In the eighth inning of tonight's loss to the Dodgers, Jacque Jones scampered back to the centerfield wall to retrieve the Russell Martin-hit line drive that had sailed past his outstretched glove. Along the left edge of the tv picture, I could see that there were a few brown leaves among all the green ivy.
In other words, mingling right there with all the vibrant life was a little hint of death.
Which brings me to the details of another dismal effort by the home team, whose NL Central lead over the second-place Brewers is back to just one-half game (one game up on St. Louis). Recently acquired Steve Trachsel started against 14-4 Brad Penny, a match-up that wouldn't appear to favor the Cubs even on Trachsel's best day and Penny's worst.
Well, Trachsel acquitted himself pretty well, allowing three runs over six innings, and when the Cub bullpen took over in the visitors' half of the seventh, the Cub deficit was just 3-2.
But the bullpen was horrible. Kerry Wood was tagged for four runs in an inning and Will Ohman pitched to three hitters and retired none. Only young Kevin Hart, called up earlier Tuesday, emerged without giving up a run.
What's worse than horrible? That's how I would describe the Cub offense on a night when the Cubs scored two runs and rapped into five double plays. The two runs are typical; the five double plays are terrible.
Even for the Cubs.
Others have said it, and I'll second it:
The National Central Division doesn't deserve to be included in the post-season. For their part, the Cubs are well on their way to playing themselves out of it.
Update: As it happens, Carlos Zambrano didn't mean what he said or what I wrote about yesterday. Carlos says he is sorry. I am sorry, too.