Before I discuss the bullpen meltdown in last night's 7-2 Cubs loss to the Dodgers, I'd like to say one thing very loudly to Lou Piniella so it can't possibly be missed:
Please don't put Aaron Miles in any more baseball games.
Thank you. Miles came up with two runners on and two out in the top of the sixth, pinch-hitting for Tom Gorzelanny -- there's a questionable move right there, because even though the Cubs had a runner in scoring position, Gorzo had kept the game close and had thrown only 82 pitches -- and that's when I got an email from my friend, BCB reader bison:
Should I write the 4-3 down now for Miles, or wait until it happens???
Sure enough, Miles grounded to second base to end the inning, and the Cubs had only three singles the rest of the night.
Look. I'm sure Aaron Miles, like the Cubs' other not-good Aaron (Heilman), is a fine human being and is nice to his mother and loves animals, but he simply cannot play major league baseball any more. He now has one hit in his last 21 AB (.048) -- that was the completely unexpected triple he hit in Coors Field on August 8. During that time he has also had the famous double-clutch play that turned a routine ground ball to shortstop into a base hit, and grounded out more times than I care to remember. He just shouldn't be allowed to play any more; I'd have rather seen Rich Harden pinch-hit in that situation last night than Miles, or simply let Gorzelanny bat for himself.
The Cubs' loss coupled with the Cardinals' 5-1 win in San Diego put the Cubs a season-high seven games out of first place and six games off the wild-card lead. With 43 games remaining in the season, however, there is still time to right this ship. I won't give up until the math turns a lot more south than it is now -- deficits larger than this one have been made up with less time left in the season.
The other day, many of us were lobbying for Angel Guzman to take over from Kevin Gregg as closer. After last night's grand slam by Russell Martin... maybe that desire was premature. Guzman was awful, giving up a pair of singles and an intentional walk to load the bases after a sacrifice, before Martin cleared 'em with his home run, reminiscent in tone to James Loney's slam in the NLDS at Wrigley Field last October.
That's all bad. So let's talk about a couple of good things that happened last night: Kosuke Fukudome had an excellent game, hitting his 11th homer of the year (more than he did all of last season), also drawing a walk and going 3-for-3. At .864, his OPS is now approaching the territory we all hoped it would a year and a half ago. He is hitting .343/.460/.598 since the All-Star break with 4 HR and 18 RBI in 30 games, outstanding production. Keep it up, Dome. Also, Jeff Baker doubled, extending his hitting streak to 10 games, and Kevin Gregg threw a scoreless inning. That last may not seem like much, but Gregg is going to have to contribute somewhere, and beginning to get his head on straight by throwing well in a blowout is, at least, step one to coming back.
All of you can give up if you want. I won't until the proverbial "fat lady" has finished singing. To me, she's only clearing her throat. Keep the faith, and go Cubs.