What would you have done?
Sixth inning. Cubs and Astros in a 1-1 tie game. Travis Wood had pitched very, very well after giving up a home run to Jose Altuve on his third pitch of the night.
But Wood had thrown 97 pitches. After Wood retired the first two hitters he faced in the sixth, he walked Justin Maxwell. The next scheduled hitter was Carlos Lee.
Lee has been a Cub-killer since... well, pretty much forever. But he's not the hitter he once was, and this season, including his first two at-bats Tuesday night, he was 7-for-34 against lefthanders.
It's not the easy call it appears to be at first glance. Dale Sveum decided to take Wood out and replace him with Shawn Camp, who has been one of his more reliable relievers (never thought I'd write those words).
In a season where virtually everything has gone wrong, something went wrong. Camp's pickoff throw got by Bryan LaHair and Maxwell took second. Perhaps rattled, Camp then walked Lee and J.D. Martinez singled Maxwell in for a 2-1 Houston lead.
So. What would you have done?
Me, I think I'd have left Wood in. And this isn't 20-20 hindsight, either; I was yelling at the TV at the time. Wood was due up third in the next inning, so Sveum had double-switched LaHair into the game. But Wood had earlier doubled, his third hit in four at-bats. Seems like no matter what choice Sveum makes these days, it's the wrong one.
I figured the offensively-challenged Cubs -- who have now lost eight in a row and who haven't even had a lead in 59 innings, since the seventh inning last Wednesday -- wouldn't score again, and I was right. The final score was Astros 2, Cubs 1, the Cubs' eighth loss in a row, dropping them to the worst record in the major leagues at 15-28, half a game worse than the Rockies, Padres and Twins.
The last time the Cubs had the worst record in baseball by themselves, this late into a season, was September 30, 2000, one day before that season ended. The Cubs won their final game of 2000 and the Phillies lost; the two teams wound up tied for worst at 65-97.
That's the kind of season we're looking at, it appears.
Alfonso Soriano hit his fourth home run of the season for the only Cubs run of the day. Apart from that and Wood's double, the Cubs' offense consisted of four singles and a pair of walks.
And then there's this:
Dale Sveum will miss Wed game to attend son's high school graduation in AZ. #Cubs— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) May 22, 2012
Sveum will probably have a much better time there than he would in Houston.