There is not much else to take from the Chicago Cubs season at this point with two weeks remaining, especially after their recent series with the Cincinnati Reds this past week.
The Reds took full advantage of the Triple-A team that is the Cubs, extending Chicago’s losing streak to four. The Reds narrow their magic number to a division crown to just two games as they depart Chicago and host the Los Angeles Dodgers this weekend.
As for the North Siders, they will be hosting their arch rival, the St. Louis Cardinals, in the final meeting of the season for both these clubs. All the Reds need is a win Friday (if the Cubs can play spoilers to the Cards) and it would champagne for everyone as the Reds celebrate their second division title within the last three years.
Unlike U.S. Cellular Field, Wrigley continues to have good attendance numbers despite the Cubs’ opponent. But if anyone actually watched a minute of any of these three games, they would have seen that a majority of those seats were taken up by Reds fans, overwhelming the little Cubbie blue you could randomly find even with high definition TV.
Dusty Baker returned to Wrigley the final time this season Tuesday night, and that would be the only time he’d see the historic ballpark before the 2013 season, as he was taken to a Chicago hospital before Wednesday’s game to fix an irregular heartbeat. If there’s anything good about the whole situation, Tuesday was Baker’s 3,000th game as a manager.
The only positive thing that went in the Cubs’ favor was Alfonso Soriano cracking his 30th home run of the season, putting him just two RBI away from eclipsing his career total in that same category. With his bat and glove the best it’s ever been this season, Soriano is making himself an interesting target for some teams heading into this upcoming offseason.
In Tuesdays opener, the Cubs could not buy a hit off the Reds’ Homer Bailey. He improved to 12-9 on the season with his four-hit 7 1/3-inning performance. Darwin Barney was the only Cub to have success, going 2-3 and scoring Chicago’s lone run on the night.
The Cubs didn’t fare much better the following evening even though they tied it late in the eighth on a run walked in from J.J. Hoover. But they lost in the 11th on sloppy defense from David DeJesus in right field. The Cubs as a team had less hits than Chris Rusin surrendered in his five innings of action.
As you know from my opener, the Reds took game three for the sweep. But even though they were opposing NL Cy Young candidate Johnny Cueto, the Cubs’ Jason Berken out-dueled the Reds’ ace in their six-inning efforts.
Berken struck out five — including four in one inning — to Cueto’s two and surrendered just two Red hits as opposed to the five that Cueto allowed. But once Berken was yanked after the sixth, the Reds took full advantage of the Cubs’ weak bullpen, scoring all five of their runs for the game in the seventh. The Cubs looked like they would send this thing into extras with Starlin Castro representing the tying run, but he grounded out to end the game.
The Cubs have a magic number of their own too: 7. That is the number of losses the Cubs are allowed to get from here on out if they are to avoid the century mark in total loses. It will not be easy with this weekend’s homestand against St. Louis and then embarking on a six-game road trip out west where the Cubs have failed to muster out one win against the NL West.
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