... about the Cubs' 2-1, 11-inning loss to the Dodgers.
From Sportsline's pitch-by-pitch account of the 11th inning:
Wilson Betemit: Pickoff attempt to first, Foul, Pickoff attempt to first, Ball, Pickoff attempt to first, Ball, Ball, Betemit walked, Martinez to second.
Rafael Furcal: Intentional ball, Martinez stole third, Carlos Marmol relieved Angel Guzman, Intentional ball, Furcal intentionally walked, Betemit to second.
Juan Pierre: Strike looking, Ball, Foul, Ball, Ball, Pierre hit by pitch, Martinez scored, Betemit to third, Furcal to second
In case you don't want to count, that's twenty-one pitches, sixteen balls, two called strikes, and three foul balls. And three pickoff attempts.
That's about the worst relief pitching the Cubs have had yet in this horrid relief season, and that's saying something. And, of course, had Pierre not been hit by the pitch, it being out of the strike zone, he would have walked, and that would have ended the game.
I am not sure how many extra-inning games in major league history have ended on a bases-loaded hit batsman, but it cannot be many. I know there's been at least one that I personally attended -- this one at Wrigley Field on August 26, 1972, that the Cubs won 10-9 in 10 innings, after having blown a 7-4 lead.
I don't know what else to say this evening. There's no reason the Cubs should not have won this series -- in fact, there's no reason the Cubs shouldn't have had a 4-2 road trip, at the very least, instead of a 2-4 road trip. They allowed only 21 runs in the six games -- that's 3.5 per game. Any team with a decent offense ought to win at least four games out of six where their pitching staff performs that well. But, the offense managed only 18 runs in the six games, and that's simply not good enough.
Once again, the starting pitching was outstanding today. Rich Hill, who has been shaky lately, threw six shutout innings, though he was yanked for pinch-hitter Daryle Ward after only 66 pitches. The problem today was the bullpen, yet again, and you've surely been waiting for me to mention Scott Eyre.
Eyre has to be hurt. Remember 2004? When Joe Borowski kept going out there time after time after time, before finally admitting after 21 appearances and an 8.02 ERA that his shoulder was injured? How else can you explain a guy who lets a fat pitch right in the middle of the zone on an 0-2 count to be hit for a game-tying home run?
I got a text message from the San Diego Smooth Jazz Man, who was at this game (bet you're glad you drove all the way to LA, right?) right after Andre Ethier's HR that said, "Eyre dfa", and that's not the answer. Get him on the DL where he belongs, and at this point, I think Carlos Marmol has to go back to Iowa and Rocky Cherry recalled, because Marmol simply has not learned how to throw strikes.
And don't suggest acquiring Damaso Marte to replace Eyre, because as I have said in other threads here, if Marte is acquired, in a week we'll all be saying exactly the same thing about him that we've said about all these other guys:
WHY CAN'T THEY THROW STRIKES????
The guy the Cubs have been rumored to be chasing for a month or more, and who could really help this team right now, is Scott Linebrink. At this point, whatever it would take to get Linebrink, DO IT, because:
- this is still a good team. It just needs bullpen help. Unlike other years where there were so many holes you didn't know where to start filling them, this problem is tightly focused.
- this division sucks. Remember all those people who kept saying, "Well, if the Brewers just play .500 ball the rest of the year they'll win 90 games"? The Brewers did even worse on the same West Coast swing the Cubs just had -- they went 1-5. And so guess what? If Milwaukee plays .500 from here on out, they'd win 84 games. This division is still winnable. The Cubs are only five games out of first place, and still second -- once again, everyone in the Comedy Central lost today, except the Pirates, who beat the Reds by the football score of 14-10. The Pirates don't scare me; the Reds are horrible; the Astros have no pitching and the Cardinals are done.