The only good thing that can be said about last night's frustrating 3-2 Cubs loss to the Brewers is that no one in Chicago actually was forced to watch it.
CSN's feed from Miller Park cut in and out and finally disappeared entirely; the graphic that CSN put up made it look like the Cubs were playing the "Technical Difficulties", as that TwitPic I took of my TV screen said, as Carlos Marmol blew his first save opportunity since May 17. It was only the fifth time in 27 appearances all season that Marmol had a run charged to him.
The Cubs were the ones appearing to have technical difficulties. In the fifth inning with the game locked in a scoreless tie, Ted Lilly came to bat with runners on second and third. Now, as wonderful a human being and pitcher as Ted is, it must be noted that his career batting record isn't very good. In 259 plate appearances before last night, Ted had drawn a grand total of four walks.
And yet, facing one of the better pitchers in the National League, Yovani Gallardo, Ted did just that -- walked to load the bases. This gave Ryan Theriot a chance to drive in the first run of the game -- perhaps he'd walk, too? Given the fact that Gallardo had just walked the opposing pitcher, maybe Theriot would take a couple of pitches, in order to see something he liked?
Nope, nope and nope. Theriot, being "aggressive" again, swung at Gallardo's first offering and grounded out weakly to shortstop.
Let's hope this anchors Theriot firmly to the bench for the next, oh, rest of his Cubs career.
Nevertheless, the Cubs took a 1-0 lead in the eighth, which lasted exactly one pitch into the bottom of the inning when Corey Hart homered off Lilly. That was Ted's only mistake in eight stellar innings. They manufactured a run with good baserunning and an infield out in the top of the ninth to take the lead before Marmol's bad outing.
And this morning, we learn that at last, the Cubs admit that Aramis Ramirez is injured; he's likely going on the DL today with a hand injury (that's the one that's the official cause; the triceps injury he suffered in spring training may still be bothering him), to be replaced by Chad Tracy, who is hitting .396/.427/.648 with 5 HR and 18 RBI in 96 AB at Iowa. Granted, it's Iowa, but Tracy could not hit any worse than Aramis has this season.
This move comes probably a month later than it should. It appeared clear to the casual observer that Ramirez was injured, just as Alfonso Soriano played injured most of last year. It is commendable that major league regulars want to get out there and play, but if they are injured and not producing, they don't help themselves (because they could be on the DL and getting better) or the team (by their poor performance) by not acknowledging the injury and taking the time to heal it. It seems, in recent years, that the only way a veteran Cub goes on the DL is when an injury appears on television so obvious to anyone viewing (as Derrek Lee's wrist injury in 2006, or Soriano's hamstring pull running the bases in 2008 were) that neither the player nor the team can deny that the individual is hurt.
Since the Cubs beat the Dodgers 3-0 on May 25, they are 4-8. In the four wins, they have scored 20 runs -- and that includes a 1-0 win over the Dodgers. In the eight losses, they have scored 16 runs -- and that includes an 8-5 loss to the Dodgers. The Cubs have been getting good enough pitching to win, most days. If this offense can get untracked, they could still put together a decent winning streak, enough to return to contention.
But time is growing short.