By Richard Kagan
The Chicago Cubs are getting thrashed at Wrigley Field, trailing 13-2 as the game winds down.
So much for getting a little momentum going into the All-Star break. Jon Lester lasted 2/3rds of the first inning, giving up ten runs on 6 hits. The big blast came when Francisco Cervelli hit a grand-slam into left field to make the score 9-0. Andrew McCutchen then followed with his own homer to make 10-0 and Lester was gone.
It was the shortest outing in Lester’s career which runs 335 starts. On this day, he didn’t have any of his pitches working. The other day, when Milwaukee won big over the Cubs, manager Joe Maddon said that the Cubs were playing catch-up early and that is hard to come back from a large deficit. The Cubs lost that game. And, they will likely lose this one too. Chicago goes 43-45 heading into the All-Star break. And, if there was ever a team to use “time off”–it’s the Cubs. They’ve been in hibernation since the season started it seems, and there are no apparent signs that they are coming out. Bears come out of hibernation because they are hungry and need to hunt for prey. This teams does not look hungry to play the game. They appear to be going through the motions. Cubs fans at Wrigley await that one hit, that one good catch, that one play –which they hope will spur their team on. Yet, that hasn’t happened.
The Cubs have been hovering around .500 most of the season. Now, after this loss, they will be two games under .500. Maddon thinks the Cubs can have a much better second half of the season or at least he hopes so. The question is what evidence leads one to think they can have a better second half of the year?
The real question is can this team manage to win three games in a row. If it loses one, can it rebound and win another 3? That happened with regularity last year. I hear a comment by a TV analyst who implied that the Cubs really missed David Ross as a team leader. I believe he is still on the payroll–why doesn’t he spend more time with the team as an advisor? Cubs President Theo Epstein remarked that the Cubs need more of a change internally, then to go outside and rent a player. There is a lot of talent on the Cubs. That is why their season thus far has been so perplexing.
Ron Darling, doing the color commentary on national cable TV said Lester had pitched so well throughout his career and then he had the start today. He said, “In baseball, you just never know.”
It’s the Cubs, you just never know.