I haven't used the acronym TOOTBLAN (which stands for, if you don't know, "Thrown Out On The Bases Like A Nincompoop and which has its own entry in the Urban Dictionary) very much here -- and I can't take credit for it.
However, when two Cubs do this in the same inning it is definitely worth headline mention.
In the third inning of last night's 3-2 Cubs loss to the Dodgers, with the score tied 1-1, Ryan Theriot singled. It took only one pitch to Marlon Byrd and two pickoff attempts to get Theriot picked off first base, where he was thrown out easily sliding into second.
Four pitches later, Byrd sent a line drive to right field, a clean single. Now, I hesitate to criticize Byrd because he is always hustling, always playing the game hard, and always smiling when he does it. It's been said that he thinks "double" every time he hits a clean single, and that kind of thinking is admirable. It's a reason why he's leading the major leagues in doubles with 27 and has a chance to hit 50+ doubles this year. Only five Cubs have hit 50 or more doubles in a season, and only two (Mark Grace in 1995 with 51, and Derrek Lee with 50 in 2005) have done so since 1936.
Last night -- not so much. Byrd was thrown out trying to stretch his single into a double, and just like that, in an inning where the Cubs could have had runners on first and third with one out and the middle of the order up, inning over.
That was only partly responsible for the Cubs leaving only three men on base last night. One of the two runs was on an Alfonso Soriano home run, the other when Geovany Soto drove in Aramis Ramirez, who had doubled (and hustled going into second base). The Dodgers also turned a pair of double plays.
All of this would have been fine if not for one mistake by Randy Wells, who turned in yet another Cub quality start (the Cubs now lead the NL with 54 such games). That mistake was yanked down the line by Rafael Furcal for what turned out to be a game-winning two-run homer.
Give some props to Clayton Kershaw, who struck out 12, and to Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton, although the Cubs decided for some reason to swing at Broxton offerings that were bouncing in. A-Ram singled off Broxton, putting the tying run on base, but then -- despite the fact that Geovany Soto is hitting .353 in his last ten games -- Lou decided to send Kosuke Fukudome up to bat for him. Fukudome isn't a bad PH (.333 lifetime, 12-for-36 with three walks, a double and a HR), but in this case, I'd have stayed with the hot hand. Fukudome hit a soft fly ball to Reed Johnson to end it.
The only good thing about this game from a Midwestern point of view was that it lasted only two hours and 15 minutes, ending before 11:30 Central time. The story is the same -- good pitching, no hitting and mistakes lead to another loss. The Cubs will try to eliminate the last two of those tonight.