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Randy Wells' Seven Strong Innings For Naught: Cubs Shut Out Again

14-30 in one-run games.

0-for-7 last night with RISP.

I could quote more numbers, but I'm sure you've had enough of them this year. The Cubs lost to the Padres 1-0 Tuesday night. It was their first 1-0 loss since June 16, 2007, oddly enough, also to the Padres. You might remember that game better as the one where Derrek Lee and the Padres' Chris Young got into a fight after Lee thought Young had been throwing at him.

Lee missed last night's game with back trouble and Young hasn't pitched since April with shoulder trouble. Nevertheless, the Padres won last night not necessarily because of anything they did; they had only three hits and scored in the first inning on an infield groundout -- they won because once again, the Cubs could not score a runner from third base with less than two out, a situation they had in the fourth and eighth innings.

The eighth was particularly frustrating, as Marlon Byrd came up with runners on first and third with one out and promptly hit Mike Adams' first pitch for an inning-ending double play.

It's just one of those years. You know, if the Cubs had been going well, Blake DeWitt's long fly ball with two out and a runner on in the ninth would have been lifted by a stray gust of wind just a few more feet and it would have landed in the basket for a walkoff homer. But it wasn't.

And Randy Wells deserved better; after the first inning he gave up only a pair of hits and a pair of walks. He's had a rough year, but this game at least gives some hope that he can be a solid starter in 2011 and beyond.

A few more notes about last night, both at the ballpark and here at BCB. My post about Ed Lynch's trade of Jon Garland -- one of the worst in recent Cubs history -- was not in any way a "it could have been worse" or a defense of Jim Hendry. It was simply to remind everyone of the Garland deal, since Garland was last night's Padres starter. Yet many of you entered into your reflexive Hendry-bashing. Frankly, it's really unseemly.

Has Hendry made a number of bad deals and signings that have hurt the team in the last two years? Absolutely. Nevertheless, he's here, and staying at least long enough to see if he can dig the team out of this hole. When people here make constructive suggestions about the future, I'm ready to discuss. But when people are just "JIMHENDRYSUCKSOMGGETHIMOUTTAHERE!!!!1!!!"... not so much.

Last night's crowd, on an evening when it tried very hard to rain but succeeded only in sprinkling, was announced as 33,664. The bleachers were not even half full, and it appeared there wasn't more than about 20,000 in the house, with wide swaths of the back of the lower deck corners empty. It was the smallest paid crowd of the year and only one last year (33,299 at the second half of a day-night DH vs. the Pirates on September 30) was smaller. You'd have to go back to September 14, 2006 (31,361) and September 26, 2006 (31,932) to find smaller paid crowds. And while there were some under-30,000 crowds in early-season 2003 before the Cubs got involved in the playoff race that year, the last September crowds of significantly under 30,000 came on September 26, 2002 (20,032) and September 27, 2002 (27,637).

The last paid crowd at Wrigley Field of under 20,000 was on April 9, 2002, a cloudy, 45-degree day. Because of season ticket sales since then, it's unlikely any paid crowd will be announced that small. But it's entirely possible that one of the night games in the Pirates series during the next homestand, or the Astros or Giants series in September, will have fewer than 10,000 people actually in attendance, a cautionary tale for new ownership.

What's the answer, besides a winning team? I don't know if I have one. The Cubs, meanwhile, will try to score this afternoon. That'd be a start.