Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Chris De Luca and Gordon Wittenmyer

Frustration mounts as Cubs drop in 0-2 hole

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PHOENIX — Considering the Cubs are teetering on the brink of elimination, left-hander Ted Lilly slamming his glove into the mound after yielding a three-run homer to the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Chris Young might be the lasting image from a sour October.

‘‘I’ve never seen a pitcher throw their glove like that on the mound,’’ manager Lou Piniella said late Thursday night, minutes after the D-backs closed out an 8-4 victory over the Cubs to open a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series.

The two teams take a day off Friday in Chicago before resuming play with Game 4 on Saturday at Wrigley Field. Maybe by then, Lilly will have cooled off.

‘‘I think me showing my frustration there is the fact it is the biggest game I’ve thrown all year,’’ a still-intense Lilly said before the Cubs boarded their red-eye to Chicago. ‘‘My expectations were higher than what I did today.

‘‘I have zero excuses. The fact of the matter is, I didn’t get the job done. I guess if I wanted to, I could come up with some excuses. I guess I could come up with some bull [bleep].’’

Lilly lasted just 3 1/3 innings, allowing six runs and seven hits. He labored through the first inning, finding it tough to find the strike zone. Lilly said he was ‘‘certainly excited’’ taking the mound for this start but said he didn’t think that had anything to do with his poor command in his worst start since signing that four-year, $40 million free agent deal last winter. In fact, until Thursday, he was 9-1 in starts after a Cubs loss.
 
‘‘I certainly want to get another opportunity at this and redeem myself and help the team,’’ he said. ‘‘You look over the season, and I could care less how many games I won. Winning here is what it’s all about. This is not going to be easy to swallow.’’

Of Lilly’s 25 pitches in the first inning, 13 were strikes.

‘‘He was behind a lot of the hitters,’’ Piniella said. ‘‘He wasn’t getting his breaking stuff over. He was fighting himself a little bit out there, too. He wasn’t sharp.’’

But it wasn’t all Lilly. The Cubs’ bats couldn’t keep pace with the Diamondbacks. Look at these numbers: 4 for 32 (.125) with 12 strikeouts. Those are cleanup hitter Aramis Ramirez’s hitting numbers against the Diamondbacks in eight games in 2007 (six regular season and two playoff games). All-Star first baseman Derrek Lee fared only slightly better, going 2-for-8 with four strikeouts.

‘‘I’m not doing anything,’’ Lee said. ‘‘I have to find a way to do something. I haven’t hit, obviously. We’re disappointed. This is tough.

‘‘We can’t lose now. It’s do or die for us.’’

This is a familiar position for Lee, and one that he can actually look onto as a positive memory. During the 2003 season, his Florida Marlins were in a 3-1 hole against the Cubs and reeled off three consecutive victories to reach the World Series.

‘‘It can be done,’’ Lee said. ‘‘You don’t think about three. You get a win and move on. You don’t look at it as we need three in a row. You look at it like we need to win Saturday.’’

Are the Cubs pressing?

‘‘It’s hard to say,’’ Lee said. ‘‘We want to win. We’re giving it all that we have. If you call that pressing, we’re pressing. We’re just not hitting. That’s the bottom line.

‘‘We’ve been kind of funny all year offensively. We can break out for seven runs or we have a couple of games like this.’’

Aside from the pitching questions and second guesses the first two games, the key numbers might be these: 6-for-43 (.140) with 15 strikeouts. Those are the hitting numbers for the 1 through 5 spots in the Cubs’ lineup in two games, including 1-for-20 in Game 1.
 
‘‘I think people forget those are the guys that got us here,’’ said second baseman Mark DeRosa, who batted sixth and seventh in the two games. ‘‘It’s just a matter of time, hopefully. And the rest of us in the lineup have to pick them up, too.’’
 
It’s not like the rest of the lineup was particularly hot, considering the Cubs managed just 12 hits in two games. Leadoff hitter Alfonso Soriano, coming off a sizzling September, has always been a disappointment, with two hits and four strikeouts in 10 at-bats.

‘‘We’re not doing nothing at all to win these games,’’ Soriano said. ‘‘We have to do better at home.’’

Game 4 starter Rich Hill is either showing his youth or taking the right approach, but he seems unfazed by the deep hole the Cubs have dug for themselves.

‘‘For me, my game plan is to do everything I’ve done all year long — stay aggressive and attack,’’ Hill said. ‘‘I know this sounds funny, but you have to look at this as a positive. We’ve been digging ourselves out of holes all season long.’’

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6 Comments

I have enjoyed every moment of the past 2 nights from Arizona.Go Brewers

The entire idea that there are only Cubs-hating Sox fans is RIDICULOUS. There are just as many cubs fans that hate the sox, it has become a RIVALRY whether you like it or not. Like many Sox fans, I have grown to hate the Cubs because of their fans trashing the sox all the time in so many ways...

Cubs fans, grow up...and realize you are the same way towards the Sox and the Sox fans are towards the Cubs. There are just as many Sox fans that cheer for the Cubs as there are Cubs fans that cheer for the Sox.

I AM NOT A CHICAGO FAN, I'M A WHITE SOX FAN

I don't care that the Cubs are from the same city, cheering for them would be just as random as a Sox fans cheering for the Padres or whomever.

I just had to get this FACT off my chest...

GO SOX

I'm a fan and spend thousands on this team through games, trips to follow the team, etc. Last Sunday I sat in the top price seats at Great American Ballpark and watched the entire team and management treat the day like it was a vacation. I thought to myself that this did not bode well. Then they forgot to come to the game on Thursday.

If I was the owner of this team, I would tell the players and the management to start their vacation today and forfeit the last game now, to give a team that cares a chance to go to the next step. Maybe they would show up to play in February!

What is there about a pitch in the dirt that entrances Soriano and Ramirez? Last night,with runners on 2nd and 3rd, three pitches to Soriano: one in the dirt, two more neck high and 3 futile swings. Inning over, 2 runners left in scoring position. This is a $136 million major leaguer?

Hope the Cubs get swept.

Where is your big fan, Bill Murray. He is a typical north shore Cubs' phoney. All show.

I will be at the Rugby World Cup today and tomorrow.

Go Boks and Chisox.

Cheers,

Gary Burns

Seeing a bosox fan catch a foul & keep his team alive in inning to tie game only reminds us of 03! Bartman unfortunately did it to his own club! Although that help Marlins but wasn't reason cubs lost. Just as in 03 this 07 cubs are still choking away! At least white sox knew the mission they had & took care of it in 05! Cubs players like Soriano,Lee & Ramirez seem content on going to bank cashing those huge checks for a lethargic effort. Cubs awful franchise! Maybe cubs should move to Florida?

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This page contains a single entry by Chris De Luca published on October 5, 2007 1:47 AM.

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