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Cubs, Casey Coleman Continue To Help Braves To Wild Card

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Aramis Ramirez of the Chicago Cubs is greeted by teammates in the dugout after scoring a run and hitting a run-scoring double in the 5th inning against the Atlanta Braves at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Aramis Ramirez of the Chicago Cubs is greeted by teammates in the dugout after scoring a run and hitting a run-scoring double in the 5th inning against the Atlanta Braves at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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So you know how I've been writing that I wanted to see more of Casey Coleman because he was more a part of the Cubs' future than guys like Rodrigo Lopez and Ramon Ortiz?

Ummmm... maybe not so much, any more. Coleman wasn't awful Tuesday night... but he had one horrendous inning that the Braves made hold up for a 5-4 win over the Cubs in front of a crowd that couldn't have been much more than half of the announced 36,639.

Coleman had been baffling most Atlanta hitters until there were two out in the fourth inning; up to that time he had given up a double to Eric Hinske -- and that was it. But after getting the first two outs easily in the fourth, he gave up an infield single to Dan Uggla and another single to Chipper Jones, and then lost his command. He walked Hinske to load the bases. He walked Alex Gonzalez to force in a run.

Do you know how hard that is to do? Before Tuesday night, Gonzalez had 16 unintentional walks and an OBP of .259 this season.

But OK, it's just 1-0 and there are still two out. Unfortunately, Coleman then gave up a grand slam to Jason Heyward.

Do you know how hard that is to do? It was the first slam of Heyward's career and until last night, he was hitting .179 since July 23 with just one home run.

Still, the Cubs didn't give up, which in itself is refreshing. They came back with a four-run fifth inning, highlighted by a home run from Alfonso Soriano -- his first in 10 games -- and a two-run double by Aramis Ramirez, who then scored when Gonzalez threw away Jeff Baker's grounder. Ramirez had the first five-hit game of his career and is now hitting .446/.488/.703 in 19 games in August, with five HR and 20 RBI. He's struck out only five times this month in 74 at-bats. Really, the Cubs have to keep him around; he's been the best offensive 3B in the NL (and one of the best in baseball) this season and the Cubs don't have any sort of ready replacement.

The Cubs' bullpen did another excellent job Tuesday night; John Grabow, Kerry Wood and Sean Marshall threw four shutout innings, giving up just four singles and a walk and striking out five, keeping the game close. That turned out to be rather pointless, as Cubs hitters went back to their old ways. They left five on base in the last four innings of the game (and nine in all), leaving the bases loaded in the seventh and RISP in the sixth and ninth. Twice, Marlon Byrd came up after the fifth inning and grounded out on the first pitch he saw -- and that was after popping up to end the fourth, also on the first pitch.

So, maybe Casey Coleman isn't the answer. Still, I'd rather see him get six more starts than see more retreads.

About the headline to this post: when the Cardinals came into Wrigley Field on Friday, they trailed the Braves for the wild card by 6.5 games. After losing two of three to the Cubs, and then the Cubs losing a pair to the Braves, Atlanta leads St. Louis by 10.5 games in the wild card race (and the Giants by 9.5 games). You're welcome, Braves.