Sunday’s result: Cubs 5, Rockies 0 (8 inn.)
BY NEIL HAYES email@example.com August 26, 2012 7:12PM
Chicago Cubs starter Chris Volstad delivers a pitch against the Colorado Rockies in the first inning of a baseball game in Chicago, Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
Updated: August 26, 2012 7:31PM
Not only was Chris Volstad trying to end his potential claim to one of the most dubious records there is for a pitcher, but he had and extra two hours, 23 minutes to think about it during Sunday’s rain-delayed game against the Rockies at Wrigley Field.
Then, in another twist of fate, the had to sit through a second rain delay before the game was finally declared official, giving Volstad his first win since July 17, 2011.
Maybe the extra time before the game allowed him to visualize himself winning for a change, because he turned in by far his best performance of the season in the Cubs 5-0 win over the Rockies on Sunday. It was well worth the wait because he’s no longer stalking the major-league record for most consecutive starts without a victory.
Volstad got a standing ovation from the few rain-drenched fans remaining when he left in the seventh inning after allowing three hits and no runs in 6 2/3 innings. The Cubs led 2-0 at the time but by leaving two men on, Volstad was one swing away from taking a 3-2 lead and sending Volstad spiralling to his 25th start without a win.
Fortunately for him, Manuel Corpas got Jonathan Herrera to ground to second to end the inning. The Cubs bullpen kept the Rockies scoreless the rest of the way for the team’s ninth shutout of the season and to help Volstad snap his winless streak at 24 consecutive starts. The record, shared by Matt Keough and Jo-Jo Reyes, is 28.
“He has handled it as good as anybody could handle it [given] the stretch and the situation he’s in,” the Cubs manager Dale Sveum said before the game. “[The] guy stays pretty much calm and collected most of the time. He doesn’t show much emotion good or bad. He just goes about his business and works and is trying to make adjustments. It’s just one of those things. We haven’t gotten a lot of run support for him, either. That has to do with a lot of things. He’s handled everything extremely well for the adversity he has had to go through.”
Starlin Castro doubled and scored on Darwin Barney’s fielder’s choice in the second and the Cubs added a run in the sixth when Barney’s soft single to center scored Castro again. Until his seventh-inning blooper, Barney had been in a 3-for-33 skid after hitting .340 in 14 games from July 29 through Aug. 13, prompting him to take extra batting practice after Saturday’s loss.
The Cubs blew the game open with three runs in the eighth inning.
Legacy aside, Volstad was facing a more practical dilemma. He’s making $2.65 million and is arbitration eligible after this season. It’s doubtful he will return to the Cubs unless it’s the result of a handshake deal that would allow the Cubs to avoid arbitration and sign him to a lesser salary in exchange for a guaranteed contract.
The bottom line is, whether it’s with the Cubs or some other team, Volstad is pitching for his major league life the rest of the season.
Jeff Samardzija and Matt Garza have virtual locks for the rotation when spring training opens. Everybody else is in the wind. Volstad has made 14 starts for the Cubs this season. He has thrown 76 innings and lowered his ERA to a still bloated 6.28. How much more do the Cubs have to see?
Rookie lefthanders Chris Rusin and Brooks Raley have both been solid and deserve a longer look. Another lousy start and it might have come at the expense of Volstad, who turned in only his fourth quality start of the season on Sunday. Heck, it’s not inconceivable that manager Dale Sveum still may decide to give some of Volstad’s starts to others in the final month, although Volstad helped his cause on a rain-soaked Sunday afternoon.
“It’s hard not to be aware of stuff like that,” Sveum said of the record. “It’s talked about. Hopefully, obviously, it doesn’t happen. We all know it’s getting closer and closer to that. Hopefully, today we can take care of it and score some runs. We need to score early and keep adding on. We’ve had a very difficult time doing that.”