WASHINGTON, DC -- I am in Washington on business and took in the Nationals' 8-4 loss to the Phillies last night, thus missing the carnage of the Cubs' 3-2 come-from-ahead loss to the Braves.
But there's good news! The Cubs play the Nats at the end of this month and let me tell you, they are just as bad as they were last year. (Although, I wondered why the Phillies had to use four relievers to beat a team as bad as Washington.) When the Nats come to Wrigley, that should be a blessed relief for the Cubs.
I'm sure there are a ton of ledge jumpers after last night's loss. May I remind you that the 2008 Cubs, winners of 97 games, also started 0-2 against a pretty good Brewers team? And that the 2007 Cubs, a playoff team, lost two of its first three against a bad Reds club? And that the Braves aren't the Nationals, but in fact a good team that has a shot at contending even in a division that has the powerful Phillies?
Stop panicking, right now. Chipper Jones is a good hitter and he hit a home run. It happens. And Lou even picked the correct handed pitcher -- Chipper doesn't hit quite as well against lefties, although I might have stuck with Sean Marshall, who's been unhittable in two games. This is one thing that drives me nuts about Lou, particularly the last two years -- overuse of the bullpen when you have a guy (Marshall) who can give you extended outings. It's no wonder the Cubs need a 12-man pitching staff. If the manager would use his pitchers properly, they could easily get along with 11.
Give credit to Ryan Dempster, who pitched himself into a real jam in the third, striking out Troy Glaus and Yunel Escobar with the bases loaded, already trailing 1-0. Dempster wound up with nine strikeouts and looks like a man who wants to get back to the way he threw all of the 2008 season.
That might have been enough if the bullpen had been able to hold the lead. This is, unfortunately, all too reminiscent of last year. This does NOT mean that the bullpen is going to do this all year, though.
There's really not much more to say about this game. It's one of those woulda, coulda, shoulda types of games; many here have complained about the inexperience of the bullpen, but it wasn't that inexperience that lost today's game, since John Grabow is one of the more experienced arms the Cubs have. Games like this are going to happen; the Braves, as I said, are a good team, and if the Cubs can take tomorrow's game, I'm satisfied that they still have a pretty good shot at coming home 3-3.
Come off the ledge, please, settle down and remember there are 160 games to go.