There were a lot of things I was going to write about the Cubs' 5-2 loss to the Diamondbacks, but Edwin Jackson took away many of those things after the second inning. Jackson was his usual awful self during the first two innings, issuing a couple of walks and giving up extra-base hits that staked the D'backs to a 3-1 lead. Beyond that, he... worked... really... slowly... which... drives... me... crazy. And if it drives me crazy, imagine how his fielders feel.
But then... Jackson settled into a groove. He allowed just one baserunner, a single by Gerardo Parra with one out on the fifth, the rest of the way, retiring 18 of the last 19 hitters he faced, working quickly and efficiently.
Which raises the question: why can't he do this all the time? Jackson clearly has talent and when he's on his game he can pitch very, very well. Let's hope this is the start of something better for him, because otherwise we are going to witness at least 85 more agonizing starts that he makes before his contract expires after 2016. Or maybe the Cubs will just eat the last year of that deal. Or maybe he'll pitch well enough to be traded. Or...
Well, I don't have any more "or"s. What I do have now is some comments about Jose Veras.
There are times when baseball executives simply have to own up to mistakes they have made. It seems completely clear at this point that the Cubs' signing of Jose Veras was a mistake. I watched Veras warm up, and he could barely throw a pitch in the bullpen without it having to be snared by the bullpen catcher before it went on the field. Or bounce in. He looked awful in his warmups, and he was awful again in his inning of work, issuing a walk and then giving up a pair of hits, scoring two runs. That made his season ERA edge up from 15.43 to 15.88. Of six appearances this year, he has just one where he hasn't given up a hit, a walk and a run (at least). He's now allowed 10 earned runs in 5⅔ innings. That means he'd have to throw 24⅓ consecutive scoreless innings to get his ERA to 3.00. He's allowed six hits and 10 walks in the 5⅔ innings for a WHIP of 2.824. In order for him to get that WHIP down to even a mediocre level of 1.5, he'd have to not allow a single baserunner for his next 18⅓ innings.
Those things aren't likely to happen.
Theo, just admit you made a mistake. Release Veras, eat the money. The team is going to need another position player soon -- probably as soon as tomorrow -- so why not just do it? Move on. This signing didn't work. Yes, I know, $4 million. Still -- teams have eaten bigger contracts than this (remember when the D'backs released Russ Ortiz with $22 million left on his deal?).
That would take some courage. I'd like to see Theo do it.
About the Cubs' mostly impotent offense Thursday (five hits), credit to Emilio Bonifacio for a hustle double in the first inning. D'backs manager Kirk Gibson challenged the call at second base, saying that Aaron Hill tagged Bonifacio. Have a look for yourself at this link.
I thought he was safe -- looked to me like Hill never actually touched him. The review took quite some time -- four minutes, five seconds -- but was eventually "confirmed," meaning there was definitive video evidence proving the call was right. I think these reviews should be speeded up some, but I don't mind a couple extra minutes to make sure the calls are correct.
Otherwise the Cubs didn't do much after Bonifacio scored on an error; they had just four hits after the first inning and scored their only other run on Anthony Rizzo's home run to right field into a crosswind. It was Rizzo's third of the year and his first off a lefthander (Oliver Perez). I was surprised more baseballs didn't leave the yard, with the wind blowing out to left at 15 miles per hour, but fly balls just didn't seem to carry in the breeze.
Had Veras not been in the game, Rizzo's blast would have made it a one-run game and perhaps the Cubs could have come back. I had a feeling this series would split, being between two bad teams, and we certainly got more than our share of bad baseball on both sides... and that split, which means the Cubs still have not won a series since last September.
Now the Cubs head to Milwaukee's Miller Park this weekend. That's a place where they are 6-22 since 2011. It's not likely the Cubs will win any games there this weekend. But at least tomorrow, we should be entertained, as it will be Matt Garza's first start against his old teammates. (Bunt!) Carlos Villanueva goes for the Cubs in what is likely going to be his last start before returning to the bullpen.
And please. No more Jose Veras.