At least give the Cubs credit for moving beyond the idea that moral victories are good and that playing hard and developing chemistry will somehow lead to better things down the road.
That road is becoming shorter and shorter, and it's leading straight to nowhere as was in evidence during this three-game series against the White Sox.
The Sox took another 1-run decision from the Cubs on Wednesday night, beating them 4-3 to take win series two games to one and get a leg up on the coveted BP Crosstown Cup.
So after a promising series against the Milwaukee Brewers last week, when the Cubs won three of four, they dropped two of three against both the Yankees and White Sox.
"There's some things to like, but the final score is not one of them," said manager Mike Quade, whose decision-making came under question again. "We got to start finding ways. We're playing better, but we're not playing good enough."
Let's cut to a key decision by Quade.
The Cubs were down 4-3 in the top of the eighth, when Blake DeWitt led off with an infield single. Pinch runner Tony Campana stole second base and went to third on a groundout.
So with a fast man on third and one out, Quade had a decision to make with No. 9 hitter Koyie Hill coming to the plate. The Cubs needed contact, but Hill struck out for the third straight time, this time against right-hander Jesse Crain.
If ever a time for a pinch hitter seemed in order, this was it.
"Crain had been so tough on those right-handers," said Quade, whose team is 30-44. "At that point, with Campana on third, I wanted the best chance to make contact. Koyie had gotten some big hits, and … I wasn't sure we even needed a basehit there. If he can put the ball in play, I feel like we had a shot, especially with (Crain's) breaking ball. I thought we'd stay with a left-handed hitter there. It didn't work out."
On the bench, Quade's best option appeared to be catcher Geovany Soto. Lou Montanez and DJ LeMahieu, both right-handed hitters, also were available, but Quade stuck with the switch-hitting Hill.
"The matchups were interesting with their bullpen, and that's kind of the way it goes," Quade said. "When you play the lineup that I played, some of the choices I have off the bench from time to time obviously aren't available because they're in the lineup. In at least two situations, Ozzie (Sox manager Guillen) had the last move that gave him, quote, unquote, an advantage.
"We've done some better things here this last seven or 10 days, but now we've got to take the next step and start finding a way to win more of these games and make it easier on ourselves, not being in a 3-2 ballgame every night, or 4-3."
Speaking of Guillen, he wins the award for blowing the most smoke, as he opined Tuesday that the Cubs could win their division.
Not this year and not unless moral victories count.
"We've been preparing ourselves well," said first baseman Carlos Pena. "I think we're getting closer as a team, better chemistry. Everyone seems to be a little more focused on executing. Stay aggressive. Don't look far ahead. Don't look too far back. Make these losses hurt, at least so we can move on."
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