Monday, October 1, 2012
The Houston Astros sent the Chicago Cubs to a dubious milestone during the opener of their final series as an NL team.
In the first matchup between 100-loss clubs in 50 years, Chicago will try to return the favor Tuesday night at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs have experienced a bevy of difficult seasons over their history but had dropped 100 or more games only twice before Monday night.
A 3-0 defeat to Houston gave them triple-digit defeats for the first time since 1966. The Cubs (60-100) had only two hits during their 12th loss in 14 games.
"There was a little bit of sleepwalking at the plate. Are guys ready to get out of here? I don't know. I won't put words in anybody's mouth," manager Dale Sveum said. "We didn't take out at-bats like we wanted to stick around."
Tuesday's game will be the first featuring teams with 100 or more losses since the Cubs sent the New York Mets to their 120th defeat Sept. 30, 1962.
The Astros avoided a record-setting defeat Monday as Fernando Martinez hit his third homer in as many contests.
Houston (54-106) has already tied its franchise-record loss total from a year ago. Bud Norris will try to keep the Astros from surpassing that mark and lead them to their first three-game win streak since May 21-25, a four-game run that included a home sweep of Chicago.
Norris (6-13, 4.82 ERA) ended an 18-start winless stretch Wednesday, allowing two hits to St. Louis over a season-high 7 1-3 innings and striking out seven in a 2-0 victory. The right-hander is arbitration eligible this offseason and there's a chance he might not make the move with his teammates to the AL West in 2013.
"I've seen a lot in three years here, a lot of trades, a lot of moves, new owners, new manager, new bench coaches, coaches all over," he said. "There's only been a couple of guys in this locker room that have been here this long with me. We've been through a lot. We've seen a lot at a young age (and) learned to deal with adversity."
Norris had dropped 12 straight decisions following an 8-4 home win over Chicago on May 21, and two of those losses came at Wrigley Field. He gave up six runs over 3 1-3 innings during the latest of those outings Aug. 15.
Norris, who has lost each of his three career starts in Chicago, will pitch opposite Chris Volstad (3-11, 6.64).
Volstad is 0-1 with an 11.37 ERA in three starts since winning at Houston on Sept. 10, and he was tagged for a season-high seven runs over three innings in a 7-5 defeat in Colorado on Thursday.
Volstad is 3-1 with a 4.09 ERA in his last four starts against the Astros and has split two this season.
Martinez is 2 for 7 with a double against the right-hander and 6 for 11 in his last four games against Chicago.