Blame the bullpen all you want; blame John Grabow and Esmailin Caridad for (again) not being able to throw strikes and issuing too many walks.
But this one's on the offense.
The Cubs lost 3-1 to the Reds this afternoon, ending a disappointing road trip at 2-4 that could have been 5-1. And the reason can be found in this number:
Team LOB: 12
The Cubs left five men on base in the first two innings alone, including having the bases loaded with nobody out in the first inning. They should have had rookie Mike Leake out of the game by the second inning; instead, they let him off the hook and he wound up giving up just a single tally driven in by Derrek Lee. Leake walked seven Cubs; there's really no excuse for not bringing at least some of those guys home.
It's even more of a shame, because it wasted a fine performance from Tom Gorzelanny. Gorzo gave up only four singles and a pair of walks, and the run he allowed was unearned because of... (sigh) ... yet another misplayed fly ball by Alfonso Soriano. Bob Brenly has been particularly hard on Soriano's defense and he was again today -- rightfully so. Lou's been sending Tyler Colvin to play left field frequently in the late innings for defense; today, Colvin was out there one inning too late, after Soriano's dropped fly helped lead to the Reds' tying run. Lou has promised more starts for Colvin; maybe it's time to start doing that.
When John Grabow gave up the walk that loaded the bases, I wouldn't have called on Esmailin Caridad -- whose control hasn't been great. In my opinion, the right call in that situation would have been Justin Berg, who might have been able to induce the slowfooted Ramon Hernandez to hit into a double play. Instead, Caridad walked the difficult-to-walk Hernandez, forcing in the lead run. He might have gotten squeezed by plate umpire Kerwin Danley on the 2-2 pitch; it was close enough to be called strike three. That's what Lou discussed with Caridad after Friday's game; Caridad had made some remarks to reporters about not getting calls Friday night. Lou reminded him that "umpires can read, too". Unfortunate, but that might have been what happened here.
Let's try to take a few positives out of the last five games of this trip. Since the debacle in Atlanta last Monday, the Cubs have allowed 3, 0, 5, 3 and 3 runs -- a total of 14 runs (13 earned) in five games. That's a staff ERA of 2.79 for those five games; if you're holding the opposition below three runs a game, you should be winning almost all of them, not losing three of five.
Get the bats going and this team will be just fine. Onward to the home opener tomorrow.