The Cubs, clearly, are playing these games backwards.
For the third time in their last five games, they scored four runs in the ninth inning. Here's how Cubs scoring breaks down this year, by inning:
I don't think I have to tell you how wildly skewed that is. (Among all MLB teams, the inning in which the most runs are scored is the first -- the ninth inning ranks... ninth.) Furthermore, it hasn't helped; the Cubs lost all three of the recent four-run-ninth games, as well as four others sandwiched around them. The Cubs' 8-4 loss to the Astros was their seventh in a row, putting them just half a game ahead of the Twins for the worst record in baseball.
Want more good news? The Cubs are 14th in the National League in runs scored. They are 14th in batter walks drawn. They are 13th in home runs hit. Meanwhile, they are first in walks allowed and have given up the fourth-most runs. They're near the league average in home runs allowed (37), but that includes a three-run blast given up by Matt Garza Monday night to Jason Castro, who came into the game hitting .209 and who had not hit a home run in nearly two years.
Naturally, that preceding home run was also hit off a Cubs pitcher, another three-run job off Mitch Atkins on July 19, 2010 at Wrigley Field.
Mitch Atkins. Remember him? He'd fit right in on this staff.
After the game, here's what Garza said about his pitching:
"I was trying too hard, trying to stop the crap that's going on," Garza said. "If you try too hard you're not go to stop it, you're just going to continue it. That's exactly what happened."
Geez Matt, ya think?
Mike Quade Dale Sveum had said Sunday he was likely going to make some lineup changes at the top of the batting order. It didn't happen -- the lineup Monday was the same old thing we've seen most of the last month. And why didn't you change, Mike Dale?
Because #Cubs facing 3 LHP this week, Sveum says he'll wait one more week— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) May 21, 2012
Really? Seriously? That's the difference, facing three LHP? Your team has lost six games in a row and been outscored 40-24, and you wouldn't shake things up a little, just to do it, just to try something different?
Mike Dale. Welcome to our nightmare. Now your team has been outscored 48-28 in the last seven games and you've lost all of them. Know what Monday night felt like? One of those spring training games where you've put in guys from the minor league camp in the late innings and made a blowout game close. Only these actually count, and those weren't guys from Fitch Park running up that ninth-inning score.
Randy Wells had a nice relief outing, throwing five innings and giving up just three hits and one run. That's about the only really good thing that happened to the Cubs Monday night.
Onward we go toward 100 losses.