Neo-McCarthyist Weekend: Cubs Struggle, Fall to Reds

Neo-McCarthyist Weekend: Cubs Struggle, Fall to Reds
Want a good laugh: Veras is an acronym for Saver.

Where are Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen when you need them? Okay, Swayze would have to reprise his character from Ghost, literally, but Sheen probably still has some residual proclivity for both pitching and taking down the Red Menace. Sure, he's past his prime. But even an aging member of the Wolverines can't be worse than Jose Veras, right?

It's sad, ironic, and more than a little bit Cubbish that their would-be closer's last name is an acronym for SAVER. He didn't get much of a chance to negatively impact the series, but Veras sure made the most of his single inning on Sunday afternoon. Two walks and two homers allowed in the 7th elevated his ERA and WHIP to 15.43 and 2.79, respectively, and ensured a Cubs series loss.

And this after Carrie Muskat had reported that manager Rick Renteria was hoping that Veras could earn back the closer's role.

"We still have a lot of guys in our 'pen who can be managed through those particular innings," Renteria said Sunday. "I think we'll continue to keep our eyes open. We certainly want to make sure we give Jose a chance to get back into the role and try to find situations we can allow him to work.

"He needs to work," Renteria said of Veras, who was called on in relief Sunday in the seventh, his first appearance since April 11. "We're going to do our very best that he gets into a comfort level. We need all those guys. In baseball, you don't eliminate guys, you need them all."

Besides Strop and Rondon, Renteria said Justin Grimm is another option in save situations. The manager will go with matchups for now. He'd like Veras to win the job back.

"Veras was brought in to be our closer," Renteria said. "We want to make sure he's given an opportunity. He's working very hard on certain things but he still has to get out there on the hill in game situations to get comfortable."

My colleague Justin Jabs surely likes the part about the skipper sticking with matchups, and I think I agree. But for what it's worth, I really like Pedro Strop as the closer, or, more accurately-put, as the primary high-leverage-situation reliever. This has a great deal to do with his electric stuff, but is also heavily influenced by the way his name fits into my Billy Squier parody song.

Now everybody, have you heard?

At the end of the game, Pedro Strop's the word.

Strop me, Strop me!

Strop! Strop!

So he's got that going for him, which is nice. But it's not really the pitchers we're all worried about is it? After all, even Saver could probably miss a few Cubs bats, particularly if they were trying to drive in runners from scoring position, a feat they currently accomplish at only a .197 clip. Better than I'd do against major league pitching, but not better than a professional baseball team is expected to fare.

Now, it's not that the Cubs didn't hit the ball at all. They managed to record 28 knocks in the 3-game set, which corresponded to 11 runs. Of course, 8 of those runs came in Game 2 in their lone win. And the single tally in Game 1 was notable only in that it ended a pathetic streak of 24 straight scoreless frames.

Making matters worse was the fact that Cincy catcher Devin Mesoraco continued his torrid hitting, ending the weekend with a .515 avg. Even considering the relatively small sample size of the current season, that's, you know, kinda good. Let's take a quick look at how Mesoraco stacked up against the home team.

Game 1

Cubs: 6 hits, 1 run

Mesoraco: 1 hit, 1 run

Game 2

Cubs: 11 hits, 8 runs

Mesoraco: 2 hits, 1 RBI

Game 3

Cubs: 11 hits, 2 runs

Mesoraco: 3 hits, 2 runs, 1 RBI

Were it not for that Game 2 outburst, the Cincy backstop would've been responsible for as many runs as the Cubs entire roster. Again, small sample size and such. But the kid from Punxsutawny, PA sure made Cubs pitchers feel like they were waking up to the same Red Dawn over and over again. But the way he's been hitting, I doubt even Joseph McCarthy could have kept Mesoraco at bay.

Of course, I was forced to follow Sunday's game via the MLB At Bat app on my phone due to the fact that it was being televised on WCIU, which is only available in the immediate Chicagoland area. I caught the final innings on the car radio, but by that point, I was already pretty sure how things were going to work out.

I was beginning to feel a little less like Schleprock when I realized that Wrigley 100: A Century Celebration would be airing on WGN mere hours after the game. But before the warm breeze of expertly-spliced nostalgia could blow it from atop my head, my personal raincloud burst into a sh!tstorm (See how I replaced the "i" with a "!" so I can sort of feel like I'm not cursing in writing?).

That's because I realized that, like the Cubs game before it, The Superstation would be airing the aforementioned, and heavily hyped, retropackum ("Retrospective." "That's what I said, you always contradict me!") only in Chicagoland. Rather than soaking in the restorative balm of grainy film and fuzzy video clips, I was greeted with the abrasive 50 grit of Fast 5.

And while the train wreck and ensuing ball of flame early in the movie did resemble the Cubs, it just wasn't the same. So now I'm on to Bar Rescue and Resurrection*, a show very befitting of the day; gonna skip the ubiquitous (from a WGN standpoint) Salem though. And I take heart in knowing that the Cubs' next opponent is the only dumpster fire burning with greater intensity than the one at 1060 W. Addison.

But what does it mean if the snakebit Arizona Diamondbacks come to town and win a 4-game series? I'd rather not think about it. In fact, I'm going to go watch John Taffer yell at another imbicilic owner before upgrading the heck out of their bar while I indulge in the hoppy goodness of a barley soda. Zombie Dust, take me away.

*Resurrection either didn't air or didn't DVR (sad trumpet noise).

Follow me on Twitter: @DEvanAltman

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  • Unlike Reinsdorf's two teams, apparently the Cubs can't find a sudden inflammation or tendinitis and put their problem child on the DL. Or maybe the situation is such that if they put him on the DL, they don't have anybody to call up.

    And what was the deal that the Sunday game was on WCIU instead of WGN? Was Secretariat that bigger of a draw?

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    I was really surprised by that broadcast schedule. Usually those CIU games are the red-headed step-children on Mondays or Tuesdays or something.

  • In reply to Evan Altman:

    Yes, and also comparatively infrequent in the case of the Cubs. One could pretty well depend on the Cubs on WGN Sunday afternoon. I almost got stuck watching hockey on NBC until I checked the schedule on cubs.com.

    Stats Sunday has also apparently flown the coop. I also don't know what they intend to accomplish by superimposing selfies over the Bud Fan Cleavage Cam.

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    Right? I get that the selfie thing has become a craze unto itself, but it can't beat the good old-fashioned voyeurism of a WGN cameraman.

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