Saturday, August 11, 2007

Cubs approach horrible in loss

Continuing an all-too disturbing trend, the Cubs paid the price for failing to cash in key opportunities. The Cubs loaded the bases in the first inning with already having scored one run but Kendall was unable to capitalize on a 3-2 pitch. In the seventh, Derrek Lee took a close 3-2 pitch to draw a two-out walk and load the bases, but Matt Murton couldn't come through. (In all fairness to Murton, replays showed he was probably safe at first on a Baltimore chop.)

The Rockies, however, made the best out of their scoring chances. Clint Hurdle opted to lift Josh Fogg in the bottom of the sixth inning of a tie ballgame with the bases loaded and two outs. The pinch hitter, Jamey Carroll, hit his 2nd homerun on the year (both off of the Cubs), a grand slam to put the Rockies ahead for good.

The Cubs had a great approach in the first inning, forcing Fogg to throw 37 pitches and drawing two walks. After that, the team was visibly frustrated, recklessly hacking away early in the count. Fogg was allowed to complete the next five innings in just 51 pitches and ended up leaving with a win and a quality start. I realize that Marvin Hudson's strike zone was horribly inconsistent, but that doesn't give you permission to swing at every pitch.

To make matters worse, the Brewers rallied against the Astros bullpen, scoring seven times in the last three innings to beat Houston 7-4. The Cubs now trail Milwaukee by 1 1/2 games in the NL Central race, the most since July 28.

Caught Stealing? Coming into today, catcher Jason Kendall was 0-for-25 in throwing out opposing baserunners since joining the Cubs. In reality though, that number is a bit deceiving: catching for pitchers like Rich Hill and Jason Marquis has made throwing out baserunners really hard.

Well, in the fifth inning of Saturday's game against the Rockies, the numbers took the first step towards evening out for Kendall. Rich Hill had picked off Troy Tulowitzki from first base, but because the runner had broke to second base as Hill threw to Derrek Lee, the official scoring was a caught stealing.

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