“Spirit in the Ninth” not enough for Cubs

Chicago Cubs reliever Shawn Camp leaves the mound Monday after giving up two runs in the sixth inning. (Brian Kersey/Getty Images)

I like Bruce Springsteen’s music a lot, and I try to play on some of his song titles when I can. And Monday’s Cubs game — a 7-5 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers — gives me a chance to do just that.

The Cubs’ nullpen (I’m not calling it a bullpen until it shows me something positive) let this game get away from the sixth inning on. I must say that Shawn Camp has not made  a very good first impression on me. But the ninth inning of tonight’s game really told the tale for me.

Trailing 7-3 in the ninth is usually the prelude to a weak ninth inning for the Cubs. Maybe there’s a meaningless walk, which leads to a double play of some kind, but there never really was much chance of the Cubs pulling a game out in the final at-bat.

In the Sammy Sosa era (1998-2004), he would hit a late-inning home run sometimes, and people would stay around to watch his final turn at the plate, but rarely would this have an impact on the outcome of the game. And in the Baker/Piniella/Quade era, you could safely assume that a four-run defecit in the ninth inning was all but insurmountable.

But Monday was different.  Yes, the Cubs ultimately lost the game, with Starlin Castro having a very underwhelming final crack at solving John Axford. But they showed some spirit, and they had a chance to win the game in the ninth. Splitting the gap, and clearing the bases, was all that was needed. I’m disappointed that it didn’t happen, but excited that the possibility arose in the first place.

The Cubs need to win tonight’s game. Losing it would put them in a position to do no better than a split of the four-game series, and a home series against the probable favorite in the division deserves better than that, April or no April.

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