I'm not completely sure what to think about Brooks Raley.
Look at the boxscore from the Cubs' 7-4 loss to the Padres, and Raley's results look poor: four innings, eight hits, three walks, seven earned runs, 15.75 ERA. He threw 89 pitches, 54 for strikes.
And yet, I couldn't help thinking that if he had just made one more good pitch here, another good pitch there, he'd have come out of the game with a decent outing. He looked like he might get out of the third inning with just two runs allowed, but got himself into trouble with Everth Cabrera, falling behind 3-1, before giving up a two-run single. He also fell behind Carlos Quentin in the fourth before Quentin slammed a two-out, three-run homer that proved to be the difference in the game.
It wasn't a good performance. But I saw enough good to think that Raley might become a decent major-league pitcher; he's going to get an extended tryout anyway, with Matt Garza on the disabled list.
Enough positive spin for you? Read on.
The Cubs tried to make a game of it, after being almost completely shut down by Ross Ohlendorf for the first four innings. They pushed across a single run in the fifth, on a pair of doubles by Steve Clevenger (nice to see him hit, even a little) and Darwin Barney. Then Adrian Cardenas hit for Raley. That's significant because I had almost forgotten he was even on the team. Since his recall he had pinch-hit twice; before Tuesday night the last time was on August 1.
I don't really see the point of having someone on the team who does this. He doesn't seem that good at it -- he's now 3-for-20 as a pinch-hitter with seven strikeouts. I know that Cardenas doesn't have a good defensive reputation and he's likely not going to get much playing time while Barney is having a good year. What's the point?
What I might consider doing is playing Cardenas at second base for a day or two and moving Barney to shortstop, and giving Starlin Castro a couple of days off. Castro is in a 2-for-24 slump that has dropped his batting average to .272; since July 1 he is hitting .205/.254/.361 in 122 at-bats, although with five home runs. Maybe it's the attempt to hit for more power that's hurting him? I honestly don't know. But clearly, Castro is messed up somehow and needs to go back to what he was doing before.
The Cubs managed to make it reasonably close at 7-4 with a three-run seventh, highlighted by a two-run, pinch-double from Josh Vitters, his first major-league hit and first two RBI. All that did, though, was set Huston Street up for another save, which he accomplished with the same dispatch he did Monday night.
Seven straight. If the Cubs lose again in the Wednesday -- what is it, late-afternoon? early-evening? -- game to the Padres, the two teams will have traded three-game sweeps.
It's going to be a rough time the rest of this year. Hoping there's a base being laid here for future success.