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Cubs Bullpen Melts Down Again In 5-4 Loss To Reds

Here's what bothers me most about last night's 5-4 Cubs loss to the Reds, and it can be found simply by clicking on that boxscore link.

Look at Carlos Silva's pitch count. 71. Seventy-one. Twelve pitches on average for each of his six innings, which were outstanding except for the first couple of batters, which resulted in the only run he allowed. Silva didn't walk anyone, gave up only three hits, and consistently had Reds batters pounding the ball into the ground.

When a pitcher has that good a rhythm going, and such a low pitch count -- why take him out at all? I realize that the complete game in modern baseball is almost looked upon as a bad thing, and someday it may disappear completely, but what's the big deal, Lou, if you give your bullpen the night off? It's early in the season, granted, but look at that pitch count. Silva's not a hard thrower and even if he had averaged another 12 pitches an inning in finishing last night's game, he'd have wound up with 107 pitches. His spot in the batting order did not come up in the seventh inning.

This isn't just Lou, obviously -- take a look at the NL relief numbers for this year and you'll see that all managers are overworking their bullpens. The Cubs, with 14 "relief games" to date, are right on the league average.

I'm just saying that there are times a manager has to go against the current trend. Last night was one of those times. Thanks, Lou. This one's on you.

Silver lining person that I am, I'm going to try to find some positives out of the loss. Obviously, the biggest one is Silva -- that outing was better than anything he threw in spring training and it was exactly what I was hoping for from him. Few K's, the ball in play but on the ground, and throwing strikes (48 out of 71 pitches), and this in a hitter's ballpark. To expect this every time is probably too much, but if he can even come close, the Cubs have a very serviceable fifth starter.

Derrek Lee had a good day with three hits, including his first homer of the year in the ninth inning; give the Cubs some credit for trying to mount a comeback after the disastrous grand slam given up by Esmailin Caridad in the eighth inning. The Reds gave the Cubs two extra chances with a pair of errors in the ninth, but Chad Tracy could not come through with the bases loaded. The Cubs left 13 men on base in all -- even with that slam, if they had been able to score some of them, we might be talking about a win this morning.

I'm going to cut this recap short now because there's a game in just a few hours and the game preview will post at 10:30 am CDT. The lesson learned from last night, though, is that someone needs to keep Lou off the bullpen phone when his starting pitcher is mowing down opposing batters.