Rich Harden ties a career high for strikeouts. Jake Fox hits a clutch game-tying two-run homer. New Cub John Grabow throws a scoreless inning (and Lou even allows the lefthander to pitch to righthanded batters!). Aaron Heilman... also pitches a scoreless inning.
Recipe for victory, right?
Unfortunately, no. Carlos Marmol had one of his bad innings, walking the first two batters he faced (and throwing only 10 strikes in 22 pitches). He almost got out of the inning by getting the next two men out, but then John Baker singled in the lead run. Marmol then hit pinch-hitter Ross Gload, and Lou had seen enough, summoning Sean Marshall, who's been so good out of the bullpen this year. Naturally, Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez switched to a right-handed pinch-hitter, Wes Helms, who promptly put the game out of reach with a two-run double.
The 5-2 loss to the Marlins, coupled with the Cardinals' win over the Astros, puts the Cubs back in second place, 1/2 game behind St. Louis.
For a while it didn't seem as if it would even be close -- Chris Volstad was setting Cub hitters down easily over the first six innings. (I even had a headline ready for the score if it had held up that way: "Volstad's Act Prohibits Cubs From Winning, 2-0".) But Fox's two-out, two-run homer tied the game and gave the Cubs some hope, only to have that crushed by Marmol's bad performance... something that's going to have to happen far less often if the Cubs are going to win the NL Central.
Meanwhile, I have a bone to pick with the Marlins. Thanks to BCB reader Cubbinstrongsince 86 for making this FanPost about the Marlins' marketing department's continued cheap shots at the Cubs. I repost the relevant information along with the link to the Paul Sullivan article in which it appeared (which I also added to the FanPost):
When the Marlins sent a marketing department intern out to the field at Land Shark Stadium with a billy goat during the game Friday night against the Cubs, manager Lou Piniella couldn't believe what he was seeing.
"Tasteless," he said. "When we come here they always have some gimmick that basically doesn't make any sense. I don't know who dreams of these things ... When they come to Chicago, we don't have fried marlin.
"Just play baseball."
Damn straight, Lou. "Tasteless" doesn't begin to describe it. Last night's attendance of 25,024 is almost 40% above the Marlins' season average of 17,966. They should be thrilled to see the thousands of Cubs fans there, putting money in their pockets and boosting the economy of south Florida. Though it's common to hear fans of other teams do this kind of thing to Cubs fans -- or any visiting fans of any team, for that matter -- to have it done on an official basis by the home team is... well, I'll be charitable and say it's juvenile.
That's being nice. I could say some other not-nice things about this, but all I will say is that the Marlins are the only team that does this. It's lame, trite and shows the lack of creativity on the part of their marketing department, which apparently can't think of anything positive to say about their own team, so they have to tear down the other one.
I hope Cubs fans show up by the tens of thousands tonight and make it sound like a Wrigley Field home game. Oh, and a win would be nice, too.