You didn't expect Mike Quade to go undefeated as Cubs manager, did you?
Quade's 3-0 start still ranks as among the best in Cubs managerial history (as I noted here on Wednesday), but last night the first-place Reds hit early and often and beat the Cubs 7-1.
Jay Bruce, who hasn't quite fulfilled the promise he showed in the Reds' minor league system (though at 23, he still has time to do that), had the first three-homer game of his career. Another Reds first: Chris Valaika, just recalled from the minor leagues to fill in for Brandon Phillips, hit the first home run of his major league career off Tom Gorzelanny.
This sort of thing seems to happen a lot to the Cubs, doesn't it?
There weren't a lot of highlights last night at GABP, although even with the Reds in first place and the Cubs floundering this year, there seemed to be a significant minority of Cubs fans in the Cincinnati crowd of 36,219. Tom Gorzelanny gave up the first two Bruce home runs and Valaika's; Bruce's third dinger was served up by Scott Maine, who was making his major league debut.
That makes 16 rookies who have played for the Cubs this season. Ten of those 16 have made their major league debut this year. The 16 rookies ties for the most used by the Cubs since they also used 16 in the similarly lost season of 2006.
Perhaps more interesting to many Cubs fans than last night's loss is the visit of the New York Yankees to the Cell, where manager Joe Girardi was, of course, asked about the Cubs' managerial opening for next season:
"I was hired by the Yankees to do a job...We’re in a very tight division race. My job is to prepare this team to play every day, and that’s what I’m focusing on.
"My faith always has been extremely important to me. I’ve never worried about next year. I’m happy with my contract situation (expiring after this season). I feel that I’m fortunate to be one of 30 managers with a contract right now. There are people in this organization who have done a lot more for this organization than I have, who don’t have contracts."
Though Girardi went on to say many nice things about the Cubs and about his former teammate Ryne Sandberg, his statements were, of course, noncommittal. I still believe that the likeliest scenario is for Girardi to be given another three-year deal to stay in New York, and that Ryne Sandberg will be named Cubs manager soon after the 2010 regular season ends.
But who knows? Baseball is always full of surprises. In the meantime, the Cubs will try it again against the Reds tonight.