HOUSTON -- It’s getting so bad for the Cubs now that even their hustle is getting punished.
The Cubs lost their ninth consecutive Wednesday after Darwin Barney’s all-out hustle toward the right-field line only ended up knocking the ball from the glove of a sliding David DeJesus.
Instead of getting the third out and preserving a one-run lead for starter Jeff Samardzija in the fourth inning, the Astros scored two runs on what was ruled a triple for J.D. Martinez. They would be the only runs the Astros scored off Samardzija in an eventual 5-1 victory.
“I thought he caught it,” Barney said. “When I was on the ground I thought it was in his glove. And then there it was. It’s just unfortunate because we both did our job and it just happened to turn out that way.”
Perhaps it was a bit of over-hustle. Barney was way out of his area and wouldn’t have caught the ball even if DeJesus wasn’t there. But that’s what happens when the losses mount: Sometimes you push it in an effort to make a difference.
It certainly beats the alternative. And Barney paid the price for it sporting at least a dozen bloody grooves in his left arm from where he slid across the pebble-ridden Minute Maid Park warning track while supporting his entire body weight.
“It was a great effort,” acting manager Jamie Quirk said. “If they make the play it’s an outstanding play. It was just perfect placement on their part. You didn’t hit it good, just hit it in the right spot. They both gave everything they had. It was a great effort and we just didn’t catch the ball.”
To Barney’s credit, he refused to throw a pity party. He flat out rejected the notion that it was an example of the old adage that everything that can go wrong is going wrong for the Cubs.
“No, what’s going wrong is we’re not hitting with men on base,” he said. “I can’t point out anybody but myself right now. That’s something I need to pick up and as a team we’re hoping to do better at. It’s part of the game. Just work hard, play hard. Defense is one of those things you can control and unfortunately today it didn’t work out. It’s too bad for Jeff because he pitched really well.”
Cubs players continue to work hard as they show up early and go through the pregame paces as much, or perhaps even more, that they did earlier in the season. The only difference is that it is growing quieter in the clubhouse with each and every defeat.
“It’s getting very tough,” Quirk said. “This game is so mental day in and day out. It keeps coming at you. Obviously you wipe it away and you show up the next day wanting to win, but losing is never fun. That’s our job to keep the up and they are doing a great job of it.
“Every day they wipe it clean and come in every day expecting to play well and win. It hasn’t happened.”