Archive | May, 2010

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Lilly’s No-No Goes Down Drain Quickly as Cubs Lose (Again) 4-2

Posted on 11 May 2010 by Lou

Ted Lilly took a no-hitter into the 6th inning of last night’s 4-2 loss to the Florida Marlins at Wrigley Field.  Then the wheels came off as the Cubs dropped another close game during this extremely frustrating 2010 MLB schedule.  How bad can it get?

How did it all go down?  Starlin Castro’s high throw to 1st base on a routine groundball by Brett Carroll allowed Carrol to get to 1st to lead off the 7th inning.  One out later, Lilly allowed an RBI double to Chris Coghlan – it was the 1st hit and 1st run of the game for the Marlins.  The Cubs quickly rebounded when Soriano drove in his 2nd run of the game with a single to left field that gave the Cubs a 2-1 lead.  But Lilly floundered again.  With one out in the 7th inning, Lilly gave up a single to Dan Uggla and then a go-ahead and game-winning home run to Ronny Paulino that gave the Marlins a 3-2 lead.  The Marlins scored another run on a double-steal with 2 outs, but by then, the wind was already out of the Cubs sails.

Castro’s night was just downright bad – not the way he wanted to kick of his rookie season in front of the hometown crowd.  Castro committed his 1st error of the game on a high throw to first that allowed Cody Ross to reach base in the 3rd inning.  Castro committed his 3rd error of the game when he let Hanley Ramirez’ groundball in the hole go under his glove.  But he made matters worse by not hustling after the ball in shallow left field which allowed Ramirez to reach 2nd base as fans at the “Friendly Confines” booed the young rookie sensation.  Manager Lou Pinella “gently criticized” Castro for not making the play on the ball, and Castro chalked it up to a “rookie mistake”.  Castro better get his act together quickly or else he could be on the wrong side of the fence with Pinella AND MORE IMPORTANTLY, the fans.

One positive — Alfonso Soriano kept up his hot hitting.  Soriano had 2 singles and a double and drove in both of the Cubs runs.  He is now hitting .340 on the season.

Another positive — Carlos Zambrano worked a scoreless inning of relief, recovering from his disastrous appearance on Saturday against the Reds in Cincinnati in which he gave up 2 ER on 3 hits in 1 inning of work.

Randy Wells looks to snap the Cubs current 3-game losing streak as the Cubs continue the series against the Marlins at Wrigley Field tonight.

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Cubs Fun (Sad) Fact of the Day — Ryan Dempster – Long Ball Demise

Posted on 10 May 2010 by Lou

For his 3rd straight start, the long ball did in Ryan Dempster and the Chicago Cubs.  Dempster pitched a solid 6 innings on Sunday afternoon allowing just 2 runs on 3 hits and 3 walks during the game’s 1st 6 innings.  But he hit the wall in the 7th inning, allowing a double and a single and then Joey Votto’s game-winning 3-run home run to give the Reds a 5-3 lead.  It was the 3rd straight start for Dempster in which he allowed a home run late in his start that turned out to be the game winner.

Sunday’s loss was eerily similar to his last start which kicked off the Cubs losing streak in Pittsburgh on Tuesday night.  The Cubs took a 2-1 lead over the Pirates in the 6th inning, only to have Dempster serve up a game-winning 2-run homer to Ryan Church in the bottom of inning.  The game ended 3-2.

And in his previous start against the Nationals on April 28th, Dempster served up a solo home run to Adam Dunn in the 4th inning which gave the Nationals a 3-2 lead.  That proved to be the game winner as neither team scored for the final 5+ innings of the game.

Dempster is now a deceiving 2-3 on the season.  With his 1.07 WHIP and 3.44 ERA, you would think he would have more wins than losses.  Oh well…

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Cubs Miserable 1-Win Road Trip Ends with Frustrating 5-3 Loss to Reds

Posted on 10 May 2010 by Lou

The weekend started off on a high note as Starlin Castro led the Cubs to an exciting 14-7 over the Reds on Friday night.  But just as quickly as every Cubs had an extra skip in their step on Saturday morning, those skips quickly turned to heavy thuds as the Cubs lost to the Reds 14-2 on Saturday and then 5-3 on Sunday.  The Cubs won only 1 game on the 6 game road trip through Pittsburgh and Cincinnati and they are now at the bottom of the pile in the weak National League.  The Cubs are 14-18, 1/2 game better than the Atlanta Braves and 3.5 games better than the Houston Astros.  Both those teams have beaten the Cubs in 3-game series this season already, so it might not be long before we hit the cellar.

On Saturday, after the Cubs battled back to cut an early Reds lead to 3-2 in the top of the 7th inning, the Cubs bullpen blew it for the team.

On Sunday, Ryan Dempster pitched well for 6 innings and the Cubs even took the lead in the top of the 7th on Tyler Colvin’s 2-run home run to right field.  But Dempster couldn’t close the deal for a 3rd straight start as he ran into trouble in the bottom of the inning.  Dempster gave up a double and single, but was able to record 2 outs to get “close” to getting out of the jam.  But he served up a game-winning 3-run home run to Joey Votto and the Cubs lost for the 5th time in 6 games.

The Cubs hobble back home to Wrigley Field to take on the Florida Marlins for 3 games.  The Friendly Confines should sure be hopping as Styarlin Castro makes his Wrigley Field debut starting at shortstop and batting 8th.  Can’t wait…

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Starlin Castro Leads Cubs to 14-7 over Reds in Cincinnati

Posted on 08 May 2010 by Lou

WOW — Starlin Castro’s 6 RBI’s helped propel the Cubs to an easy 14-7 victory over the Reds in Cincinnati on Friday night.  It wasn’t enough that Castro was making history by becoming the youngest Cubs player to make his debut at the shortstop position in almost 100 years, he just had to go and have one of the most memorable nights in recent Cubs history.  With the Cubs offense scuffling to just 5 runs in a 3-game sweep at the hands of the Pittsburgh Pirates and with Marlon Byrd and Aramis Ramirez failing to drive in runs with 1st and 3rd and only 1 out in the 1st inning, it was up to Castro to come through in the clutch with 2 and nobody out in the 2nd inning.  And boy did he deliver – with a 3-run bomb to right field that gave the Cubs an early 3-0 lead.  Marlon Byrd’s 2-run home run an inning later staked the Cubs to a 5-0 lead.  And Castro’s bases-clearing triple in the 5th inning extended the lead to 9-0.  WOW!  Mike Fontenot’s Grand Slam in the 8th inning capped all the scoring for the Cubs en route to an easy 14-7 win.  We certainly haven’t been able to say that a lot these days.

Carlos Silva did just enough to earn his 3rd win of the season, although it wasn’t his best outing.  Silva pitched 5 innings, giving up 4 ER on 10 hits and 1 walk.  The bullpen (save for John Grabow) did another good job — Justin Berg, Sean Marshall and James Russell each tossed scoreless innings.

Now it’s time to see how Castro plays today in Game 2.  Hopefully Game 1 won’t go to his head.  Tom Gorzelanny looks to pick up another win, and if the they do that, Ryan Dempster will look for the sweep on Sunday…

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Cubs Fun Fact of the Day — Starlin Castro – Amazing Major League Debut

Posted on 07 May 2010 by Lou

Well ignore my blog post from earlier today – Starlin Castro is the real deal AND he WILL make a difference for the Cubs in 2010.

At the age of 20, Castro became the youngest Cubs player to make his debut since Oscar Gamble did so back in August 1969.  Taking it even further back, he also became the youngest Cubs player to make his debut at shortstop since Marty Shay did so back in September 1916 — almost 100 years!

As if any of this wasn’t good enough, Castro had one of the most memorable games that ANY Cubs player has had in recent history.  In his 1st ever major league at-bat, Castro crushed a 2-2 Homer Bailey pitch over the right field wall for a 3-run home run.  He was the 1st Cubs player to hit a home run is his 1st ever major league at-bat since Jim Bullinger – a pitcher – did so in June 1992.  Ironically, the Cubs had that happen to them in the opening game of the 2010 MLB schedule in Atlanta when rookie right fielder Jason Heyward clubbed a 3-run home run off of Carlos Zambrano in his 1st ever major league at-bat.

One more stat – Castro set a major league record with 6 RBI’s in his first ever major league game.  Several other players had had 5 RBI’s in their major league debuts (Most recently by Ben Grieve in 1997), but Castro topped them all with his incredible performance.  A 3-run HR and a bases-clearing triple that plated 3 runs helped the Cubs crush the Reds 14-7 in Cincinnati.

What can I say – although I did say that I thought he would succeed, I never envisioned something like this.  Talk about an injection of energy into a quiet club house.  Wrigley Field is sure going to be rocking on Monday night when Castro makes his debut at the Friendly Confines…

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Desperate Times Call For Desperate Measures — Starlin Castro to Start Tonight

Posted on 07 May 2010 by Lou

After a humbling sweep to the Pirates in Pittsburgh this week, the Cubs felt it necessary to make a desperate move by calling up stud shortstop Starlin Castro to start tonight against the Reds in Cincinnati.  Will this desperation move come back to hurt the Cubs franchise in the long run.

First, let’s talk about the sweep (which won’t take too long).  Randy Wells who had pitched so well in his 1st 5 starts looked lost out there on Thursday night — 2IP, 6ER, 5 hits, 3 walks, 1 K.  Ouch.  His ERA (4.86) and WHIP (1.50) are now painfully average.

Jeff Gray is an awful reliever – 2 IP, 4 runs (2 earned) on 3 hits and 2 walks.

There were 2 positives out of the Cubs pen.  James Russell has really pitched well of late and seems to have regained his spring training form.  He pitched 2 perfect innings and lowered his WHIP to 1.11 and his ERA to an even 3.00.  Look for Manager Lou Pinella to use the lefty in “big” game situations from now on.  Justin Berg pitched a scoreless inning, making it 5 straight scoreless appearances in a row.  His ERA is 3.00 and his WHIP is 1.31.

But back to Starlin Castro.  Castro shined in spring training, so much so that they gave Ryan Theriot time at 2nd base just in case they made the mid-season call up for Castro.  So much for waiting until July to make the move.  GM Jim Henry and Pinella are so frustrated with the team’s poor hitting and fielding thus far, they figure they might as well make the move now.  Castro played 26 games at Double-A Tennessee this season, hitting .376 with 8 doubles and 5 triples.  He is also an excellent fielder, so Cubs brass figures that even if he has trouble hitting major league hitting, he should at least helping the fielding woes that the Cubs have experience thus far this season.  Castro is in the lineup tonight against the Reds – batting 8th and playing shortstop.  At the ripe young age of 20, Castro becomes the youngest shortstop to play a game in franchise history.  Theriot moved over to 2nd base but will still bat lead-off.

Although I think Castro will succeed this season, I don’t like the move.  This team is a middle of the road team at best, and they are a long shot to make the playoffs – whether it be winning the NL Central or the wild card.  The team is too inconsistent offensively, and adding Castro won’t really change that.  I’d love to see Castro get some more time in the minor leagues.  One more season can’t hurt and bringing him up and watching him struggle early could have a negative affect on the franchise’s top prospect.  Plus, from a financial standpoint, bringing him up this early means that he can become a free agent one year earlier.  That means having to spend more money on Castro earlier in the arbitration/free agent process.  Sure, if he is worth it, it’s not a big deal.  But after all the horrible contracts that Hendry has bogged the team down with, it’s time to be a little smarter here.  Do I think bringing up Castro is going to lead to a 10-game winning streak?  No.  I think he’ll make the team more exciting to watch and maybe help bring more people to Wrigley Field everyday, but I don’t think we’re going to see any major difference in the outcome on the field over the long course of the season.  I hope I’m wrong, but we’ll have to wait and see.

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Cubs Fun Fact of the Day — Aramis Ramirez Struggling

Posted on 06 May 2010 by Lou

Ouch – this is not a pleasant Cubs Fun Fact of the Day – Boy is Aramis Ramirez Really struggling.  He has really hurt the team, and Manager Lou Pinella finally dropped him to 6th in the batting order.  In Wednesday night’s 4-2 loss, Ramirez went 1 for 3 from the 6-hole, with 1 RBI on a sacrifice fly.  In Thursday’s night’s 11-1 loss, Ramirez went 0 for 4 in the 5th spot.  Ramirez s now hitting just .148 with an on-base percentage a tad over .200.  Ouch.  He has just 3 HR’s and 15 RBI’s on the season, but he has not clubbed a long ball since April 15th.  What is going on with the big fella?  I usually think of Ramirez as the Cubs most consistent offensive run-producer, but something is clearly off with Ramirez in 2010.  Ramirez opted not to have off-season surgery to repair his separated shoulder that sidelined him for 2 months in 2009.  Should he have?  Did the rehab he did in the off-season not work?

Whatever the case, the Cubs offense clearly depends on a healthy, productive cog in the middle of the lineup like Ramirez.  If that Ramirez does not show up sometime soon, we’re going to be very disappointed with another down year from the Cubs in 2010.

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Cubs Lose Another Close One to Pirates — 4-2

Posted on 06 May 2010 by Lou

The Cubs lost another close game to the Pirates in Pittsburgh – 4-2 – on Wednesday night.  They look to avoid the sweep tonight as Randy Wells takes the hill.

Ted Lilly had another poor start – 6 innings pitched – 4 ER on 9 hits.  He now has a 1.35 WHIP and a 5.29 ERA.  Not good.

This time, however, the Cubs bats were limited by Charlie Morton who held the Cubs to just 5 hits and no walks in his 6 innings.  The Cubs scored their 2 runs in the 4th inning on a sacrifice fly by Aramis Ramirez and an RBI single by Mike Fontenot.  3 relievers then held the Cubs hitless from the 7th through the 9th innings.

Manager Lou Pinella has gotta be getting frustrated again – look for another Lou outburst if the Cubs get swept tonight…

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Cubs Fun Fact of the Day — Alfonso Soriano Amazing Against Pittsburgh Pirates

Posted on 05 May 2010 by Lou

We’re going with Alfonso Soriano again for our Cubs Fun Fact of the Day.  Soriano has feasted on Pittsburgh Pirates pitching since 2007 when he was with the Washington Nationals and in the 3+ years following that as a Chicago Cub.  Since 2007, Soriano has clubbed 15 home runs against the Pirates.  Pretty amazing.  Even better than that, Soriano has loved hitting against Paul Malholm – last night’s starter.  Event though the Cubs lost, Soriano gave the Cubs a 2-1 lead with his solo home run in the 6th inning off of Malholm.  In just 21 at-bats against Malholm, Soriano has stroked 4 home runs off the lefty.  Ya think he has his number?

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Cubs Drop Frustrating 3-2 Loss to Pirates on Tuesday Night

Posted on 05 May 2010 by Lou

It was another frustrating road loss for the Cubs as the bats went dead and the pitching wasn’t “perfect” enough to win the close 3-2 ball game against the Pirates.

Ryan Dempster lost 3-2 for the 2nd start in a row.  He pitched well again, but a 1st inning home run to Andy LaRoche and a 6th inning 2-run home run to Ryan Church ended up being just enough for the Pirates to pick up the W.  Dempster ended up pitching 7 innings of 3-run, giving up 8 hits and 1 walk with 7 strike outs.  He lowered his WHIP to 1.03 and his ERA to 2.95, but he has just 2 wins on the season, mainly because of poor run support.

Against Paul Malholm, the Cubs managed 8 hits and 3 walks in 6 innings.  But the lack of clutch hitting meant that the Cubs would only score twice – on solo home runs from Alfonso Soriano and Geovany Soto.  Other than that, it was the same old story – getting guys in scoring position with 1 out or no outs, and not coming away with any runs at all.  Even plating one run in those situations would mean a tie ball game and extra innings, but it seems like the Cubs go into these funks where no one comes through with the clutch hit.

Ted Lilly looks to bounce back tonight against the Pirates after a rough 2nd start to his 2010 season.  He served up 7 ER to the DBacks last Thursday at Wrigley Field.

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