Well, evidently Jason Kendall and his teammates thought that a four-game winning streak was enough. You know, you wouldn't want to win too many games in a row, right?
There is plenty of blame to go around for the Cubs' split with the Cardinals on Saturday. First goes to Mike Quade. His decision to send Derrek Lee in the first inning was not a bad decision, but the choice to cut Ryan Theriot loose in the second inning was one of the worst decisions since (and including) Wendell Kim's tenure with the Cubs.
Alfonso Soriano homered to give the Cubs a 3-0 lead immediately following the play, but Quade didn't know that that was going to happen. He had to assume that Soriano would be in a better position with two runners on base and just one out instead of the other way around. Even if Theriot does score, is that the best result? Obviously if you knew for sure that Theriot would score, you should send him, but as long as you're not sure, why not keep the pressure on a reeling Joel Pineiro?
Then, Jason Kendall thought that a three-run cushion meant that he was allowed to stop trying. After a strikeout to Ryan Ludwick, Jason Kendall picked up a dropped third strike and lobbed the ball over to Derrek Lee. What good reason is there to lob the ball, other than the fact that maybe he was too lazy to actually cock his arm back and throw it? The lob throw cost him, two unearned runs scored as a result of that error, but the complexion of the inning changed drastically. There's no telling how Marshall would've attacked the Cardinals batters with two outs and nobody on.
The lack of effort was again clear in the fourth inning. Kendall, usually a good professional hitter, seemed like he just didn't care. He took a 2-1 fastball off the outside corner and tried to yank it down the left-field line. Of course, the end result was a weak grounder to the left side. (If Kendall is losing passion for the game, especially at this poitn in the season, perhaps he should consider retirement after the end of the year.) Then, Theriot swung for the fences and popped out, while Michael Wuertz lasted only two pitches. Shoudn't Wuertz at least take a strike? Seeing as how he was down a run. Seeing as how there were two outs and nobody on. Seeing as how he's a relief pitcher?!? Guess not.
Alfonso Soriano and Jacque Jones hit weak grounders in the fifth inning, again trying to pull pitches of fof the outside corner, which promoted Bob Brenly to question the desire of the Cubs in the middle of the inning.
Then, representing the tying run in the eighth inning, Soriano got himself thrown out at second base because he was trying to be too cute on a grounder by Jones. Then, Derrek Lee fouled out with the tying run on on the first pitch he saw and Aramis Ramirez seemed to be more interested about going after Russ Springer than actually playing the game. Then, in the bottom of the eighth inning, Soriano made a play to the grandstands. (You expect anything different from him?) After chasing down a fly ball on the warning track in left, Soriano took three steps, then a stutter step before lowering his shoulder, leaping high into the air and crashing into the wall. Coming off of the wall, Soriano twirled a couple of times and stared down the outfield wall.
With just 14 games left in the season, the Cubs do have a one-game lead, but they don't appear to want to win. The Brewers haven't exactly taken the division and run away when they had a shot and the Cardinals have been in a free-fall.
Hmmm, the Reds have six games left with the Cubs and trail first place by just eight games in the loss column.