In a recent pregame interview, manager Mike Quade was quoted still believing that the Cubs could climb back into contention with a hot streak. The rookie manager must have celebrated his team’s first three game winning streak of the season a little too hard on the off day prior. The local media and Cubs fans, including Cubbies Crib writers and readers, have well documented the managerial mistakes Quade has made this season, and after this latest quote, the concern with the Cubs skipper will go from wondering whether the first year manager is just green or certified crazy.
The Cubs promptly went on to lose 3-2 that night to division rivals Milwaukee despite a solid outing by Ryan Dempster. After giving up three runs in the first, the Cubs ace kept the Brewers scoreless through the sixth inning, collecting seven strikeouts along the way. Aramis Ramirez got the offense started with a two run homer in the top of the first, his 19th of the season, but the pitchers for the home team were able to match those of the Cubs to keep the game scoreless the rest of the way
In fact, the scoring drought continued through the completion of game two of the series, as first year Brewer Zack Greinke shut out the Cubs offense. It was a shame because the Cubs got a solid performance out of Carlos Zambrano, who only allowed two runs in the second frame while keeping his team in the game into the seventh inning. Jordan has been keeping Cubbies Crib updated on just how far the front office is willing to go to trade Zambrano, and the fiery starter did his part to showcase his quality in what will be his final start before the non waiver trade deadline.
Zambrano even showed restraint and calm after being seen negotiating with Quade to face one more batter, only to be declined by the manager. He was seen mouthing the word “wow” as a reaction to what he felt was a short hook, but even in post game interviews the Cubs pitcher conceded that the call is Quade’s to make.
Any sense of joy left from the three game winning streak was squashed when Brewers beat the Cubs on Thursday afternoon to complete the sweep. It was the first time the Cubs were swept since their trip to Philadelphia in early June. Tony Campana was inserted into the leadoff spot to replace the traded Kosuke Fukudome, and he promptly led off the game with an infield single. The base stealing threat resulted in Campana advancing to second on an errant pickoff throw, and then the speedy outfielder swiped third for his 12th stolen bag of the season. He was driven in on a sac fly by Aramis Ramirez, and the Cubs were only able to manage one more run the rest of the day.
Meanwhile Randy Wells pitched a decent game of his own, but he allowed four runs on eight hits, and that would not prevent Milwaukee from sweeping the series. With three days left before the non waiver deadline, at least Cubs fans have trade rumors to get them through the weekend. Hopefully Quade realizes that the 2011 season is technically over for the Cubs by now if he really did not know going into Miller Park.