In the big picture, the Cubs on Tuesday night won their ninth game in a row and improved their Major League-best record to 38-21. The streak marks the team's longest since 2001, when Don Baylor's club won 12 in a row at this very time of year.
Before the game, the Cubs sent Micah Hoffpauir and his .421 batting average (8-for-19, including 3 doubles and an RBI) down to Iowa, making room for a 13th pitcher, Kevin Hart.
Lou Piniella explained the move thusly:
"I would think before we get to the American League schedule, we'll bring up a hitter, whether it's [Daryle] Ward or Hoffpauir," Piniella said. "We're going to need a DH. We'll see how the pitching goes."
The need for 13 pitchers was underscored in Tuesday's victory. Despite building a 9-3 lead, the Cub bullpen let the Padres bring the tying run to the plate in the 8th inning, once the home team had drawn to within three runs. Before it was all over, Kerry Wood had to come in to secure the win in the 9th inning. (Hart helped facilitate the Padres' comeback by allowing two hits, two walks, and three runs in one-third of an inning.)
What the Cubs need is for guys like Jason Marquis, Tuesday night's undeserving winning pitcher, Ted Lilly, and Sean Gallagher to begin delivering six- and seven-inning starts.
Again, Lou Piniella, this time as quoted by Paul Sullivan in Wednesday's Tribune:
"We talked about being so deep [in starters] when we left spring training, and all of a sudden two of our left-handers (Rich Hill and Sean Marshall) have encountered problems and are both down in the minors," Piniella said. "Lieber, in his only start, was ineffective. And here we have a rookie ( Sean Gallagher) that really wasn't in the picture, in the rotation already.
"So we better be careful with our starting pitchers. It's easier to rotate a reliever from the minors back and forth than it is to go find a starter that can pitch six or seven innings for you.
"We're thinner than people think we are."