Archive | March, 2010

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Gorzelanny Paces Cubs 5-3 Win Over Giants with 7 Strong Innings

Posted on 31 March 2010 by Lou

Tom Gorzelanny showed why he deserved to be named a starter by Cubs Manager Lou Pinella earlier this week.  Gorzelanny pitched 7 strong innings, giving up 3 ER on 8 hits without any walks.  He also struk out 2 batters.  Gorzelanny was excited that he kept his club in the game so that they could rally to tie the game in the 7th inning and then win it on Chad Tracy’s 2-run pinch-hit home run in the 8th inning.  Gorzelanny had this to say — “I don’t think just because I got the job it’s time to relax.  That’s when you get in a lot of trouble.  You want to go out there and continue to get better and work on stuff and be ready to pitch well when the season starts… I felt like I did a good hob of throwing strikes and keeping the ball in the zone…”

Carlos Marmol pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings and then gave way to John Grabow to pick up the final 2 outs of the game.

Gorzelanny wasn’t the only player that proved Pinella made the right move when naming his 25-man roaster.  Tyler Colvin continued his hot hitting by going 2 for 4 with an RBI and 1 run scored.  Pinella has indicated that Colvin will start 2-3 games per week to rest some of the regulars in the outfield…

This was a great win for the Cubs who continue to play way as of late.

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Wells, Cubs Beat Reds 8-1

Posted on 30 March 2010 by Lou

Randy Wells improved to 3-0 this spring en route to the Cubs 8-1 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Monday.  Wells pitched 5 2/3 innings, giving up just 1 ER on 7 hits and 1 walk.  He settled down after a couple of rough innings to start the game and ended up striking out 5 Reds batters.  Wells has shown that his stellar 2009 season was not a fluke and that he clearly has the stuff to be competitive at the major league level for years to come.  Justin Berg helped get Wells out of the 6th inning.  Sean Marshall then tossed 2 scoreless innings giving up just a hit and a walk while striking out 4.  James Russell stayed perfect working a scoreless 9th inning giving up a hit and recording 1 strikeout.  Russell has still not given up a run this spring and was the surprise addition to the Cubs 2010 bullpen.  Let’s hope he can keep it going during the 2010 MLB schedule.

At the plate, Ryan Theriot had a 3-hit game.  Marlon Byrd crushed a home run to help give the Cubs and early lead in the 1st inning.  Jeff Baker and Mike Fontenot – who battled it out this spring for the 2nd base job – each had 2 hits including a home run.

The Cubs now have 15 wins this spring and are really playing some good baseball down the stretch here.  Manager Lou Pinella must be pretty damn excited to get the season started.  Only 6 more days until opening day for the Cubs…

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Ryan Dempster Ready To Dominate During 2010 MLB Schedule

Posted on 29 March 2010 by Lou

Ryan Dempster is ready to dominate in 2010 and if he pitches like he did on Sunday, he will do just that.  The Chicago Cubs beat the Seattle Mariners 1-0 as Dempster tossed 7 shutout innings.  Dempster allowed just 4 hits and 2 walks, while striking out 9 batters.  He was the 1st Cubs pitcher to make it into the 7th inning this spring and he was firing on all cylinders.

Dempster made these comments after the game — “I’ve been waiting for the season to start and that was as good as I’ve thrown the ball all spring by far.”  After getting himself into a bases loaded, no out jam in the top of the 7th inning, Dempster struck out the side to preserve the 1-0 lead.  He was excited about his ability to get out of the jam: “I was able to make pitches and bear down.  Even though I didn’t get extended pitch-wise a whole bunch, the intensity of pitching into the 7th and having that be your most stressful inning, it was a lot of good work and a real good stepping stone for getting ready for the season…I put a lot of pressure on myself to prepare to do that and once the game starts, I figure the preparation I put in — and I did a lot this winter, I worked really hard and I’ve worked hard this spring to go out there and be ready for the season.”  WOW – gotta like the attitude. If we get a re-focused Dempster like we had in 2008, the Cubs are going to be a much better balanced pitching team during the 2010 MLB schedule.

Two reliever finished off Dempster’s gem — Jeff Samardzija pitched a scoreless inning with 1 strikeout, while John Grabow picked up the save with a scoreless 9th inning.  I hate to get too far ahead of myself, but the Cubs pitchers are doing a helluva job.  Could this be the year?…

On offense, the Cubs managed just 5 hits, but Kosuke Fukudome’s lone hit on the day drove in Jeff Baker with the winning run.

One side note — Milton Bradley did not play in the game – what a pansy…

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Ted Lilly Pitches in Minor League Game on Friday

Posted on 28 March 2010 by Lou

Ted Lilly pitched in a minor league game on Friday at Fitch Park.  Lilly threw 21 pitches, making it through 2 innings of work.  After giving up 2 runs in the 1st inning, Lilly was able to retire the side in the 2nd inning.  He did not throw any curve balls – just fastballs and change ups.  Lilly is scheduled to make another start at the minor league level in Cubs camp and he should be able to return to the major league level at Wrigley Field sometime during the 3rd week of the season.

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Carlos Zambrano Good, Carlos Marmol Bad

Posted on 27 March 2010 by Lou

It was a tale of 2 Carlos’ in the Cubs 5-2 loss to the Oakland A’s on Friday.

Carlos Zambrano became the 2nd Cubs pitcher to go 6 innings as he followed Tom Gorzelanny’s lead from Thursday.  Big Z gave up just 2 runs (1 earned) on 3 hits and 1 walk.  He struck out 6.  He was in command of all of his pitches and it was great to see him pitch 6 strong innings. He lowered his spring training ERA down to 3.15.

James Russell and Jeff Samardzija each pitched scoreless innings in relief, but it was Carlos Marmol who struggled for the second consecutive day.  He gave up another home run, this time a 3-run shot to Travis Buck that broke a 2-2 tie in the top of the 9th inning.  Manager Lou Pinella was not pleased with Marmol’s form – “His mechanics are off.  What he’s doing is showing the ball to the hitter quicker and he’s losing that nice depth on his breaking ball.”  Pinella believes that Marmol is throwing too much from the side instead of over the top, and that that is leading to the ball not snapping on each pitch.  He is confident, however, that Marmol and pitching coach Larry Rothschild will be able to fine tune his motion before the start of the 2010 MLB schedule.

We’ll keep you posted…

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Gorzelanny Shines in Start, Joins Silva in Rotation

Posted on 26 March 2010 by Lou

Lou Pinella finally made up his mind – Tom Gorzelanny’s stellar start in the Cubs 7-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday made it easy.  Gorzelanny tossed 6 innings – the longest outing by any Cubs starter this spring – giving up just 2 ER on 5 hits and 1 walk.  He struck out 4 batters and he lowered his ERA to 3.07.

As for his chances of being tabbed a starter, Gorzelanny had this to say about his start — “I felt I was in the zone a lot and I wasn’t trying to overthrow and I wasn’t trying to do too much.  I felt I made some major strides today.  There’s always more to do and more to work on…  All I can ask for is to pitch well and I hope that’s the case.  Wherever they need me, I’ll do my best.  If I get to be in the rotation, I’ll run with it and try to claim a spot and keep it — that’s my objective right now.”  Well the consistency of his last 2 outings made it that much easier for Pinella to go with him and Carlos Silva as his 2 final starters when camp breaks at the start of April.

The other 2 starters in contention were Sean Marshall and Jeff Samardzija and both with start the season in the Cubs bullpen.  As I called it at the beginning of spring training and just 2 days ago, I figured Pinella would tab Marshall and Samardzija for the bullpen.  Both have had success in the bullpen, while Silva and Gorzelanny have had little experience pitching in relief.  Even if Marshall and Samardzija had been pitching a lot better than Silva and Gorzelanny, I still fill like Pinella would have tabbed Silva and Gorzelanny for the final 2 starting spots in the rotation.  Jeff Gray, Marcos Mateo and John Gaub were each sent down to the minor leagues as well.

I guess we’ll see how this all shakes out.  Luckily we’ll only have to see Silva and Gorzelanny in the starting rotation for a few weeks until Ted Lilly returns.  Any longer than that, and the Cubs could find themselves in a bit of a hole in 2010 right out of the gate…

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Marshall Shines after Bumpy 1st Inning

Posted on 25 March 2010 by Lou

Sean Marshall pitched 4 solid innings in the Cubs 12-1 win over the Texas Rangers on Wednesday.  After a tough start in which he gave up 3 hits and 1 unearned run in the 1st inning, Marshall really settled down.  He only allowed one other base runner through the next 3 innings on a walk and he struck out 5.  Marshall now has a 1.64 ERA in his spring starts this March and he has made a strong case for winning one of the open starting pitching jobs heading into the regular season.

Marshall had this to say — “I pitched pretty well today.  That doesn’t mean I can be the perfect candidate to start but I love starting and I want to start because I like giving the team a chance to win.  As long as I keep building and keep getting better and keep getting guys out, I’ll have no problems… My attitude is always to keep a positive attitude whatever role I’m in and help the team win some ballgames.”

This is great news, but I still have a feeling that Manager Lou Pinella is going to go with Tom Gorzelanny as the 5th starter behind Carlos Silva.  Marshall has more experience coming out of the bullpen and he has performed well there for the Cubs – in fact better than he has as a starter.  I think it’s the wrong move because I think the Cubs will need good starts early on with Ted Lilly on the shelf, but I just have a feeling that Lou is going to tab Silva and Gorzelanny as his 4th and 5th starters until Lilly returns.  We should have an answer within the next few days so that the 2 guys tabbed as “starters” will have a chance to stretch out before the start of the season.  We;ll keep you posted as soon as that happens…

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Ted Lilly Making Progress – Ready for Live Game Action

Posted on 24 March 2010 by Lou

Good news on the Ted Lilly front.  Lilly threw 35 pitches in a simulated game on Monday that spanned 3 innings of play.  Lilly was able to throw all of his pitches and he felt great after the outing.  Lilly had this to say: “I felt good.  I was able to throw some curveballs, sliders and a few changeups.  For the most part, most of the pitches I threw were fastballs… What I’d like to do is pitch in a game.  Get some fans out there and umpires.”

Manager Lou Pinella has indicated that Lilly will not pitch in any Cactus League games.  But he will start at least 2 minor league games – the 1st coming this Saturday.

This is great news Cubs fans! Maybe we’ll see Lilly at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field sooner rather than later during the 2010 MLB schedule…

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Cubs Get Solid Pitching in 1-1 Tie with Brewers on Sunday

Posted on 23 March 2010 by Lou

Although Carlos Silva left the game as a precautionary measure with a sore right quadriceps muscle, Cubs pitchers performed at a high level the rest of the way.  Silva gave up 1 earned run on one hit before his departure.

John Grabow pitched a scoreless inning of relief with 2 K’s.

James Russell and Esmailin Caridad each pitched scoreless innings as well – neither has let up a single earned run all spring.  Justin Berg also pitched a scoreless inning and he has not allowed an earned run since his first spring appearance back on March 5th.

These are all good signs for a Cubs bullpen that has been criticized for the lack of experienced depth this spring.  Sure they will be young, but if they are pitching well, no one will really care at Wrigley Field in 2010…

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Pieces Falling Into Place for Cubs During Spring

Posted on 22 March 2010 by Lou

Slowly, but surely, the pieces are falling into place for the Chicago Cubs during spring training.  Carlos Zambrano began the 1st Cubs starter to go 5 innings this spring – tossing 5 scoreless innings in the Cubs 4-0 win over the Kansas City Royals on Saturday.  Big Z gave up 3 hit and 2 walks while striking out 4 batters.  Esmailin Cardidad still hasn’t given up a run this spring – tossing a scoreless 8th inning to set up closer Carlos Marmol.  Marmol for his part didn’t disappoint – he gave up one hit, but struck out the side to preserve the Cubs win.  I love the Caridad/Marmol combo – which could be an effective combination during the 2010 MLB schedule.

The Cubs only managed 6 hits, but Ryan Theriot came through in the clutch with a base-clearing double in the 2nd inning that plated 3 runs.  Theriot is still hitting over .500 for the spring.  Marlon Byrd had 2 more hits and has been one of the Cubs more consistent hitters all spring.  Alfonso Soriano had another hit and is slowly showing better signs at the plate.  And Geovany Soto had 1 hit, with 1 RBI, 1 run scored and 1 walk – he is now batting .400 this spring.  The weight loss and better conditioning really seems to have helped Soto regain his 2008 form.

I hate to get too far ahead of myself, but it seems like the Cubs are putting together a good stretch of baseball here.  While this doesn’t count for anything, if the Cubs can gain a little momentum at the end of spring training and earn a little confidence in themselves that was lost during a dismal 2009 season, it can only mean good things for the organization.  Let’s hope they avoid any injuries down the stretch here and come out swinging against the Braves in Atlanta and the Reds in Cincinnati before they battle the Brewers at home at Wrigley Field during the Cubs home opener…

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