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Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before: Cubs Bats Impotent In 2-0 Loss To Twins

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Instead of a simple recounting of today's game, I'm going to start this recap with some information from Deep Goat.

Word is that there may be some "changes" as soon as tomorrow. I don't know the nature of the "changes" -- could be anything from trades to minor league/major league roster moves to changes in the coaching staff (if it were up to my friend Phil, he'd fire Gerald Perry, but I don't think that's going to happen; he said "Book it", but remember he also said "Book it" to Alfonso Soriano starting at 2B today and that didn't happen).

Speculate away; I only have the word that "changes" are coming.

Whatever they do, I hope it doesn't involve the pitching staff, because today the staff was again outstanding. Rich Harden returned from the DL and really made only one significant mistake, the pitch that Jason Kubel deposited on Sheffield (and yes, this time I'm sure it made the street, confirmed by ballhawk). Otherwise three dinky little singles resulted in the Twins' other run in a 2-0 Cubs shutout loss to Minnesota, their fourth loss in a row and the fifth time they have been shut out this year.

The bullpen also kept the game close; Jose Ascanio, Sean Marshall (why is Marshall being used in a close game when he could be useful in extra innings?) and Kevin Gregg threw three innings of hitless ball, but the Twins' pitchers matched it. The Cubs made Anthony Swarzak look like Greg Maddux today; he had Cub hitters off-balance all day, getting four called strikeouts (out of six total K's) and otherwise getting them to beat the ball into the ground. Matt Guerrier and Joe Nathan finished up; when Derrek Lee's line drive went off Joe Crede's glove in the last of the ninth, I thought, "At last, a break and a bit of luck!", but despite having the tying run in scoring position with one out, Kosuke Fukudome and Ryan Theriot couldn't bring the runners home.

Kosuke Fukudome. Let's talk about Dome, who is having exactly the same season he had last year -- two good months and then falling off the table. After today's horrendous performance -- 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, including nearly screwing himself into the ground in the 9th inning vs. Nathan -- he is hitting .152/.282/.212 in June. Yes, that's not a misprint -- that's a .212 slugging percentage. At this point Fukudome's best position is probably "bench"; send Reed Johnson out there and let him play CF for a week or so. Alfonso Soriano, down to .233 and hitting nearly as poorly as Fukudome this month (.174/.269/.370), needs a day off. I'd suggest giving him tomorrow off and starting Micah Hoffpauir in LF; after tomorrow the Cubs don't play till Tuesday night, which would give Soriano three full days to rest.

In his postgame remarks Lou seemed like his brain was waterlogged from the moderate rain that delayed the start of today's game by 32 minutes. His answers to the usual questions ranged from, "What do you want me to do?" to "I don't want to talk about that." Not exactly what we've come to expect from the guy who used to snap at reporters, "You saw the damn game!" Lou's losing it and the whole team is suffering, partly as a result. After today's pitching performance the team ERA sits at 3.87, still fourth in the NL but just behind the Reds at 3.85. Keep that up and many games will be won.

Finally, at this writing the Brewers are losing to the White Sox 6-0; if that holds up the Cubs remain only 3.5 games behind (two in the loss column). It's still anyone's division. Keep the faith.