The Cubs can’t keep giving away games like this.
The boos started in the first inning on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field. Dallas Beeler had just given up three doubles and a walk to the first four Colorado Rockies he faced, the Cubs falling behind by three runs.
Wait…aren’t the Rockies supposed to be feeling the hangover from trading face-of-the-franchise shortstop Troy Tulowitzki to the Toronto Blue Jays? And didn’t the Cubs create all this feel-good momentum with Monday night’s dramatic walk-off win?
Whatever, this 7-2 loss again exposed how much the Cubs need to acquire a starter before Friday’s non-waiver trade deadline. Fans all over Twitter are already on Hug Watch, wondering why manager Joe Maddon double-switched shortstop Starlin Castro out of the game in the eighth inning, curious if the Cubs had a blockbuster deal brewing with the San Diego Padres.
Maddon explained his baseball reasoning in the interview room/dungeon. Castro, who’s normally available at his locker, declined to speak with reporters through a team spokesman, waiting to meet the media until Wednesday morning.
“Conjecture is such a wonderful part of our game,” Maddon said. “It’s so interesting this time of the year. I understand that. But even if there was something that I knew, I wouldn’t say anything anyway.
“I think it’s great that the conjecture occurs right now. I think it’s good for the game.
“It’s tough for Starlin if his name’s mentioned that often. That’s where it becomes difficult – for the guy (whose) name is being bandied about.”
It doesn’t even have to be Cole Hamels or David Price, a big contract or the hired gun that doesn’t seem to make financial sense for Theo Epstein’s baseball operations department right now, or would mean ripping apart whatever’s left of the farm system.
“I always believe you can never get enough pitching,” Maddon said.
Beeler came up from Triple-A Iowa to make his second spot start in a week and got four outs, giving up four runs before leaving it in the hands of a bullpen that appears to be in another skid. The last-place Rockies buried a Cubs team (52-47) coming off a weekend sweep by the last-place Philadelphia Phillies.
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The Cubs have now given 13 starts to Beeler, Tsuyoshi Wada, Clayton Richard and Donn Roach – and gotten two quality starts from that group.
“I don’t know” became Maddon’s answer when asked about the fifth spot in the rotation. (Richard threw seven scoreless innings for Iowa on Tuesday in Nashville.)
Maddon wouldn’t immediately rule out the idea of putting Travis Wood back in the rotation. Wood came in for Beeler and gave up one run in 3.2 innings, striking out six of the 13 batters he faced. But it’s not Maddon’s first choice, believing the lefty has become too valuable out of the bullpen.
Maybe the answer becomes going back to the Padres (Ian Kennedy) or making a deal with the Miami Marlins (Dan Haren) or hoping the Cincinnati Reds would trade within the division (Mike Leake).
A rental pitcher works if these are going to be the two most important months of the season. The Cubs hope the prices drop closer to the deadline. (Another soon-to-be free agent – Miami’s Mat Latos – is a gifted pitcher who comes with the reputation for being difficult, at times, in the clubhouse.)
The Cubs aren’t going to overreact, but they’re now 2.5 games out of the second wild-card spot, watching the San Francisco Giants surge back into the playoff picture.
“You can’t get too high when things are going well,” Epstein said. “You can’t get too low when they’re not. We were in a competitive race for the postseason a week ago, two weeks ago, and we still are today. We’re just in a little bit worse position than we were.
“It’s our job to pull ourselves out of it.”