Archive | June, 2009

Rich Harden on the Right Track

Posted on 09 June 2009 by Lou

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Rich Harden is on the right track rehabbing from his mid-back muscle strain.  Harden has been on the disabled list since May 18th and he made his 1st rehab start for Triple-A Iowa on Monday night.  Harden threw 70 pitches in 4 1/3 innings, throwing 44 pitches for strikes.  He allowed 2 runs (1 earned) on 3 hits and 2 walks.  He also had 6 strikeouts.

Harden is 4-2 with a 4.74 ERA during the 2009 MLB schedule.  Assuming Harden does not experience any further discomfort over the next few days, Manager Lou Pinella could call upon Harden to return to the starting rotation on Saturday against the Minnesota Twins at Wrigley Field.  We’ll keep you posted over the next couple of days…

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Cubs Win Ugly in 14 Innings in Cincinnati

Posted on 08 June 2009 by Lou

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The Cubs 6-3 win over the Reds in Cincinnati on Sunday wasn’t pretty – but they will take it, especially since the Brewers and Cards lost too.  With the win, the Cubs moved just 1.5 game behind the Cards and 3.5 games behind the Brewers in the NL Central race.

Once again, the Cubs bats left a lot to be desired.  The Cubs managed only 12 hits in 14 innings.  The Cubs scored 1 run in the 1st inning on Ryan Theriot’s solo home run and 2 runs in the 3rd inning on Derrek Lee’s 2-out 2-run single, but they didn’t score another run until their 3-run “outburst” in the top of the 14th inning. Alfonso Soriano led off the inning with a solo home run.  Ryan Theriot singled and Kosuke Fukodome walked, and after a Derrek Lee foul out, Mike Fontenot drove in the 2nd run of the inning with an infield single.  Reed Johnson then doubled home Fukodome to give the Cubs the 6-3 lead.

The Cubs used 8 pitchers in all.  David Patton picked up his 2nd win of the season by pitching a scoreless 13th inning.  Angel Guzman picked up his 1st career major-league save by working a scoreless bottom of the 14th inning.  Randy Wells turned in another solid start – 6 2/3 innings, 7 hits, 2 earned runs, 1 walk and 4 K’s.  And once again he did not get the win – because of a familiar character – Carlos Marmol.  Marmol faced only 2 batters in the 8th inning and he walked them both.  By this time, Manager Lou Pinella had seen enough and he yanked Marmol for Aaron Heilman.  Heilmand minimized the damage as best as he could by allowing only 1 run to score.  The most impressive outing may have come from Jose Ascansio, however.  Ascansio worked 3 scoreless innings in the 10th, 11th and 12th to keep the Cubs in the game.  He did give up 2 hits and 2 walks, but he was able to navigate through some tricky waters to get through his 3 innings unscathed.

The Cubs are now 28-26.  The Cubs can rest on Monday with a scheduled day off, and then make the trip to Houston to take on the Astros.  Heres how the match-ups look:  Ted Lilly v. Brian Moehler on Tuesday night; Carlos Zambrano v. Wandy Rodriguez on Wednesday night; and Ryan Dempster v. Roy Oswalt on Thursday afternoon.

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Cubs Lose to Reds 4-3 In 11 Innings

Posted on 07 June 2009 by Lou

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Lack of hitting continues to plague the Cubs day in and day out.  The Cubs could must only 8 hits and 3 runs off of a 1st time starter and a trio of Reds relievers in the 4-3 11-inning loss on Saturday night in Cincinnati.  With Fukodome’s average dropping below the .300 mark, the Cubs do not have an every day hitting over .300 – what a joke for a high-payroll team.

The Cubs scored their only runs on Bobby Scales and Geovany Soto solo home runs and a Jake Fox sacrifice fly that tied the game at 3 in the 8th inning.

The pitching was great – Ryan Dempster pitched 6 strong innings.  The only 3 runs scored off of Dempster in the 1st inning were all unearned – courtesy of a Mike Fontenot error.  Do ya think we miss Mark DeRosa right now?  At least we have 3 pitchers in the minor leagues pitching well…

Dempster only agve up 6 hits and 2 walks, while striking out 7.  Aaron Heilman, Carlos Marmol and Angel Guzman each worked scoreless innings of relief.  After Sean Marshall worked a scoreless 10th inning, he fell into immediate trouble in the 11th when he issued a lead-off walk to Jay Bruce (the guy is hitting below .220).  Bruce advanced to 2nd base on a wild pitch and took 3rd on a sacrifice bunt.  Marshall intentionally walked the next batter to set up a force play, but the next batter’s weak groundball to 3rd baseman Mike Fontenot allowed the winning run to score.  Fontenot looked lost fielding the ball as he lobbed the ball to Geovany Soto at the plate.  The runner easily scored, but may not have if Aramis Ramirez was on the field.

The Cubs are now 4 1/2 games behind the Brewers and they still trail the Cards and Reds as well.  Not good for a ball club that was expected to compete for a World Series in 2009…

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Zambrano, Cubs Beat Reds 2-1

Posted on 06 June 2009 by Lou

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The Cubs defeated the Reds 2-1 on Friday night in Cincinnati behind an all-around effort from Carlos Zambrano.  Carlos Zambrano won his 100th career game, pitching 6 2/3 scoreless innings of 2-hit ball.  Zambrano needed a lot of pitches, however (108 total), as he walked 5 batters and struck out 7.  Zambrano’s solo home run to deep center field in the 5th inning ended up being the game-winning run.

Angel Guzman got Zambrano out of a jam in the bottom of the 7th inning by retiring Johnny Gomes on a harmless ground ball with 2 on and 2 out. Guzman has been lights out this season, lowering his WHIP to 0.90 and his ERA to 2.45.  Carlos Marmol struggled again – giving up the Reds only run in the 8th inning on 2 walks and a hit.  But Kevin Gregg stepped up big in the 9th inning to record his 10th save of the season.

The Cubs bats continue to struggle.  It is getting to be a huge issue for the Cubs and very frustrating for Manager Lou Pinella.  No one ever seems to come up with the big hit.  A perfect example was the 1st inning – the Cubs loaded the bases with only 1 out on a Ryan Theriot infield single and consecutive walks to Kosuke Fukodome and Derrek Lee.  But the Cubs could only muster 1 run as Micah Hoffpauir struck out, Miek Fontneot coaxed another walk out of Reds starter Micah Owings, and then Koyie Hill struck out to end the inning.  The Cubs only had 7 hits and left 18 runners on base.

The Cubs and Reds continue the weekend series today – Ryan Dempster v. Matt Maloney who will be making his 1st career major league start.

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Cubs Braves Series Finale Rained out in Atlanta

Posted on 05 June 2009 by Lou

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The Thursday night series finale between the Cubs and Braves was rained out.  The game will be made up in Atlanta on Monday, June 22nd – a mutual day off for both teams.

Carlos Zambrano will now start Friday night against Micah Owings and the Reds in Cincinnati.  Zambrano is in search of his 100th career victory.  Ryan Dempster will now start on Saturday and Randy Wells will start on Sunday.  Sean Marshall, Saturday’s schedule starter will now go back into the bullpen until the Cubs need another 5th starter later next week.

Manager Lou Pinella might have an important decision soon, however.  If Rich Harden can return to the Cubs rotation at some point late next week, Pinella might decide to stick with Marshall coming out of the bullpen for the Cubs to give them another option.  With as well as Wells has been pitching as a starter, this would make perfect sense.

We’ll keep a close watch on this as the week continues and as Harden makes a rehab start early next week.

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Cubs Top Braves 2-1 in Extra Innings

Posted on 04 June 2009 by Lou

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The Cubs defeated the Braves 2-1 in 12 innings on Wednesday night.  Micah Hoffpauir’s clutch, bloop, pinch-hit single gave the Cubs the win in the top of the 12th inning.  And this time the Cubs pitchers did the job all night long.  Ted Lilly pitched 7 innings, giving up 2 runs (only 1 earned) on 6 hits and 1 walk.  Lilly had 7 strikeouts.  Carlos Marmol needed only 13 pitches for his scoreless inning of work.  Angel Guzman was even more efficient – needing only 22 pitches to work 2 scoreless innings.  Guzman has quietly turned into the Cubs most dependable reliever with his 0.91 WHIP and 2.49 ERA.  And Kevin Gregg actually closed out a game – his 9th save of the season – with a 1-2-3 9th inning.  Hip Hip Hoorah!

The Cubs looks to take the series from the Braves with Carlos Zambrano on the bump.  He will have to beat out the Braves best starter, however, Jair Jurrjens who is 5-2 with a 1.23 WHIP and 2.59 ERA.

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Marmol & Gregg Blow Another Great Randy Wells Start, Cubs Lose 6-5

Posted on 03 June 2009 by Lou

Cubs Braves Baseball

Randy Wells must have the patience of Yoda.  In 5 major league starts, Wells has pitched 32 innings, giving up only a total of 6 earned runs, 24 hits and 7 walks good for a 1.69 ERA and 0.97 WHIP.  Based on those stats, you would think that Wells is 5-0, 4-1 or maybe even 3-1.  But guess what it really is – 0-2.  Yes, that’s right, he still hasn’t earned a major league win yet, and that includes games in which he has left the game where the Cubs have had a 4-0 lead and a 5-1 lead.

The latest debacle came on Tuesday night in the opener of the Cubs important 9-game road trip.  For this disaster, I actually blame 3 people – Manager Lou Pinella and relievers Carlos Marmol and Kevin Gregg.  First Pinella – Wells pitched a no-hitter through 6 innings and gave up the first hit of the game with 2 outs in the 7th inning to Chipper Jones.  After Jones reached, Wells was just fine as he got Brian McCann to ground out to end the inning.  With the Cubs leading 5-0 and Wells’ pitch count still under 80 pitches to start the bottom of the 8th inning, this should have been Wells’ game to finish off, especially given the tough luck he has endured over his 1st 4 major league starts.  Wells served up a leadoff home run to Garrett Anderson, and then Martin Prado reached 1st on a weak grounder to shortstop and Derrek Lee’s fielding error.  With his pitch count still at only 83, Pinella decided to take Wells out and bring in Carlos Marmol.  Big mistake.  Wells was about to face the last 3 hitters in the Braves lineup (none of whom had gotten a hit so far).  And while Pinella probably felt like he would bring in his top 2 relievers to finish off the win without any problems, those to relievers – Marmol and Gregg have been so inconsistent this year, there was no assurance that these 2 guys would be able to preserve the 4-run lead.  And guess what happened – these 2 guys blew it.

Marmol walked Jeff Francoeur amd got Gregor Blanco to line out to right field on a great play by Kosuke Fukodome.  Marmol then hit pinch-hitter Greg Norton with a pitch (loading the bases) and walked Kelly Johnson to give the Braves an easy run.  Marmol got Yunar Escobar to hit a run-scoring sacrifice fly to Kosuke Fukodome on another good play and retired Chipper Jones on a full-count pitch to preserve the 5-3 lead.  Granted Marmol minimized the damage that he created himself, but if Pinella had left Wells in the game, I am confident that Wells would have finished the 8th with a 5-1 lead.

Now move on to the 9th inning.  For once, Kevin Gregg actually got the lead off out.  But when Gregg struck out Garrett Anderson, his off-speed pitch was very wild and allowed Anderson to reach 1st base.  Gregg got Prado to fly out to center field for the 2nd out, but Jeff Francoeur stroke a 2-run game-tying home run off Gregg to tie the game at 5-5.  Now I know Pinella said that the base runner should not have even been on base because of the quirky wild pitch, but he was and Gregg had to deal with it.  Gregg has been downright awful for the Cubs, and Pinella needs to replace him as the Cubs closer.  Gregg has a 5.24 ERA, a 1.66 WHIP and he has issued 13 walks in 22 1/3 innings.  Not good.

Now I know Marmol isn’t much better – 23 walks in 24 innings and a 1.50 WHIP, but he’s only given up 13 hits and 1 HR (as opposed to 24 hits and 5 HR’s for Gregg in 2 less innings) and he does have that deadly strikeout pitch – 27 K’s in all.   For the good of the time and for morale purposes, Pinella needs to make a drastic move, and that move should start with the closer.  Gregg is not dependable and he cannot be trusted to hold a lead anymore.  Maybe in a less stressful 9th inning role, Gregg will be more effective.

Well I have ranted enough.  Pinella, Marmol and Gregg blew a perfectly phenomenal start from Wells… again.  The game was over when Francoeur hit that HR off Gregg – it just took until the 12th inning on Chipper Jones’ walk-off single to make it official. The Marmol/Gregg disaster also ruined good starts from Alfonso Soriano (who hit a lead off HR), Derrek Lee who had an RBI double and a solo home run and Kosuke Fukodome and Mike Fontenot who each had 2 hits.

It would have been a great way for the Cubs to start the brutal 9-game road trip – especially after going winless on their last road trip, but I guess it wasn’t meant to be.  The Brewers and cards keep leaving openings for the Cubs to make a move in the NL Central race, and the Cubs keep making the same move in response – tripping over the own feet in defeat…

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Cubs Begin Big 9-Game Road Trip – Tonight in Atlanta

Posted on 02 June 2009 by Lou

Dodgers Cubs Baseball

The Chicago Cubs begin a pivotal 9-game road trip tonight against the Braves in Atlanta.  The Cubs are 25-24 and trail the Brewers by 4 games and the Cardinals by 3 games in the NL Central race.  The Cubs have a chance to gain ground with some wins on this road trip – the Brewers have 3 more road games against the Marlins in Florida and then travel to play the Braves for a weekend series in Atlanta.  The Cards have 3 more home games against the Reds and then host the lowly Rockies over the weekend before playing a 6-game road trip against the Marlins in Florida and the Indians in Cleveland.

In tonight’s opener Randy Wells will face Japanese starter Kenshin Kawakami (3-6, 4.73 ERA).  Wells has pitched well in his 4 starts for the Cubs, despite the 0-2 record.  Wells has a 1.80 ERA with a spectacular 1.16 WHIP.  Wells has also increased the number of innings pitched in each start – 5, 6, 7 and 7 – showing that he is getting more comfortable on the mound and giving the bullpen a much beeded rest.  He did not allow a single run in either of his 1st 2 starts.  And in his 2 losses, the Cubs lost 3-1 and 2-1 in games where the Cubs offense deserted him.

Ted Lilly will face Derek Lowe on Wednesday night and Carlos Zambrano – back from serving a 6-game suspension for his antics in last Wednesday’s 5-2 win over the Pirates – will square off against Jair Jurrjens in Thursday night’s finale.

Then the Cubs are off to Cincinnati and Houston for the final 6 games of the road trip.  Let’s hope the Cubs fare better on this road trip than they did just 10 days ago when the Cubs lost all 6 games to the Cardinals in St. Louis and the Padres in San Diego on a disastrous week of travel.

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Dodgers Crush Marshall, Cubs 8-2, Earn Split of Weekend Series at Wrigley

Posted on 01 June 2009 by Lou

Dodgers Cubs Baseball

The Dodgers avoided a series loss by crushing Sean Marshall and the Cubs 8-2 at Wrigley Field on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball.  The Dodgers lit up Cubs starter Sean Marshall for 5 earned runs in the 1st inning.  The 1st 5 Dodgers reached base on consecutive singles that scored 2 runs.  After Marshall struck out Matt Kemp, Mark Loretta’s 2-run double increased the Dodgers lead to 4-0.  Jamie Hoffman’s sacrifice fly plated the 5th run of the inning for the Dodgers.  All in all, Marshall lasted just 4 1/3 innings, giving up 7 earned runs (8 total) on 8 hits and 1 walk.  Marshall dropped to 3-4 on the 2009 NLB schedule with the loss.

There were a couple of bright spots for the Cubs.  Reed Johnson continued his hot hitting, going f 3 for 4 and driving in the Cubs only 2 runs with a double in the 6th inning.  Ryan Theriot also plated 2 hits – the only other Cub with more than 1 hit.  Cubs relievers  – Jose Ascansio, Jason Waddell, David Patton, Carlos Marmol and Kevin Gregg – also fared well – pitching 4 2/3 scoreless innings after Marshall departed.  Jason Waddell made his big league debut pitching a scoreless 6th inning giving up only 1 hit while striking out 2 batters.

The Cubs are now 25-24, 4.5 games back of the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central.  The Cubs embark on a 9-game road trip away from the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field – taking on the Braves in Atlanta, the Reds in Cincinnati and the Astros in Houston.

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Larry King is not very smart

Posted on 01 June 2009 by David McCormick

Larry King was asked to sing the 7th inning stretch and the jack ass brings his kids up. The kids all had Dodgers stuff on head to toe. Why would they let this old guy up there?

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