Just when Cubs fans thought it couldn’t get any worse, there was Monday night–a gut-wrenching 12-inning, 5-4 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley. The game was a microcosm of everything that is flawed about the 2007 version of the Chicago Cubs.
The Cubs jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead after three innings, behind two RBI by Derrek Lee and a solo home run by Aramis Ramirez, the 200th of his career, 198 of which have come at completely insignificant times. From there, the Cub bats went dead for the next nine innings.
The Brewers chipped away while the Cubs lineup popped up sacrifice bunts, swung at 3-0 pitches over their head, hit into double plays, and stranded runners on second and third with nobody out for the umpteenth time. By the time Scott Eyre had his predictable late-inning meltdown the game was tied and headed to extras. A Prince Fielder solo homer in the 12th–his second of the game–dropped the Cubs to 0-3 in extra frames on the season and 0-8 in runs decided by one or two runs.
Manager Lou Piniella, who was thought to be the anti-Dusty, is proving to be just as inept at managing his roster as his predecessor, once again using up his entire bench by the ninth inning, leaving no position players available for extra innings. Piniella again used pitcher Jason Marquis to pinch hitter with the game on the line, and watched him whiff with the winning run at second in the 11th.
Piniella’s explanation for the gaffe didn’t fly.
“This first month has been the longest of my life and I was thinking it was already September when we expand the roster to 40 players,” said Piniella. “When I realized it was still April and I had nobody left to pinch hit, I called on Jason. He disappointed this time, but I’d still rather have him batting in a crucial spot than 95 percent of the position players on this lousy roster.”
Number of the Game: 4
Umpires that completely sucked calling the game Monday night, most noticeably home plate umpire Paul Nauert, who must have graduated from the Eric Gregg school of determining balls and strikes.