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Ka-BOOM! -- Cubs 3, Rays 8

This recap is going to be mercifully short, because that's about all the space it deserves.

The Cubs lost 8-3 to the Rays last night after Sean Gallagher had thrown six very good innings, allowing only one unearned run. And what's up with that? The run was unearned because Derrek Lee couldn't handle a ground ball that he could normally field in his sleep.

I'm worried about D-Lee. He doesn't look himself either in the field or at bat.

Carlos Marmol wasn't himself last night -- he threw only seven strikes out of twenty pitches and two of those non-strikes hit batters. He had hit two batters in 43 innings (162 batters faced) before last night; now he's doubled that total by facing four hitters. Scott Eyre put the game away by allowing the grand slam to Carl Crawford, and then giving up three more hard-hit extra-base hits. During all of that Eric Hinske stole third base.

Ugh. This is getting nasty and I may have to clean off my keyboard after typing all of this. Suffice to say that the Cubs have now lost nine straight games in the state of Florida (this series, three last September to the Marlins, and three in May 2006 to the Marlins) -- this does not bode well for the Marlins series coming up next month -- and they should be glad to say goodbye to artificial turf for this season.

That said, this was not the pushover (Devil) Rays team of the past, even the one managed by Lou Piniella to its up-to-now best record ever in 2004, 70 wins. This Tampa team has already broken the franchise record for wins before the All-Star break -- nearly a month before the All-Star break. Just as the Cubs have been terrific at home (29-8), so have the Rays (29-11). They have swept two other first-place teams in their goofy dome: the Red Sox in April and the Angels in May.

Feel better now? You should. The Cubs will be home in just a few hours to play the White Sox, in a series that, perhaps for the first time since interleague play began, has real meaning, real playoff implications. The game thread will be up in about three hours. To transition from this post to that series, here are Mike's thoughts:

It's a joke!

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