Archive | August, 2010

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Keep ‘Em Coming — Cubs Lose Again & Hill Looks Like a Fool – Cubs 3, Padres 5 – 8/19/10

Posted on 20 August 2010 by Lou

7 straight losses for the Cubs at Wrigley Field, including 4 in a row this week to the NL-West leading San Diego Padres.  The Padres really made it look easy this week against the “Major League Team called the Cubs”.  Not really sure what that means, but since the players that the Cubs trot out each day collectively play like a top notch high school team instead of a real major league team, I feel like we should put the “Cubs” name in quotes whenever we use it for the rest of this atrocious 2010 MLB schedule.

Carlos Zambrano still didn’t have the best control, but he did just enough in his 6 innings of work to give the Cubs a chance to win.  He limited the Padres to just 1 run over his 6 innings – 4 hits, 1 walk and 6 K’s.  The Cubs trailed 1-0 when his pitching day was done, but the Cubs took the lead in the bottom of the inning on RBI doubles from Marlon Byrd and Aramis Ramirez. He could have gotten the win.

But then the wheels came off as Sean Marshall – the Cubs most consistent reliever all season long – ended up giving up 4 runs in the 7th inning as the Braves regained the lead for good at 5-2.  The inning took a turn for the worse when Koyie Hill made an embarrassing play to cap-off the Braves’ 4-run inning.  Will Venable’s 2-run single put the Braves up -2, but it was his heads-up base running that captured the moment.  When the Cubs and Koyie Hill caught Chase Headley in a run down between 3rd base and home plate.  Venable astutely ran over to 3rd base during the action.  Hill made an attempt to tag Venable at 3rd base after he tagged out Headley, but he never actually called time out.  Hill then went over to the mound to talk to reliever Justin Berg.  Since no one officially called time out, Venable darted home to score the 4th run of the inning.  His run really didn’t matter – whether the score was 4-2 or 5-2, the Cubs were still going to lose the game.  But it just goes to show how out-of-touch this Cubs team is with the concept of “baseball”.  I know that sounds weird, but there is something off with the players that GM Jim Hendry has assembled to play on the “Major League Team called the Cubs” (sorry, forgot use the ” ” a few times up there).  It’s almost as if they regressed and forgot how to play the game.  They continue to make mental mistakes, they continue to make physical fielding and running mistakes and they clearly lack the confidence to win ballgames on a consistent basis.  I’m not sure how it is even possible to spend over $140 million and not put together a winning team, but Hendry seems to have pulled off the impossible with the ludicrous deals and trades that he has made over the last 3-4 seasons. And not only are they NOT a WINNING team, they somehow managed to form one of the WORST teams in all of baseball this season.

Were there any positives from the game?  I guess.  Blake DeWitt had 2 more hits, but also struck out twice.  In fact, every Cubs starter struck out at least once during the game as the Padres racked up 12 K’s.  You also like to see the Cubs hang tough until Byrd and Ramirez drove in the tying and go-ahead runs in the 6th inning with the game on the line.  Marcos Mateo and Andrew Cashner – both of whom I really criticized the other day for their ineffectiveness – each threw scoreless innings with 2 K’s apiece.  But other than that, there wasn’t too much to like about the Cubs as usual.

This just in – looks like we can call it 5 losses in a row this week at Wrigley Field.  After Ryan Dempster worked the Braves for just 2 runs over 8 great innings on a hot and humid day at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field today, closer Carlos Marmol quickly ruined that with an inning from hell.  3 walks to load the bases and then a bases-clearing triple to Rick Ankiel that changed a 3-2 Cubs lead to a 5-3 Cubs deficit.  Beautiful…

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Rookies Not Getting It Done in Prime Time – Cubs 1, Padres 5 – 8/18/10 Wrigley Field

Posted on 19 August 2010 by Lou

The Cubs used 6 pitchers in the loss and ALL 6 pitchers were rookies.  It is believed to be the 1st time since 1957 (according to the Elias Sports Bureau) that a team has done that before the September call-up of minor league players.  Casey Coleman started the game and took the loss — 3ER on 6 hits and 3 walks in 4 1/3 innings.  James Russell and Justin Berg each recorded the only batters that they faced.  Thomas Diamond (who was replaced by Coleman in the starting lineup after 3 bad starts) – tossed 2 scoreless innings allowing just 1 hit while striking out 2.  Andrew Cashner gave up a run on 3 hits in the 8th inning and Marcos Mateo gave up a run on 2 hits and a walk in the 9th inning.

The 2 biggest surprises for me are Andrew Cashner and Marcos Mateo.  Cashner started his season on fire – he did not allow a single run to score in his first 7 appearances.  Then he went through a rough – but somewhat unlucky stretch – where he allowed a run in 4 straight appearances and suffered a blown save and 3 consecutive losses.  From July 7th through July 26th, Cashner seemed to have turned it around again – allowing just a total of 2 runs to score in 8 appearances.  But since then, Cashner has really struggled.  He gave up 6 ER in each of 2 straight outings against the Astros on July 27th and the Rockies on July 30th.  And now he has given up a run in each of his last 3 outings.  His ERA has risen to 6.15 and his WHIP now stands at 1.78.  Not sure where it all went wrong for the young stud, but pitching coach Larry Rothschild really needs to work with the kid to make sure he doesn’t lose too much confidence during this rough rookie campaign.  Hopefully Greg Maddux can even re-assure Cashner that this is all part of the growing process and he will get more consistent and effective as his career catapults on.

Mateo is just awful.  Mateo gave up a run on 2 walks and a hit.  His ERA is now 12.46 and his WHIP is 3.00!  That means he let’s at least 3 runners on base every single inning that he pitches?!  Isn’t there someone else in Double-A or Triple-A who can offer more than this guy.

Now I know that the Cubs were bit by the injury bug with Jeff Gray all having season-ending injuries throw the bullpen into a tizzy, but you have to be prepared for something like that.  And clearly GM Jim Hendry and the Cubs weren’t.  It is great experience for these young pitchers to see so much major league action this early in their careers, but it is really making an already painful season to watch that much more excrutiating.

Oh yeah – it wasn’t only rookie pitchers seeing a lot of game action yesterday – outfielder Tyler Colvin, Catcher Wellington Castillo, 2nd baseman Darwin Barney and SS Starlin Castro were all in the game at the same time.  Castro and Barney each had singles, while Castillo went 0 for 3 and Colvin did not get a hit in his pinch-hit at-bat.

Alfonso Soriano was the only Cubs starter to have more than 1 hit and Jeff Baker had the Cubs only RBI with a double that plated Soriano.

FYI – Padres just completed the 4-game sweep of the Cubs with the 5-3 win today.  Not surprising that Matos shut down the pathetic Cubs offense, but what is surprising is that Sean Marshall blew the 2-1 7th inning lead that Carlos Zambrano handed to him when he allowed 3 ER in the inning to suffer his 4th loss of the season.  If Marshall and Carlos Marmol start to have issues, there truly won’t be anything good left to watch on this 2010 Cubs lineup…

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Derrek Lee Agrees to Trade to Atlanta Braves – 8/18/10

Posted on 18 August 2010 by Lou

This just in – Derrek Lee has agreed to a trade to the Atlanta Braves.  The Cubs will receive 3 lower level minor league players in return from the Braves.

This is a bit of a surprise as Lee turned down a trade to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim right around the July 31st trading deadline.  But the Braves are in the National League and a legitimate playoff contender (they lead the NL East by 2.5 games over the Phillies) and Atlanta is lot closer to Chicago than L.A. given Lee’s daughter’s medical condition.

Lee has struggled in 2010 – .251 batting average with just 16 HR’s and 56 RBI’s – but the Braves are desperate for offense because of Chipper Jones’ season-ending knee injury suffered last week.  Lee is dealing with his own bulging disc issue, but is epxected to be able to play for the Braves over the weekend.  Lee will play 1st base while Troy Glaus will likely shift across the diamond to his customary 3rd base position.

We’ll have more on the deal over the next few days, but this is certainly a surprise and a huge benefit for the Cubs who get prospects for Lee whom they probably would not have re-signed this off-season anyway. GM Jim Hendry actually did something good for a change…

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Padres Continue to Hold Cubs Down; Wells Looks Great – Cubs 0, Padres 1 – 8/17/10 Wrigley Field

Posted on 18 August 2010 by Lou

Randy Wells gave me everything I could have hoped for last night and more.  Seven innings – 1 ER on 3 hits and 3 walks, with 6 K’s. His only mistake was giving up a 1st inning run when his wildness hurt him in a big way.  After a lead off single to Jerry Hairston, Jr., Wells walked Miguel Tejada and then hit Ryan Ludwick to load the bases with just one out.  He limited the damage by getting Chase Headley to ground out which scored a run, but that would be all the Padres would get off Wells all night long.  Little did we know that that would be enough to give the Padres the win.

The Cubs actually out-hit the Padres 6-3, but because they didn’t score one lousy run, Wells suffered his 11th loss of the season.  It was good to see Wells bounce back after several bad outings of late.  This will be a learning process for Wells and a good experience for him.  Just because you have a good year one season (in 2009, Wells went 12-10 with a 3.05 ERA in 27 starts and was considered one of the Cubs most consistent and reliable pitchers all season long), doesn’t mean that success will automatically translate over into subsequent years.  You have to work just as hard and put in the off-season training as if you’re fighting to make the 25-man roster coming out of spring training.  Wells clearly didn’t do that this past off-season and it came back to haunt him with his sub-par effort in 2010.  Sure he was the victim of a few good starts where the team didn’t give him the appropriate run support, but there were certainly enough other outings where he never gave his teammates a chance to win.  Hopefully Wells will take it all in and make a better effort this coming off-season.

As for the Cubs offense, or lack thereof, Starlin Castro was the only Cubs player with more than 1 hit.  The Cubs had a few chances early – 1st and 2nd nobody out in the 2nd inning; 2 singles and a walk in the 3rd – but never did anything with them.  After that, Jon Garland really shut them down as did Mike Adams and Heath Bell in the 8th and 9th innings.

Ouch – this just in – Cubs lose again – 5-1 to Padres this afternoon.  That makes 3 losses, scoring a total of 1 run in the past 18 innings.  This offense really goes into a funk sometimes.  Doesn’t help when all 6 pitchers used in the game by the Cubs are rookies.  More on the game tomorrow…

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Will Tom Gorzelanny Make the 2010 Starting Rotation? – Cubs 5, Padres 9 – 8/16/10

Posted on 17 August 2010 by Lou

I can’t remember a time when there will be so many question marks heading into the 2010 off-season for the Chicago Cubs.  Who will end up managing the club in 2011?  Who will make up the Cubs starting rotation beyond Ryan Dempster and Randy Wells?  What will the outfield look like?  Who will man 1st base after so many strong years from Derrek Lee?  Besides Carlos Marmol closing out games, who else will be in the Cubs bullpen?  It is going to be a free-for-all this off-season and in spring training – let’s hope there is a lot to look forward to in February of 2011…

Tom Gorzelanny got a chance to start on a regular basis for the Cubs once Carlos Zambrano self-destructed both out of the rotation and then off the team in the 1st half of the season.  Gorzelanny has been good and bad this season.  He had several good starts early in the season, but always seemed to be on the losing end of games because he didn’t get the necessary run support.  For example, in his 1st 6 starts, he allowed more than 2 earned runs only once, but had a 1-4 record with 1 no decision.  He won the 1st 4 starts of the month of July, not allowing more than 3 earned runs in any of his starts.  He even bumped his record over the .500 mark at 6-5.  But since that 6-5 win over the Cards at Wrigley Field on July 24th, Gorzelanny has struggled.  Has he hit a wall?  In 25 2/3 innigs pitched against the Rockies, Reds, Giants and Padres, Gorzelanny has given up 17 ER on 30 hits (3 home runs) and 10 walks. With the latest poor outings, his WHIP Has soared to 1.46 while his ERA is now close to the 4.00 mark at 3.85.

Gorzelanny matched Kevin Correja pitch for pitch last night through 4 innings, but then his hits and walks caught up with him.  He gave up single runs in the 5th and 6th innings and then got into serious trouble when the Padres tacked on 3 runs to increase their lead to 5-0.  He ended up yielding 5 ER on 9 hits and 3 walks in his 6 1/3 innings pitched.  Gorzelanny has mainly been a pleasant surprise for the Cubs and he has been an innings0-eater when called upon, but he is nothing more than a 4-5 starter at this point.  And given how the Cubs really don’t have an “ace” – please try to ignore the “ace dollar figures” that GM Jim Hendry has handed over to Zambrano and Dempster on a silver platter for non-ace-like numbers – the Cubs really need more out of a 4-5 starter than Gorzelanny has to offer.  Maybe Gorzelanny can be used as trade bait this off-season, or maybe if the Cubs can sign or pull of a deal for a legitimate top of the line starter, then maybe the Cubs can settle on Gorzelanny in the 5-spot in 2011.  But right now, unless Gorzelanny shows me that he still has some gas in the tank during his last 8 starts of the season, I think the Cubs will consider all possibilities ahead of Gorzelanny for a spot in the starting rotation.

As for the rest of the game, there were some good things and bad things.

Kosuke Fukudome kept up his hot hitting – 3 more hits including a 2-run double in the 7th inning that cut the Padres lead to 5-2.  Gotta love the way he is hitting of late.  It could help Hendry make a waiver deal for him over the next 6 weeks or a trade this off-season.  Blake DeWitt had 2 hits including a 2-run home run in the bottom of the 8th inning.  He has been as steady as they come since coming off from the Dodgers in a trading deadline move.

On the bad side, Andrew Cashner continued his struggled by allowing 2 ER on 3 hits in the 8th inning.  Ditto for James Russell who also gave up 2 ER on 2 hits and a walk in the 9th inning.  Both of these guys have shown signs of having what it takes to pitch in the major leagues, but right now they are just way too inconsistent to be reliable.  Let’s hope that trends the other way over the next year or so.

Randy Wells looks to right his “sophomore slump” of a season against former Cubs draftee Jon Garland at Wrigley Field tonight.  Wells is 0-3 in his last 4 starts, pitching past the 5th inning only once in the process…

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Cubs Surprise Cards with Series Win in St. Louis over the Weekend – Cubs 3, Cards 2 – Saturday 8/14/10 & Cubs 9, Cards 7 – Sunday 8/15/10

Posted on 16 August 2010 by Lou

It was a surprising series win for the Cubs over the Cards over the weekend in St. Louis.  That makes 2 straight series wins for the Cubs over the 2nd place team in the NL Central (the Cubs took 2 of 3 from the Cards at Wrigley Field from July 24th through July 26th).  Unfortunately, it’s still just too little too late for this underachieving 2010 Cubs squad.

Saturday 8/14/10 – Cubs 3, Cards 2 – The Cubs didn’t hit all that well against Chris Carpenter and a duo of relievers, but they did just enough to get Carlos Zambrano the win.  Aramis Ramirez had 2 hits including a solo home run in the 2nd inning that tied the game at 1.  Koyie Hill doubled in Marlon Byrd with a 2-out double later in the inning that gave the Cubs the lead for good.  Derrek Lee also added a solo shot in the 3rd inning that increased the Cubs lead to 3-1.  It was lee’s 2nd home run in as many days since returning from the bereavement list.

As for Big Z, Zambrano notched his 1st win in over 2 months, tossing 5 2/3 innings.  He gave up 2 ER on 7 hits and 2 walks while striking out 3.  It wasn’t great, but anytime you beat the Cardinals it is a good thing.  Sean Marshall worked an inning and a third of scoreless ball and then handed the ball off to Carlos Marmol with a man on and 1 out in the 8th inning.  Marmol worked the 5-out outing for his 20th save of the season.

Sunday 8/15/10 – Cubs 9, Cards 7 – Derrek Lee led the way with solo home runs in the 1st and 3rd innings.  A bigger day eluded the big man as he left the game in the 5th inning with lower back spasms.  But it was his 4th home run in the weekend series.

The Cubs then blew the game open with a 6-run 4th inning off of Kyle Lohse and Mike McDougal.  Koyie Hill had a 2-run double; Ryan Dempster helped his own cause with an RBI single; Fukudome had an RBI double; and Marlon Byrd had an RBI single – his 2nd hit of the inning.  Byrd had 3 hits and also scored a run when he led off that frame with his 1st hit of the inning.

The Cubs did their best to try to hand the game back to the Cards in the 9th inning.  Marcos Mateo recorded 2 straight outs in the 8th inning, but then self-destructed in the 9th inning.  He gave up a lead-off home run and then a single and 2 hits before being replaced by James Russell.  Russell walked in a run making the score 9-4, which forced Manager Lou Pinella to go with closer Carlos Marmol to save the day.  Marmol gave up a 2-run single which cut the lead to 3 runs, and then he gave up a run-scoring ground out.  But eventually he closed the door on the win for the Cubs, notching his 21st save in the process.

Ryan Dempster pitched well – 6 2/3 innings, 2 ER on 5 hits and 2 walks on a hot and humid St. Louis day.  He picked up his 11th win on the season.

Now it’s back to Wrigley Field where the Cubs host the NL-West-leading San Diego Padres.  Tom Gorzelanny looks to start the series off on a positive note tonight at the Friendly Confines.

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Blown 1st Inning Scoring Chance Sets Tone for Disappointing Loss – Cubs 3, Cards 6 – 8/13/10

Posted on 14 August 2010 by Lou

It has been a problem all season long – the Cubs get a great scoring chance and only push across 1 run or 2 runs and then go on to lose a close game.  In the 1st inning, the Cubs put together 4 straight 1-out hits but end up stranding runners on 2nd and 3rd base with only 1 out.  Different night, same story.  Starlin Castro singled and Derrek Lee sent Castro to 3rd with a double.  Marlon Byrd then drove home both men with a single to left field.  Blake DeWitt kept the rally going with a double to put runners on 2nd and 3rd base with only 1 out.  But Alfonso Soriano failed to push across that 3rd run when he grounded out to 3rd base and Darwin Barney – making his 1st ever major league start – flied out to left field to end the threat.  Instead of a 4-0 1st inning lead, the Cubs settled for a 2-run lead.  Cards pitcher Jake Westbrook settled down after that rough 1st inning and the rest if history.  Westbrook gave up just 2 hits and 1 walk from the 2nd through the 6th innings and he picked up his 1st win in 3 starts for the Cards since being traded from the Indians.  Sure the Cubs added a home run by Lee in the 8th inning to cut the Cards lead to 603, but by then, it was too little too late.

Thomas Diamond made it 3 losses in 3 starts for the Cubs.  He needed 87 pitches to labor through 4 innings and his time as a Cubs starter for the remainder of 2010 is numbered.  He gave up 4 ER on 6 hits and 4 walks and just didn’t put his team in position to win on Friday night.  Casey Coleman made a good case to be bumped up into the rotation with a 2nd straight scoreless outing.  Coleman has had his share of troubles in his 1st two appearances (8 ER on 10 hits and 4 walks in 5 1/3 innings pitched), but he has tossed 3 straight scoreless innings now and has given up just 1 walk with 4 K’s in the process.  Manager Lou Pinella is open to the competition among his young pitchers:  “I would think everybody that comes up here would get an opportunity to pitch and get some playing time, and obviously the ones that are doing better will get more than the others… The young kids that come up here to pitch, we’ll pitch them, and the position players? The same way…  We’re still trying to compete and win some games, and we’re playing a lot of teams in pennant contention so we’d like to beat them and derail them too.”

Couple of positives to take in the loss:

Lee was back in the lineup and had 2 hits.  He was the only Cubs player with more than 1 hit.

Castro had another hit and is getting close to getting enough at-bats to qualifying for the NL batting crown.  He is hitting .319 on the season and should have enough AB’s to crack the top 5 in hitting at some point next week. Carlos Gonzalez leads the NL in hitting with a .324 batting average and Joey Votto is 2nd with a .320 average.  Castro would slide into the 3-spot on the list in front of Placido Polanco with his .317 average.  Good work – Starlin!  Manager Lou PInella is thrilled with his progress:  “Isn’t that wonderful… This kid here, he’s a player. He’s gotten better and better as the season has progressed.  He makes his rookie mistakes, but we live with them and work with him.  He’s really coming along.  He’s taken to that two-hole.”

Big Z gets the start today on FOX’s Saturday game of the week.  Let’s hope he has better control than he showed when he walked 7 batters in 5 innings of a loss to the Giants on Monday night.

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Another 1-Run Loss for Cubs – No Team is Even Close to their 29 1-run Losses in 2010 – Cubs 7, Giants 8 – 8/12/10

Posted on 13 August 2010 by Lou

WOW – I was shocked to see how high the number of 1-run losses has climbed in 2010 for the Cubs.  After dropping the 8-7 finale to the Giants on Thursday’s get-away day (all 3 losses to the Giants in the series were by 1 run and this is your wild-card leader Cubs fans), the Cubs are now 13-29 in 1-run games.  That means that 42 of the Cubs 115 games played (48-67 record) in 2010 have been decided by 1 run or less.  That’s more than 1/3 of their games being decided by such a close margin.  It is unbelievable.  No other team has played as many 1-run games as the Cubs in 2010 and only 4 other teams in the entire major leagues have lost more than 20 1-run games in 2010 (Royals – 23; Mets – 22; Blue Jays – 22; & Mariners – 21).  When you factor in losses in games decided by 2 runs or loss (which I have not had the time to do), I’m sure the numbers get even more mind-boggling.  The Yankees (13-9) and Astros (10-12) have only played in 22 1-run games in all of 2010.  That’s 20 games less than the Cubs.  In the Yankees case, it means that they are crushing a lot of teams and in the Astros cases, it means that they were losing a ton of blowouts.  But for a team to lose 29 games decided by 1-run or less, it takes a lot.  It means you’re not sooooo awful that you are going to get blown out a lot,  but it also means that you don’t have what it takes to win on a consistent basis in the major leagues.  For the Cubs, it has largely been due to an inconsistent offense and having too many young players play and pitch throughout the entire regular season.

Randy Wells had another rough start after being staked to a 3-1 lead.  Wells gave himself a 2-run lead with an RBI double in the top of the 4th inning, but being on base too long may have cost him.  In the bottom of the frame, he served up solo home runs to Pat Burrell and Pablo Sandoval.  Then in the bottom of the 5th inning, he served up a Grand Slam to Burrell.  Just like that, a 3-1 Cubs lead turned into a 7-3 Cubs deficit.

You have to give this Cubs team a little credit, however.  A Kosuke Fukudome double scored Starlin Castro in the 7th inning.  Then in the 8th inning, the Cubs rallied to tie the game on

Castro finished the day with 4 hits, 1 RBI and 2 runs scored.  He is now hitting .320 on the season, surpassing Marlon Byrd as the Cubs best hitter.  Fukudome has started to look better as well (after his typical midsummer swoon) racking up 5 hits in his last 11 at-bats.  His .262 batting average is pretty bad for a $12 million man, but you have to like his .370 on-base percentage (45 walks and 51 K’s in 252 at-bats).

The Cubs weren’t able to dash any of the hopes of the Giants for the playoffs push, but let’s hope the Cubs can do some damage to the Cards in St. Louis this weekend.  The Cards hold a 1-game edge over the Reds in the NL Central race after their sweep in Cincinnati this week, so the Cubs can do some damage by winning the series.  They get Jake Westbrook tonight, Chris Carpenter on Saturday and Jaime Garcia on Sunday.  The key is tonight – if they can find a way to pick up a win in the 1st game of the series against the mediocre Westbrook, they could end up stealing the series from the Cards with Big Z and Ryan Dempster on the hill on Saturday and Sunday.  Whatever happens, it should be an interesting series in St. Louis.

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Gorzelanny Struggles as Cubs Lose to Giants – Cubs 4, Giants 5 – 8/11/10

Posted on 12 August 2010 by Lou

Tom Gorzelanny put the Cubs in an early hole with a 3-run 1st inning.  Although the Cubs would rally to tie the game at 3 in the 6th inning and then again at 4 in the 7th inning, they would end up losing 5-4.

Marlon Byrd and Tyler Colvin homered for the Cubs in the loss.

This just in – Cubs lose finale in San Francisco as well 8-7.  Andrew Cashner suffered his 5th loss of the season by giving up a 1-out bases loaded single in the bottom of the 9th inning…

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Cubs Top Lincecum – You Betcha?! Hey Lou (or Alan) – “It’s Time to Rest Marshall & Marmol!” – Cubs 8, Giants 6 – 8/10/10

Posted on 11 August 2010 by Lou

Pitcher’s duel between Ryan Dempster & Tim Lincecum?  Not a chance as each team racks up 14 hits as Cubs win 8-6.  It was a rare impressive offensive attack for the Cubs as Tyler Colvin, Starlin Castro, Aramis Ramirez and Kosuke Fukudome led the way.

Although Colvin has struggled recently, you have to like what he brings to the table every day.  And Starlin continues to shine night in and night out.  Take the 1st inning for example — Colvin led off with a single and stole 2nd base.  Castro drove him in with a single and then stole 2nd base too to get into scoring position.  Ramirez then drove him in with a single and then scored on Fukudome’s home run.  Now I know it doesn’t happen like that too often, but you had to like 4 runs on 4 hits and still only 1 out in the 1st inning.

Colvin and Castro also came through in the 4th inning for the Cubs.  Colvin earned a 2-out walk with the bases loaded and then Castro came through with the clutch 2-out single that plated Koyie Hill and Ryan Dempster to extend the Cubs lead to 6-2.

Ramirez ended up with the best night – 3 hits, and RBI and a run scored.

And Mike Fontenot came through with a clutch 2-run pinch-hit double in the 8th inning that gave the Cubs a much-needed 8-4 lead (see below).

Dempster pitched “OK”.  The Giants are not the best hitting team, so when you’re staked to a 4-0 1st inning lead against a pitcher like Tim Lincecum, you cannot give back lone runs in the 1st 2 innings of the game.  Sure one of the runs was unearned, but Dempster has to be better.  He gave a light-hitting Giants lineup way too many chances to score with 8 hits and 2 walks over 6 2/3 innings.  He gave way to Andrew Cashner in the 7th inning after he gave up a single and a walk with 2 outs.  Cashner gave up Buster Posey’s 2-out double which cut the Cubs lead to 6-4, but he buckled down to strike out Pat Burrell to end the threat.

Sean Marshall struggled again with a walk and a hit in the 8th inning, but he kept the Giants off the scoreboard.

And Carlos Marmol gave up 2 runs on 4 hits in a non-save situation in the 9th inning.

Marshall and Marmol have been so good all season long, but they have made way too many appearances because the rest of the bullpen was so bad.  Marshall has made 59 appearances – 6-3 record, 1.11 WHIP, 2.45 ERA, 69 K’s and 19 walks.  In all of 2009, Marshall appeared in just 55 games (with 9 starts).  Marmol has appeared in 52 games – 2-2 record, 1.24 WHIP, 2.75 ERA, 96 K’s and 34 walks.  Marmol appeared in 79 games in 2009 and 82 games in 2008, but there is NO reason to throw him that many times in 2010.  Lou or Alan – whoever is managing the club day in and day out – please rest Marshall and Marmol!

Tom Gorzelanny battles Barry Zito in Game 2 of the series.  It should be another good picther’s duel, right?!

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