Yeah runnin' down a dream
That never would come to me
Workin' on a mystery, goin' wherever it leads
Runnin' down a dream -- Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, "Runnin' Down a Dream"
That's the song they've been playing as the Cubs take the field for the last few days, and it fits real well, I think -- that's exactly what they, and we, are doing, pursuing a dream that hasn't come, so far.
It seemingly got a bit further away today, that dream, as the Orioles blew out the Cubs 11-4, their worst loss since a 9-0 shutout at the hands of the Reds on May 7, and their first series loss at home since April 29-May 1 vs. the Brewers.
Yes, it was bad. Real bad. Jason Marquis was bad today -- he had little stuff or command, and yet he was one strike away from getting through the disastrous third inning without any runs scoring. Once the floodgates opened, no Cub pitchers could stop it, and that's a bone I have to pick with Lou Piniella. Today was a perfect opportunity to use Jon Lieber, who's supposed to be a "long reliever", to finish out the game; he came in at the top of the fifth with the score 7-0. But after one mediocre inning and only 20 pitches (17 strikes, typical of a Lieber appearance), Lou yanked him. This meant that the team went through most of the bullpen, with Scott Eyre (who left with groin discomfort, and no wonder, after having been idle for a week), Michael Wuertz, Bob Howry and Neal Cotts all seeing action.
This isn't how you manage a blowout, Lou -- and we should be congratulating you today for being named a NL All-Star coach, replacing former Mets manager Willie Randolph. Lou sounded quite pleased on the postgame show, saying he'd be happy to go back to Yankee Stadium for the last time, having spent so many years there as a player, coach and manager. In any case, today, Jon Lieber should have thrown at least three, maybe four, innings; now what happens if you need someone like Wuertz, who threw 30 pitches today, tomorrow, if the game goes into extra innings?
OK, I'm done, with that, anyway. Sometimes even good teams have games like this, where nothing works right; example: the 2001 Mariners, managed by Lou, who blew through their schedule, setting an AL record with 116 wins, went into Kansas City on July 23 that year, with a 72-27 record, leading their division by 18 games, and lost two straight to the Royals -- who at the time had a record of 38-61, 34 games worse than Seattle's. It happens. The good news is that the Cardinals also lost today, blowing a 9th-inning lead and losing 3-2 in 10 innings to the Tigers.
So who's in worse shape? The Cubs, who lost and got to rest some regulars for half the game today and have a road series in their hometown, or the Cardinals, who played till 1 am yesterday and extra innings today and have to go play in Kansas City this weekend against a team that swept them in St. Louis last week? I think you know the answer.
In any case, the less said about today's game, the better, except that I met BCB reader Shanghai Badger, who came up and introduced himself to me in line (sorry you had to see such a bad game!), and we had a nice talk with two Cubs fans who live in Washington, DC, who came in for the series (one of them originally from Sydney, Australia, and he got a BCB card -- if you are here, welcome!). My friends Brian and Kristy brought their ten-month-old baby today -- fortunately, it wasn't the baby's first game, or she'd have nightmares about her first experience at Wrigley!
What I will say is that today, I heard more about the Cubs' possible pursuit of C. C. Sabathia. I can't go into too many details, but let's say that I do know that Jim Hendry IS looking into this, that it's more than just our wishful thinking, and that it could happen sooner rather than later with the Indians having fallen into last place. We already know that Sam Zell has green-lighted Crane Kenney and Hendry to do whatever they think they have to in order to win this year. While I'd be leery about trading for Sabathia unless the Cubs had a real good chance to sign him to an extension -- there's no doubt that Sabathia could make a great 1-2 punch with Carlos Zambrano (who threw today off flat ground and will probably have a bullpen session on Sunday) for several years to come if they can sign him; after a terrible start Sabathia is 4-4, 2.42 in his last ten starts, and in the four losses the Tribe scored nine runs. C. C. would probably thrive with the higher-powered Cub offense.
Go get him, Jim.
And go get the Sox again, starting tomorrow.