It figured the Cubs would need to score a lot of runs to take care of business last night against the Padres. Once again, Jason Marquis was saved and cuddled by the offense and nurtured to a winning decision despite going only 5 innings yet again, walking 5 men, giving up 3 runs on 4 hits and topping it all off: a bawk, an error and a hit batsman. Oh, and yeah, it took six relieversto finish the job.
But no matter, the Cubs scored 9 runs off 11 hits including 3 home runs later in the game from Soto, DeRosa and Soriano. Everyone reached base and only Theriot didn't have a hit though he had an RBI walk. This is exactly what the Cubs need now, it just needs to happen earlier in games to keep pressure off Pinella and the bullpen and lastly to allow time for the starters to get back on track.
A nine game win streak. That's the longest in 7 years, which is awesome, but need I mention how ugly some of those wins have looked? I feel like every time I turn on the Cubs I'm watching two totally different ball games. There's the point in the game where the pitching looks bad and the Cubs are losing and then the game where they score a lot of runs and leave enough cushion for the relief to hold on to the win.
You have to believe the relief pitching is on the verge of breaking and choking a lead at somepoint, but I've touched on that already. After seeing Lou use Wuertz, Eyre, Hart, Cotts, Howry and Wood despite having a six-run lead, I've got to believe Pinella has no idea what to do or at least no confidence in his bullpen. He's made it clear he doesn't like what he's getting from Michael Wuertz. He chewed him out the other day and then yanked him with only a man on and two outs in the sixth, but he keeps trotting him out there in early relief. Then yesterday, Neal Cotts gets the nod to get out of the mess created by the just-called-up Kevin Hart and gets yanked after giving up a hit on two pitches. It seems to me Lou is willing to give his pitchers opportunities to prove themselves, but he's putting them out there on very small leashes. Lou is micromanaging, and to his credit it got him through the muck yesterday, but you just can't pitch 7 guys in one game. I'm just waiting for the game where the other team gets lucky, not in anticipation, but when it comes I won't be shocked.
Yesterday's game did make one thing very clear. Jim Hendry needs to bring in another starter. If the Cubs were to try and make it with the guys they have, it will be at a price to their bullpen. Considering Marquis can't pitch beyond 6 innings and historically he pitches better early in seasons (which he's not doing), it seems he's the first to go. I'm more willing to give Gallagher the chance to prove himself. At over 6 million a year, Marquis should be expected to perform better. I think that by the end of June, there will be cries for a transaction to improve the rotation. Bringing back a potentially improved Rich Hill or Sean Marshall is not the route to go in. This is a team that can contend for the World Series this year and the Cubs better be prepared to do what it takes to insure that.