?

Dubois had a pretty good series, going 4-for-11 with two runs scored and two RBI, but I'd think that tourism and family should be the last thing on players' minds until they get their jobs focused and back on track.

Or maybe I'm just grasping at straws to figure out why this team simply cannot seem to either hold one-run leads, nor come back from one-run deficits. The Cubs are 6-9 in one-run games, believe it or not, but it seems like 0-15 the way they've been playing.

Dusty Baker, as usual, needs more focus too. He looked at Jerry Hairston's .255 batting average, said "that's too low", and benched him in favor of Ronny Cedeno (with Neifi? moving to 2B).

This is all well and good, because I think Cedeno does have talent and you're wasting a 22-year-old just up from Triple-A if you sit him on the bench -- but to bench Hairston, who has the second-highest OBA (.360 coming into today) on the team, behind Derrek Lee, is absolute madness.

Want some more good news? Carlos Zambrano is going to have an MRI on his elbow in Chicago tomorrow.

Spinmeister -- er, trainer -- Mark O'Neal tries to make this sound like it was just more convenient for Z to change planes this way:

He was going back [to Chicago] for the off-day anyway. While he's home, basically for precautionary reasons, we'll send him back and get it checked out so we know exactly what we're dealing with.

Well, I suppose that's not a bad idea, and Z himself says there's nothing major going on:

It's nothing to worry about. It's not a cramp, but a tired arm, fatigue. I will try to do the best possible to be on my schedule and not miss any starts.

All pitchers go through "tired arm" or "dead arm" during the season -- but usually, not till August or so, not after eight starts and fifty innings.

All we can do is cross our fingers and hope. Mark Prior will throw Tuesday in Pittsburgh (and ugh, with the Pirates' win over the Brewers today, the Cubs drop behind them in the NL Central for the first time since 2002), and Glendon Rusch on Wednesday. With the two off days, Greg Maddux (who deserved a better fate today) could begin the White Sox series on Friday, and Z could be held back till Saturday.

If you've been reading here long enough, you know that I'm an eternal optimist. It is, however, getting harder and harder to be so. It's still way too early to throw the towel in on this season.

But the towel's being warmed up in the bullpen. Keep the faith.

And, check the Diaries later today for another game wrap from Chris, who attended all three games -- and come back tomorrow for some fun stuff. We could all use some of that.