The Cubs' 5-3 loss to the Brewers was just like so many this year -- missed opportunities, bad pitching and defensive lases -- so the most interesting thing that happened was when Chang-Yong Lim entered the game in the seventh inning.
When Lim, a 37-year-old Korean who pitched several years in Japan's NPB before having Tommy John surgery, made his first pitch as a Cub, he became the 54th Cub to appear this season. That breaks the franchise record for most players used by the Cubs in one year, which was set... last year. (The previous record, 49, had been set in 1966.)
There are still three more Cubs who haven't appeared this year: Scott Baker, who will become No. 55 when he starts Sunday's game; third catcher J.C. Boscan, who has done a great job warming up relievers in the bullpen since his recall; and just-acquired reliever Daniel Bard, who surely will get into at least one game before the season ends.
Which raises the question: Could Theo and Jed find two more guys off the waiver wire before September 29? Because the major-league record for players used in a season by one team is 59, set in 2002 by both the Indians and Padres. If you're going to go through that many players, why not be a record-setter? Or at least record-tier? (Or is that "tyer"?)
For his part, Lim, who had a 0.896 WHIP at four stops in the Cubs' system this year before his recall, walked the first big-league batter he faced (pinch-hitter Sean Halton), gave up a single to Norichika Aoki (who was a teammate of his in Japan) and then got out of the inning with a 6-4-3 double play right after Chris Bosio and Lim's interpreter went out to the mound for a meeting. Whatever they said apparently worked.
I think you can tell there wasn't much to say about this game that hasn't already been said about the 2013 Cubs. You can tell why many people have said Jake Arrieta might be better-suited to bullpen work. He threw two quick and efficient innings, hit the leadoff man and issued a walk in the third, and then got in more trouble with walks in the fourth, sandwiched around a pair of hits that scored a run. Then, with the bases loaded, Logan Schafer sliced a triple into the right-center field gap, clearing the bases.
Arrieta threw a 1-2-3 fifth, but, as the saying goes, the damage was done. This is exactly the kind of start that drove Orioles fans nuts, because you can tell how much talent Arrieta has; he just might not be suited to starting. Why not see if he's closer material?
Meanwhile, the Cubs were hitting still more home runs in an attempt to get back into the game. Luis Valbuena hit a two-run shot, his first since returning from the DL, to give the Cubs a 2-0 lead in the second; Brian Bogusevic's sixth-inning blast simply made it 4-3 Brewers before an error by Starlin Castro helped lead to an unearned run off Blake Parker in the ninth inning to complete the scoring.
It figures, doesn't it? Brewers starter Johnny Hellweg had walked 13 batters in 10⅔ major-league innings since his recall. In six innings Saturday, he walked just two, while Cubs pitchers walked seven Brewers. That is, as I wrote above, just the way this season has gone.
The loss mathematically eliminated the Cubs from the N.L. Central title race (obviously, they were in effect out of it months ago). Their elimination number at this writing is still 1, but whoever wins the Pirates/Cardinals game will have 82 wins, eliminating the Cubs. A Reds win or Cubs loss Sunday will mathematically eliminate the Cubs from wild-card consideration, not that any of us had any legitimate hope of that in 2013, either.
Perhaps 2014 will be better. I'll leave you with a little story I heard before the gates opened Saturday. As you know, the game time for Saturday's contest was changed several weeks ago when Fox-TV decided they didn't want this game as part of their trio of contests at noon CT (it was on the original schedule as a Fox game).
A couple of people showed up just before noon thinking they'd walk right in and see the first pitch, only to be told by security that the game was at 3:05, and they'd have to wait around an hour until the gates opened. One of them got quite upset and asked to speak to "the president of Wrigley."
Just who would that be, anyway?
The Cubs still have a shot at a winning homestand if they can win Sunday's game. As noted above, Scott Baker will make his season and Cubs debut, facing Milwaukee's Yovani Gallardo.