Tough day for Bradley, Cubs in loss
Outfielder has up-and-down afternoon under Wrigley sun
CHICAGO -- There are bloopers, and then there was Milton Bradley's day.
Bradley hit a two-run double in the sixth, but also made a baserunning gaffe that inning, lost a ball in the sun in the seventh and was charged with an error in the eighth when he caught a ball for the second out and threw it to a fan in the bleachers. Someone got a souvenir, and the Minnesota Twins handed the Cubs a 7-4 Interleague loss.
"I hadn't seen that one before, I'll be honest with you," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said of Bradley's eighth-inning brain cramp.
Joe Mauer belted a two-run homer, his 13th, and Jason Kubel hit a solo shot to back Kevin Slowey, who struck out 10 to win his ninth game for the Twins, backed by a large contingent in the sellout crowd of 41,509 at Wrigley Field.
Slowey (9-2) was tough. Bradley, batting third because of his familiarity with the American League team, smacked a broken-bat bloop single with two outs in the first, and Slowey then retired 13 in a row before Aaron Miles' infield single leading off the sixth.
The Twins led, 4-0, at that point, and Miles' hit ignited a rally as the Cubs loaded the bases with one out. Bradley, who was batting .183 left-handed, delivered a two-run double to make it 4-2 for his first RBIs since May 27. That's the good news.
Derrek Lee hit a grounder to third baseman Joe Crede and Bradley broke towards third, with Crede easily tagging him out. A run scored on the play.
"The groundball went to Crede," Bradley said. "It looked like he wanted to go home, and he might go home, but when he saw me, he just took the out and we got the run. It was a weird play. If I stayed, maybe he throws home and we don't score a run. It was a weird play."
"That was a bad baserunning play," Piniella said.
In the seventh, the Twins had a runner at first with one out when Kubel launched a ball to right that Bradley lost in the sun. One out later, Michael Cuddyer hit an RBI double. That set up the eighth.
The Twins had runners at first and third with one out when Mauer lofted the ball to right. Bradley caught it, looked at the bleachers, then threw the ball into the seats. Trouble is, that was the second out. A run scored on the sacrifice fly, and Bradley was charged with an error as well as the runner on first, Brendan Harris, reached third.
"If I could explain it, I wouldn't have done it," Bradley said of the seventh-inning miscue. "The ball was hit to me. My worst fear in baseball is losing a ball in the sun. The ball was hit, and it's like when you get thrown in a pool -- it's like, 'Don't panic.' I wasn't a great swimmer when I was a kid, so my first thought was 'Don't panic. It'll come out of the sun.' I tried not to panic and it came out but it was 20 feet away from me.
"The other fly ball [in the eighth], I turned my back to shade the sun some," he said. "I caught it. I exhaled, and I was still seeing purple and green spots because I was looking into the sun. I sensed that something wasn't right. My heart was in the right place, I tried to give a souvenir. It was messed up."
The Cubs fans showed their displeasure.
"That's life," Bradley said of the boos. "They have high expectations. I have high expectations for myself. I've never made that mistake in my life. Sue me."
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire had not seen anything like that live either.
"[I've seen it] on replays on some of that 'Best Damn Sports Show' stuff of the '50 Not Greatest Moments,'" Gardenhire said. "I think that's going to rank right up there with one of those plays. That wasn't a lot of fun for him. I'm sure he's not feeling too good about that."
Did Piniella need to talk to Bradley?
"Do we need to go over math? One, two, three," Piniella said. "I don't know what else to say. I'm sure he's somewhat embarrassed by it. I've never seen it before. The only thing we can do is go over how many outs there are. You've got to keep your head in the game. Outside of that, look, it didn't cost us a run but it's embarrassing to the person it happened to."
Bradley put his hands on his head right away.
"I wasn't embarrassed," Bradley said. "I've done a whole lot of things to be embarrassed about. That's water under the bridge. The run was going to score, the fan got a souvenir. Worst case scenario."
How weird are things for the Cubs? Alfonso Soriano moved from left field to second base in the ninth after a defensive switch, the first time he's played the infield since April 4, 2008, when he also switched for one inning.
"I said, 'Please, no ground balls,'" Soriano said.
Bradley did deliver the double off the ivy, which was a good sign for the Cubs, who have struggled with runners on base.
"Outside of that," Piniella said, "it wasn't a good day for him."
Bradley was able to smile after the game.
"Everybody's got to relax," he said. "We have a ton of media here, everybody has expectations that we're supposed to run away with the division. It's June, and we're [three] games out. We're right there. We talked about it today -- just have fun, relax. It's hard to get me to smile, but I had to smile today. You can't keep taking yourself too seriously. Just chill, have fun."
And keep count.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.