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Though we're in early June, the Cubs are still very much in the thick of the division race (mathematically, at least), and Milton Bradley's bone-headed play in right field didn't cost the Cubs a victory on Friday or even a single run, the symbolic potential of this play is truly awesome.

Be forewarned—the entire downtown area is overrun with Nordic boys wearing Kirby Puckett jerseys. I know; I have seen it for myself!

This afternoon's Twins starter, Kevin Slowey (8-2, 4.21), is prone to the gopher ball. (That's "gopher" as in home run, not Golden Gopher.) Cubs starter Randy Wells is prone to getting screwed by the non-performance of his offense and/or his bullpen.

Go Cubs!

Arizona's Dan Haren was lifted from Sunday's start at San Diego after the seventh. He held the Padres scoreless for 6 2/3 innings before allowing a solo blast to Kevin Kouzmanoff. In all, Haren was charged with 1 run on 4 hits. He fanned 5, walked 1, and at one point, retired 13 Padre hitters consecutively.

He was deprived of his fifth win of the season, however, when the Arizona bullpen failed to protect a 6-1 lead going into the bottom of the ninth. (The Diamondbacks eventually won, 9-6, in 18 innings.)

I didn't get to see all of Saturday night's loss, but the portion that I did catch was more than enough for me to get the gist:

The Cubs' woeful offense—over the last two nights, for example, the team is 0-for-17 with RISP—offers no cover for defensive mistakes and boneheaded baserunning.

If the starting pitching weren't so good, the Cubs wouldn't even be competitive.

Before the game, I wondered what problems Lou Piniella was creating by stationing a defensively challenged rookie in rightfield. Turned out that having a second baseman butchering the third baseman's job was problem enough on this night.

Randy Wells, who has been mostly brilliant but mostly without support from his bullpen or his team's bats, pitches Sunday against Bronson Arroyo as the Cubs try to escape Cincinnati with a series win.

Carrie Muskat wrote yesterday that Alfonso Soriano has been playing with a sore knee since April 23rd, when he "banged his knee against the wall" while running after what turned out to be a Joey Votto home run.

"It hasn't been the same since,"
Soriano said. "It's getting better."

Lou Piniella said athletic trainer Mark O'Neal hasn't told him that Soriano can't play. He'll take it day by day.

"Soriano is a tough kid and wants to play," Piniella said. "If it
persists, we might have to get him out of there for a few days."

In 31 games since April 23rd, Soriano, has hit .233/.266/.431/697 (AVG/OBP/SLG/OPS).  He has hit 7 HR, though none in his last 10 games. His current line of .253/.313/.495/807 is a season low, across all categories.

Today at Baseball Prospectus (subscription), Joe Sheehan wrote about how the Cubs have become one of baseball's most home run-dependent teams and tonight, we saw, yet again, where that generally gets you.

A pinch-hit home run by Bobby Scales in the eighth inning against Randy Wolf accounted for all the Cubs' scoring Thursday night in the team's most recent, painful defeat.

Monday night's game seemed otherworldly from even before the first pitch.

A Wrigley Field home game on a holiday at night? It made scheduling sense, given that the Cubs had to fly all the way east from San Diego following Sunday's game, but it still felt wrong.

Then the lineups were published and owing to a combination of illness, injuries, and an opposing lefthander, we saw Reed Johnson hitting cleanup and an infield of Freel, Theriot, Miles, and Hoffpauir. In other words, the stuff of split squad spring training games.

After losing to the likes of Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, and Jake Peavy earlier in the current losing streak, the Cubs fell Saturday night at San Diego to young Josh Geer, who came into the game with a 5.61 ERA and no victories in five starts.

Reader Osiris flagged this bad news by way of Paul Sullivan in the Tribune:

The Cubs placed Rich Harden on the 15-day disabled list with a back strain on Friday, and inserted Randy Wells into the rotation for Saturday's game.

This will allow the Cubs to activate Carlos Zambrano without having to make another roster move, i.e., demote Wells. Harden felt "a twinge" when he pitched last Sunday against the Astros.

You may vomit as you see fit.

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