Wednesday Cubs manager Dusty Baker insisted his team was still in the postseason hunt and that they’d continue to believe so until mathematically eliminated.
A day later, Baker elaborated on his comments, saying that believing in the team has become so emotionally exhausting that he has decided to do everything he can to hasten their mathematical elimination.
“We’ve just got other things to think about, dude,” Dusty said after Thursday’s 8-6 loss to the Brewers. “Will Cedric Benson and Thomas Jones be healthy? What happens to Kyle Orton now that he’s a third-stringer? There’s a lot of important stuff going on in this city.”
To make sure the end comes soon for his team, Dusty decided to start five bench players Thursday. His starting lineup included Angel Pagan, Ryan Theriot, Phil Nevin, Henry Blanco and Neifi Perez. Baker’s plan was almost foiled when Theriot went 3-3 with a stolen base, but the manager recovered quickly by later pulling Theriot for pinch-hitter Ceasar Izturis in the ninth.
Izturis walked, and Aramis Ramirez reached on an error to bring the go-ahead run to the plate with no outs. Baker was nervous his team might snatch a victory afterall, as home run threat Phil Nevin walked to the plate, so he decided to pinch hit with John Mabry in order to ensure the loss. Mabry lined out weakly to left before Jacque Jones grounded into a game-ending double play.
Starting pitcher Mark Prior gave up six runs in just three innings. Still, he was happy with the intentionally blown game.
“We’re just a little behind the White Sox’s schedule,” Prior said. “They throw a game, and 88 years later, we do. At this pace, we’ll win the World Series in 2093.”
Number of the day: 19
Wins Prior still needs this season to reach 20.
Number of the day, Part II: .348
Number of points Jones’ OPS drops when he faces left-handed pitching.