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Class Is Now In Session

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Pay attention, please.

If you walk six batters in a game, you are likely to lose.

If you draw four walks in a game and do not take advantage of them, you are also likely to lose.

It was those base-clogging walks that helped do the Cubs in today, losing to the Cardinals 4-1, the first time so far this year they've lost two in a row.

And yes, Dusty Baker really did say, in that above-linked article:

I think walks are overrated unless you can run. If you get a walk and put the pitcher in a stretch, that helps, but the guy who walks and can't run, most of the time he's clogging up the bases for somebody who can run.

The Cubs "clogged" the bases loaded in the second inning on two singles (one by Glendon Rusch, his second hit of the year -- maybe he's got a career ahead of himself as a pinch-hitter), and one of those darned walks, but with Aramis Ramirez up, all he could accomplish was a groundout, which drove in a run.

And on which replays showed he was probably safe.

The Cubs had six hits and four walks -- ten baserunners -- and that ought to result in more than one run. Two double plays, one by Ramirez, helped quash a couple of rallies.

And the decisive Cardinal fifth inning started with two out and nobody on base, after which Rusch, who threw 95 pitches in less than five innings, walked two, gave up a run-scoring hit, issued ANOTHER walk, and then Albert Pujols snaked a single past Ronny Cedeno.

You can (and you have, in fact, done so in today's game thread) debate whether or not Neifi Perez or another SS would have gotten to that ball. To me, it didn't seem so. But that was the ballgame.

Baker finally put Neifi in the game -- at second base, in a weird double switch that seemed as if it were punishment to Todd Walker for drawing two walks. Freddie Bynum entered the game on another such double-switch, and struck out in his only at-bat. Bynum is now 2-for-14 with six strikeouts.

Will someone please send him back to Iowa and get someone here who can actually hit? Baker likes Bynum because he can run -- but what's the point of a player who can run if he's never on base?

If there's any good news from this game, it's that the bullpen did a reasonably good job of keeping the score close enough that a reasonably good offense might have been able to come back. But as constituted right now without Derrek Lee, the Cubs do not have such an offense -- especially when Todd Walker is taken out of the game in the middle innings.

It's hard to be optimistic right now -- about the only way you can, is to realize that only 10% of the season is gone, Greg Maddux has a pretty good shot at salvaging the series finale tomorrow, and the Cubs will come home to play the Marlins on Monday. Feel better now?