10/08/2003 1:53 AM ET
Cubs' mistakes cost them
CHICAGO -- It didn't take long for the Chicago Cubs to end their postseason errorless streak.
The Cubs did not commit a miscue in the five-game National League Division Series but did in losing Game 1 of the NL Championship Series, 9-8. The importance of pitching and defense was evident in the first game of this next round against the Florida Marlins.
With the game tied at 6-6, the Marlins had runners at first and second with one out in the ninth. Luis Castillo hit a potential double-play ball to Cubs second baseman Mark Grudzielanek, who scooped it up and tried to tag the base runner as he passed.
But it looked as if Grudzielanek never had control of the ball. Second-base umpire Fieldin Culbreth ruled everyone safe and the Marlins had the bases loaded. Ivan Rodriguez then hit a go-ahead, two-run single.
"It was a tough play," Grudzielanek said. "You go after it hard. I knew I didn't have control. I tried to tag him -- and I thought I had control of the ball then."
That's what Cubs manager Dusty Baker thought, too.
"I thought he had control of the ball and bobbled it on the transfer, trying to throw to first base," Baker said. "And all the umpires, I asked them to confer with each other and naturally they all agreed on the original call.
"I didn't see the replay. Did you guys see it on the replay?" Baker asked the media.
Baker was told yes, that Grudzielanek didn't have the ball.
"Well, the umpire was correct," Baker said.
The Cubs made other mistakes. Starter Carlos Zambrano, who had given up nine home runs in 214 innings during the regular season, was tagged for three in one inning.
Chicago closer Joe Borowski served up the Rodriguez hit -- then had to watch as teammate Mark Guthrie was tagged for pinch-hitter Mike Lowell's home run in the 11th. It has not been a good postseason for Guthrie.
"This game is strange like that," Borowski said. "When you're going bad, it seems everything is going against you. I was watching it and he didn't take such a great swing and it found its way over the fence. He needs one thing to go his way and he'll get back in a groove. Everybody goes through a bad time."
Veteran reliever Mike Remlinger agreed.
"Mark's been around long enough to know how to do his job," Remlinger said. "I play catch with him every single day and I feel every day he's going to go out there and do the job that he expects to do and that we all expect him to do.
"There are other aspects of the game that we could've done well," Remlinger said. "Unfortunately, it's always focused on the end and that's part of the job of what we do."
The wind was not in the pitchers' favor, either, blowing out just enough to give some balls a little extra lift.
"The wind was blowing out but we've played how many games here? We're used to the weather being crazy," Borowski said. "Who knows which way the wind is going to be blowing?"
"It's smaller than the average park," Remlinger said of Wrigley. "It's all about making pitches. If we'd been playing in Florida, I still think you'd see a high-scoring game."
It was a bizarre game with plenty of lead changes. The Cubs jumped to a 4-0 lead in the first, the Marlins took the lead, the game was tied, then Rodriguez got his hit, then Sammy Sosa tied the game with a two-out, two-run homer.
"It was one of those crazy games," Cubs catcher Damian Miller said.
There were 17 extra-base hits, including three triples. What happened to pitching and defense?
"Part of it is, welcome to the NLCS," Remlinger said. "Everything is turned up a notch and I think you saw some of that, whether it's jitters or just tough hops or whatever.
"I think you saw defensive plays that didn't get made early and did get made late," he said. "As far as the pitching standpoint, it all comes down to making good pitches. We've got a good-hitting club and they've got a good-hitting club. If you make mistakes this time of year, the ball's going to get hit hard and especially in a stadium like this when the ball gets hit hard it's going to get to a wall somewhere and you're looking at an extra-base hit."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com