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Whatever, and Open Thread: Cubs vs. Braves, Sunday 9/10, 12:05 CT

I was racking my brains for a title to go with the recap of last night's 7-3 loss to the Braves, and I figured while I was thinking, I'd just type "Whatever" and leave it there till I thought of something better.

But what better word can describe the descent into which this team has fallen? 17 losses in the last 20 games? Nearly each and every one looking the same -- playing well up to a point, even taking the lead or staying tied into the middle innings, then having that one bad inning which puts the game out of reach.

Stop me if you've heard this one before. Or don't stop me, because I'm not stopping.

Wade Miller hadn't thrown in 17 days before yesterday, and it showed. Only about half of his pitches went for strikes, and two of the ones that did were sent out of the yard, two-run HR by Brian McCann and Adam LaRoche (and thirty homers for LaRoche? That's the quietest 30-HR season in recent memory), and that alone would have been enough, the Cubs having their typical game (seeing 127 pitches from Atlanta pitchers, as opposed to the 143 Cub pitchers threw, in one less inning), drawing only one walk and going down meekly once the Braves had extended the lead to 5-3 on yet another HR off Jae-Kuk Ryu (who seems totally miscast as a relief pitcher; I put out the call here to at least TRY him as a starter -- how much worse could he do than Miller or Angel Guzman?).

Once again, Paul Newberry of the AP writes in the game recap in a way that gives me the impression he's a Braves fan:

If the Braves could just keep playing Chicago, they'd have a much better chance of making it back to the playoffs.
While this happens to be true, it also probably shouldn't be the lead paragraph in what's supposed to be a neutral, wire-service game recap.

Matt Murton hit a HR; that's a good thing, though as Dave reminds me often, you can't always put a lot of stock in what you see in September baseball, even against contending teams (and the Braves are only marginally a contending team).

Juan Pierre stole his 50th and 51st bases of the year, becoming only the third Cub in the last 100 years to reach the 50-SB mark (Ryne Sandberg, 1985, and Eric Young, 2000, were the others). Yes, that's right -- literally, 100 years. If Pierre gets to 55 steals that will be the most since Frank Chance stole 57 in 1906.

If you think I'm writing that because it's some great accomplishment, I know it's not. Ultimately, it's meaningless, because it hasn't resulted in more runs or wins. Pierre has actually had a better offensive season this year than last -- and is going to wind up likely scoring 10-15 fewer runs than he did for last year's Marlins. This is NOT completely Pierre's fault -- mostly, it is an indictment of this club's inability to drive in runs.

That's enough of yesterday's game. There is, pointlessly enough, another one this afternoon.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Juan Mateo
J. Mateo
vs. Lance Cormier
L. Cormier
1-2 W-L 2-4
5.10 ERA 5.26
21 SO 31
11 BB 27
4 HR 3
vs. Atl -- vs. Cubs
Mateo didn't throw too badly in his last start -- striking out seven and walking no one -- but the HR pitch got him, as it has for so many of the Cub rookie starters this year; Jason Bay smacked a pair of two-run HR off him. But the big ballpark in Atlanta ought to stop this today. Right, Dusty?

Lance "Don't Call Me Rheal" Cormier has allowed more hits than innings pitched this season, and has more walks than strikeouts, and a career ERA of 5.93. This likely means he'll throw a three-hit shutout today. Cubs Gameday

Finally, as most of you know, today is the Bears' season opener at Green Bay. I wanted to use this opportunity to plug our SB Nation Bears site, Windy City Gridiron; head on over there for gameday discussion.

Discuss amongst yourselves.