What more can go wrong for Cubs?
By Gordon Wittenmyer email@example.com July 4, 2011 10:42PM
Washington Nationals' Jayson Werth, center, scores the winning run on a wild pitch as Ivan Rodriquez, right, watches during the 10th inning of a baseball game against the Chicago Cubs at Nationals Park on Monday, July 4, 2011, in Washington. The Nationals won 5-4 in 10 innings. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Updated: October 20, 2011 12:27AM
WASHINGTON — You can’t make up the stuff that keeps happening to the Cubs.
‘‘It’s just been a weird first half,’’ left fielder Alfonso Soriano said
after the Cubs lost on a walk-off wild pitch and watched another pitcher walk off the field with an injury
In fact, it was only a matter of minutes after reliever Marcos
Mateo left the game with an elbow injury that scrambling closer Carlos Marmol threw the wild pitch that sent Jayson Werth home from third with the winning run in the Washington Nationals’ 5-4, 10-inning
‘‘This has been a different year,’’ said center fielder Marlon Byrd, who on his third day back from getting hit in the face by a pitch last month scored from first base on a fly to right-center that two Nationals let fall for a single in the fourth. ‘‘The way we win games, the way we lose games, guys going out, guys getting hurt, freak accidents. . . . It’s just one of those years. Everything’s weird.’’
Which would make the events Monday just another round of the usual.
The Cubs already had called up Casey Coleman from Class AAA Iowa to make an emergency start while they monitored Ryan Dempster’s suddenly cranky back, and
another roster move was coming today to activate minor-league free agent Ramon Ortiz, 38, to start in place of ailing Carlos Zambrano.
But now it looks as though multiple moves might be required, with Mateo heading back to Chicago for an MRI exam — and to the disabled list — five days after pitching a season-high five innings (56 pitches) without allowing a run Thursday against the San Francisco Giants.
Cubs officials were preparing to huddle late Monday to determine whether they would need more bullpen help today. That probably would come in the form of Chris Carpenter, the guy they demoted to make room for Coleman. He would be eligible to be recalled so quickly because of Mateo’s injury.
And after Coleman’s 51/3 serviceable innings, the Cubs also must decide whether he will stay in the majors for another start before the All-Star break or will head back to Iowa. How Dempster’s back fares is another factor in the mix-and-match, patchwork process.
‘‘A lot of injuries, a lot of mistakes,’’ Soriano said in summing up the Cubs’ first 86 games, which have featured 41 unearned runs, 51 losses and 12 guys spending time on the DL since Opening Day. ‘‘I just hope if this happens this year, it’s only this year, so that next year we can have fun. And not only next year, but the second half this year, too.’’
The Cubs have a lot of ground to make up to get to that kind of fun,
especially after another wacky — and dispiriting — finish.
Marmol, who made no excuses after being called on quickly and
unexpectedly, entered the game with Werth at second and one out. Werth caught Marmol ignoring him and stole third without a throw on Marmol’s first pitch to Pudge
‘‘My mistake, and I paid for it,’’ said Marmol, who threw the wild slider four pitches later.
Now the Cubs will send a guy — Ortiz — to the mound who hasn’t pitched in the majors since May of last season. And they will hold their breath as they re-evaluate Dempster, the only starter from their opening rotation who has avoided the DL.
Nobody seems to know exactly how Dempster got a bad back out of a bout with a stomach ailment. The way manager Mike Quade
described Dempster’s issues — pain and tightness in the midsection that constricts his back — made it sound almost like labor contractions.
‘‘I don’t think he’s having a baby,’’ Quade said. ‘‘That would just about do it. If that’s the case, then we’ve
really had an interesting first half.’’