Have the Cubs decided to stop playing good baseball? After going 3-4 on a crucial seven-game homestand, the Chicago Cubs lost a game in a manner that reminded you of the team from April and May.
We thought that maybe the Cubs had turned their luck around when they won the third game against the Phillies on a walk-off wild pitch, but it looks like Chicago's National League team has returned to a team that refuses to, or just can't, finish the task at hand.
The top of the first inning was not a good sign for the Cubs in the 2-1, 10 inning loss to Houston. After placing runners on the corners with just one out, Aramis Ramirez and Matt Murton both struck out to end the inning without a run crossing the plate. In the third inning, Ryan Theriot's hustle put him on third base, again with less than two outs, but a strikeout by Cedeno and a popout by Lee on a 3-0 pitch ended that inning without denting the scoreboard.
The Cubs also looked like they were in perfect position to score the go-ahead run in the 10th inning. Jason Kendall turned on a Brad Lidge fastball and bounded a single into left field before new Cub Eric Patterson had a 3-1 count. Patterson did his job by moving Kendall over to second, but the top of the order's incompetence to come through with a man in scoring position again hurt.
All in all, the Cubs were 0-for-10 with a runner on second and/or third.
In the bottom of the 10th inning, Mike Wuertz started the leadoff man, Ty Wigginton, with two good sliders and jumped way ahead in the count. Unfortunately, that was all the strikes that Wuertz felt like throwing as he wasn't even close on any of his next four pitches -- inexpicably walking the lead-off man after jumping ahead 0-2. After a getting two outs (and two strikes on Bruntlett), the lead-off walk came back to haunt the Cubs as Wigginton scored easily from third on ball hit into the right-field corner.
Thankfully, the Brewers are playing horrible baseball as well -- having lost the 13th game in their last 20 -- and so the Cubs are still very much alive. (Imagine, had the Brewers been just 11-9 in their last 20, we'd be 5 games out right now.) Nonetheless, the Cubs find themselves slowing being pushed out of the Wild Card race and it will only be a matter of time before Milwaukee starts to play good baseball again.