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2009 Season In Microcosm: Cubs Lose Ugly 6-2 Game To Mets

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NEW YORK -- I drove all the way from Chicago for that?

The Cubs' fading playoff hopes dimmed further Friday night in a 6-2 loss to the Mets that both teams tried really hard to lose. The Cubs were more successful in that losing effort.

The game featured three errors, at least two easily catchable fly balls that were dropped, the Cubs leaving the bases loaded three times (including with nobody out in the seventh) and scoring only one run through all those bases-loaded situations (naturally, when it didn't really mean anything any more). The Mets put up five runs in the eighth inning when Ryan Theriot couldn't throw out the admittedly fast Luis Castillo on a routine ground ball to short, and later in the inning a two-run single got past a pulled-in infield with the score still a manageable 3-1. Had the infield been at normal depth, the ball would have likely been hit right at Aramis Ramirez for a double play. Yes, one run would have scored -- unless A-Ram would have been able to throw to the plate, and I know that's a contact play, but still.

Still is right. The Cubs should have blown the game open in the seventh inning, when it was 1-0 and they loaded the bases with nobody out. I really don't know what to say -- the Cubs left 12 men on base in all and it was, as the headline said, an ugly, ugly game, leaving the Cubs seven games out of the wild-card lead with 29 to go.

Lou again said in his postgame press conference, "I don't know what to do." Well, here's what you can do, Lou. How about leaving Angel Guzman in to throw another inning? Guzman had thrown only 10 pitches in efficiently dispatching the Mets in the seventh, keeping the score at 1-0. There was no particular reason to take him out -- his batting order spot wasn't coming up till the 8th. Lou seems to have an aversion to using a relief pitcher for more than an inning -- unless, of course, the reliever has already thrown a huge number of pitches in the first inning he throws, making it almost certain he'll blow up in the second one.

Kevin Gregg and John Grabow didn't have it last night -- Gregg wasn't really a surprise, but Grabow was -- and maybe Guzman would have kept the score close.

With Derrek Lee still out of the lineup due to the birth of his second child on Thursday, Micah Hoffpauir got the start at 1B. Hoffpauir was returning to New York for the first time since he had his best major league day last September 25, when he went 5-for-5 with a pair of homers. Unfortunately, the site of that game is now a parking lot; Hoffpauir went 0-for-4 and Lou sent Jake Fox up to PH for him in the 9th (Fox struck out to end it).

All of this ruined an outstanding outing from Carlos Zambrano, who threw six really good innings and only allowed a handful of balls out of the infield. One of those balls, unfortunately, was Cory Sullivan's home run off the RF upper-deck facade, making the score 1-0 in the second inning. There it stood till the Cubs managed to tie it up in the 8th on a bizarre play where three Mets fielders let Milton Bradley's popup drop between them; Bradley hustled into second and eventually scored on Jeff Baker's single. After the horrible bottom of the 8th, the Cubs got a consolation run on an error and loaded the bases again in the 9th, but then the Mets summoned K-Rod. Francisco Rodriguez hasn't been lights-out as he was last year for the Angels, when he set the ML save record, but he was good enough to finish off a dispirited Cubs team.

I didn't get a chance to fully walk around Citi Field last night, but my first impression is: kinda generic. There's nothing that screams "New York" about the place, and I understand Mets fans were extremely unhappy about the entry rotunda, which is supposed to evoke the Brooklyn Dodgers' Ebbets Field. That's all well and good, but there's apparently absolutely no Mets history or Mets logos (except for one on top of the dugout) anywhere in the place. They're working on changing that, from what I hear, after numerous (justifiable, it seems) complaints from Mets fans. The sightlines were decent from my seat halfway down the RF line, but one thing that isn't good: the out-of-town scoreboard. Hard to read and tucked away far above the LF seats, it finally gave up on trying to show AL scores last night.

Mets fans didn't give me too much grief last night, nor did I hear any dissing of Cubs fans; I think their own bad season had them commiserating with us. I would, at least, like to see a strong finish to this year. A win today would be a nice start on that. The game preview thread will post at 10:30 am CDT.