Despite his best efforts, Carlos Quentin couldn’t stop the Padres from getting swept by the lowly Cubs, who entered the series losers of 12 in a row.
Quentin, though, did put on a show at Wrigley Field, collecting three homers and four doubles in his first three games back from the disabled list. Two of those homers came Wednesday off the formerly untouchable Ryan Dempster. Right-handed hitters were hitting .197/.234/.234 with one homer in 117 at-bats going into the game.
So the Padres are now 17-35, having lost six games in a row. They’re 16 1/2 games back in the NL West (no other team in baseball is more than 12 1/2 games out of first place). It’s already time to start thinking about selling, and Quentin, a poor defensive outfielder who probably isn’t a long-term piece in Petco Park, would seem to be an obvious candidate to go in a trade this summer. Some could use him more than others, but just about every AL contender aside from the Angels could find a way to fit his bat in somehow. He’d also seem to be precisely the right-handed bat the Reds need in the cleanup spot. It’d be for the best if he doesn’t get too comfortable in San Diego.
The Cubs had a nice night last night. Javier Baez finally broke his hitless streak with not one but two homers. Willson Contreras hit a nearly 500-foot homer. Jake Arrieta, possibly pitching for the last time as a Cub, dug down for a gutsy performance, pitching into the seventh inning, working around some walks to allow only one run while striking out nine.
After the game, Cubs players sounded hopeful notes about believing in themselves, taking them one game at a time, getting the series back to L.A. for a Game 6 and Game 7. They’re professional athletes who know better than any of us that to achieve a thing you have to believe you can achieve that thing, so it’d be dumb to expect anything else from them in this situation. Ballplayers, quite admirably, don’t sound a note of defeat until they are actually defeated.
But let’s be realistic there: they’re still a dead team walking.
- They’re dead because, as we have been reminded oh so many times, only once in 35 tries has a team come back to win a seven game series in which they’ve found themselves down 0-3. That team did so because Dave Roberts worked some magic. Dave Roberts is working for the other team now.
- They’re dead because their biggest weakness this postseason — their bullpen — is not going to have its best pitcher, Wade Davis, available today in Game 5 after throwing 48 pitches in Game 4.
- They’re dead because while the Dodgers used five relievers last night, none of them were worked particularly hard and neither Brandon Morrow nor Kenley Jansen were used at all, allowing them to come in and work hard and heavy tonight if need be.
- They’re dead because the man on the mound to start tonight’s game is Clayton Edward Kershaw. Yes, he has had some less-than-glory-filled moments in the postseason in recent years, but all of those have come at the tail end of starts, when his managers have left him in perhaps an inning too long. See the above bullet point — and Dave Roberts’ early hook in Game 1 — if you think that’ll be a problem tonight.
The Dodgers lost last night, yes, but it was their first loss in the postseason. All teams have lost at least one postseason game since it went to the three-round format, so it was likely inevitable that L.A. would drop one. Heck, maybe they’ll drop two before the NLCS is over, but they’re not going to drop the next three in a row.
Last night’s Cubs win was nice for them, but it only delayed the inevitable.