Cubs on edge after loss to Brewers

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Cubs on edge after loss to Brewers

Sunday, April 10, 2011
Posted: 4:35 p.m. Updated 6:47 p.m.

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

MILWAUKEE Everything will be magnified for this team. Its the way the roster is built and their city is wired.

WATCH: Byrd angry with questions

The Cubs are going to play close games and that means endless opportunities to second-guess and pick apart decisions. Frustrations boiled over after Sundays 6-5 loss to the Brewers at Miller Park.

So when Marlon Byrd singles to lead off the ninth inning and gets thrown out trying to steal second, people will be curious, even when there were several other plays that had a much bigger impact on the game.

Manager Mike Quade called it a miscommunication, something that will be dealt with on Monday to make sure that I didnt screw the damn thing up and I might have. But I didnt care for that situation.

Byrd refused to discuss the situation beyond saying he looks at the third-base coach and repeating the same words seven times: Did I go?

Next question, Byrd said. Done.

There were more significant game-changing moments, but the reaction showed a Cubs team on edge after missing out on another chance to win a series. They went 2-for-17 with runners in scoring position on Sunday and left nine men on base.

(We were) looking for a knockout punch all day long offensively, Quade said. We had a ton of chances. We just got to keep pounding and find a way to put teams away when we get them on the ropes.

It should be pointed out that Byrd scored three runs on Sunday and raised his average to .342. And that the Cubs havent stolen a base in the first nine games of the season for the first time since 1941.

But if the Cubs are going to contend, its going to be with pitching, not speed. Promoted from Triple-A Iowa, Casey Coleman made it through five innings and for the most part minimized the damage.

Coleman gave up two two-run homers to Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun. What really bothered Quade was a pickoff attempt moments before Fielders bomb in the first.

The manager ran out to first base to argue that Carlos Pena had tagged out Carlos Gomez before he dove back to the bag. With that Coleman would have escaped the inning.

There were plenty of mistakes made, both by guys in uniform and guys not in uniform, Quade said. We made our share. You got to get people out. Whether you get a break here or there or a break goes against you, you still got to play.

Still, it was all in front of the Cubs (4-5), who had a one-run lead and Sean Marshall, Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol ready to handle the last three innings.

Wood began the eighth with a walk and it unraveled from there. Casey McGehee a player the Brewers once grabbed off waivers from the Cubs stepped in as a pinch-hitter with two outs.

McGehee sent a 94 mph fastball screaming past the wall in right-center field and into the Cubs bullpen for a two-run homer that brought a crowd of 37,193 to its feet.

Wood stood in front of his locker and took responsibility for the pitch. He understands that most days there wont be any margin for error.

We knew we were going to play tight games, Wood said. Thats part of it, but (when) you start the inning off with a walk you put yourself behind the eight-ball.

The Cubs havent got off to the fast start they talked about in spring training. A bounce here or a bounce there and its not that hard to picture the Cubs enjoying three consecutive series wins right now. But it doesnt work that way, and theyre losing ground.

You think theyre going to bounce your way eventually, (that) youre going to get some breaks, Wood said. (But) theres no question weve got to win that game and win that series. It didnt happen.

Box Score
PatrickMooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. FollowPatrick on Twitter @CSNMooneyfor up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

From top to bottom, Cubs have all the pieces in place, including new deals for Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod

From top to bottom, Cubs have all the pieces in place, including new deals for Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod

CINCINNATI – From top to bottom, the Cubs now have all the pieces in place to make October baseball at Wrigley Field a reality, year after year, with family ownership, rock-star executives and blue-chip players.

“It’s nice to keep the band together,” manager Joe Maddon said, reacting to Friday’s announcement that general manager Jed Hoyer and scouting/player-development chief Jason McLeod had finalized contract extensions, matching up their timelines with team president Theo Epstein’s new monster deal through the 2021 season.

Those architects constructed what’s already a 102-win team, a division champion and the National League’s No. 1 seed, making the Cubs right now the biggest story in baseball, if not professional sports.

The lineup for a 7-3 win over the rebuilding Cincinnati Reds featured two MVP candidates (Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo), a 22-year-old All-Star shortstop (Addison Russell) and marquee free agents (Ben Zobrist, Jason Heyward, Dexter Fowler). The last two games of the regular season at Great American Ball Park will feature Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks making their final cases for the Cy Young Award. 

“It always starts with ownership and then it goes into the front office and eventually gets to us when you have that kind of stability,” said Maddon, who led a stunning turnaround with the Tampa Bay Rays despite all the uncertainty that came with small-market payrolls, a charmless domed stadium (Tropicana Field) and speculation about relocation and contraction.

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“We have a great product on the field,” Maddon said. “We have the best ballpark in the world. Our fans are spectacular. The city itself – there’s no more interesting place to live than Chicago. All those factors play into the success.

“I know in the past the Cubs haven’t been as successful as they wanted to be. But I don’t know that all the different ingredients have been put into place this well.

“So looking ahead, you just want to build off what you’ve done. Last year was a good building block coming into this year. And we want to keep moving forward. Of course, our goal is to play the final game of the year and win it. Under these circumstances, I think it becomes more believable on an annual basis.”

Since Epstein, Hoyer and McLeod reunited in the fall of 2011 – updating their World Series blueprints with the Boston Red Sox – the Cubs are just the third team in major-league history to win at least 100 games within four years of a 100-loss season. The Cubs have now qualified for postseason play in consecutive seasons for only the third time in franchise history.

“We had some good pieces,” chairman Tom Ricketts said. “But the organization itself was not in a position where you could believe that there was sustainability and consistency and success on the field. Obviously, Theo and the guys that he brought with him five years ago kind of took the organization down to the studs and started rebuilding.

“The time and energy to do it the right way has paid off with a team that should be successful for years to come.”

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