This is what a losing streak does to a writer: I had a long rant ready to post here about Jeff Baker's bad throw in the fifth inning that led to three unearned Brewers runs.
I'm still going to post that, but it can wait till after the jump, because the Cubs found their bats today -- wonder where they've been? -- and smashed out 16 hits, including four homers, and ended their seven-game losing streak with a 15-3 annihilation of the Brewers.
Here's another example of how baseball has changed: it started raining fairly hard in the second inning, but at no time did the grounds crew come anywhere near covering the field nor did the umpires give any indication of stopping play. 10 or 20 years ago, they would have. It's probably a combination of the amount of money involved in refunding tickets and rescheduling games, and the fact that modern weather radars and forecasts can give teams very accurate timing on rainfall and how hard it's going to be. It did rain lightly almost the entire game, but not really hard enough to hold it up.
Maybe Baker's error and the three runs that resulted woke the Cubs' offense up, because it was only an inning later that they teed off on Manny Parra, Todd Coffey and favorite target, former Cub LaTroy Hawkins.
One big blow was a three-run homer from Aramis Ramirez, who hit it as a pinch-hitter for Ryan Dempster. Aramis hasn't had many PH appearances in his career -- this was only his 38th PA as a PH, and he had one other pinch-homer. It happened on July 14, 2002 with the Pirates; for amusement value take a look at who he batted for that day.
Geovany Soto also hit a three-run homer, off Hawkins, and drove in five runs overall. Right after Soto's homer, LaTroy threw a ball behind Alfonso Soriano; it grazed his back so he took first base. Hawkins was ejected -- not sure if that was for throwing behind a hitter, or because the benches had been warned before the game about throwing at hitters, or both. This enraged Ken Macha; the umpires gave him a lot of rope before tossing him, which just prolonged the game. Then whoever took over on the Brewers' bench decided to delay the game even further in the eighth inning.
Seriously -- your team is losing 12-3 with two out in the bottom of the eighth and it's raining and you're going to make a pitching change? What is the point of that, other than being a jerk? So what, they brought in a lefthander (Chris Capuano) to face LH-hitting Blake DeWitt. When you're losing by nine runs, does that really matter?
DeWitt made Capuano pay by yanking his first homer as a Cub into the basket in right field. Serves 'em right.
Now, I have two complaints, although they both become minor in a big win like this. First, what on Earth was Baker doing throwing to second in that situation? It appeared that Rickie Weeks slipped and stumbled coming out of the batter's box -- there were two out, he was an easy out at first. Obviously, in hindsight it didn't matter, but really, that was a very poor choice.
Second: we now know that Carlos Zambrano will return to the rotation on Monday in San Francisco. In theory, you'd like to see him stretched out a little, right? So why not leave him in to finish the game? He only threw 17 pitches in a fairly efficient inning, and you're going to want him to go five innings, at least, on Monday, right? If Lou had left him in, he could have pushed it out to 50 or so pitches, have four days off -- and he'd have registered a save.
As I said, the complaint department should be closed after a win like this, so I'll make the above comments in muted form, not make a big deal about them. Enjoy the off day.