Well, the weather was nice.
That's about all there is to say about today's goofy 12-6 Cubs loss to the Cardinals. If you split the game into two halves, the Cubs lost the first 4 1/2 11-0, but won the second half 6-1.
It doesn't work that way, of course, and the game was really over in the first inning when Carlos Zambrano, coming off his no-hitter, started throwing a "no-outer", letting the first four batters reach base and then giving up a grand slam to Adam Kennedy. In so doing, Kennedy doubled his HR total to date this season in over 300 at-bats. It was wind-aided, but it didn't matter. Z was just as bad in the second inning, allowing two more hits and eventually three more runs (one of which scored after Sean Marshall relieved him), and Lou was, according to his remarks at the postgame news conference, irritated with Z for leaving the mound before he came to get him; Lou told him to go back there, and I think that's the least you can do to show some respect to your manager.
Turns out Z's grandmother passed away and he spent most of the time in his days off since the no-hitter traveling back and forth to Venezuela. I can understand Z's mind not really being on his work today, but Lou didn't have a whole lot of other choices -- he was asked that at the news conference but got pretty exasperated; Marshall would have been the only other choice, but can you imagine what the buzz would have been if Marshall had been sent out to start today instead of Z?
The 1.2 inning outing tied this June 22,2005 game vs. the Brewers for the shortest and worst of Z's career; if there's consolation in that, Z faced Milwaukee again six days later and threw eight shutout innings. It's also the second-most runs scored off any pitcher in his next start after a no-hitter; you can find a list here in the cubs.com game recap, and there are a couple of Hall of Famers on it (Dazzy Vance, Catfish Hunter; Jesse Haines is in the Hall, too, but probably shouldn't be).
In any case, when it got to 11-0 Lou emptied the bench and played the rest of the day like a spring training game; only Mike Fontenot (and three Cardinals, Kennedy, Skip Schumaker and Jason LaRue) played the entire game. In that sense, it was a good day to give some of the regulars a rest and give some of the bench players some AB's; Daryle Ward had a good day, with two doubles (I asked Mike, "When do you think was the last time Ward was on third base?" -- after he had gotten there twice. He couldn't think of one. The answer appears to be July 6 in St. Louis, when he had a pinch-double and got thrown out at the plate on a Mike Fontenot single); Ronny Cedeno had a hit and walked twice, and Felix Pie had a nice AB in the 9th, winding up with an opposite-field double.
Conspicuous by his absence from this mass lineup turnover was Kosuke Fukudome, who, logically, should have been inserted in RF in the fifth, with RHP coming out of the St. Louis bullpen, to give him some AB in a non-pressure situation. Instead, Reed Johnson played the rest of the game in RF and Dome only appeared to pinch-hit for Michael Wuertz in the 8th, coming up with an RBI single. Could Dome be left off the postseason roster? It doesn't seem possible, given his defense, but Felix Pie made a case for himself to be included today. Since the Cubs are likely to go with an extra position player rather than 12 pitchers, Pie could be the guy added. Who's odd-man-out? Maybe Bob Howry, although he threw a decent 9th inning.
Iowa Cubs made an attempt to make the score look respectable in the ninth, with a walk and two doubles scoring two runs and forcing Tony LaRussa to yank Kelvin Jimenez, who was in line for his first career save had he finished the final three innings; instead, Ron Villone came in to strike out Johnson to end it.
I met BCB reader dtpollitt and his dad today; they sat with us and seemed to have a good time despite the result, and they'll be in the upper deck tomorrow. The Cubs ought to be able to shake this one off pretty easily; sometimes it's easier to put a blowout like this behind you rather than a tough late-inning loss. If the Brewers lose tonight, the Cubs can clinch by winning tomorrow afternoon, and even if Milwaukee wins, they can clinch with a win and a Brewer loss. And no worries about the minor injury to Geovany Soto; he didn't have to participate in the carnage today and Lou said in the postgame conference that he'll be "fine".
Finally, the Cardinals have a player named "Brian Barden" and also a player named "Brian Barton". Even though they are easy to tell apart:
... this sort of thing shouldn't be allowed. One of them is going to have to go to another team.
Hey, if you can't have a few laughs after this... right? That's all you can do. Let's get 'em tomorrow. Your official discussion thread for the Brewers/Reds game is here. Go Reds!