Laid against the great success and high drama of the last homestand, the Cubs’ losses to the Marlins tonight and last night are striking in their awfulness. But if you look at the big picture of the 2007 season, these last two games look a lot like many of the preceding 157.
In the case of this evening’s 7-4 loss, we revisited the popular ’07 Cub themes of nitwit baserunning (Soriano), five-inning start from Jason Marquis (his 16th in 32 starts), golden scoring opportunities missed (e.g., Floyd’s leadoff double in the eighth, Ward’s one-out double in the ninth), and early scoring followed by complete offensive ineptitude once the opposition goes to its bullpen (tonight: 0 runs scored and just 3 hits in 5 1/3 innings of Florida relief work).
In other words, as frustrating as it was to watch, it shouldn’t be surprising. The Cubs are a little better than a .500 team, which means they’re going to lose a lot of games, even against third- and fourth- and, as in the Marlins’ case, fifth-place teams.
As the Cubs were being retired in their last at-bat tonight, Bob Brenly tried to make the case that the Cub offense was suffering because rainy weather in Miami the past two days had prevented the team from taking batting practice on the field and thus, deprived Cub hitters of the chance to acclimate themselves to the Dolphin Stadium hitting background. I guess that would be a more reasonable argument if the Cub offense hadn’t been so sporadic for much of the current season.
At this point, there is nothing much that Lou Piniella or Gerald Perry can do about that shortcoming of this Cub team. (Maybe Tom Skilling could pull some strings, however.) Same thing with Jason Marquis. He is what he is. We got his best early in the season and now we have no choice but to grip the arms of our La-Z-Boys a little tighter and hold on for dear life as Jason settles into his accustomed .500ish record, 4.50ish ERA.
(Unless the Cubs and Brewers have to meet in a one-game playoff next Monday, tonight's game could be Marquis' last of the season.)
I guess we all just have to hope for the best tomorrow afternoon and this coming weekend in Cincinnati.
In the meantime, our magic number is about to fall to 3. Thank God for the Cardinals!
(You'll never read those words on this Web site again. I promise.)