How many opportunities did the Cubs give away on the basepaths in today's 5-4 loss to the Reds?
Let us count the ways.
RISP in the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings.
Bases loaded, one out in the fifth; bases loaded, nobody out in the sixth. Two TOOTBLANs, one with Starlin Castro getting caught off base in the fifth, the other Kosuke Fukudome in the ninth, when he represented the tying run.
And, Matt Garza hitting a dribbler in front of the plate and being tagged out by the catcher.
Had enough? Well, for this game, maybe so. The Cubs had seven hits and five walks and had numerous opportunities to at least tie the game up; failure to lay down a bunt by Darwin Barney in the ninth inning before he lined into the double play with Fukudome on base... ah, well, enough, really. Here's the only number from today's game that really matters: 2-for-12 with RISP.
Although Garza gave up five earned runs in six innings, he didn't pitch that badly, making just one massive mistake, a three-run homer to Jay Bruce that gave the Reds the lead after the Cubs had fashioned a 1-0 lead on Garza's first major league hit, a couple of groundouts and a passed ball.
Yes, Matt Garza (who looks about as bad standing at the plate with a bat as any pitcher I've seen since Mike Bielecki) got a hit today, a single up the middle. Don't expect this to happen too often, or maybe ever, again. As is normal for first ML hits, the ball was tossed into the dugout to be saved for Garza (after, of course, players mark up a different ball with various obscenities and pretend that's the real one). Maybe they should bronze it, or put it in a time capsule, because 100 years from now, who's going to believe it actually happened?
The bullpen again did a good job; Marcos Mateo continued his match-a-strikeout-with-a-walk pace, but gave up nothing after Sean Marshall bailed him out, and Kerry Wood had his longest outing of the year, throwing 25 pitches over 1.2 innings (longest by inning; he did have a 26-pitch inning earlier in the season). That probably makes Wood unavailable for tomorrow.
What more can be said? The Cubs had the Reds on the ropes several times and failed to cash in on chances. Mike Quade said in his postgame remarks, cliche-ridden though it might seem, the correct thing: "We're setting the table. We just have to have somebody clean it off." Who that is going to be, no one knows. Castro, Fukudome, Alfonso Soriano and Geovany Soto all failed in RISP situations today. Anyone else want to step down, er, up?
Oh, and after the day dawned sunny without a cloud in the sky, spitty little showers danced around the ballpark off and on both before the game and during the seventh and eighth innings, not hard enough or long enough to stop play; just enough to be extremely annoying.
Kind of like the game itself. There's a 60% chance of rain again tomorrow, seemingly par for the course in this dreary spring. It'd be nice if the Cubs could dodge raindrops long enough to even up this series. Casey Coleman will face Bronson Arroyo.