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Good News, Bad News

Bad news: the Cubs lost 11-1 to the Cardinals last night.

Good news: they still won two of the three games in the series, which has to be your goal any time you go into a visitor's ballpark.

Bad news: the Diamondbacks won last night on a three-run walkoff HR by Eric Byrnes, taking over the wild-card lead.

Good news: the other teams the Cubs are chasing in either the division or wild-card races -- the Brewers, Braves and Padres -- all lost yesterday, leaving the Cubs still two games behind Milwaukee in the Central, and one game behind new wild-card leader Arizona.

Bad news: Jason Marquis sucked last night.

Good news: Well, there really isn't any good news to counteract that one. Marquis was awful (and the rest of the staff wasn't much better, particularly Billy Petrick, who gave up a three-run HR to Albert Pujols and who may be sent back to Iowa if/when Kerry Wood is ready to return). Is this a predictor for the future? Probably as much a predictor as Marquis' last start, last Friday vs. the Diamondbacks, was for last night -- in other words, not at all.

Will Marquis be the one weak link in the rotation? Cardinal fans would probably tell us so. However, he's still doing far better than he was after 21 starts a year ago, when, despite a 12-7 record, he had a 5.62 ERA and had allowed 24 home runs (4.20, 16 this year). Interestingly, after Marquis' 21st start in 2006, a 6-1 win over the Dodgers, the Cardinals were 56-41 and Marquis had won 12 of those games. From that date to the end of the season, St. Louis wheezed to a 27-37 record and just barely hung on to win the NL Central.

We all know what happened after that, again proving that if you can just get in to the postseason, good things can follow.

As for Marquis, the thing that killed any chance that the Cubs would win last night wasn't Chris Duncan's grand slam, it was his failure to let pitcher Braden Looper lay down a bunt, instead walking him.

Mike and I have said this many times in the bleachers, and Len Kasper repeated the mantra during Looper's AB:

When the other team gives you an out, take it!

Anyway, Marquis came unglued after that, and I'm sure you don't want the gruesome details repeated here.

As far as the immediate future and any of the myriad trade rumors that you can read about in several BCB diaries, Lou Piniella says the club is most likely standing pat, with the possible exception of recalling Matt Murton. That article also says that Wood will throw tonight, his first back-to-back day attempt, and that Mark DeRosa will, hopefully, be available to start tonight.

Enough good news/bad news for one day. 11-1 doesn't feel very good, but it only counts as one loss. Pick up the pieces and match the two out of three in Cincinnati, and the Cubs will have had a successful road trip.