WASHINGTON - One of the Cubs' coaches glanced across the field before Tuesday's game against the top team in the major leagues and said, ``Shows you what pitching will do for you.''
The Cubs then proceeded to demonstrate just how far they are from having enough pitching to do anything of consequence for them anytime in the foreseeable future - running a seven-man parade of rookies to the mound in an 11-5 loss to the Washington Nationals.
Making his second career big-league start, left-hander Chris Rusin (0-2) was knocked out before recording an out in the second inning, and actually retired only two of 11 batters, considering left fielder Alfonso Soriano threw out Michael Morse at third trying to advance from first on a single in the first inning.
``This is the big leagues. You can't miss your spots here or that will happen,'' said Rusin -- who will remain in the rotation the rest of the season, manager Dale Sveum said before the game.
``There's always a chance to make an impression [when given the ball]. That's what you want to do,'' Rusin added. ``But you can't have outings like this.''
If the two-homer, five-run outing for Rusin seemed bad, it only got worse from there on a night the Nationals set a Washington home team record for home runs (six) that dates back to the 1901 birth of the Washington Senators.
By the time rookies Jaye Chapman (scoreless big-league debut), Blake Parker, Rafel Dolis (two-homer inning), Miguel Socolovich (two-inning Cubs debut, one homer), Alberto Cabrera and Jeff Beliveau (one homer) finished the game, only Lendy Castillo remained among unused Cub rookie pitchers.
``Joe Mather was on my mind again,'' said Sveum of the outfielder he used to get an out in a blowout loss to Milwaukee last week.
And this after a night on which he said, ``The game was never super out of hand.''
About the only results of note out of this early September meaningless game were the milestone numbers:
--Alfonso Soriano, with 27 games left, matched last season's totals with his 26th homer and three RBIs to reach 88 (his Cub career high).
--Starlin Castro drove in two runs and has a career high 67 RBIs.
--With Chapman, Socolovich and catcher Anthony Recker, the Cubs have now used 20 rookies this season - tying the franchise's 1902 record.
--Chapman was the 11th to make his big-league debut with the Cubs this year.
--Chapman and Socolovich made for 29 pitchers used this season, extending what was already a franchise record.
--And the three new rookie Cubs also made for 52 total players used this season, breaking by one the 2000 franchise record.
``There's probably nothing good when you break a franchise record for players used,'' Sveum said. ``Usually you're not going to end up with a good season.''
To wit: The last time the Cubs were 33 games under .500 was the day before they finished that last-place 2000 season with a win.
Speaking of which, another key number is 101 - the number of losses the Cubs would end up with at their current pace.
Here's another, more relevant number: 105. That's how many losses they'll have if they finish at their pace cine blowing up the roster at the July 31 trade deadline (8-26 since).
That would break the franchise mark of 103 losses in a season.
Never mind their miserable 17-50 record on the road, with eight in three cities left on this trip alone.
As Sveum noted, when talking about the fact he didn't have to over-extend his bullpen:
``The only good thing about losing on the road is you only have to go eight innings.''