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Baseball Is Fundamental: Angels Execute, Cubs Don't, Cubs Lose

If the Cubs were a fundamentally sound team, Tyler Colvin's three-run homer in the ninth inning today would have been a dramatic walkoff, with skies darkening, rain beginning to fall and PA announcer Paul Friedman telling the crowd of a severe thunderstorm warning that had been issued for the area.

But they're not. This is the value of advance scouting; clearly, the Angels do a great deal of major league advance scouting and they knew exactly what would beat the Cubs -- good execution of fundamental baseball and forcing the team with the fourth-most errors in the National League to make plays, which the Cubs didn't.

With four unearned runs allowed today, the Cubs have now allowed 40 -- only the Nationals, who lead the league in errors with 61, are even close to that (39). When Bob Howry relieved Carlos Silva to begin the seventh inning, the score was 3-2 Angels.

Howry got a ground ball -- thrown away by Jeff Baker. The next hitter laid down a perfect bunt -- thrown away again by Baker. The next hitter grounded to Baker, who nearly threw the ball away a third time, which scored a run. That should have been three outs and inning over -- except instead, the Angels had a run without the ball leaving the infield, a runner on base and only one out, so when Howie Kendrick homered off Howry, the only hit of the inning, the score was 6-2 and the game essentially over.

John Grabow suffered the same fate. He issued a walk, and then a sacrifice and a throwing error (after a stolen base, another good fundamental execution by Torii Hunter) gave the Angels run #7, which proved to be the difference. Grabow struck out the next two hitters, which made that run also unearned, and also without the ball leaving the infield.

I'm sorry, but that's 100% ridiculous. FOUR RUNS WITHOUT THE BALL LEAVING THE INFIELD? That rarely happens in four-year-olds' T-ball leagues, much less the major leagues.

That's all on the manager and coaches, I think. These are talented players on the Cubs, but they are poorly schooled in fundamental baseball. You could see the difference as clear as the early-afternoon skies at Wrigley today, between the two squads. Mike Scioscia's team executed bunts -- including one by catcher Jeff Mathis that scored a run in the fourth -- worked counts, and made fine defensive plays.

The Cubs, not so much. Lou made a joke about an A-ball team not being "that bad" after the Cubs played a horrid game against the Athletics on Tuesday. Guess what, Lou? That's something the manager and coaches have to teach! You used to be like that. Not any more, I guess. And Lou, why on Earth would you let Carlos Silva bat, down one run in the sixth? Mike Fontenot sat on the bench today, doing nothing. Silva came out of the game anyway, and he was clearly gassed after the sixth inning ended.

And then in the ninth inning, with rain beginning to fall and the Cubs seemingly out of it, Ryan Theriot decided to have one of his better at-bats of the year, working a walk. Chad Tracy also walked, and then Colvin hit his blast into the RF seats. Two groundouts later, Derrek Lee hit his second homer of the game and the tying run came to the plate.

With one of the worst storms in a couple of years bearing down on the area, Geovany Soto could have made the game legendary. Instead, he grounded to short, making the high winds and hail part of the trip home rather than part of a rain delay.

Not much more to say. The Cubs can compete with teams like this. But they must play better fundamental baseball. It's just that simple.