Jaw-dropping doesn't even begin to describe Corey Patterson's throw, which nearly cleared the backstop screen and allowed Cub tormentor Reed Johnson to score what was then the lead run. Usually, I write a basic description ("throw", "bobble", "ball under glove") for each error in the "Notes" section of my scorecard. For the first time ever, I marked this one down with an editorial comment ("Ridiculous throw").
The worst part about it was -- he didn't even have to make the throw. The fly-out was fairly shallow, and Johnson wasn't going. All Corey had to do was flip the ball to Neifi or one of the other infielders. Amazingly enough, Corey nearly redeemed himself with an unconscious throw in the eighth after Vernon Wells doubled high off the ivy and away from Todd Hollandsworth; he threw a strike to third to nail Wells, and at the time it preserved the 3-3 tie and I said to Mike and Jeff:
Folks, it's enough. Potential's over. Sometimes talent isn't enough. Corey Patterson simply doesn't have a clue how baseball is supposed to be played, and doesn't seem to want to learn. If there's another team out there who thinks, as many teams do, "We can fix this," I say -- GOOD! Let them! Trade Corey NOW while some value can still be obtained.
This may sound like a very harsh judgment, but if this team is going to continue to build on the great road trip -- and Mike said to me at one point that it was starting to look depressingly like the club that played at Wrigley Field before the trip -- it's time to cut the cord and see if the "talent" can bring some real talent in return.
To be fair, it wasn't all Corey's fault. Glendon Rusch put the first three batters he faced on base (single, walk, run-scoring double) and though he retired the next three in order, a groundout scored the second run. Rusch threw well through the next five innings, allowing only the run scoring on Corey's throw to (from?) outer space, but that unearned run, and another scoring in the ninth on an inexplicably bad throw from Neifi!, were the eventual difference in the game.
Remember when I wrote yesterday that Toronto pitcher Josh Towers doesn't walk people (only nine all year)? The Cubs, who don't walk, somehow managed to draw two of them in a row -- on eight consecutive pitches! -- after Michael Barrett's first (of two) homers of the night in the third. With only one out and Derrek Lee up and the lead cut to 2-1, this would have been a great opportunity to:
- get Towers out of the game;
- get back IN the game with your best hitter up.
Nope. Lee hacked at the 3-0 pitch, which MIGHT have been in the strike zone, and tapped a weak little grounder in front of the plate, and was thrown out catcher to first.
I could put another poll here called "What Was Derrek THINKING?", but I think I won't. At least he's produced over the first two months.
It got so bad that not only did a fight break out in right-center field, causing at least ten people to be ejected, but a fight broke out in the right-field terrace seats. Couldn't quite see what was happening over there, but at least three sections' worth of people stood up to take in the spectacle.
Why relievers' ERA's are worthless: Wellemeyer threw well until he gave up two doubles and a single (scoring only one run because of Corey's throw-out at third). Will Ohman came in and gave up two more hits -- the run resulting, charged to Wellemeyer. Ohman didn't retire anyone, but when Mike Wuertz came in and ended the inning, Ohman got away with an appearance with no runs allowed.
Meanwhile, Toronto pitcher Pete Walker faced nine batters, gave up four hits and a walk, but emerged unscathed when Scott Schoeneweis got out of the inning -- thanks again to Corey, who meekly hit a comebacker. For his efforts, incidentally, Schoeneweis got the win.
A baseball platitude says that a ballclub's never as good as it looks when it's on a winning streak, and never as bad as it looks when it's on a losing streak. But the Cubs looked pretty darn bad last night. Today's pitching matchup (more on this in the open thread later), Halladay vs. Mitre, looks like a mismatch. So did John Koronka vs. Derek Lowe last week in Los Angeles, though. The Cubs need the game today -- they simply cannot afford to be swept with the Red Sox coming in this weekend.
I'm not even going to talk about the black cat (with white paws) that scampered around near the Cub bullpen in the sixth inning and then scooted into the stands, other than to say that it must have caused the synthetics on Ron Santo's toupee to stand on end. As if we need any other signs like that.
Finally, it was weird day behind our bench, which was lightly populated last night. Despite the empty spaces, not a single person asked to sit with us. And yes, I did take a shower yesterday. A couple of amiable drunk guys stood behind us for an inning or two -- and at one point, one of them provided some unintentional amusement by asking if A. J. Pierzynski was catching the game.
I thought I had landed in the Twilight Zone, but the guy actually was convinced that Pierzynski had been acquired by the Cubs. I had to gently explain to him that no, he plays for that other Chicago team. This wasn't nearly as funny as the guy who stood behind us three years ago, after we spent most of the game ragging on Todd Hundley, yelling "Todd Hundley! He's my dad!" -- this from a guy on the far side of 30 years old.
Digressions are good, huh? Keeps your mind off two mind-numbing losses?
It's still early. There are still more than 100 games left. Keep the faith.