Archive | April, 2009

Fukodome Breaks Out in Cubs 11-6 Win Over Astros On Wednesday Night

Posted on 11 April 2009 by Lou

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Kosuke Fukodome picked up his 1st 4 hits of the young 2009 MLB season in the Cubs 11-6 drubbing of the Astros on Wednesday night in Houston.  Fukodome’s big night helped the Cubs record their 1st series win of the season.  Fukodome singled in each of his 1st 2 at-bats in the 1st and 2nd innings and scored a run as part of the 4-run innings.  The Cubs had an 8-0 lead after 2 frames.  In the 5th inning, Fukodome doubled and scored on an Aramis Ramirez double, and in the 9th inning, Fukodome added a solo home run to deep right center to finish off his productive night.  Other players with big nights – Alfonso Soriano – 2 for 5 with 2 runs scored, a walk and a stolen base; Aramis Ramirez – 4 for 6 with 4 RBI’s and 1 run scored; and Mike Fontenot – 2 for 5 with 4 RBI’s and 1 run scored (including a 3-run homer).

The Cubs need more outings like this from Fukodome during the course of the 2009 MLB schedule. As we have been saying along, Fukodome is the “X” factor for the Cubs this year.  If he has a solid year and can hit consistently in the #2 hole behind Alfonso Soriano, that will really give the opposing teams’ tough looks all year long.  Fukodome needs to regain some patience at the plate and not try to do too much.  With Lee, Bradley and Ramirez coming up behind Soriano and Fukodome, pitchers will have a tough time navigating through those 1st 5 batters when Fukodome is on.  If Fukodome struggles at the plate as he did during the 2nd half of 2008, the Cubs lineup becomes a little more mundane, and opposing teams and managers will be able to counteract the predominantly right-handed hitting lineup.  We’ll keep a close eye on Fukodome early on here in the season.

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Gotta A Little Captain In ‘Ya?

Posted on 10 April 2009 by Lou

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The Chicago Cubs announced their plans to open a year-round restaurant just outside the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field – The Captain Morgan Club.  Check out the latest Captain Morgan Club news here.  What more can you ask for – Captain Morgan, Haray Caray and Wrigley Field?

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Geovany Soto to Miss a Few Games with Shoulder Injury

Posted on 09 April 2009 by Lou

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Not good news for the reigning NL Rookie of the Year – Geovany Soto.  Soto experienced some shoulder soreness in the Cubs 3-2 loss to the Astros on Tuesday night.  Soto left the game in the 6th inning after he aggravated the shoulder injury on a throw to 2nd base.  Soto had this to say about the injury:  “I kind of over-exposed my shoulder a little bit.  There was a little discomfort in my shoulder.  I felt some weakness in it, and I felt I didn’t have a shot if somebody else tried to steal.  I need to keep up my exercises, and we’ll see how it is in a couple of days.”

Back-up catcher Koyie Hill will make the start for the Cubs on Wednesday’s finale  against the Astros in Houston.  Hill will catch Ted Lilly in his 1st start of the season.  Ryan Theriot and Mike Fontenot would be able available to catch in the event of an emergency situation with Hill.

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Cubs Lose to Astros 3-2 in 10 Innings, Heilman, Cotts & Gregg Struggle Out of ‘Pen

Posted on 08 April 2009 by Lou

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The Houston Astros defeated the Chicago Cubs 3-2 in 10 innings in the 2nd game of the season for both teams.  The Cubs wasted a solid start from Ryan Dempster – 6 innings pitched, 2 earned runs on 6 hits and 3 walks.  Dempster also had 5 strikeouts in the no decision.

Once again, the Cubs took an early 1-0 lead on a Derrek Lee RBI-single in the 3rd inning.  After the Astros took a 2-1 lead, Alfonso Soriano homered for a second straight game to knot the game at 2 in the 8th inning.

But the Cubs bullpen was the story in this one.  After pitching a scoreless 8th inning, Aaron Heilman struggled to start the 9th inning – allowing the 1st 2 batters to reach base on a single and a walk.  Neal Cotts entered the game and put out the fire by retiring the next 3 batters and not allowing a run.  But then Cotts struggled to open the 10th.  Opening singles to Ivan Rodriguez and Lance Berkman forced manager Lou Pinella to bring in closer Kevin Gregg.  Gregg got a flyout for the 1st out of the inning, but Rodriguez was able to tag up to the 3rd base.  After intentionally walking Miguel Tejada, Gregg allowed a broken-bat single to Jeff Keppinger which plated the winning run for the Astros.

Not a great finish for the Cubs, and only 6 total hits leaves a lot to be desired on the offensive end.  Brian Moehler tends to pitch well against the Cubs, so it’s looking like the Cubs may start the season 1-2 heading into a big weekend in Milwaukee against the hated Brewers at Miller Park.

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Zambrano, Soriano & Ramirez Power Cubs to 4-2 Opening Day Win

Posted on 07 April 2009 by Lou

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The Chicago Cubs defeated the Houston Astros 4-2 on Opening “Night” in Houston.  Carlos Zambrano pitched 6 strong innings, giving up only 1 earned run on 5 hits.  Zambrano had 3 walks to go along with 6 strikeouts in the win.  Alfonso Soriano got the Cubs off to a good start with a lead-off home run off of Astros’ starter Roy Oswalt.  Aramis Ramirez added a solo shot in the 2nd inning to give the Cubs a 2-0 lead, and Ryan Theriot’s sacrifice fly in the 4th inning increased the Cubs lead to 3-0.  The Cubs added an insurance run on Micah Hoffpauir’s pinch-hit RBI single in the 9th inning which gave the Cubs a little cushion heading into the bottom of the 9th.

The Cubs bullpen looked mostly sharp.  Aaron Heilman and Neal Cotts helped Zambrano get out of a 7th inning jam minimizing the damage to only one run after Big Z allowed the first 2 hitters to reach base.  Carlos Marmol worked a scoreless 8th inning, issuing only a walk to Lance Berkman.  Kevin Gregg recorded his 1st save as a Cub – it wasn’t pretty as he allowed a run on back-to-back singles and a sacrifice fly to open the inning.  But Gregg re-grouped and recorded the final 2 outs to give Zambrano his first career opening day victory.

All-in-all – a good opening day Cubs fans.  Here’s to many many more…

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Rich Harden Shelled in New Yankee Stadium in 10-1 Loss

Posted on 07 April 2009 by Lou

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Ouch – not the way you want to end the spring – Rich Harden served up 3 home runs (2 to mark Teixeira) in only 3 2/3 innings of work in his final “tune-up” of the spring.  Harden labored through 76 pitches, throwing only 41 pitches for strikes.  Harden gave up 7 earned runs (8 runs total) on 7 hits, plus 4 walks.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, news out of  New York was that his best fastball didn’t top 85 MPH. This is not good news for the Cubs – if Harden is topping out anywhere below 90 MPH on his fastball, we could be in for a painful season with Harden.  Now I know that Harden, GM Jim Hendry and Manager Lou Pinella will say that he was working on his delivery, trying to spot pitches and trying to mix up the speeds on his pitches, but this doesn’t explain the very low velocity.  This makes Harden’s first start in Milwaukee over the weekend even more intriguing.  If he has a poor outing, look for Cubs fans to panic big time.

One positive note from the 10-1 drubbing – Alfonso Soriano hit a solo home run and looks in great shape to have a huge year in the leadoff spot for the Cubs.

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Cubs Finalize Bullpen with David Patton and Angel Guzman

Posted on 06 April 2009 by Lou

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The Chicago Cubs finalized their bullpen and 25-man roster on Sunday when they let David Patton and Angel Guzman know that they had made the Cubs opening day roster.

The big story is David Patton.  Patton had pitched in the Colorado Rockies minor league system for the last 5 years, but the Cubs picked him up in the Rule 5 Draft.  At 24, Patton had never pitched above the Class A level and General Manager Jim Hendry didn’t give him much of a chance of making the opening day roster, which meant the Cubs either had to keep him on the opening day roster or return him to the Rockies at the end of spring training.  Hendry had this to say about Patton and Guzman.  “It was a long shot when [Patton] got there, and the kid deserves all the credit in the world for pitching himself into it.  I think we owe it to ourselves to find out after all the time we’ve invested in Guzman – – he certainly has the stuff and ability to help us be a contending team and, hopefully, he’ll live up to that potential now.”

Patton pitched extremely well in spring training.  Patton had a 1.26 ERA during the spring, giving up only 14 hits and 5 walks in 14 1/3 innings of work.  “This is what you devote all your time to and what I’ve wanted since I was a little kid.  This is just the beginning.  I want to do something special and want to be a part of this organization.”

Guzman had a so-so spring, but because he was out of options and could not be sent down to the minor leagues within the Cubs system, Hendry and the Cubs decided to give him one more shot to show what he can do for the Cubs at the big league level.  Guzman has battled elbow and shoulder injuries, and at 27, still has the potential to pitch well in the bigs.  Guzman had this to say about making the team:  “After everything I’ve been through, I still have a long way to go.  I’m still young, and I have an opportunity to make a statement in the big leagues.  That’s what it’s all about.”

Three other pitchers lost out on the 2 bullpen spots.  Chad Gaudin had an atrocious spring – 10.26 ERA giving up 20 runs on 26 hits and 10 walks in just over 16 innings of work.  Not good to say the least.  The Cubs released Gaudin.  Jeff Samardzija, who was a productive member of the Cubs 2008 bullpen, never found the right stuff this spring as he competed for the 5th starter position.  Samardzija improved as the spring went on and as he resumed his role in the bullpen, but because he still has options left, the Cubs chose to send him down to Triple-A Iowa.  He will likely be groomed as a starter again in the event the Cubs need to bring up a starter in case of injury.  Chad Fox is still recovering from an off-season injury and he was also optioned to Iowa.

It will be interesting to see how Patton performs at the major league level.  He obviously has talent, but will he be ble to perform at the high level when the bright lights are shining, especially in Chicago.  Let’s hope he does…

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Cubs Open New Yankee Stadium, Lose 7-3

Posted on 05 April 2009 by Lou

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The New York Yankees defeated the Chicago Cubs 7-3 in the first baseball game ever played at the new Yankee Stadium on Friday, April 3rd.  Although the Cubs took an early 3-0 lead, Ted Lilly couldn’t hold the lead for the victory.  Lilly gave up 7 earned runs on 8 hits, including 3 home runs, while striking out 2 batters.  Aaron Miles led the Cubs by going 2 for 3 with 2 RBI’s and 1 run scored.  Joey Gathright also had 2 hits for the Cubs in defeat.  The pitching bright spot – Aaron Heilman worked 2 scoreless innings, while Neal Cotts worked 2/3 of a scoreless inning and Kevin Gregg worked a scoreless 8th inning.

Hideki Matsui, Robinson Cano and Cody Ransom each homered for the Yankees.  Cano, Derek Jeter and Xavier Nady each had 2 hits for the Yankees.  After Chien-Ming Wang gave up 4 earned runs on 6 hits in the first 5 innings, the Yankees relievers – led by Mariano Rivera – shut down the Cubs offense – not allowing a hit in the final 4 frames of the game.

The two teams play again today before starting the regular season in earnest on Monday.  Rich Harden will face off against Andy Pettite in Saturday’s matinee.

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Cubs Defeat Indians 9-8 in Final Cactus League Game

Posted on 04 April 2009 by Lou

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The Chicago Cubs defeated the Cleveland Indians 9-8 in their final Cactus League game of the spring.  The bats were buzzing in the last game in Mesa.  Joey Gaithright, Andres Blanco and Koyie Hill each had 2 hits for the Cubs.  Hill had a 3-run triple, while Alfonso Soriano led off the Cubs 1st inning with a solo home run and scored 2 runs.

The pitching was not so hot for the Cubs.  In 4 innings of work, Ryan Dempster gave up 3 earned runs on 5 hits (including 2 home runs), but he did have 7 strikeouts.  Chad Gaudin, battling for a spot in the bullpen, got lit up for 3 runs on 6 hits over just 2 innings of work.  Carlos Marmol and David Patton also gave up a run each in relief.

Not the best way to end spring training, but a win is a win.  I’m sure the Cubs are ready for the regular season to begin.  This spring has lasted forever, so it will be good for the games to finally start counting for something.

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Let’s Get It Started – – Bring on the Astros

Posted on 03 April 2009 by Lou

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48 days in the Arizona desert has been long enough for Cubs skipper Lou Pinella and the rest of the Cubs players and coaches.  Pinella put it best:  “We’ve been here too long.  Arizona is a wonderful state, we’ve enjoyed it, but it’s time to get back to the midwest and start our season.”  Good idea Lou – it’s in the 40’s and rainy here Lou and the White Sox are expecting snow showers for their home opener on the South Side on Monday.  This is definitely the place to be!

In any event, the Cubs head to the Big Apple on Friday to take on the New York Yankees at the new Yankee Stadium on Friday and Saturday.  Ted Lilly will face Chien-Ming Wang in the Friday night game, while Rich Harden and A. J. Burnett will battle on Saturday afternoon.

The Cubs will open the defense of their 2007 and 2008 NL Central Divison crowns with 6 games against division rivals.  The Cubs open the 2009 MLB schedule with 3 games against the Houston Astros and 3 games against the Milwaukee Brewers.  Carlos Zambrano will face off against Roy Oswalt in Houston on Monday night in the season opener.  The Cubs home opener at Wrigley Field is on Monday, April 13th against the Colorado Rockies.

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