There was so much wrong with today's 10-6 Cubs loss to the Pirates that I hardly know where to begin to take it apart.
Let's start here -- it's time for the Zambrano-to-the-bullpen experiment to end. There, I said it. At the time it was done I thought it might work, to solidify a bullpen that couldn't get anyone out. But after today, when Z himself could barely get anyone out and looked like he would rather be just about anywhere in the solar system other than the Wrigley Field mound, it's time for Lou to declare this experiment over -- even though Lou said in his postgame remarks that Z is going to remain the "eighth-inning guy".
Really, Lou? Really? How'd today's 8th inning work out for you?
This was after a clearly misguided attempt to get Tom Gorzelanny a "win" by allowing him to complete the fifth inning when he clearly had nothing and wound up throwing a ridiculous 113 pitches blew up in Lou's face when Esmailin Caridad coughed up the lead in what seemed like about a minute and a half of the bottom of the sixth inning. Then he brought in Sean Marshall to bail out Caridad, and after bringing Mike Fontenot in to bat for Marshall, I remarked to Mike that Lou had better hope the game didn't go into extra innings, because he had already used up half his bench and bullpen after six innings. (As it turned out, of course, extra innings weren't an issue.)
Then, never mind the fact that Lou failed to do an obvious double-switch when he pulled Xavier Nady after another 0-for-3 day (credit to Nady for a sac fly in the first inning, only his third RBI of the month) -- he put Tyler Colvin in the lineup straight up for Nady and kept the pitcher in the #1 spot when Z came in. This forced the use of yet another pinch-hitter, Kosuke Fukudome, who helicoptered his way to an inning-ending strikeout. The Pirates bullpen struck out eight Cubs in the last four innings and gave the Cubs only four singles and a walk after Marlon Byrd's blast onto Waveland in the fourth had given the home team a brief 6-4 lead.
I really don't know what's up with Lou. He cut off his postgame press conference after one question and a brief followup and, as I mentioned the other day, it almost looks like he's trying to get fired.
Don't really have a lot more to say about this game. Aramis Ramirez had two hits. This ought to tell you how bad he's been going -- that's only his second multihit game of this season. The other one was on Opening Day in Atlanta. Byrd continues to hit well; so does Alfonso Soriano, who also had two hits today.
But it's time to get Z back in the rotation. Gorzelanny was pretty shaky today and he could go to the pen with James Russell sent back to Iowa and someone like Thomas Diamond brought up. The experiment, I think, was a worthwhile one -- but it's not working for anyone. Z isn't happy, isn't pitching well (today's outing gives him a 6.23 ERA in 8.2 relief innings, with 15 hits allowed); Lou seems disinterested and is making weirder and weirder moves. Let's see what happens with Z returning to starting -- since he threw today, he could take Gorz's next turn, which would be Wednesday in Philadelphia.
Note on the bleachers: it was much more peaceful today, with several families with kids in attendance nearby (along with no fewer than two large bachelorette parties). BCB'ers mrcubsfan (and his usual group) and calicubsfan were also seated nearby. All was calm until a loud argument broke out during the last of the ninth; security responded quickly and escorted the people out with no punches thrown, but I heard the offenders arguing loudly with security on their way out. If uniformed CPD were doing this work, the talkback wouldn't happen. Security still seems outnumbered.
So were the Cubs today. In this weird season where bad teams sweep good ones and even the defending league champions look vulnerable, there is still time to come back. But the Cubs had better start rightfreakingnow.