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Poor Fundamental Play Dooms Cubs In 4-3, 11-Inning Loss To Reds

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I like Mike Fontenot, but he's having a tough year. Offensively, his production is down -- partly because he's being asked to play every day, instead of in the platoon role he's more suited to. Against LHP, he's now 4-for-29 (.138), which weighs down his overall numbers.

And his defense deserted him last night; his first-inning error helped lead to three unearned runs when Ramon Hernandez smacked a two-run homer off Ryan Dempster after the third out should have been registered. All the runs off Dempster were unearned; in the 11 innings of the 4-3 Cubs loss to the Reds, only the winning run in the 11th off Sean Marshall was earned, again lowering the Cubs' team ERA over the ten games since their eight-game losing streak ended.

Fontenot also threw the ball over Geovany Soto's head on what should have been a "Thank you!" infield grounder by Adam Rosales with Jay Bruce on third base, allowing Bruce to score the winning run. But I'm going to call out someone else for a misplay that wasn't even mentioned by Len & Bob earlier in the inning. With Bruce on second after a walk and a wild pitch, Alex Gonzalez laid down a sacrifice bunt. Bob Brenly on WGN went on and on about Fontenot not being familiar with 3B, that's why he wasn't covering, etc.

Where was Ryan Theriot?!?!?! There's a runner only on second base. The only place for a base advance is at third. If the third baseman is creeping in to try to field a bunt -- which Fontenot was -- the shortstop has to rotate to third base to take the play. Replays showed Theriot somewhere in the general area of his own position leaning toward second base. It wasn't clear from replays whether Sean Marshall, who eventually picked up the bunt, could have gotten Bruce at third. But no one was there to cover.

Ugh. If there's been any game that really showed how much the Cubs miss Aramis Ramirez, this was it. And all of this on a night when Soto may, at last, have come out of his season-long slump by hitting his second homer of the year, and the Cubs fought back from the 3-0 first-inning mess to tie the game on a Jake Fox sacrifice fly. Fox, for his part, had no fielding chances and did have the sac fly, so I'd expect Lou to give him some more chances to play against lefthanded pitching.

Speaking of Lou, did you see him trudge on and off the field to talk to Marshall in the 10th inning? He looked like he was tired of life itself. He seems disengaged and uninterested this year -- even during the argument after Ryan Theriot was caught stealing in the first, Mike Quade and Matt Sinatro had to do the work of getting Theriot away from 2B umpire Damien Beal to avoid one of those automatic suspensions for touching a thread on an umpire's shirt. Lou came out slowly, said his piece calmly, and walked just as slowly back into the dugout. (Replays appeared to show that Theriot, who beat the throw, was out when his leg came off the base and he got tagged.) I'm not saying I want Lou to have an on-field tantrum every time a close call goes against the Cubs, but once in a while, a little passion doesn't hurt.

In a few hours, Randy Wells, who has deserved to win all five starts he's made this year, will give the Cubs a good shot to win the series and that would give the club a winning road trip. The Cubs have now played four straight one-run games (record: 2-2). I'll take another one, as long as the Cubs have one more run than the Reds score today. The game preview thread will post at 10:45 am CDT (and this time, for sure!).