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Today Was Not Yesterday

That's how Jim Memolo of WGN led his postgame recap as I heard it in the car going home after today's one-sided, dull, poorly-played (well, at least by the Cubs) 13-4 loss to the Brewers.

It got so bad that around the sixth inning, with the Cubs down 9-2, I thought that checking my email via my phone would be more interesting than the game.

And when I did, I found the following email from loyal BCB reader jessica, titled "This is Maddux's fault" (Warning! This is into tinfoil hat territory!):

Seriously. Greg has said he and Mike will share information on players other than those on their own team and of course he was Marshall's mentor and knows Hill. I would not be surprised if he told Mike whatever he thought would help. Blood is thicker than friendship and I have a feeling he was none too happy with the way the Cubs dealt with Barrett who he really does like. Not saying he dislikes the Cubs but all things being equal he is going to help Mike.

Oh well, I didn't think they had a chance against Sheets anyway.

("Mike", of course, being Greg's brother, Brewers pitching coach Mike Maddux).

Well, it made for a few minutes of amusing reading as we all sat relatively silent for most of the sun-kissed, 75-degree afternoon.

You could say the game was over on the very first pitch, which was booted by Mike Fontenot at SS. Now, of course, the Cubs could have recovered from that, but it seemed to set a tone for Brewer bats, which started off with three straight hits after the error, and never stopped all afternoon (they slammed out fifteen hits, including ten extra-base hits, capped by a Craig Counsell HR -- only his second of the season). 4-0 after half an inning didn't seem so bad, considering it was one run better than yesterday, and when the Cubs cut it to 4-2 after one, there was brief hope.

That was dashed in the 2nd, when three more runs scored, and Sean Marshall had to be yanked after his worst outing of the year. And after Fontenot's error, Lou played it like the coach of my son Mark's Park District team, where all the kids gather round the coach at the end of each batting inning and say, "Where am I playing this inning, coach?" He flipped Fontenot and Mark DeRosa, DeRosa moving to SS for his first time as a Cub (though he had played 137 games there before this year), and Fontenot to 2B. Didn't matter -- Fontenot let a ball get under his glove at 2B in the fifth inning, allowing another Brewer run to score.

Everyone hit -- Dave said, and I agree, that the Brewer lineup appears to be the best hitting lineup, top to bottom, in the National League -- the biggest hitter for Milwaukee was rookie 3B Ryan Braun, who had four hits, including a HR off Michael Wuertz in the 9th, three runs scored and four RBI. Despite not being called up till May 25, I'd say he's got a shot at the Rookie of the Year award, if he keeps hitting like this.

Lou wisely pulled Alfonso Soriano, Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez after the fifth inning, giving them needed rest, particularly Ramirez, who huffed and puffed his way into 3B with a fourth-inning leadoff triple, which wound up being wasted. When Rocky Cherry (just recalled, with Billy Petrick returned to the minors) came in to pitch, I figured, with Angel Pagan having started in CF, that I might get to write "PIE" after "CHERRY" on my scorecard, as I did once during the spring. No such luck -- Felix Pie did come into the game, but not replacing Cherry.

Comic relief was provided in the 7th, when Pie and Jacque Jones, who had come in to play CF when Marshall was removed, both threw their hands up on a Braun drive into the ivy. 3B umpire Bruce Froemming, who will be sixty-eight years old in September and is retiring (Cub fans all rejoice!) at the end of the season, waddled out to the ivy, as slowly as the pace of the 2 hour, 55 minute game would allow, raised his hands triumphantly to indicate a ground-rule double, and then waddled back. I fervently hope this will be the last Wrigley Field series where he appears.

Jones, incidentally, didn't improve his trade value by going 0-for-3. It was the first time he'd had more than one at-bat in a game in ten days, and he hasn't had a hit since June 19. Replacing Petrick with Cherry didn't really solve the problem, as Dave reminded me: "Who's the long man?" Scott Eyre threw two not-so-great innings today, but he's not really a long reliever. I've been against a 12-man pitching staff, but right now, the Cubs could use that extra pitching body, and it's not going to happen unless Jones (or maybe Cesar Izturis, who also looked bad pinch-hitting today, and has had only two AB since June 25) is somehow removed from the roster.

There's not much more to say. Today could have been a statement made by the Cubs, had they won the game, because of yesterday's incredible comeback. Was it a statement in reverse, by the Brewers? Only if Milwaukee wins tomorrow. Despite the way the Cubs have played the last week, I think it was probably too much to ask to think they could have swept a very good Milwaukee club. Win tomorrow, win the series, cut the deficit back to 6.5 games, and you've accomplished about as much as you could have hoped in this series. It'll be up to Jason Marquis, who has been shaky since May 9, to step up and make his own statement.

Finally, nice to see some BCB readers in the bleachers today, including wheatfield mike, returning again, and mrcubsfan from Des Moines and his family. Sorry you couldn't have been there yesterday!