Archive | June, 2009

Cubs Pull off Dramatic 6-5 Win Over Sox in Bottom of 9th Inning

Posted on 19 June 2009 by Lou

White Sox Cubs Baseball

The Cubs defeated the White Sox 6-5 in the bottom of the 9th inning.  I was getting ready to write my same old blog post over again – Cubs waste good outing from Cubs starting pitcher “X”; Cubs hitters can’t get clutch hit and score only 1 run; Cubs lose… again… – but then the baseball gods smiled upon the Cubs and fans at Wrigley Field.  Micah Hoffpauir had a good at-bat against reliever Scott Linebrink and eventually hit a hard-hit groundball to 2nd base that Chris Getz’s misplayed for an error.  Alfonso Soriano then singled to center field for 1st and 2nd with only 1 out.  Then it looked like the Cubs were back to their usual hitting ways – a Ryan Theriot popout and a Milton Bradley strikeout.  Two on, two outs for Derrek Lee and with 1 swing of the bat, Lee crushed Linebrink’s pitch to righ field for a 3-run home run.  Geovany Soto then cruched a solo home run to left center field to tie the game at 5.

Kevin Gregg worked a scoreless 9th inning despite giving up a leadoff single to Alexei Ramirez.  And the Cubs played small ball to perfection in the bottom of the inning.  Reed Johnson pinch-hit for the 0 for 3 Kosuke Fukodome and singled to lead off the inning.  Andres Blanco sacrificed Johnson to 2nd base to put the winning run into scoring position.  After an Aaron Miles groundout, Alfonso Soriano hit a bloop single to right center field that drove in Johnson with the winning run.

Carlos Zambrano pitched a good game – 7 innings, 6 hits, 3 walks and 3 ER with 3 K’s.  Big Z made only 1 bad pitch all day – that a fastball to Alexei Ramirez in the top of the 7th inning which Ramirez took deep to left to give the White Sox a 3-1 lead.  The game looked finished when Carlos Marmol took over for Zambrano and promptly gave the White Sox 2 insurance runs on a Chris Getz double and a Gordon Beckham single.  But the Cubs never gave up and pulled off the improbable win to the delight of the “Wrigley Faithful”.

The Cubs moved back to .500 with the win at 31-31.  They trail the Brewers by 4 games in the NL Central.

White Sox Cubs Baseball

White Sox Cubs Baseball

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Different Day, Same Old Story for Cubs in 4-1 Loss to White Sox

Posted on 18 June 2009 by Lou

White Sox Cubs Baseball

The White Sox defeated the Cubs 4-1 in the opener of the Cross-Town Classic at Wrigley Field.  John Danks pitched into the 8th inning and stymied the over-matched Cubs hitters all game long.  Danks gave up only 1 ER on 5 hits and picked up his 5th win of the 2009 MLB schedule.  Danks had 9 strikeouts and did not walk a batter in only 99 pitches.

As we’re getting used to, the Cubs blew way too many early opportunities early in the game – 1st and 2nd nobody out in the 2nd inning and 1st and 3rd nobody out in the 4th inning.  The Cubs came away empty-handed each time and then started pressing the rest of the way, swinging at way too many 1st pitches and not forcing Danks to work deeper into counts.  The Cubs got their only run on an Alfonso Soriano RBI groundout in the bottom of the 8th inning, but by then the game was aleady in the bag.

Ryan Dempster pitched OK, but did not have the control that has kept him in so many ballgames over the years.  He labored through 104 pitches in 6 innings, giving up 3 ER on 4 hits and 6 walks. He had 4 strikeouts but it was really not a typical solid outing from Dempster.  The loss dropped him to 4-4 on the season.  The Cubs are now back under .500 at 30-31.  They trail the Brewers by 4.5 games in the NL Central race.

The Cubs and White Sox play the abbreviated finale on Thursday afternoon at Wrigley Field.  Carlos Zambrano takes the bump for the Cubs against Gavin Floyd of the White Sox.

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Heavy Rains Wash Out Cubs-Sox Opener at Wrigley

Posted on 17 June 2009 by Lou

cubs rain out

Heavy rains forced the postponement of Tuesday night’s Cubs-Sox opener at Wrigley Field.  The two teams should be able to play the next 2 games of the cross-town class despite rain in the forecast for each of Wednesday and Thursday.

Cubs Manager Lou Pinella bumped Tuesday night’s starter Carlos Zambrano to Thursday afternoon.  Ryan Dempster will make his scheduled start for the Cubs on Wednesday.  White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen opted to keep his scheduled rotation intact, pushing each starter back by a day.  John Danks will square off against Dempster on Wednesday afternoon, while Gavin Floyd will face Zambrano on Thursday afternoon.

The Cubs are 30-30 and they trail the Brewers by 3.5 games in the NL Central race.

The White Sox are 30-34 and they trail the Tigers by 4 games in the AL Central race.

A re-scheduled date for Tuesday night’s rainout has not been announced yet, but it is expected to be replayed in September.  The Cubs have already had 3 other games rained out, with 1 to made up on June 22nd in Atlanta and with the other 2 games to be made up at Wrigley Field in July.

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Are you ready to Rumble? Cubs Sox Battle @ Wrigley

Posted on 16 June 2009 by Lou

cubs white sox 1

The Chicago Cubs will host the White Sox at Wrigley Field this week in the 1st installment of the 2009 cross-town classic.  The Cubs and White Sox will battle at U.S. Cellular Field on the south side next weekend from Friday June 26 through Sunday June 28th.

In 2008, when the teams first met, it was a battle of division leaders.  The Cubs swept all 3 games at Wrigley Field, while the White sweot all 3 games at the Cell.

This year is a totally different year.  Both teams are hitting poorly and that has led to dismal records for each team.  The Cubs are at .500 with a 30-30 record.  The Cubs trail the Brewers by 3 games in the NL Central race and the Cards by 2 games.  The White Sox are below .500 with a 30-34 record.  The White Sox trail the Tigers by 4.5 games in the NL Central and the Twins by 1.5 games.  Each team ranks in the bottom 3rd of the league in hitting – the Cubs 26th with a .246 team batting average and the White Sox 24th with a .251 team batting average.  Not good.

So does that mean we should count on low-scoring pitching duels this week at Wrigley?  Not likely.  These teams always seem to battle it out in high-scoring affairs no matter how bad or good they are playing, so look for several close games this week at Wrigley.

Carlos Zambrano (4-2) will take on John Danks (4-5) in the Tuesday night opener.  Zambrano has an ERA under 1.00 in his last 3 starts, but has only 1 win to show for it.  He is 5-2 lifetime against the White Sox, but did not start against them in 2008.  Danks had a great outing last week against the Tigers, but had an ERA over 7.00 in his previous 8 starts.  Danks had 1 start against the Cubs in 20080 in which he pitched 6 innings of 1-run ball.

In the Wednesday matinee, Ryan Dempster will battle Gavin Floyd.  In the Thursday matinee, Randy Wells will take on Jose Contreras.

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Cubs Replace Hitting Coach Gerald Perry with Von Joshua

Posted on 15 June 2009 by Lou

Twins Cubs Baseball

With the Cubs hitting funk getting worse and worse, the Cubs decided to make a move by replacing Cubs hitting coach Gerald Perry with Triple-A Iowa hitting coach Von Joshua.  GM Jim Hendry had this to say about the move:  “Obviously, we’ve been struggling for a long time.  I’m not one to dump all the blame on the coaches.  I’ve never mad a coaching change to my knowledge in the middle of the year.  I think sometimes you need a different voice.  Every day, we have five guys in the lineup who have played in the All-Star Game.  For whatever reason, they are not performing anywhere close to where they’ve performed in their careers.  Sometimes you have to try something different, and sometimes it’s a different voice maybe saying the same things.”

Von Joshua has been a hitting coach since 1984.  He is in his 4th year at Iowa and has worked with several of the young Cubs players on the major league roster, including Ryan Theriot, Micah Hoffpauir and Mike Fontenot.  Joshua also worked at the big league level with the cross-town rival Chicago White Sox.

The move was tough on Manager Lou Pinella who had Perry on his staffs in both Seattle and Chicago.  “It’s tough on me, because I’ve been with Gerald a long time, six years.  This was an organizational decision.  Gerald and I were together in Seattle and together here in Chicago.  We’ve had success together.  I thank him for all the hard work that he’s put in on my staffs.”

It has been frustrating for everyone involved.  In 2008, the Cubs led the National League in runs scored.  But in 2009, the Cubs rank 14th and are hitting only .246 as a team.  Ryan Theriot has the highest batting average of any starter at .278 – what a joke.  Alfonso Soriano is hitting .233; Kosuke Fukodome only .266 after starting the season well over .300; Milton Bradley only .226 and Geovany Soto only .209.  When the Cubs lost 2-0 to the Twins on Saturday, it was the 13th time in the last 23 games in which the Cubs have scored 2 runs or less in a ball game.  Not good. Not good.

I guess it can’t get any worse, and maybe having a new coach working with the players could help.  Maybe he’ll spot something on a player or 2 that Perry missed, and once 1 or 2 guys start to get hot, it could have a snowball effect at some point down the line.  Trying to stay optimistic here…

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Cubs Top Twins 3-2 with Dramatic Walk-Off Theriot Single

Posted on 14 June 2009 by Lou

APTOPIX Twins Cubs Baseball

Cubs Win!  Cubs Win! Cubs Win!  Wow – we haven’t been able to say that in a while, or often enough this year for that matter.  The Cubs avoided a home sweep at Wrigley Field with the thrilling 3-2 win.

Going into the 9th inning, the Cubs had only 5 hits and 2 runs on the day.  After a Milton Bradley out, Derrek Lee singled to start the rally.  In a daring play, Lee made it into 3rd base with one out on Geovany Soto’s single to left field.  Soto smartly advanced to 2nd base when he saw the throw go towards Lee at 3rd base.  The Twins then walked Mike Fontenot to load the bases for Ryan Theriot.  Theriot was 1 of only 4 Cubs to get a hit on Sunday (Milton Bradley had 1 hit, Lee had 2 hits and Soto had 3 hits), and his second hit of the day was a line drive past Twins 2nd baseman Nick Punto that brought Lee in with the winning run.  A much-needed celebration occurred in the middle of the field.

Carlos Marmol worked 1 1/3 scoreless innings to get the win.  He bailed out Ted Lilly in a 2 on, 2 out jam in the 8th inning, and he got out of his slef-made jam in the 9th inning after he issued 2 walks.  Amazingly, he got the Twins best hitter Joe Mauer to pop out to left and the Twins clean-up hitter to hit into an inning-ending groundout.

Lilly put in another sensational outing – 7 2/3 innings, 2 ER, 7 hits, 0 walks and 6 K’s.

The Cubs are now 30-30 after 60 games during the 2009 MLB schedule.  Shockingly, because of the poor play in the NL Central, the Cubs trail the Brewers by only 2.5 games and the Cards by 2 games.  It’s still up for grabs, and more importantly, anything can happen in the final 102 games of the season.

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Twins Cubs Baseball

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Cubs Losing Streak Hits 3; Drop Opener to Twins 7-4

Posted on 13 June 2009 by Lou

cubs suck 1

Guess it wasn’t home cooking that the Cubs needed to get back on the winning side of things.  The Twins beat the Cubs 7-4 in the opener of the 3-game weekend series at Wrigley Field between the 2 teams.  It was only the third win for the Twins in 10 tries at the Friendly Confines.

Different day, same old story for the Cubs.  No hitting, no hitting, no hitting.  The Cubs managed just 6 hits and 1 walk off of 6 Twins pitchers.  The Cubs had 12 strikeouts at the plate today, including 10 by starter Kevin Slowey.  In fact, the Cubs had only 1 good hitting inning – in the 6th, the Cubs got back-to-back singles from Aaron Miles and Bobby Scales to lead off the inning.  After an Alfonso Soriano K, Mike Fontenot walked to load the bases.  Milton Bradley had the big hit with a 2-RBI double, and Derrek Lee followed with an RBI groundout to cut the Twins lead to 4-3.  But that’s where things turned in the wrong direction for Bradley and the Cubs.

On the Lee groundout, Bradley ran into an easy tag out by Joe Crede at 3rd base, taking away another scoring opportunity by staying at 2nd base and in scoring position.  The next inning, with a runner at 1st base, Bradley lost Jason Kubel’s lazy flyball to right field in the sun.  Instead of a man on 1st and 2 outs, it became 2 men on with 1 out.  Then with 2 outs and 2 on still, Bradley got a bad jump on a ball hit to shallow right field, and his diving attempt fell just short as the ball scooted under his glove.  That allowed a run to score.  Then, as if those plays weren’t bad enough, Bradley lost track of the number of outs in the 8th inning.  With 1st and 3rd and 1 out, Bradley caught Joe Mauer’s flyball to right and thought it was the 3rd out of the inning.  Nick Punto tagged from 3rd and scored, but when Bradley through the ball to the fans in the bleachers, Brendan Harris was awarded 3rd base for his error.  It’s bad enough that Bradley’s numbers are awful and he’s always hurt.  But when you’re not in the game, it makes it look like you’re not even trying.  Hendry should be seriously criticized for the Bradley signing – what a joke.

Randy Wells had his worst outing of 2009.  After the Cubs failed to even make a dent in 2 inings against Slowey, it looked like Wells lost his focus.  Given how much support they’ve given him in his previous 5 starts, it’s hard not to forgive Wells for bailing out early in this contest.  Wells lasted just 3 2/3 innings, giving up 4 earned runs on 7 hits and 2 walks.  Oh well.

Manager Lou Pinella mixed things up a bit with his lineup in an effort to jumpstart the offense.  Here are some good numbers for you – Mike Fontenot in the 2 hole – 0 for 2 with a walk and K; Geovany Soto in the 5 hole – 0 for 4 with 2 K’s; Kosuke Fukodome in the 6 hole – 0 for 4 with 3 K’s; & Ryan Theriot in the 7 hole – 0 for 4 with 2 K’s.  Guess it’s back to the drawing board Lou.

There’s always tomorrow, and pretty soon, we’re all going to be saying, there’s always next year…

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De Ja Vu – Astros Beat Cubs 2-1 in Houston

Posted on 12 June 2009 by Lou

cubs lose 2 1 again 1

It felt like Grounds Hog Day on Thursday in Houston.  The Astros beat the Cubs 2-1, this time in 13 innings.  For the 2nd straight day, the Cubs scored only 1 run courtesy of a solo home run – this time by Derrek Lee.  The HR was a little more dramatic as it tied the game at 1 when the Cubs were down to the their last 2 outs in the 9th inning.  But the Cubs bats were mostly silent the rest of the way, and the Cubs eventually fell in the 13th inning on a run-scoring single by Geoff Blum.  It was the 2nd consecutive game in which Geoff Blum had a walk-off hit to win the game for the Astros.

The Cubs had a frustrating road trip.  Although the Cubs went 4-4 (good for them on the road), 5 of the 8 games went to extra innings and the Cubs continue to blow chance after chance in each game.  The Cubs are getting no clutch hitting in 2009, and because of that, they are losing way to many close games.   They outscored their opponents 28-21 on the road trip, but only won 4 games. The Cubs endured 4 1-run losses on the trip and they continue to waste good pitching efforts from the starting pitchers.  Ryan Dempster pitched 7 innings, giving up 7 hits and only 1 earned run in the 1st inning.  He didn’t walk a batter and he racked up 4 K’s.  Carlos Marmol worked 2 scoreless innings without allowing a hit (he did walk 1 batter).  Kevin Gregg also worked 2 scoreless innings, but he did have to work out of a few jams as he allowed 3 hits during his work.  Jose Ascansion took his 1st loss of the season by giving up the game-winning hit to Blum in the 13th inning.

Manager Lou Pinella had this to say about the frustrating road trip:  “What am I going to do?  Just keep running them out there and hope it gets better. They’re going to have to find the answers on the field.  That’s the bottom line.  It sounds cruel, it sounds harsh, but it’s reality.  We really did nothing.  When we had chances, we’re swinging at bad pitches out of the zone, can’t make contact.  Come on.  This is Major League Baseball.  I know the game isn’t easy to play because I played it for a long time, but it’s not this darn hard.”

The Cubs are now just 1 game over .500 at 29-28.  Luckily, the Brewers have lost 4 in a row, so the Cubs are only 2.5 games out of 1st place.  The bad news – the Cubs still have to jump over the Cards and Reds to catch the Brewers.  The Cubs return home to Wrigley Field for a 9-game home stand.  The Cubs will face 3 members of the AL Central division in inter-league play.  Friday-Sunday, June 12th-14th v. the Minnesota Twins; Tuesday-Thursday, June 16th-18th v. Chicago White Sox; and Friday-Sunday, June 19th-21st v. Cleveland Indians.

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Cubs Bats Revert To Old Ways, Lose 2-1 to Astros

Posted on 11 June 2009 by Lou

Cubs Astros Baseball

The Astros defeated the Cubs 2-1 on Wednesday night, as the Cubs bats wasted a 3rd straight gem by Carlos Zambrano. After their 16-hit, 7 runs barrage on Tuesday night, the Cubs scored only 1 run on a solo home run by Geovany Soto in the 2nd inning.  The Cubs managed only 7 hits and 2 walks against Wandy Rodriguez and Chris Sampson.  Ryan Theriot was the only Cubs player with more than 1 hit.  The Cubs had more than 1 batter reach base in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th innings, but only scored 1 run in that span.  They didn’t have another serioues threat until the 8th inning when Ryan Theriot and Derrek Lee singled, but Reed Johnson struck out to end the inning.

Zambrano needed only 104 pitches to work through 8 innings.  Zambrano gave up only 1 earned run on 3 hits and 2 walks.  He struck out 3 batters.  His only mistake was issuing a lead off walk to Hunter Pence in the 7th inning.  Pence advanced to 3rd base on Carlos Lee’s single to center field and then scored on a weak groundball by Geoff Blum.  In his last 3 starts, Zambrano has pitched 21 innings, giving up just 2 earned runs (3 total) on 12 hits and 10 walks.  He has 16 K’s along the way, but only a 1-0 record to show for it.

Angel Guzman had been the Cubs most reliable reliever until last night.  Guzman gave up a leadoff single to Miguel Tejada and then walked Hunter Pence.  Carlos Lee’s flyout to right field moved Tejada to 3rd base with only 1 out.  Manager Lou Pinella opted to walk Lance Berkman to load the bases to set up a force play at every base, but Geoff Blum’s soft single to center field won the game for the Astros.

The two teams play an afternoon finale on Thursday in Houston.  Ryan Dempster will face off against Roy Oswalt.

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All Systems A Go – Lilly, Bats Help Cubs Crush Astros 7-1

Posted on 10 June 2009 by Lou

Cubs Astros Baseball

The Cubs bats finally came to life in Tuesday night’s 7-1 win over the Astros at Minute Maid Park in Houston.  The Cubs racked up 16 hits and 7 runs, scoring in each of the 1st 3 innings to take a commanding 5-0 lead.  Ted Lilly, Aaron Heilman and Sean Marshall did the rest – holding the Astros to just 5 hits and 1 run in the game.  Lilly lasted only 6 1/3 innings, however, because of his high pitch count – 114 pitches as he worked deep in a lot of counts all night long.  He made the most of his pitches as the Astros never really posed any serious threat.

Mike Fontenot had 4 hits – including a solo home run in the 3rd inning – on his 29th birthday.  Geovany Soto continued his hot hitting with 3 hits and an RBI single in the 1st inning.  Kosuke Fukodome, Derrek Lee and Andrew Blanco also had 2 hits for the Cubs.  Lee has his average up to .269 and with 3 walks, you can tell that he is seeing the ball so well right now – he is back to being his patient old self.

With the Brewers and Reds both losing, the Cubs are tied with the Cards and Reds for 2nd place in the NL Central – just 2.5 games behind the Brewers.  Carlos Zambrano will take on Wandy Rodriguez in Game 2 of the Astros series tonight in Houston in an attempt to move the Cubs closer to the 1st place Brewers.

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