On the North side, the games change, but the story continues to remain the same for the Cubs and their young bullpen.
Manager Lou Piniella was incensed after Tuesday’s 9-5 loss to San Diego by yet another bullpen meltdown that allowed four late-inning runs.
“These young kids that we have here, pitching-wise, they’re getting the opportunity of a lifetime, and none of them wants to step up,” Piniella said. “You can’t have better opportunities than what we’ve given these guys.”
I asked Piniella if the talent in the bullpen was really good enough to compete at this level.
“You make your own level by getting people out,” Piniella said. “You know, you have success. Boy, we’re giving up too many runs. I’m talking about the pitchers that we have here now. They’re giving up too many runs and it doesn’t really matter who you bring in.”
Piniella was even more chafed because the offense came back to score five times in the seventh and eighth innings but Padres did their own damage against the rookie-laden soft underbelly of the Cubs’ bullpen.
Veteran Tom Gorzelanny had empathy for the young pitchers in the pen.
“If they have a tough time [we have to] tell them to keep their heads up,” Gorzelanny said. “The biggest thing for me is I had Matt Morris in Pittsburgh a little bit. He’d just take me aside and say, ‘OK, what did you just do. What are you going to learn from that and what are you going to do the next time.’ We just have to tell those guys it’s not always like that. You have to go out and make your pitches and believe in yourself.”
Gorzelanny sees a mirror image of what he went through as a young pitcher coming up in the major leagues with some of his new teammates.
“I think these guys are just nervous,” Gorzelanny said. “I was nervous a lot when I first started. You want to do good. It’s just a matter of pressing.”
Gorzelanny, Monday night’s losing pitcher, has had his own problems as of late. Over his last four starts he has a 5.96 ERA.
The Cubs have now allowed nine or more runs in 17 games this season. That’s the most since 2007 when they gave up nine or more 17 times on the year.
Shortstop Darwin Barney collected his first major-league hit, a double in the first inning off Padres starter Kevin Correia.
The Cubs signed 15 of their first 16 draft choices from the June first-year player draft. The signing deadline was at 11 p.m. CT on Monday. Sixth-round pick Ivan DeJesus (no relation to the Cubs first base coach) decided not to accept the Cubs’ offer and is free to go to college and re-enter the draft next season.