want to beat the last-place
, I'm sure Cubs fans everywhere would be forever grateful.
The Cubs have lost nine straight to these guys dating back to last season, when all that losing wasn't much of a surprise or newsworthy. This year, however, they're supposed to be contenders, you know, leading the division and all.
I'm not saying the players don't care -- they care more than we'll ever know -- about not taking care of business against a last-place team, it's just that I don't have much contact with them. I do with Cubs fans, many of whom I count as friends, despite their incessant whining and agonizing, not to mention frequent and excessive cell phone and cargo short use.
"If they just could've won more games in April and May, they would've clinched already" is a common refrain.
Using the same logic, maybe if they would've won more games over the last 100 years, they'd have had a bit more success, a few more trophies and the cynic in all of us wouldn't be waiting to see how they're going to blow this but enjoying the excitement of a pennant race going down to the final weekend with confidence in the curse-killing abilities of the Chicago North Side Nine.
Who am I kidding?
, and equally hard-lucked franchise, just not with the century of losing on its back, aren't doing much either. Rather than make up ground last night, they were baited by Tony La Russa into a silly beanball war and lost focus and the game.
Just remember, if the Cubs go 2-2, the Brewers have to sweep four games from the
in order to force a one-game playoff at
on Monday. It's the 2-2 part that worries me.
With the Cubs badly needing a win,
(1-2, 7.62 ERA since joining the Cubs) takes the mound. The good thing is he's had plenty of rest -- two weeks. The bad thing is, well, it's Steve Trachsel. The Marlins will go with lefty Scott Olsen (9-15, 5.88) who hasn't won in eight starts, though some of that is hardly his own fault. In his last time to the mound, the Marlins made six errors behind him. Six.
for this late Thursday afternoon start from Miami. Baseball soon.
Weather update: It looks really nice in South Florida. No stunner there. I have no idea which way the wind is blowing, or even if it is indeed blowing.
Holy, good seats still available. Lots of empty bright orange seats in the background.
grounds out to second to start this one. This is like watching a high school game. You can hear the umpire and a few random people clapping.
draws a walk with
coming up. Lee lines a double down the left-field line. Theriot, with the play in front of him, stops at third. I'm not sure anyone even pays attention to Mike Quade anymore. I know I don't.
That's RBI No. 101 for Ramirez and snaps an 0-for-15 slump. (I'm lifting all this from Len.) First and third for
, who skies a flyball to left, not deep enough for the infernal Quade to send Lee, which is probably for the best.
strikes out swinging, stranding Lee and Ramirez.
Cubs 1, Marlins coming up
Yes, this is the last FTC of the regular season. If the Cubs make the post-season, we'll bring you every game. Hanley "It's Hedley" Ramirez rips one deep to center over
head that falls for a double near the 434 sign. That would be out nearly anywhere else. Full count to Dan Uggla, who pops it up to short. Theriot battles the Florida sun but gloves it. The count goes full to Jeremy Hermida, as well. Trachsel pretty much lobs it in there, Hermida lines it into center for a single. Ramirez won't try to score but Jacque Jones throws a lollipop to the plate anyway and Hermida takes second and the bone-headed play by Jones. So much for setting up the double play. Chances are
would've knocked one out anyway, so maybe it's a blessing. They put Cabrera on, loading the bases for Mike Jacobs. Jacobs sends a 2-2 pitch to right.
Ramirez tags and scores to tie it.
Hermida takes third. Trachsel strikes out Todd Linden on three nice breakers to end the inning. Unfortunately that final strike was his 30th pitch of the inning.
Cubs 1, Marlins 1
Monroe pops out to third. Jones sends one deep to right-center that one-hops the wall for a one-out double. Yes, message board, Trachsel will hit for himself. Some of you have asked but I don't know what Trachsel was swearing about after last night's game, as was reported in Paul Sullivan's
today. He's up there fouling off pitches right now, generally taking about as much time at the plate as he does on the mound. Oh, wait, time out, ump. Let me wipe this sweat from my brow. He grounds out to short and Jones has to stay put. Soriano fouls off a 2-2 pitch and eventually walks. Olsen is throwing even more pitches than Trachsel. First and second for Theriot and Olsen starts him with two straight balls. Catcher Miguel Olivo trots out to have a chat. Theriot flies out to left and the Cubs leave two more.
and says he may have to break his streak of never going to Cincinnati. Olivo lines a single back through the box. Alejandro De Aza (yes, big slugger Alejandro De Aza) hits it deep to left and over Soriano's head.
Olivo makes the turn at third and the ball pops out of Theriot's glove as he catches the relay throw and the run scores.
Olsen squares to bunt and pushes it right at Ramirez. De Aza takes third. Ramirez flies out to right.
Monroe readies and throws to the plate on the money, but no chance getting De Aza, who scores the Marlins' third run.
Uggla grounds out to third but the Marlins get two more.
Marlins 3, Cubs 1
Lee leads off the third inning and grounds out to third on the first pitch. Ramirez reaches on a broken-bat bloop single to center. DeRosa takes a low fastball for a called third strike. He thought it was ball four and then stomps off to the dugout. Can't tell if he's upset over the call or upset at himself. Soto hits it hard to left but it's right at Linden.
Trachsel strikes out Hermida and he did it in under an hour. Cabrera flies out to Jones. You think Brenly's flying in to see the Beastie Boys at Meigs Field tonight? He always gets really excited when he gets to read that promo. Jacobs strikes out and Trachsel even takes his sweet time walking to the dugout. Hustle up.
Marlins 3, Cubs 1
Monroe flies out to center on the first pitch. Jones nearly beats out a chopper to short. Nearly. Trachsel lines out to right. That inning didn't take long. Next.
Linden lays down a bunt in front of the plate. Trachsel beats Soto to the ball and makes the play and the throw. Olivo bloops one to center. Jones froze for a second and then comes on and makes a diving catch. De Aza grounds out to second and all of a sudden Trachsel has turned into
. How long can this last?
Marlins 3, Cubs 1
Soriano sends one deep to the right-field corner that lands just foul. Soriano thought the ball was gone and started a home run trot but it didn't even clear the wall. He strikes out swinging on the next pitch. Theriot fights one off his fists and grounds weakly to second. Lee strikes out and Olsen is cruising, too.
Trachsel strikes out his counterpart, Olsen. Quickly, I might add.
"It's Hedley" Ramirez takes Trachsel deep, deep to center for a solo shot.
A bomb. Yeah, and so much for that Maddux comparison. I meant Mike Maddux -- without the 'stache. Uggla walks and so does Lou -- out of the dugout to get Trachsel the heck out of there. Everyone, you can breathe much easier now. It's
. Hermedia sends one deep to right that Monroe grabs on the track. I thought that was gone. I think so did Ohman, who's day is done. Kevin Hart, come on down. You're the next contestant and you won't be playing Plinko.
Cabrera lines a double to right. It catches the line, scoring Uggla.
Lee thinks it's foul. Lou chugs out there. Man, he's put on some weight. I can't tell on the replay. Lee sure thought it was foul. That closes the book on Trachsel, who gave up five runs in 4 1/3. Just to refresh, more runs than innings is bad. Hart strikes out Jacobs. The Marlins get two more.
Marlins 5, Cubs 1
Ramirez singles to center. He's 3-for-3. Everyone else? Not so much. DeRosa pops out to shallow left. Soto bounces a single past a diving Cabrera. Monroe grounds to Cabrera, who fires to second to start a double play but instead tosses it into right field.
Ramirez scores and there's the real Florida Marlins, who, when they play anyone else, can't catch or throw.
Jones chops a single up the middle,
The Cubs fans are coming to life. Bill Murray and his brother are standing up and that's it for Olsen, who leaves the field while swearing at himself or somebody. He tosses his hat as he reaches the dugout and finds a seat. With runners on first and second and one out,
will hit for the pitcher. Hard-throwing righty Matt Lindstrom is the Marlins' new pitcher. Murton's hitting just .179 this season as a pinch hitter but he does have two homers. Lindstrom blows Murton away with some high-90s heat. As always Soriano's sitting first pitch fastball and he fouls it off to the right side.
Soriano hits a slider deep to left. It bangs off that big wall, scoring Monroe.
Jones stops at third on Soriano's double. Not sure what the heck is a home run in this dumb layout. Theriot hits with runners on second and third and two outs and grounds out to Uggla. The Cubs climb back in this one.
Marlins 5, Cubs 4
will pitch the bottom of the sixth. Linden lines a 3-2 pitch to right for a single. Soto has blocked a number of pitches in the dirt, preventing Linden from taking second. Another full count and Olivo draws a walk.
's up in the pen. De Aza bunts foul. He pulls his bat back and takes a strike. Soto throws down to second to try and get Linden and nearly throws it into center. Theriot made a nice pick to prevent any damage. De Aza singles to right and everyone moves up. Bases loaded with no outs and that's it for "Stevie Ire," who managed to do nothing of value. Wood on Wood, Kerry v. Jason. Wood strikes out Wood. Now he has to deal with Hedley. Wood's fastball up to 97. Hedley fouls it off. Hedley bounces to Ramirez, who steps on third and fires across the diamond to get the double play. Lee pumps his fist and sprints to the dugout. Kerry Wood comes on to cleans up Scott Eyre's mess and the Cubs escape big time.
Marlins 5, Cubs 4
Replay shows high-fives all around for Wood when he reached the dugout with Eyre leading the way. Righty Justin MIller is the Marlins' new pitcher. Lee checks his swing on a 2-2 pitch. They appeal and the ump says he held up. It was close but doesn't really matter because Lee swings and misses at a slider for strike three on the next pitch. Ramirez gets ahead 3-0 before taking two strikes. Ramirez bangs a double off the wall in left.
, standing on the top step, thought it was gone. DeRosa chases a slider away for strike three.
will hit for Soto and Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez counters with big lefty Renyel Pinto. Floyd is a former Marlin and Pinto is a former member of the Cubs organization. I know, crazy. Pinto stays away from Floyd and the count goes to 3-0. Ball four and here comes Monroe with runners on first and second and two outs. Don't have to tell you, folks, but this is a big at-bat. Pinto misses badly low and inside and then does some deep knee bends. He misses again and again. Bases loaded for Jones, who's hitting .284 against the lefties. Ball one in the dirt. Jones takes all the way on the second pitch and takes a strike. He flails badly on a pitch in the dirt for strike two. Jones fights off a 1-2 pitch and then strikes out. With the bases loaded. Down a run. Ugh.
will catch and hit seventh. Monroe takes a seat and Floyd takes over in right. Wood remains and gets Uggla to pop out. Hermida hits it off Wood's foot for an infield single. Cabrera checks but holds up on a 3-2 pitch and walks. Jacobs bounces into a 6-4-3 inning-ending double play.
Marlins 5, Cubs 4
Breaking news item! They've turned the lights on. Lee Gardner is the Marlins' fifth pitcher.
hits for Wood and takes a backdoor breaking ball for strike three. Soriano grounds a single to center. Theriot bounces the first pitch back to Gardner, who starts a 1-6-3 double play and so much for that inning.
Marlins fans -- yes, they have fans -- are waving brooms.
comes on to pitch and starts Todd Linden off with three straight balls. Linden draws a leadoff walk. Some guy named Abercrombie wearing No. 61 will run for him. Olivo pops out. Will someone please tell Len Kasper that despite what he keeps saying the Cubs are not "still in very good shape in the division." The lead could be one game after tonight. No. 61 steals second. Blanco's one-hop throw was there but Theriot couldn't come up with it. Dempster srikes out De Aza.
Cody Ross comes off the bench and doubles home No. 61.
That ball nearly got out in left. Ross pumps his fist as he rounds first. You don't think the Marlins are enjoying this? Ramirez grounds out to end the eight.
Marlins 6, Cubs 4
"Freeeee credit report dot com." Can 't get enough of that jingle. Kevin Gregg, the Marlins' closer, will try to, well, close this one. Lee lines one to deep center. De Aza misplays it badly but recovers and makes a falling catch. Again, ugh. Ramirez bounces out to third. DeRosa swings at the first pitch and flies out to right.
Final: Marlins 6, Cubs 4