Remember Jeff Bianchi's Cubs career?
Well, of course you don't. He never wore a Cubs uniform. But he was officially a Cub for 33 days last offseason; Theo & Jed picked him up on waivers from the Royals December 9, but then waived him January 11, and he quickly signed with the Brewers. At one time he had been highly-regarded enough to be Kansas City's No. 2 pick in the 2005 draft.
Bianchi spent Tuesday night attempting to show Theo & Jed why they were wrong to let him go; he hit a three-run homer in the second inning, his first big-league blast, and made a couple of nice defensive plays at shortstop, and the Brewers defeated the Cubs 4-1 in a game that lasted an hour and nine minutes less than Monday night's mess.
So for that, at least, we were thankful.
A ball was thrown back from the bleachers after Bianchi's home run, and dutifully called for to be sent to the dugout by Brewers 1B coach Garth Iorg. It wasn't the real ball. The fan who kept the real ball eventually went with some Cubs staff and exchanged it for some autographed memorabilia.
At one point in Tuesday's festivities, Travis Wood retired 13 straight Brewers. Unfortunately for Wood, that was after Bianchi had given Milwaukee all the runs they would need. Wood's line -- seven innings, five hits, three runs, no walks, four strikeouts -- was one of his better ones of the season, and would be enough to win probably 85% of the time.
Unfortunately for Wood, Yovani Gallardo was better. Three hits was all the Cubs could muster off Gallardo, Francisco Rodriguez and John Axford, and one of them was a home run by Wood himself. That was the third HR of Wood's career, and his first as a Cub. Brewers pitchers retired the final 19 Cubs in order.
At least it went quickly.
The Cubs also played good defense; Luis Valbuena in particular made some very nice plays in the field. To me, that cements his role as a backup infielder, a defensive replacement who can play second base, shortstop or third base. On a future Cubs contender, that could be quite valuable.
Another defensive note: Darwin Barney tied the NL single-season record for consecutive errorless games by a second baseman at 113; the previous record-holder was David Eckstein, who did it in 2010 for the Padres. An errorless game Wednesday will break that record, and then Barney, who has made just one error at second base this season (he also has one error in three games playing shortstop in 2012), can set his sights on the MLB record for such things, which is 141. That was set by Placido Polanco, playing for the Tigers in 2007.
So that's 28 more games; Barney could tie that record (barring rainouts) September 27 at Colorado, and break it September 28 at Arizona. Polanco continued that errorless streak into 2008 and also holds the multi-season record, which is 186. Looking ahead, then, Barney could break all those records if he can go through the 40th game of 2013 without an error.
Hey, this is about all we've got right now, so embrace it.
The Cubs are 30 games under .500 for the first time since they won on the last day of the 2006 season to finish 66-96 (their low point of that season was 31 under, the day before that). I'll repost this list from last week for your reference:
Last time more than 31 games under: 33 games under, 9/30/2000, 64-97
Last time more than 33 games under: 34 games under, 10/5/1980, 64-98
Last time more than 34 games under: 44 games under, 10/2/1966, 59-103
Last time more than 44 games under: 45 games under, 9/29/1962, 58-103
You might not want to embrace those, but keep them in mind. They're probably on the way.