Tigers 5, Cubs 4: Raburn Walk-Off Burns Chicago

Damen JacksonCorrespondent IJune 24, 2009

SEATTLE - JULY 13:  Ryan Raburn #25 of the Detroit Tigers swings at the pitch during the game against the Seattle Mariners on July 13, 2007 at Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Filed:June 23rd, 2009

Playtime is over.

After spending a long weekend beating up on a crappy bullpen and Scott Linebrink—always good for a Wrigley Field implosion—it's back to reality for the Cubs. You can't score. After being shut out on 10 hits Monday in Atlanta, their problems were again on display Tuesday in a 5-4 loss to the Tigers.

Micah Hoffpauir gave them a brief lead late with a two-run homer, but when Cubbie Nation fave Ryan Raburn clobbered a Kevin Gregg pitch in the ninth for a two-run, walk-off homer, it was back to the losing streak for Chicago.

Now, you can blame Gregg if you like. He didn't have it last night, and blew it, pure and simple. But watching this game, something else came to mind. I never want to hear manager Lou Piniella ask the question "What can I do?". Bear with me for a moment.

In the first, fourth, and sixth innings of this game the Cubs put the first two runners on, and they'd score two runs combined. Two. What you could have done was ask the guys to choke up on the bat, make sure the ball gets put in play, and advance the runners.

What you did was refuse to take the bats out of their hands; fine when we're talking about the 2008 version of this team, but completely unacceptable for a lineup featuring struggling veterans and AAA call-ups centered around a resurgent Derrek Lee.

Or consider in the eighth inning, with one out and Mike Fontenot on, what you could have done was have Blanco lay down the bunt, and let Alfonso Soriano—you know, a real slugger—take his shot with a runner in scoring position. The Cubs might have even been able to get a left/right matchup, as a quick sacrifice by Blanco might have forced Jim Leyland to stay with Bobby Seay for another batter.

Blanco even had a bunt single earlier in the game. What you did was let him swing away, and into a force out at second, and ultimately an unproductive end to the inning.

Even in the ninth, you could have called pitches, and had Kevin Gregg stay away from the breaking ball. He didn't have it, and it was fairly obvious that he couldn't find the release point.

Why do you have him throw it 3-2 to Don Kelly, who appears to be a very disciplined hitter. Kelly would walk, and what should have been a game-tying run into a game winner.

There are a few things that you can do Lou. Maybe being a bit more adaptive to the talent that you're working with would be a good start.