Six pitches. That's about what it took to see the Cubs were in for a long night.
Sean Marshall is usually a three-pitch pitcher. He features a nice slider, good curveball, and about an average fastball—barely. On really good days, 87-89 turns into 91 MPH, and he has a really good start.
Last night, it was 86, and he appeared, at times, to struggle to reach that. At that point, it was basically batting practice.
The Dodgers would lead off the game with five-straight hits, and score five in the first, highlighted by a Mark Loretta RBI double.
To his credit, Marshall would settle down over the next few innings, sans a Matt Kemp solo homer in the third, but when James Loney smacked an RBI double in the fifth, the game turned into a blowout.
The Cubs were able to do little against Eric Milton, a pitcher out of baseball for years. The last time I checked in on Eric, he was still homer-happy in Philly.
Today, recovered from Tommy John surgery, he was keeping the ball down and featuring a new changeup that I think he's going to have much success with. I still think it's something of an indignation to lose to Milton, but he earned his win.
The Cubs would cobble together a few runs when Reed Johnson would hit a two-run double in the sixth. The Dodgers would turn the game over to filthy and filthier—Ramon Troncoso and Jonathan Broxton—who kept the Cubs in check the rest of the way. And yes, Broxton did hit 99 MPH on the gun fanning Jake Fox in the ninth. Nasty.
Actually, the only good thing about this game is that with it out of reach, you got to see a couple of nice sights: Jake Fox at third base, Jason Waddell making his first big-league appearance, and even David Patton getting some work.
Enjoy the ride, kid. With Ascanio and Guzman coming on, and Lou Piniella finding a new hot hand in Randy Wells, I think it's dead man walking as far as Patton is concerned.
I'm chalking this up to the curse of Joe Morgan, who had remotely kind words for the Cubs of the '60's in general and Ron Santo specifically. When Morgan has multiple good things to say about your club, you're destined to be on the losing end.
Either way, the Cubs finished the week 4-3, looking at least competitive against the league front-runner. Not great, but worlds better than the train wreck that was the week before.