Archive | June, 2009

Cubs – White Sox Crosstown Classic ReCap

Posted on 30 June 2009 by Lou

Cubs White Sox Baseball

Took a few days off on Sunday and Monday to get ready for the Cubs big home stands at Wrigley Field during the month of July (the Cubs play 18 July games at Wrigley).  I picked a great time to go, as the Cubs looked atrocious on the south side and were lucky to win Friday’s game to avoid the sweep and what would have been a 7-game losing streak.

Here’s a recap of how the weekend went for the Cubs:

Friday, Cubs win 5-4:  Jake Fox hit a 2-run HR in the 4th inning to give the Cubs a short-lived 2-1 lead (Randy Wells gave the run back on a soloe shot to Jim Thome in the bottom of the inning).  Geovany Soto got the Cubs back on top with a 3-run bomb to left center field off Jose Contreras that gave the Cubs a 5-2 lead.  6 outs to go, 3 run lead, easy win, right?  No.  For some unknown reason, Manager Lou Pinella yanks Wells (98 pitches, 2 ER, 5 H, 2 BB, 6 K’s) and brings in Mr. Walk himself, Carlos Marmol.  What???!!!  Marmol walks Gordon Beckham to lead off the inning.  Surprise, surprise.  After a Scott Posednik flyout, Marmol walks Alexei Ramirez and then gives up a Jermaine Dye single to load the bases.  Jim Thome hit a soft line drive that knicked off the glove of Derek Lee, scoring Ramirez and Beckham to cut the lead to 5-4.  By that time, Pinella had seen enough of Marmol.  He let Marmol intentionally walk Paul Konerko and then brought in lefty Sean Marshall who coaxed A.J. Pierzynski into a lucky inning ending 3-2-3 doubel play.  Marshall was huge as it preserved the 5-4 Cubs lead.  Kevin Gregg picked up his 12th save of the 2009 MLB schedule, depsite walking Josh Fields with 2 outs.  Wells picked up his 2nd consecutive win and lowered his ERA to 2.57 and WHIP to 1.09.

Saturday, White Sox win 8-7.  Alfonso Soriano, Ryan Theriot and Andres Blanco each had 2 hits for the Cubs, while Soriano, Theriot and Lee each had 2 RBI’s in the win.  After the Cubs took a 7-6 lead in the top of the 8th inning on Andres Blanco’s groundout to shortstop, the Cubs bullpen blew the final 6 outs once again.  Carlos Marmol gave up a run on 2 hits in another inffective outing (at least he didn’t walk anybody this appearance).  The run tied the game at 7 in the 8th inning.  In the 9th inning, Sean Marshall gave up a single to Paul Konerko and then Pinella took him out when White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen pinch-hit righty Jayson Nix for Chris Getz.  Pinella brought in Jose Ascansio who promptly walked Nix and then gave up the game-wining single to Gordon Beckham.  Ryan Dempster looked awful again – 5 innings, 5 ER, 8 hits, 3 walks and 2 K’s.  Not good…

Sunday – White Sox win 6-0.  John Danks shut down the Cubs with 7 masterful innings of 0-run, 4 hit ball.  The pivotal point came in the 6th inning with the White Sox having a 3-0 lead.  Alfonso Soriano hit a leadoff double and moved to 3rd with only 1 out on a Ryan Theriot groundout.  Milton Bradley thought he earned walk as a 3-1 pitch from Danks sailed low, but the home plate umpire called it a strike.  Bradley wasn’t happy with the call as he was already a third of the way down the line and his lack of focus cost him as he struck out on a bad changeup that was well out of the strike zone.  Once again, the Cubs can’t get a runner in from 3rd with less than 2 outs, a problem that keeps recurrnig way too many times in 2009.  Derrek Lee and Jake Fox both worked walks out of Danks to get the bases loaded with 2 outs for Geovany Soto.  A hit would have turned the game around, but Alexei Ramirez slid and caught Soto’s line drive one-hopper and he forced Lee out at 3rd base for the final out.  The only other fire works came when Carlos Zambrano plunked DeWayne Wise in the bottom of the 6th inning.  Chris Getz had just scored on a suicide squeeze off Zambrano – Big Z spotted the squeeze but in an attempt to throw the ball to the outside corner of the plate so Wise couldn’t hit the ball, he threw the ball straight for the back stop.  Big Z’s next pitch went straight at the back of Wise.  Words were exchanged, but no fight occurred.  Danks plunked Ryan Freel in the top of the 7th in retaliation, and Freel calmly rubbed his arm and laughed at Danks on his way to 1st – pretty funny.  That brought an end to the disastrous 1-6 start to the Cubs 1st 7 games on a 10-game road trip.

The Cubs have 3 games against the Pirates in Pittsburgh at the start of the week before starting a big 4-game weekend series against the 1st place Milwaukee Brewers from Thursday to Sunday at Wrigley Field.

APTOPIX Cubs White Sox Baseball

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Cubs & White Sox Sunday Finale at the Cell

Posted on 28 June 2009 by Lou

white sox logo

The Cubs and White Sox will play the final game of the 2009 cross-town classic at U.S. Cellular Field on Sunday afternoon at 1:05PM.

Carlos Zambrano will start for the Cubs.  On Thursday, June 18th at Wrigley Field, Zambrano pitched 7 innings against the White Sox, giving up 3 runs on 6 hits in a no decision.  The Cubs won the game 6-5 to split the 1st 2 games of the cross-town classic.

John Danks will start for the White Sox.  On Wednesday, June 17th, Danks shut down the Cubs by giving up just 1 ER and 5 hits in 7 innings of work.  He struck out 9 and got the win in the White Sox 4-1 win over the Cubs.

It has been a fun cross-town series, although not as exciting since both teams have been playing at or below the .500 mark all season long.

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Geovany Soto Used Pot During 2009 World Baseball Classic

Posted on 27 June 2009 by Lou

geovany soto pot weed 1

Good job, Geo!  Geovany Soto tested positive for marijuana during the 2009 World Baseball Classic.  Soto had this to say about the positive test:  “I feel embarassed.  I’m man enough to do stuff, I’m man enough to face it.  I just want to apologize to the Cubs orgnization, my family and the fans.  I want to put this behind me.  I don’t want this to be a distraction for me or my teammates…  It’s embarassing and I want to move forward.  It was a mistake and I’m sure everybody makes mistakes in their lives.  I guess this was my mistake.  It’s one of thoese things.  I guarnatee it will never happen again.  I’m not that kind of person.  I want to move forward.”

At least he acknowledged that he did it and didn’t try to make excuses that he didn’t inhale or that it was really something else provided by his doctor.  And since he has known about the positive testing for months, maybe that explains why he has had such a horrible start to the 2009 MLB schedule.  Going into Friday afternoon’s action against the Chicago White Sox, the reigning NL Rookie of the Year was batting just .227 with 6 HR’s and 21 RBI’s.  In 2008, Soto hit .285 with 23 HR’s and 86 RBI’s.

Cubs Manager Lou Pinella and GM Jim Hendry have acknowledged that it is not that big of a deal and that the Cubs want to move past this disclosure.  While Soto will not be able to play international baseball for 2 years, MLB will not take any action against Soto for the violation.

Let’s hope the disclosure gives a sense of relief to Soto and he can start doing what he does best – hitting the baseball with authority and power for the rest of the season…

geovany soto pot weed 2

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Another Day, Another Loss, Tigers Sweep Cubs with 6-5 Win

Posted on 26 June 2009 by Lou

tigers sweep cubs in detroit1

The Tigers completed a 3-game sweep of the Cubs on Thursday afternoon with a 6-5 win over Ted Lilly.  Lilly had his worst outing of the 2009 MLB schedule and suffered his 5th loss of the season.  Although the Cubs staked Lilly to a 3-0 lead in the 1st inning and a 4-2 lead in the 4th inning, Lilly couldn’t hold it, giving up 6 ER and 10 hits in 6 innings of work.  He threw 107 pitches and and struck out 6.

Couple of positive hitting notes – Jake Fox went 3 for 4 with 3 RBI’s and 1 run scored as he clubbed his 1st career major league home run in the 1st inning.  Alfonso Soriano had 2 hits and scored on Fox’s HR and Kosuke Fukodome had 2 hits including an RBI triple in the 4th inning.  Micah Hoffpauir stroked his 7th HR of the season to pull the Cubs within 1 run leading off the 9th, but the Cubs failed to cash in on Fukodome’s 2 out double as Tigers closer Francisco Rodney struck out Geovany Soto to end the game.  On a side note, Derrek Lee went 0 for 4 and had his career-best 21-game hitting streak come to an end in the loss.

This Cubs team might be one of the most inconsistent teams in club history.  After winning 4 games over the White Sox and Indians last weekend, the Cubs have now lost 4 in a row and look lost out there.  The Cubs are now back under .500 at 34-35 and have 3 games coming up against the White Sox at US Cellular Field where they typically do not play well.  The Cubs went winless on a 6-game road trip to St. Louis and San Diego back in May, and it looks like they may eclipse that mark if the White Sox sweep them over the weekend.

Fortunately for the Cubs, the Cards and Brewers keep losing too.  The Cards are 40-34 and have a 1 game lead over the Brewers (38-34) and a 3.5 game lead over the Cubs.

Cubs Tigers Soto Marijuana Baseball

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Cubs Losing Streak at 3, with 5-3 Loss to Tigers

Posted on 25 June 2009 by Lou

Cubs Tigers Baseball

The Cubs are falling back into their poor hitting ways.  The Cubs had 11 hits and 7 walks, but scored only 3 runs in the 5-3 loss.  The Cubs had their chances, but never seemed to come up with the clutch hit.  After a 1-2-3 1st inning, the Cubs got at least 2 runners on base in the 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 9th innings, but never scored more than 1 run in a given inning.  In the 5th inning, Micah Hoffpuair struck out with the bases loaded and 2 outs.  In the 6th inning, the Cubs had the bases loaded with no one out and scored only 1 run on a Mike Fontenot ground out.   In the 7th inning, the Cubs had the bases loaded and only 1 out, but scored only 1 run on Jake Fox’s sacrifice fly.  And in the 9th inning, Derrek Lee walked and moved to 2nd on Hoffpauir’s single with no one out.  But Milton Bradley struck out, Jake Fox flew out to deep right field and Kosuke Fukodome struck out to end the game.  The Cubs are 1 for 19 with runners in scoring position during the 3-game losing streak and have averaged only 2.3 runs in each loss despite numerous scoring chances.

The pitching left a lot to be desired in the game as well in a rare off-night.  Rich Harden needed 109 pitches to labor through 5 1/3 innings.  He gave up 4 runs (2 earned) on 4 hits and 4 walks.  Not a good start by any means.  Aaron Heilmand gave up 3 hits in his 1 2/3 innings of work and walked in a run, while Jose Ascansio also gave up 3 hits and a run in his 1/3 of an inning. Manager Lou Pinella called upon Carlos Marmol to put out Ascansio’s 2 on, 2 out mess in the 8th inning and promptly walked the 1st 2 batters that he faced, giving the Tigers an important insurance run that pushed the lead from 1 to 2 runs.

All in all, another bad road showing from the Cubs as they provided little fireworks in an 11-hit offensive attack.  Back at .500 – 34-34 – the Cubs still trail the Cards by 3.5 games in the NL Central race.

Cubs Tigers Baseball

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Tigers Top Cubs 5-4 on Walk-Off Home Run in 9th Inning

Posted on 24 June 2009 by Lou

Cubs Tigers Baseball

The Tigers defeated the Cubs 5-4 in the bottom of the 9th inning on Ryan Raburn’s pinch-hit, game-winning, walk-off HR off Cubs closer Kevin Gregg.

We should have known the way this game was going to end when the Cubs muffed a bases loaded, no out opportunity in the top fo the 1st inning against Edwin Jackson.  Alfonso Soriano and Ryan Theriot started the inning of with singles and Milton Bradley coaxed a walk from Jackson to load the bases with no one out.  What a great way to get off to a good start on the road where the Cubs have won only 13 games this season, right?  Well cue up the tape from at least 30 other games this year.  Derrek Lee grounds into a fielder’s choice which drives in Soriano.  1st and 3rd, one out.  Then Micah Hoffpauir strikes out and Geovany Soto grounds out to end the threat without any further damage.

After those 1st 2 hits against Jackson, the Cubs got only 2 hits against the Tigers through the next 23 outs of the game.  One of those was a bunt single too.  Talk about futility…

With 2 outs in the 8th inning, Derrek Lee singled and Micah Hoffpauir gave the Cubs a short-lived 4-3 lead with a 2-run bomb to right field off of Joel Zumaya (who helped Micah out in a big way by throwing a change-up right down the heart of the plate).  Lee extended his career-best hitting streak to 20 games with 2 hits in the loss.

But just when you think the Cubs are going to pull off the come-from-behind road win in Detroit, flash forward to the 9th inning for closer Kevin Gregg.  Gregg walked the lead off hitter David Taylor.  After getting Brandon Inge to pop out, pinch-hitter Ryan Raburn crushed a Gregg fastball over the left center field fence to give the Tigers the 5-4 win.

How many times do you say – “you can’t walk the lead-off man in an inning 0 it always come back to haunt you.”  And so it did last night against Gregg.  It also hurt Carlos Zambrano in the 7th inning.  With the Cubs leading 2-1, Zambrano walked Taylor and then served up a 2-run HR to Brandon Inge.  That’s 2 runs handed to the Tigers by walks last night.  It is completely unacceptable.

Except for a shaky 1st inning and the Taylor walk in the 7th, Big Z pitched a solid game – 7 innings, 3 ER, 5 hits and 2 walks.  Instead of getting the win, Zambrano suffered a no decision.

The two teams play again tonight in Detroit – Rich Harden against rookie Rick Porcello who is seeking his 9th win of the 2009 MLB schedule.

Cubs Tigers Baseball

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No Clutch Hitting = 2-0 Loss for Cubs in Atlanta

Posted on 23 June 2009 by Lou

Cubs Braves Baseball

The old demons are back – the Cubs lost to the Braves 2-0 on Monday night in Atlanta.  Despite getting 10 hits and 3 walks, the Cubs left 18 runners on base and got shut out.  Beautiful.  Andres Blanco led the Cubs with 4 LOB, while Kosuke Fukodome, Jake Fox and Derrek Lee each had 3 LOB.  Fox had 2 hits filling in for Alfonso Soriano in left field, but they never came at the right time. Same could be said for Blanco who also had 2 hits.  There were 5 innings in which the Cubs had at least 2 runners reach base, but they could never push over a run.

Ryan Dempster pitched well enough to earn a win, but Manager Lou Pinella may have left him in the game too long.  Down 1-0 after 6 innings, Pinella opted to let Dempster lead off the top of the 7th inning – he made an out.  The next 2 Cubs reached base, but Fox and Lee failed to move them home.  Who knows what would have happened if Pinella had sent up a pinch-hitter instead of Dempster.  Then Dempster got into trouble in the bottom of the 7th inning, allowing the Braves 2nd run of the game on a Chipper Jones sacrifice fly.  Pinella then pulled Dempster after 118 pitches, 8 hits, 4 walks and 6 K’s.  While it was another quality start for Dempster, he was constantly working out of jams from the 3rd inning on and he fell to 4-5 on the season.

Pinella gave Milton Bradley and Soriano the night off to get ready for interleague play this week against the Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox.  The Cubs did not lose any ground in the NL Central race as the New York Mets defeated the St. Louis Cardinals at CITI Field in New York.  The Cards still lead the Cubs by 2.5 games.

Cubs Braves Baseball

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Have the Cubs “Righted” the Ship?

Posted on 22 June 2009 by Lou

Indians Cubs Baseball

Have the Cubs “righted” the ship?  The upcoming 10-game road trip to Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago (against the White Sox at US Cellular Field) and Pittsburgh should shed a lot of light on that question.

After starting the just-completed home stand at Wrigley Field with 3 losses in 4 games, it was not looking good for the Cubs.  But with miraculous come-from-behind victories on Thursday against the White Sox and Friday and Saturday against the Indians, a calm seemed to settle over the Cubs.  A calm similar to that possessed by the Cubs in 2008 when the finished with the best record in the National League.  On Sunday, the Cubs cruised through a 6-2 win over the Indians to complete the sweep over Cleveland and get Randy Wells his 1st major league victory.

Key players have started to swing the bat better during the 4-game winning streak.  Derrek Lee has an 18-game hitting streak and now has his average up to .287.  Milton Bradley has a 10-game hitting streak and has his batting average up to .248.  Ryan Theriot has a modest 7-game hitting streak and now has his average heading back to the .300 mark at .282.  And Geovany Soto has hits in 4 of his last 5 games and his batting average at .225.  Not where their career numbers are, but at least they are trending in the right direction.  Alfonso Soriano is the only Cubs player still in his hitting funk – with only 4 hits in his last 7 games.  Luckily, 2 of those hits helped the Cubs win recent ball games, but his batting average still sits at .224.  Despite the bad numbers, he still leads the Cubs with 14 HR’s and 43 runs scored.

Jake Fox and Micah Hoffpauir continue to provide sparks every so often, and seem more comfortable in the part-time contributing roles.

The starting pitching staff continues to go out there and throw quality starts, so they are keeping the Cubs in ball games.  As long as they continue to pitch well, if the Cubs bats consistently provide 4-5 runs per game, the Cubs should win more than they lose.

The Cubs are 34-31 and they trail the Cards by 2.5 games.  The Cubs take on the Braves in Atlanta tonight – making up a game that was rained out at the beginning of June.  Ryan Dempster takes on Javier Vasquez.

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Cubs Complete Sweep of Indians with 6-2 Win

Posted on 21 June 2009 by Lou

Indians Cubs Baseball

The Cubs completed a 3-game weekend sweep of the Indians with a 6-2 win on Sunday at Wrigley Field.  Starter Randy Wells earned his 1st career major league victory and Kevin Gregg earned his 11th save of the season. 

The Cubs defeated the Indians 6-5 in 13 innings on Saturday.  Former Cubs closer blew his 2nd save in as many days and ended up taking the loss when his wild pitch sailed past the catcher allowing Andres Blanco to score the winning run. David Patton pitched the top of the 13th inning and got the win despite giving up a then-go-ahead home run to Luis Valbuena.

The Cubs are now 34-31.  They are in 3rd place in the NL Central, trailing the Cards by 2.5 games and the Brewers by 1.0 game.

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Back-to-Back Dramatic Wins for Cubs – Top Indians 8-7 in 10 @ Rocking Wrigley Field

Posted on 20 June 2009 by Lou

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2 – for -2 – as the Cubs made it 2 dreamatic come-from-behind wins in a row, topping the Indians 8-7 in 10 innings.  The Cubs last 3 wins have come as the walk-off variety at Wrigley Field, including the last 2 days against the White Sox in the 9th inning on Thursday and the Indians in the 10th inning on Friday.

It didn’t look like the Cubs were going to build off the momentum of Thursday’s big win over the White Sox in the series finale of the cross-town classic.  The Cubs trailed the Indians 7-0 in the 5th inning and Cliff Lee was dominating the Cubs in every way.  Rich Harden had a poor outing – 7 ER on 7 hits and 3 walks, including a pair of 3-run home runs to Luis Valbuena and Victor Martinez.  But the Cubs didn’t give up. The bullpen kept the Cubs in the game with 5 scoreless innings – David Patten, Aaron Heilman, Jose Ascansio, Carlos Marmol and Kevin Gregg – and the Cubs hitters kept chipping away at the 7-run lead.

Reed Johnson hit a solo home run in the 5th inning and Derrek Lee followed suit with a solo shot of his own in the 6th inning.  With the lead 7-2 starting the bottom of the 8th inning, Milton Bradley got a big leadoff single that knocked Lee out of the ball game.  The Indians have one of the worst bullpens in the league, so no lead is safe with them.  As was the case at Wrigley on Friday afternoon.  A Geovany Soto double and a Reed Johnson loaded the bases with 2 outs.  Then the fun began.  Andres Blanco hit a 2-RBI single to right field and Koyie Hill smoked a hard groundball to 3rd bases that Jhonny Peralta couldn’t handle.  It was ruled an error, but in any event, the Cubs had cut the lead to 7-5.  Soriano cut the Indians lead to just 1 run with a single to center field.  Ah the Drama.

Carlos Marmol worked out of a 9th inning 1st and 2nd, 2-out jam, by striking out Martinez to end the threat.  The Indians brought in former Cubs closer Kerry Wood to close out the 1-run win for the Indians, but he promptly served up a 1-out game-tying homer to Derrek Lee that sent the Wrigley faithful into a tizzy.

Kevin Gregg had to escape a rough 10th inning as well – a single, 2 errors and a HBP led to a 2-out bases loaded jam.  But Gregg got pinch-hitter Ryan Garko to line out to center field on a great sliding catch by Kosuke Fukodome to preserve the 7-7 tie.

In the 10th, the Cubs used small ball once again to get the job done.  With 2 outs, Alfsonso Soriano coaxed a walk and stole 2nd base to get into scoring position.  Ryan Theriot hit a hard ground ball towards the right side that took a bad hop to evade the glove of Martinez.  Soriano scored easily from 2nd and the Cubs had the 8-7 win. Cubs win!  Cubs Win! Cubs Win!

It was not a great day for former Cubs Wood, but Mark DeRosa put in a solid 1 for 3 effort, with 2 walks, 1 RBI and 1 run scored.

Let’s hope the Cubs can get out to an early lead on Saturday behind Ted Lilly.  It would be the Cubs first 3-game winning streak in a very long time…

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