Actually, I have only one question for Lou after today's tough 5-4 Cubs loss to the Phillies.
Why wasn't Sean Marshall in this game in the 8th inning instead of John Grabow?
After all, Grabow threw yesterday and Marshall didn't, and Marshall is now -- supposedly -- the top 8th inning guy. So where was he to face Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Raul Ibanez? These are the same questions I asked last year in August when the Phillies were at Wrigley Field and Lou left an obviously off-his-command Carlos Marmol in to throw to the same LH hitters when Grabow was sitting on his butt in the pen not even warming up.
Today, Marshall was the obvious choice. Where was he? Nowhere to be seen. Result: Grabow issued a pair of walks and then the game-winning hit, a single to Ibanez; Kosuke Fukudome's throw to the plate was just a little bit off, otherwise he might have thrown Utley out.
In a time when the Cubs desperately need wins to keep up with the rest of the division, a split with the Phillies isn't the best result -- I guess I could give the Cubs credit for fighting hard and coming back from a 4-1 deficit that resulted when Rollins slammed a no-doubt-about-it three-run homer off Ryan Dempster. You could see Dempster on the replay of the blast -- his body language screamed out, "I should NOT have thrown that pitch!" -- but that was the only mistake Dempster made in another pretty decent outing.
And then the Cubs fought back. Derrek Lee's homer made it 4-2. That was the first home run by a Cub off Phillies pitching since Alfonso Soriano hit what proved to be the game-winner at Wrigley Field on August 29, 2008. Since that time, in nine games before today, Phillies hitters had outhomered Cubs hitters in those nine meetings 16-0.
The Cubs manufactured another run in the seventh and then Fukudome homered -- off a lefthander, Antonio Bastardo -- to tie the game. That's only Fukudome's second career HR off a lefthanded pitcher (the other one was off Trever Miller of the Cardinals in St. Louis on April 26, 2009).
And then Marshall didn't come into the game.
The Cubs had their shot off Jose Contreras in the ninth, getting the tying and lead runs to scoring position with two out, but Geovany Soto popped up to end it.
Finally, in case anyone thinks the first-place Reds are doing anything special or anything different from any other NL team -- they took an 8-0 lead in the second inning in Atlanta and went into the last of the 9th leading 9-3. The Braves scored three runs before the first out and then loaded the bases... and as I was typing this recap, Brooks Conrad hit a ball to deep left field that went off Laynce Nix's glove and over the wall for a walkoff grand slam.
As I've been saying... this is a very weird year with a lot of teams that have a lot of flaws in the National League. The Cubs remain 4.5 games out of first place. Onward to Texas -- hope to see some of you there.