Brett Anderson pressed an arm against his lower back and walked slowly off the mound with a trainer.
Forgive Cubs fans if they left their sympathy cards at home. After watching Anderson give up five runs and record only one out, they showered the left-hander with boos as he retreated down the dugout steps.
“Nobody feels worse than I do,” Anderson said.
It could be awhile before Anderson pitches again on the North Side. He likely will go on the 10-day disabled list because of a stiff back, which will be re-evaluated in the next couple of days.
Another miserable first inning cost the Cubs in an 11-6 loss to the Yankees on Saturday. The Cubs (16-14) dropped their second straight game and were forced to dig deep into their bullpen yet again — so deep that 33-year-old catcher Miguel Montero pitched a wild but scoreless ninth inning.
In his sixth start, Anderson (2-2) didn’t even last as long as Montero. He posted the shortest outing by a Cubs starting pitcher since Ryan Dempster lasted one-third of an inning on April 28, 2011.
“Whenever the backup catcher gets more outs than you, that’s obviously not a positive,” said Anderson, who described his performance as embarrassing. “I need to figure some things out and get healthy and get some more people out going forward. It’s as simple as that.”
Anderson allowed hits to six of the seven Yankees batters he faced. He also committed an error as he spun toward first base and fired a throw down the right-field line to allow the game’s first run.
By the time Anderson walked off the field, his ERA had climbed from 6.23 to 8.18. In his previous two outings, he has allowed 12 earned runs on 13 hits in 1‰ innings.
Manager Joe Maddon praised Felix Pena and Rob Zastryzny, who combined to pitch 7‰ innings of relief. The duo prevented the rest of a tired bullpen from logging more innings.
As for Anderson, Maddon made no declarations other than to say a trip to the disabled list was likely.
“We just can’t continue on that path right now,” Maddon said.
To replace Anderson, the Cubs could move left-hander Mike Montgomery from the bullpen to the starting rotation. Another option is right-hander Eddie Butler, who has pitched well for Class AAA Iowa.
The team’s latest nightmarish start reinforced a troubling trend. Cubs starting pitchers have given up 38 earned runs in the first inning for an 11.40 ERA. From the second inning on, the rotation has a 3.25 ERA.
Maddon unfortunately has had to use the bullpen early on so far this season.
“Last year, if you remember, the bullpen didn’t pitch a whole lot because the starters were so good, and I thought that’s what kept the bullpen really solid during the course of the season,” Maddon said. “With the starting pitching doing so well, there was not as much emphasis of having to score so many runs because they were that good.
“I just think it always starts with the starting pitching. Once we get these guys back on solid ground being like they can be, the hitting is going to show up, and then the bullpen won’t be utilized so much. That’s always for me the equation for success.”
Maddon believes a turnaround could be imminent.
“I really see this working its way through,” Maddon said. “I think the hitting is going to pick up. I anticipate the defense to continue to be good and even better. And in the meantime, we’re doing OK.”
Except for Anderson.
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