At least he sort of admitted after the Cubs’ latest loss Friday.
“This one is on me,” Mike Quade said after trying to get Randy Wells through the seventh inning in the game against the White Sox.
In Quade’s defense, Wells was cruising up until that point. After a two-run first, he retired 11 in a row at one point. That stretch was only broken by a Brent Morel bunt single to begin the sixth. After the single, Wells got Carlos Quentin to ground into a double play and Paul Konerko to ground out. The entire inning consisted of just three pitches, and that followed a fifth in which he threw all of five pitches.
Wells, though, didn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt once thngs started unraveling in the seventh. The right-hander, who was 0-2 with a 7.20 ERA in six starts since coming off the DL, gave up a single to A.J. Pierzynski and then an Alexei Ramirez homer that tied the game at 4.
The obvious move was to pull him then, but Quade left him in. Alex Rios singled before Gordon Beckham grounded to third for the first out of the frame. After that, pinch-hitter Adam Dunn walked and Juan Pierre delivered a two-run triple, giving the White Sox a 6-4 lead that would stand up for the rest of the game.
This is the way things have gone for Quade all year. Not that any manager would have the Cubs playing better than .500 ball, but even with their injuries, they’re better than a 34-49 team. They’re getting solid production out of every spot in the lineup, and while the bottom of the rotation has been a disaster, the top three guys have been just fine the last two months.
Quade is getting outmanaged at practically every opportunity, and it’s time for him to go. I’m not sure bench coach Pat Listach is any better of a choice to step in — he’s the one in Quade’s ear when the tactical choices are being made — but he would be the likely choice to take over on an interim basis. The Cubs need to wipe the slate clean anyway, and when GM Jim Hendry is fired — something that needs to happen this winter whether Quade is retained or not — it’d be for the best if the new general manager gets to pick the manager of his choice.
John Lackey flirted with a no-hitter but settled for 7 1/3 terrific, shutout innings to beat the Cubs in Game 1 of the NLDS on Friday. The right-hander held the opposition to two hits and a walk while striking out five. Lefty reliever Kevin Siegrist struck out two to finish the eighth without issue. Closer Trevor Rosenthal worked around a one-out walk and a two-out single in the ninth to seal the 4-0 win, recording all three outs on called strike threes.
Lackey brought a no-hitter into the sixth inning, but lost it quickly when Addison Russell hit a ground ball single up the middle to lead off the frame. Russell would steal second base but was stranded.
Opposing starter Jon Lester wasn’t too shabby himself, relenting three runs on five hits while walking one and striking out nine in 7 1/3 innings. The first run came around in the first inning on Matt Holliday‘s RBI single, which followed a one-out double by Stephen Piscotty. Tommy Pham pinch-hit in the pitcher’s spot in the eighth inning and launched a solo home run off of Lester to double the Cardinals’ lead. Lester walked Matt Carpenter before exiting. Pedro Strop came in and promptly served up a two-run home run to Stephen Piscotty.
The closest the Cubs came to scoring was when Dexter Fowler sent a deep fly ball to right field with a man on base and two outs in the sixth inning, but Randal Grichuk caught it with a foot or two to spare in front of the fence on the warning track.
The two clubs will play Game 2 of the NLDS on Saturday at 5:30 PM EDT. Kyle Hendricks will start for the Cubs and oppose Cardinals lefty Jaime Garcia.
Scott Kazmir went winless with a 6.52 ERA in six September starts. He allowed 41 hits, eight of them homers, in 29 innings, posting an 18/11 K/BB ratio. When the Astros got five innings of two-run ball from him Friday against the Royals, they should have thanked their good fortune and moved right along to the pen.
And they knew this. They must have. Josh Fields got up in the pen after Kazmir issued a one-out walk in the fifth. The left-hander got out of the frame, making himself eligible for the victory in what was then a 4-2 game, but it was still very surprising to see him come back out for the sixth, particularly with the switch-hitting Ben Zobrist (.926 OPS against lefties) and right-handed Lorenzo Cain due up.
Kazmir retired Zobrist, but he gave up a double to Cain. He was then pulled, even with the left-handed Eric Hosmer coming up. Manager A.J. Hinch had committed my biggest baseball pet peeve: he sent his starter back to the mound with the idea of pulling him after his first mistake.
It worked out terribly. Oliver Perez gave up a pair of soft hits to Hosmer and Kendrys Morales before walking Mike Moustakas. Fields then entered and walked the unwalkable Salvador Perez to tie the game at 4. The Astros gave up another run in the seventh and lost the game 5-4.
Maybe that’s the way it would have worked out anyway. Kazmir did give up just the one baserunner. It might not have even harmed the Astros if Perez had better luck.
Still, the thinking that went into the decision was disturbing. It’s always better to bring that reliever in with no one on base when you can. That’s especially the case with this Astros pen, which lacks a double-play specialist, much less a Wade Davis. But anyone in that pen would have been a better choice than sending Kazmir out to face Zobrist and Cain for a third time. Hinch needs to be more aggressive going forward.
The Cardinals have won so many division titles, it’s tough to keep track of them all. At least, it would be tough if it weren’t for Baseball Reference.
40,000 rally towels were given away to fans at Busch Stadium ahead of Friday’s NLDS Game 1 against the Cubs. The towel listed all of the years the Cardinals won the NL Central… and 2001. That year, they tied with the Astros for the best record in the National League at 93-69. However, because the Astros won the season series 9-7, they were awarded first place and the Cardinals took the Wild Card.