The Cubs streak of misfortune rolled into Cincinnati today and despite getting off to a quick start, the misfortune continued. Ryan Hannigan's 3 run homer in the 4th capped off a 5 run inning and turned a 3-0 lead into a 5-3 deficit. Gosh this sounds awfully familiar. The Cubs had gotten off to an early start thanks to some offensive production from their pitcher ( I know this sounds familiar....). Scott FELDMAN!!!!! hit his first career home run off long haired doofus who we never hit Bronson Arroyo, giving the Cubs that 3-0 lead. But a tiring FELDMAN and some questionable managing by Dale Sveum, that's been familiar too, led to the Cubs demise this game. The Cubs would claw back to 5-4 on a Luis Valbuena single, but Brandon Phillips 2 run home run would be the end of all that. Let's sift through the ashes.
DREAM A LITTLE DREAM
Scott FELDMAN!!!'s performance was more of the early season struggling Scott FELDMAN!!!! than the FELDMMAN!!! who's been light's out the past month. Five runs on 7 hits in five and a third innings. Not his best. He did strike out five while walking one. It all crumbled for him in the 4th, after Joey Votto's home run he just sort of lost the plot. Throw in the decision to pitch to Hannigan with a base open and the pitcher coming up in an inning you're clearly struggling in, and well, just not his best work. Here's hoping for a bounce back. Russell and Rondon cleaned up.
NO QUESTION IS SO DIFFICULT TO ANSWER AS THAT TO WHICH THE ANSWER IS OBVIOUS
So a couple of questionable moves by Sveum tonight. The first was that decision to pitch to Hannigan. It's one thing to let Feldman try and pitch around him and see if Hannigan might chase. But when Feldman goes down 3-0 to the hitter you simply have to walk him and try your luck with the pitcher right? Right??? It was still 3-2 Cubs. Arroyo hits well for a pitcher but not that well and not recently. Total back breaker that was avoidable. The other concerned leaving Rondon in for a second inning. This one isn't as troubling because perhaps Dale was just trying to steal a second inning and save his bullpen knowing 1) it's the Reds and 2) Garza will be on a pitch limit when he takes the bump this series Sunday. But it does beg the question what is Rondon's role on this squad. It's clear he's more than a rule 5 guy you're trying to hide like Lendy Castillo was last year. But Tuesday you brought him in and gave him the hook at the first sign of trouble. Now you give him a second inning that features Votto and Phillips? Are we developing Rondon? is he a piece? No? Yes? What? Just a lot of questions.
THE SHORT ARM OF THE LAW
Dioneer Navarro looks like he calls a good game. And hopefully, most likely probably, he's doing exactly what he was brought in to do which is to be kind of a second coach and big brother for Wellington Castillo. But he can't throw a runner out to save his life. Scott Feldman's wild pitch to Jay Bruce bounced right into Navarro's hand and he had Brandon Phillips dead to rights. How we could throw the ball 5 feet short on that play was beyond me. Casstro sort of has an "ole" way of catching the ball as it is but that one went to Center on the express track and accelerated FELDMAN's nerves in that fateful 4th.
Well this seems to be the luck of the Cubs these days. Or lack of luck. Whatever you call it, it wasn't enjoyable. More concerning is the lack of offense. The Cubs have gotten more RBI from the 9 hole in the month of May than any other position. That simply shouldn't be. And it doesn't get any easier as Homer Bailey takes the bump tomorrow afternoon for the Reds, with Cy Young Johnny Cueto looming behind him. Sigh.... But Travis Wood and his awesome beard are going for the Cubs and he's the best pitcher in baseball. It's true, Dale said so. Anyway, you have a good pitcher, you have a chance. So....Onwards.