Tuesday’s result: Athletics 8, Cubs 7
BY GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com July 2, 2013 11:11PM
Oakland Athletics' Derek Norris, center, is congratulated by Eric Sogard (28) and Josh Donaldson (20) after Norris hit a three run home run off Chicago Cubs' James Russell in the eighth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, July 2, 2013, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Updated: July 3, 2013 1:33AM
OAKLAND, Calif. – A lot of things changed Tuesday for the Cubs.
But some things, it seems, never change.
Taking a lead into the eighth inning yet again, the Cubs blew it yet again in an 8-7 loss to the Oakland Athletics in the opener of a three-game series at the Oakland Coliseum.
This time it was lefty James Russell giving up a three-run homer to Derek Norris with two out in the eighth for the bullpen’s 17th blown save against just 18 saves this season.
“It’s almost comical to see this happen every single night we have a lead,” manager Dale Sveum said, “to get beat by guys that sometimes hardly even hit any home runs.”
Russell, the Cubs’ primary setup man, has six blown saves (no saves), but he’s one of just eight Cubs to blow one this year.
The Cubs’ 51-percent save rate is the worst in the majors.
The finish wasted a five-run fourth inning for the Cubs that included a three-run homer by Alfonso Soriano – his third homer in four games – and a go-ahead, two-run double by Welington Castillo in the sixth.
Soriano is 8-for-18 with three homers, three doubles and eight RBIs in his last four games.
The loss came a few hours after the Cubs traded away Tuesday’s scheduled starter, Scott Feldman, to Baltimore in a flurry of trades.
One byproduct of Tuesday’s move is the promise of another new look for the bullpen Wednesday, when Matt Guerrier (from Dodgers) and Pedro Strop (Orioles) are expected to report.
If it means the departure of struggling Shawn Camp (7.04 ERA), it would leave only two members of the Cubs’ Opening Day bullpen: Russell and Rule 5 kid Hector Rondon.