There's no mercy rule in major-league baseball as there is in other levels of the game (notably, in the World Baseball Classic qualifying rounds), but in the case of the Cubs' 10-5 loss to the Rockies Tuesday night in Denver, there might as well have been.
It wasn't the rule book but Mother Nature who had mercy on the Cubs, subjecting them to just six innings of barrage by Rockies bats; it rained off and on for most of the 6½ innings the two teams did play, but the rain got too hard after the Cubs went out 1-2-3 in the seventh and the umpiring crew had mercy on the teams and the handful of fans who had stuck it out (Sure. I'd have stayed if I had been there.) and called the game after a 48-minute delay.
It started out auspiciously for the Cubs; Dave Sappelt led off the game with his first major-league home run. Solution! Here's the leadoff man we've been looking for, right? (That, in case you couldn't tell, is a joke.) A walk, a throwing error and a double by Welington Castillo made it 3-0 Cubs. Great stuff! Easy win against the awful Rockies!
Ah, but that statement doesn't take into account that the Cubs are equally awful this year. Chris Rusin couldn't hold the lead; he got pounded for seven hits and six runs in 3⅔ innings, including a home run by Wilin Rosario. Matt McBride (who, I swear, was some ticket buyer they said, "Come on down and hit!" to, just before the game) homered off Rafael Dolis. In the game preview I wrote:
This could wind up being one of those 13-12 games Coors Field used to be famous for before the humidor.
Had it not been for the rain, maybe that would have happened, because the Rockies' bullpen is almost as bad as the Cubs'. Both Rusin and Dolis now sport ERAs north of 7.00. I've gone on record as saying I like Rusin, but clearly he has work to do if he's going to be considered for the 2013 rotation, or beyond, or pitch for any other major-league team (hint to Rusin: try not to wind up on the Rockies' roster; you don't seem to do well at altitude).
I got a text during the game from BCB'er elgato which read:
Among the worst games I've ever seen. Maybe the worst.
Well, that's not really true. I can think of probably a dozen this year alone that were worse than this one. But it wasn't pretty. Thanks, Mother Nature, for cancelling the last third of this fiasco.
The good news, of course, is that the Cubs are now one game "ahead" of the Rockies in the race for the No. 2 pick in the 2013 draft. There are two games remaining in this series, Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon, though there's another chance of rain tonight. If the Cubs were to get swept in this series -- and that seems more likely than not, since the Cubs have not won a road game in a NL West city all season (14 straight losses, and the streak altogether is 15, including the final game of 2011 at San Diego) -- they'd be three games "up" on the Rockies with six to go.