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Rockies 9, Cubs 1: Rock bottom (we hope)

Nothing good happened in this game.

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

The Cubs lost 9-1 to the Rockies Saturday afternoon, their fourth straight defeat.

That’s it! Done here! See you tomorrow!

Oh, wait. You come here for a recap of each and every Cubs game and so you shall have one.

Before I even get to recapping some of the plays in this game, here are my takeaways:

  • Eddie Butler isn’t the answer at fifth starter. Someone else, please.
  • Kyle Schwarber still needs a trip to Triple-A.
  • Ben Zobrist looks awful and needs some bench time.

There’s a passage I remember from an old Bill James Baseball Abstract from the 1980s, and don’t ask me the year nor who Bill was referring to at the time as I don’t specifically recall, but he said something like “he’s not a bad player, he’s just not a good player,” or words to that effect.

That’s Eddie Butler, my friends. He’s not... bad, but he’s not really that good either and you can see why the Rockies gave up on a guy they had drafted in the first round in 2012. Butler got tagged for two runs in the first inning, then had a pair of good innings helped out by a replay-reviewed double play, and then...

Butler’s former teammate Mark Reynolds hit a baseball that cleared the Nuveen sign behind me in left field and was last seen heading down a gangway between two buildings on Waveland. Look who got it:

Even at that, Butler got out of the inning after two more hits due to another review that went in favor of the Cubs, and then he had a 1-2-3 fifth. So that’s five innings, six hits, three runs. Not awful... just not good. And again, that’s a short outing, and Butler hasn’t thrown more than 78 pitches in a game since his second start back on May 19. So that puts pressure on the bullpen, especially when the Cubs are having trouble scoring runs.

Give credit to Jeff Hoffman, a former No. 1 pick of the Blue Jays who the Rockies acquired in the Troy Tulowitzki deal. He threw very, very well. Through six innings he’d allowed just three baserunners: a walk to Kris Bryant and a bloop single to Anthony Rizzo in the first, a rally that fizzled, and then he hit Bryant in the third. After that the next 10 Cubs went down easily.

Here’s good news: Justin Grimm had another good outing, a scoreless sixth. But Brian Duensing made it 4-0 Rockies by serving up a baseball that Charlie Blackmon hit in the general direction of Lake Michigan.

The Cubs’ rally in the bottom of the seventh might have been more meaningful if it had been 3-0 instead of 4-0. Jason Heyward and Albert Almora Jr. singled, followed by another hit by Willson Contreras scoring the Cubs’ first (and as it turned out, only) run of the game. Ian Happ, batting for Addison Russell (who, incidentally, got a warm ovation when he came to bat the first time), beat out a relay throw to prevent a double play and then Jon Jay smoked a line drive that might have scored two runs, except Alexi Amarista snared it to end the inning.

Felix Pena, just recalled from Triple-A Iowa (again, third time he’s been up this year) had a scoreless eighth but then got in trouble in the ninth. Pedro Strop had been warming up; I’m not sure why Joe Maddon didn’t just have Pedro start the inning. Pena allowed a leadoff double, then walked Tony Wolters. Then Carlos Gonzalez hit into this weird double play [VIDEO].

Blackmon was then given a Manfred to set up a force play and only then did Strop come in. Had Pedro been able to handle the comebacker hit by DJ LeMahieu that went off his body and dropped near third base for an infield hit, the inning would have been over and maybe the Cubs would have had a shot, down 4-1 and with Greg Holland not available after having thrown 42 pitches in the first two games of the series.

But LeMahieu was safe, loading the bases. Nolan Arenado then shot a double down the left-field line just out of the reach of Bryant and the rout, as they say, was on.

It’s those kinds of plays that go inches in your favor when you’re going good, and inches out of your way when you’re not. The Cubs had lots of hits like that last year, and few against them. Now things seem to be going the other way. Two more hits off Strop, who’s actually been pretty good this year, made it 9-1.

Again, I didn’t understand why Strop didn’t just start the inning. Pena, having thrown 32 pitches, is likely back on the Iowa shuttle tonight and someone like Dylan Floro or Pierce Johnson or Zac Rosscup will be back for Sunday’s game.

The Cubs are actively seeking a starting pitcher. I suspect that search will be ramped up now. They need someone for that fifth spot, and soon.

About Schwarber: putting him back in the leadoff spot didn’t help, as he went 0-for-4 with two more strikeouts. That means since his last single May 17, Kyle is now 6-for-57 (.105) with 25 strikeouts. This isn’t helping him or the team. Please, please send him to Triple-A for a week or two and let him get his confidence back.

About Zobrist: Since May 25, when he went 3-for-4 against the Giants, Zobrist is 3-for-41 (.073) with one extra-base hit (a double). This isn’t helping him or the team. Is he injured? Put him on the 10-day DL! If he’s not, maybe it’s time to take a mental health day or two and let Javier Baez play second base. (And one more thing regarding Zobrist that’s not really relevant to anything: Zobrist’s new walkup song, a version of “Bennie and the Jets” sung by his wife Julianna, is awful. That wasn’t a good song when Elton John did it and it’s not any good now, either. He should go back to last year’s walkup song, “Alive,” also sung by Julianna Zobrist.)

I wrote a week ago that Jay could be tried as the Cubs’ leadoff man. I’m going to repeat that thought now and say that Jay, who has had very little playing time, could be just the catalyst this team needs. They need a shakeup of some sort, because — again paraphrasing a famous person’s words, this time Yogi Berra’s — it’s getting late early in the 2017 season.

Give the Rockies credit. They’re a good team that’s likely headed to the postseason. But the Cubs have talent, too, and in some ways it’s not being utilized very well.

Jake Arrieta will try to get the Cubs one win out of this four-game series and have the Cubs end it with a winning record. Rookie Antonio Senzatela will pitch for the Rockies Sunday afternoon at 1:20 p.m. CT. The game preview will post at 11:30 a.m. CT.