I do not understand this team.
They look very good in winning a series -- and coming close to a sweep -- against the defending league champion Phillies.
Then the Astros come to town with the third-worst record in the National League and the Cubs completely forget how to get outs, even when the Astros start three players with a combined total of 215 major league at-bats and a BA of .233.
Two of those players hit home runs last night in the Astros' 11-5 rout of the Cubs, and the combined total of major league home runs for Chris Johnson and Jason Castro before Monday was one (by Castro).
Rain threatened the area last night, but all that fell at Wrigley Field were some sprinkles during batting practice. It might as well have rained; it definitely rained base hits on Carlos Silva, who threw 41 pitches in a monstrosity of a first inning in which he didn't retire a hitter until Johnson -- who was batting seventh -- hit into a double play. Silva said in his postgame remarks that he was ready to come out for the second inning, but even Lou woke up and realized that would be a bad idea.
Silva should have been offered in trade several starts ago (and maybe he was); right now, his trade value is pretty close to zero. It was only the third start of his career where he lasted one inning or less.
We learned a few more things last night. First, Justin Berg and Mitch Atkins are not major league pitchers. Had they done a better job of holding the Astros down, the Cubs might have gotten back into the game. Thanks to a pair of homers by Tyler Colvin and Aramis Ramirez (A-Ram's 200th as a Cub), the Cubs managed to creep to within three runs at 8-5 after six.
Bye-bye chance in the following inning, when Berg gave up Johnson's first major league homer. Johnson had a single, triple and home run; as far as I can tell, the only player to hit his first ML homer as part of a cycle (Johnson needed a double) was Luke Scott in 2006.
Bob Howry put the game further out of reach by allowing a run in two innings; that performance actually made his ERA go down from 6.97 to 6.82.
As I said, I don't understand this team; they are now 5-14 against the two worst teams in their division, the Astros and Pirates. That accounts for almost all of the Cubs' deficit to .500 -- they are 37-38 against everyone else, and that includes winning series against the Dodgers and Rockies, contenders in the NL West, and the AL West-leading Rangers on the road, where the Cubs are 19-27.
They'll try it again tonight, weather permitting. The chances of a miracle are probably done; it would be nice, though, to finally win a series against the Astros, if only just to say they did it.