It wasn't just Carlos Zambrano being wild last night -- although that was a big part of the problem, not walks but the two times he hit Rickie Weeks, because he scored on one of them, and also got a hit and scored on that one, too.
The critical error made by Ryan Theriot, dropping a Mark DeRosa throw in the Brewers' four-run seventh inning, was the play on which the Cubs' 6-1 loss to the Brewers turned, and here I'm going to blame a guy I've praised so often -- DeRosa.
What was he thinking, making that throw? Here's the game situation: one out, runner on first, Z reaching about the end of the line. In my opinion, DeRosa had ZERO chance to throw Weeks out at second base; he should have taken the easy out at first. This would have left Weeks on second with two out, the score still 2-1, and Prince Fielder due up.
Obviously, then Fielder would have been intentionally walked, and Carlos Marmol, who was up three or four different times without getting into the game, would have come on to face Ryan Braun. Instead, Fielder singled, loading the bases, and then Braun smacked a double over Aramis Ramirez' head, scoring two runs and chasing Z in favor of Scott Eyre, who's been good lately. Not last night, though; Eyre gave up two straight hits, putting the game out of reach, but when he ended the inning with a double play ball from Johnny Estrada, Eyre's ERA actually went down to 5.14. Kerry Wood and Michael Wuertz at least didn't give up any more runs, and despite having runners in scoring position in the 8th and 9th off Derrick Turnbow and Francisco Cordero (odd to see Cordero in a non-save situation, but the Brewers have been so bad lately that Cordero hadn't thrown at all in eight days).
And that was that. Here are some numbers you wouldn't expect -- the club's record with each of the five current starting pitchers:
(The six other games were started by Angel Guzman, 1-2, and Wade Miller, 0-3.)
And that's our $90 million ace? I love Z, love his passion for the game, love his fastball, even love watching him swing the bat so hard it could have almost pushed back the wind blowing in pretty hard from center field last night. But he's got to start winning. Bruce Miles wonders, too:
Last night was coolish, with the wind blowing in, so no one was going to hit the ball out of the park (Weeks nearly did leading off the game, pushing Cliff Floyd back to the ivy to catch his fly ball, and Floyd briefly had to be checked out by the training staff), and though it was announced as another sellout of 40,512 (raising the season average to 40,079), there were blocks of empty seats in the upper deck. Some of those in attendance in the bleachers brought rather lame-worded signs trying to play off the name "Sheets" -- they were, in fact, so lame I can't even remember them to replicate them here.
I wanted to say something here about some of the name-calling that I've found (and had some emails about) in the game threads. Look. No one is saying that every single comment has to be optimistic, or ignore bad play. But as has been noted in this diary, it is impossible for even the best baseball team of every season to go 162-0. Sometimes teams are going to lose and look really bad doing it -- and the next day they could come out and look like champions. Unload your angst if you must but I will insist on this -- no insulting or name-calling of other posters here!!! If you want your opinions respected, the least you can do is respect the thoughts of others.
Thanks. Now, a couple of final thoughts of my own. Take a look at the current records of the ten (yes, TEN) teams that are still, on August 30, within 5.5 games of a playoff spot (listed in percentage order):
Not only are all those teams still within striking distance of either a division lead or the wild card lead, but from top to bottom those ten are only separated by 7.5 games. That, this late in the season, is unprecedented. It ought to make for a wild finish. In the meantime, despite yesterday's loss, the Cubs still remain 1.5 games in first place, and in case you don't have an idea of how to handle that, I'll give the final word to Mike:
(as always, click on thumbnail to view full-size in new browser window. If you are using IE, you may have to click the lower-right corner of the image in the new window to expand it to its full size; in Firefox click anywhere on the image.)