SAN FRANCISCO -- I looked at the Cubs' announced lineup for last night and shook my head. There was only one player in it -- Alfonso Soriano -- who was a regular player for the team at the end of the 2009 season.
That's how big the Cubs' turnover is. The rest of the starting lineup included three rookies, one player acquired by trade, two free agents signed in the offseason and a bench player, both last year and this.And, the Cubs were playing shorthanded because of the trade of Mike Fontenot to the Giants. Aramis Ramirez wasn't available due to a sore ribcage and Darwin Barney, who will replace Fontenot on both the 40-man and active rosters, hadn't arrived yet. It was an odd scene for Fontenot last night:
"It's strange, being in the same town that you're traded to," Fontenot said. "I was telling someone I was trying to decide if I was going to work out or get a bite to eat and I was called into the office and told I was being traded."
"He's got a short little walk," Cubs acting manager Alan Trammell said. "I told him to take it easy on us. It's a good opportunity for Mike to go to a team that's in contention."
He was wearing a Cubs T-shirt and shorts when he got the news, changed into his street clothes and then walked down the hallway at AT&T Park to the home clubhouse where he got settled. He'll wear No. 14 with the Giants. Aubrey Huff has No. 17. The good news for Fontenot is that he will be reunited with another LSU buddy, Giants closer Brian Wilson.
It's the third year in a row that the Giants have made a deal with a team that was in town to play them. In 2008, they sent Ray Durham to the visiting Brewers and last year, they acquired Freddy Sanchez from the Pirates, who were in town.
Oh, you're waiting for the game recap? Right, there was a game last night, another one-run loss, 5-4 to the Giants. More on that after the jump.
Tom Gorzelanny started out like Tim Lincecum did the night before, getting hit all over northern California before the sun even set. (Actually, that "sunset" was just a rumor in the Bay Area yesterday -- nothing but clouds ever showed up in the San Francisco sky.) Trailing 3-0 before he could get the second out in the first inning, Gorz settled down and allowed only three hits until the sixth. The Cubs fought their way back into a tie via a Marlon Byrd home run and a four-hit barrage in the sixth inning off Barry Zito.
The rest of the game was more solo homers: the Giants taking the lead on an Aaron Rowand blast in the last of the sixth, the Cubs making it 4-4 with Tyler Colvin's 18th homer in the seventh, and then Pat Burrell hitting the game-winner off Justin Berg in the eighth.
Wait. Justin Berg? What was he doing in there with the game on the line? Andrew Cashner, who threw only 12 pitches the night before, probably should have replaced Berg.
And then, it was pretty obvious that even with only three bench players last night (Micah Hoffpauir, Koyie Hill and Kosuke Fukudome), Alan Trammell would send out a pinch-hitter for Welington Castillo to open up the ninth instead of sending the rookie out to face hard-throwing Giants closer Brian Wilson, and then also bat for Berg. But he put the two PH up there in the wrong order! (Congratulations to Castillo, incidentally, who doubled off Zito in his first MLB at-bat. Hope someone took a photo of the AT&T Park scoreboard during his next AB showing him batting 1.000.)
Fukudome, who has on-base skills, should have led off, followed then by Hoffpauir. Instead, Hoff was sent up to lead off, and, predictably, he struck out. Fukudome then beat out an infield hit, but was stranded.
Same old story -- another one-run loss, the team's 28th of the season.
The 11 rookie pitchers the Cubs have used this year -- Berg being one of them -- is a team record. So I asked baseball historian Ed Hartig what the overall club record for rookies in a year is -- the Cubs have used 14 in total, and it'll be 15 when Darwin Barney ("The Purple Evolutionist" -- great nickname) makes his debut.
The record is 27 -- set in 1902, and it was the youth of all those players that led newspaper headline writers to nickname the team "Cubs". That, of course, eventually stuck as the official name of the team. The good news is that only four years later, those Cubs went on a five-year run that included four pennants and two World Series wins.
A repeat of that would be nice. The game preview for today's afternoon season finale will post at 1:15 pm CDT. (For those in the area who are going to be at today's game, I still don't have a ticket. When I get one, I'll send out the location via the BCB Twitter account.)