Cubs prove to be their own worst enemy
The Cubs couldn't seem to get out of their own way Thursday night, and it cost them against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
An ill-advised sacrifice-bunt attempt that failed took the steam out of the first inning for the Cubs. And manager Rick Renteria left reliever Neil Ramirez in to absorb a pounding in the seventh inning, when the Dodgers rallied for 5 runs on the way to a 8-4 victory at chilly Wrigley Field.
An error by rookie second baseman Logan Watkins on a potential double-play ball in the seventh opened the door to the Dodgers' rally.
Before that, Cubs starting pitcher Tsuyoshi Wada worked 5 decent innings, giving up 5 hits and 1 run. Wada has filled in creditably in the rotation since the July 4 trade of Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to Oakland.
"He's been doing a nice job," Renteria said before the game. "When he was sent down, one of the things that he was trying to work on was getting his command back. I think he did that, and I think he's shown that here. He's been very efficient, giving us 5 or 6 innings of work, pretty much, every time he's gone out."
The Cubs scored twice in the first inning, but the momentum vanished when No. 5 hitter Ryan Kalish attempted a sacrifice bunt with runners on first and third and nobody out. The play went for a forceout, and the Cubs didn't score again in the inning.
Welcome back, Darwin:
Former Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney returned to Wrigley Field as a member of the Dodgers.
The 2012 Gold Glover plays sparingly for L.A., but he's liking life in first place.
"The mentality is different," Barney said. "We're here to take four (games). That's our goal, to win every single day. It's the way we play over here."
Barney was designated for assignment by the Cubs on July 22 and traded to the Dodgers on July 28.
"It's always different when something like that happens," he said. "It's like a divorce. I had only known one thing. The unknown was a little scary. That's baseball and that's life. It's going to happen to everybody, and it's going to happen again. Just move on and continue enjoying what you're doing."
On Dodgers ace pitcher Clayton Kershaw, who goes against the Cubs on Friday, Barney said: "Kershaw is the best pitcher I've ever seen."
Praise for Cougars manager:
Even though the Cubs have ended their affiliation with the Kane County Cougars in favor of South Bend, team president Theo Epstein had high praise for Cougars manager Mark Johnson, who was Midwest League manager of the year.
"He was great," Epstein said. "He created an unbelievable atmosphere where the players learned to care about the team ahead of themselves. They supported each other. They got better. They had a knack for coming back in games, not giving up, learning how to win. He kept them all focused, really kept a great atmosphere around that team.
"It wasn't the same group of guys. They went through like three roster iterations over the course of the season. And yet, they still had that same common characteristic of winning as a team. A lot of that goes to MJ and his staff."
Johnson could be a fast riser in the Cubs organization.