No, it was the little things, and Randy Wells acknowleged so in his postgame remarks: giving up a two-out hit to a pitcher who came into the game with a .100 (3-for-30) season batting average. That hit prolonged an inning that should have been over; Wells had retired the first two batters in the fourth inning easily, and seemed to have settled down after a shaky first inning. But then the #8 hitter, Alcides Escobar, walked; Bush singled; Wells, rattled, walked Felipe Lopez, and then Gerut hit the slam, only the second of his career.
It was a thrill for Gerut, I suppose; he was the 1995 Illinois High School Player of the Year for Willowbrook High, and he's struggled this year, coming into the game hitting only .215. For Wells, it was the most walks (five) he had given up in any one game this season (one intentional), and he also admitted in the postgame news conference that he had stopped doing what had made him successful earlier, attacking the zone, and was trying to nibble. Why pitchers do this, I have no idea; if something's working for you, why change it?
The Cubs lost to the Brewers 7-4, splitting a series they should have won and realistically needed to sweep to have any chance to get back into the thick of postseason contention. Now, nine games out of first place and seven games back in the wild-card race, they are in 2007 Phillies territory (the Phils made up 7.5 games in 17, but they had no one else in front of them), and I can see the numbers as well as anyone else can. It'd take a major miracle now.
The Cubs did do their best to get back into the game. Micah Hoffpauir pinch-hit for Wells in the bottom of the fourth and doubled in a pair of runs, making it 5-4 and at least giving the Cubs a shot at it, and Sean Marshall and Aaron Heilman threw scoreless innings. But the Cubs couldn't do more than two more baserunners the rest of the game, on a single by Milton Bradley and a walk to Mike Fontenot in the sixth. That put two runners on with one out, but Koyie Hill struck out and Aramis Ramirez, pinch-hitting on a day he was otherwise off, hit a ball that might have gone out had the wind not been blowing in strongly from right field.
You all know how I feel about Milton Bradley. But today really was the last straw for me. Bradley took himself out of the game after that sixth-inning single, claiming knee problems. He didn't seem to have any trouble in the field or any trouble running to first base. Maybe it's legitimate, but honestly, isn't this enough of this act? I've heard the same stories about Bradley when he was with Oakland -- taking himself out of games on a moment's notice on the flimsiest of excuses.
Enough. Bradley was a bad fit in Chicago from the beginning; his production, after taking a bit of an upswing in August, has collapsed again in September (.196/.226/.275 with zero walks in 53 plate appearances). Enough. If I were Lou, I'd bench him for the rest of the season. He's got to be traded -- to anyone who will take him. Go ahead, flame away, but that's how I feel. I'll talk after the season is over about how I think the Cubs should go about getting that LH bat they were looking for last offseason -- this wasn't the right way to do it.
Amusing: watching Prince Fielder pound around the bases for a triple after his ball got beyond Bradley to the wall in the fifth. It was, believe it or not, his third triple of the season. He may seem overweight and out of shape, but Fielder is an excellent athlete who runs the bases well. However, the Cubs might have to have Roger Bossard redo the field after the season due to that run. Fielder also was held RBI-less in the series; he's currently tied with current Houston manager Cecil Cooper for the Brewers' season record with 126 RBI. The Brewers are playing the Astros this weekend, so Cooper can see his record broken in person.
It's been a frustrating season; with four of the seven games remaining to be played in October, this might have been the last bit of nice summer-like weather we'll have for baseball on the north side of Chicago in 2009. It may not mean anything, but I do hope the Cubs can at least win the series in St. Louis this weekend. The Cubs are 5-8 vs. the Cardinals this year; if they can somehow sweep (yeah, I know, a pipedream), they'd even it up. That's a goal they can shoot for.