The Cubs were trailing the New York Mets 7-4 with two outs in the top of the seventh inning when the umpires ordered the tarp to be pulled out. Forty minutes later, the game was called and no one in the Cubs’ dugout was too pleased with the decision.
“It’s wet out there, you put an inning together and all of a sudden maybe you get even or find a way to get a lead,” Cubs manager Mike Quade said. “I don’t know. At that moment, I thought we need to keep playing. I wish we’d have kept playing.”
Once the umpires made the decision to delay the game, Quade ran on to the field and argued with the Dale Scott and his crew for a few minutes. Quade felt strongly that the conditions hadn’t worsened and since they’d already been playing in it, why not keep going?
Quade said he knew once the game was delayed, the rain wouldn’t stop and the game would be called.
Darwin Barney, who grew up used to rainy weather in the Portland area, said there were a lot of frustrated players in the clubhouse. He said he knew the cell of bad weather wasn’t going to pass because once it hits the lake, it just stops.
“We really were hoping to get another shot, I think everybody’s a little upset about that,” Barney said. “But it’s [the umpire’s call] and in that situation it’s a dictatorship, so we can’t really do anything about it.”
Quade acknowledged that the decision to call the game wasn’t the only reason to be frustrated, and it certainly wasn’t the cause for the Cubs’ pitching woes.
Starter Casey Coleman failed to hold on to the 4-1 lead his offense provided in the first inning. Coleman lasted only 1 1/3 innings, giving up six runs on seven hits and a walk, watching his WHIP jump to an eye-popping 2.05.
“We put ourselves behind the eight ball by blowing a really nice start,” Quade said. “That’s not the umpire’s fault, that’s for sure.”
Coleman was relieved by Justin Berg who failed to throw a strike, let alone record an out. Berg threw 12 pitches -- all balls -- as he walked in two runs while handing out three free passes.
James Russell relieved him, striking out two with the bases loaded to end the Mets’ half of the second. Russell ended up going 3 2/3 innings, while allowing only one run. It was Russell’s third appearance in the Cubs’ past five games, and he threw a minimum of three innings in each appearance.
With the wind once again blowing in, Coleman said he knew his game plan was to pound the strike zone and let his defense do the work.
“In the first inning with [Carlos] Beltran, after two quick outs, I kind of just kept telling myself, ‘Hey it’s a great time to just throw strikes,’ ” Coleman said. “Instead of just doing it, I thought too much about it and walked a guy.”
Though it was the only walk Coleman allowed, he credited it for his unraveling.
Coleman said he is trying to figure out what he’s doing differently from the late season success he enjoyed last year. He claimed the biggest difference seemed to be that last season he established the strike zone early and worked the corners late after doing so. Now he’s nibbling at the corners before getting comfortable and throwing strikes.
“We’re inconsistent as a son of a gun, and we were again tonight,” Quade said of his starting pitching. “It’s just tough to put things together when that’s the case.”
Bright spots: Though there were few bright spots, one had to be Reed Johnson’s two-run double with two outs and the bases loaded in the first inning. Johnson is now hitting .500 (8-for-16) with runners in scoring position, an area the Cubs have greatly improved over the last two weeks.
On May 9, the Cubs were hitting .213 with runners in scoring position, fighting with the San Diego Padres for last in the NL. Since then, they’ve raised that number by over 20 points (.238) and moved to the middle of the pack in the NL.
Also of note was Barney’s diving catch on a softly hit line drive by Jose Reyes to shallow right. Quade, who lauded the young infielder prior to the game for his constant hustle, was all praises again.
“I kept talking about him as an overachiever. Maybe I miss-evaluated him,” Quade said. “Maybe he’s not an overachiever, maybe he’s just [darn] good.”