This makes absolutely NO sense.
A year ago, an absolutely horrid Cub team went into Houston and swept the Astros, shutting them out in two of the three games.
This year, a (supposedly) much better Cub team went into Houston and got swept, scoring only five runs in three games and repeatedly squandered opportunities, leaving 28 men on base in the series, and last night was the worst of the three, an 8-2 loss to Houston with the ballclub's best pitcher, Carlos Zambrano, on the mound, someone who usually eats Astros for lunch; instead, he had his worst start since the fight-with-Barrett day on June 1. (I have nothing more to say about last night's game -- it was boring, one-sided, and not well played by the Cubs, who left thirteen men on base. Z breaking a bat over his knee again was fun to watch, but ultimately meaningless.)
What sense does this make? It makes even less sense when you look at the standings this morning and find the Cubs still only a game behind the Brewers for first place, tied in the loss column, and despite the Cardinals' win over the Padres, still five games ahead of St. Louis -- and maybe we should thank the Cardinals this morning, because that win kept the Cubs within a decent distance of the wild-card-leading Padres, still only three games back.
So is this a glass-half-full day? Or a glass-rapidly-emptying-out day? I'm scratching my head because I can't figure it out either. Some of you are hot to acquire Wily Mo Pena from Boston. Good heavens, why? He's hitting .219/.293/.391 with 5 HR in 151 AB. Seems to me we already have a large bucket full of outfielders who can do that, plus Pena has a bit of a reputation as a headcase.
The Cubs have also put in a waiver claim on A's outfielder Shannon Stewart. While Stewart's not as good as he was three or four years ago, he is still hitting .298/.360/.399, draws a few walks, and plays a decent outfield. If it doesn't cost too much to get him, it's worth a flyer, I think.
Otherwise the Cubs simply have to get back to playing the way they were up to the Philadelphia series at home last week. The talent and ability is there. Consider that the Dodgers were, two weeks ago, twelve games over .500 and two games ahead in the West. Now, having just been swept and shut out three straight times by the Reds, they sit with a record half a game worse than the Cubs, five games behind the Diamondbacks, and behind the Cubs in the wild-card race.
This is just a reminder that this is how pennant races go -- remember? It's been three years since the Cubs have even had a race like this to consider in August, so maybe you need a bit of a refresher. Teams sometimes hit slides like the Cubs have had, and still come back and win. Last year's Cardinals, who just barely won the Central and wound up winning the whole thing, had three separate eight-game losing streaks (and another of seven just before the season ended), yet hung on to win anyway.
There's plenty of time to right this ship. But it had better start tonight in Denver. Incidentally, Lou Piniella may be reading this site:
Good. A lot of us here suggested hitting Kendall second after Alfonso Soriano went down. Let's start generating some runs!