Archive | April, 2011

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One Dempster Would Love to Have Back – DBacks’ Crush Cubs 11-2 – Wrigley Field 4/29/11

Posted on 29 April 2011 by Lou

It was that Ryan Dempster would love to get back – he lasted only 1/3 of an inning of the shortest start of his career.  Dempster faced 10 batters and allowed all but one to reach base.  He gave up a grand slam with nobody out as the DBacks took a 4-0 lead.  After recording an out on a groundout. Dempster promptly walked the bases loaded.  Three consecutive singles later, the DBacks had added on 3 more runs and Manager Mike Quade finally showed Dempster some mercy and took him out of the game.  Ouch.  Dempster saw his ERA rise from 7.63 all the way up to 9.58 – the highest of any starter in baseball today.  His fastball was consistently in the 85-90 MPH range, 4 MPH shy of where he normally throws.  He has allowed at least 4 ER in each of his 6 starts and he has not finished 7 full innings even once.  And this is your Cubs opening day starter?!

Carlos Zambrano looks to end the Cubs 4-game skid tonight against the DBacks.  Good luck with one…

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Wrigley Finale with Rockies Postponed; Cubs Off to Arizona – Wrigley Field 4/28/11

Posted on 28 April 2011 by Lou

Mother nature helped the Cubs out on Wednesday – the forecasted rains caused the Cubs and MLB to re-schedule the Cubs-Rockies series finale to a date when the weather should be just a little bit nicer (hopefully) – Monday June 27th.  It was an off-day for both teams. The Cubs play in Kansas City the day before and will continue with a home stand at Wrigley Field.  The Rockies play the Yankees in New York the day before and will stop in Chicago to make up the game on Monday before heading home for a scheduled home stand.

The Cubs used the day off for some rest and for some early travel to Arizona where they begin a 7-game road trip against the DBacks.  The Cubs will skip Casey Coleman in the rotation to keep the 3 “aces” on their scheduled 4 days between starts.  Ryan Dempster (1-2, 7.63 ERA) , Carlos Zambrano (2-1, 5.28 ERA) and Matt Garza (0-3, 4.11 ERA) will start the 1st 3 games of the series while Coleman will pitch in the series finale on Sunday.  The Cubs have not named who will start their game on Monday night against the Dodgers in Los Angeles.  Looking at the numbers of the Cubs 3 “aces”, it is shocking that the Cubs even have a 10-13 record.  Crazy stuff once again for the Cubs in what is shaping up to be another LONG season…

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Same Story Different Night – Cubs Lose to Rockies 4-3 – Wrigley Field 4/27/11

Posted on 27 April 2011 by Lou

The Cubs lost to the Rockies 4-3 in a familiar storyline that is getting oh-so-old.  After jumping out to a 2-0 lead on a Jeff Baker single that scored Starlin Castro and on a Troy Tulowitki error on a ball hit by Geovany Soto that scored Darwin Barney, the Cubs could not figure out a way to hold onto the lead and win.

James Russell is just not getting it done in the rotation – 4 IP, 4ER on 3 home runs and 3 walks.  Not good.  The bullpen kept them in the game with 5 scoreless innings of relief, but the Cubs couldn’t muster another run until the 9th inning when Alfonso Soriano led off the inning with a home run.

The Cubs have now lost 3 straight and sit at 10-13 on the season, 2 games back of the Cards and Brewers for 1st place in the lowly NL Central.  The Cubs are just 6-8 at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field.

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Starlin Castro’s 3 Errors in 2nd Inning Pave Way for Loss – Wrigley Field 4/26/11

Posted on 26 April 2011 by Lou

After taking a 3-0 lead in the 1st inning, Starlin Castro helped give it all back in the top of the 2nd inning with 3 costly errors.  That set the tone for a major momentum swing as the Rockies rallied for the 5-3 win over the Cubs on a cool, wet night at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs jumped out to the 3-0 lead on a 2-run HR by Darwin Barney and a sacrifice fly by Alfonso Soriano in the bottom of the 1st inning.

But Castro’s 1st error allowed Troy Tulowitzki to reach 1st base to lead off the 2nd inning.  After a strikeout and a single, Castro’s next error on a groundball that popped out of his glove, allowed Tulowitzki to score with the Rockies 1st run.  Then with runners on 1st and 2nd, Castro fielded Chris Iannetta’s groundball cleanly, but then air-mailed the throw over Barney’s head at 2nd base into the right field bullpens which allowed both runners to score.  Just like that, the game was tied at 3.

The Cubs had their chances.  They got 8 hits and 4 walks off of Rockies’ starter Esmil Rogers in 5 1/3 innings, but were only able to score the 3 1st inning runs against him.  3 Rockies relievers then held the Cubs scoreless for the final 11 outs of the game to preserve the Rockies win.

Matt Garza had to deal with the 3 Castro errors and then his own error on a throw to 1st base in the 5th inning that allowed the game-winning run to score.  Garza worked 6 innings, allowing just 1 earned run on 3 hits and 1 walk with 7 K’s.  He lowered his WHIP to 1.47 and his ERA to 4.11, but he is still searching for his 1st Cubs win.  He’ll have 1 more chance to pick up that 1st win in the month of May when he takes on the DBacks in Arizona on Saturday – the last day of the month.

There were a few bright spots – Kosuke Fukudome hit lead-off and went 5 for 5 with 1 run scored.  He is now hitting .478!

Jeff Samardzija had another solid appearance.  He pitched 2 scoreless innings in the 7th and 8th to keep the game within reach.  He allowed just 1 hit and struck out 2 and has now made 5 straight appearances without allowing a run to score – streak spanning 8 1/3 innings.  Not too shabby.

Casey Coleman looks to rebound from an awful start last Wednesday as he takes on the Rockies tonight at Wrigley Field.

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Another Loss Weekend as Cubs Drop 2 of 3 to Dodgers – Wrigley Field 4/25/11

Posted on 25 April 2011 by Lou

It was another lost weekend for the Cubs at Wrigley Field as the Cubs dropped 2 of 3 to the Dodgers and fell to 10-11 overall.

Saturday’s come-from-behind 10-8 win was a wild roller-coaster ride.  The Cubs jumped out to a 5-1 lead after 4 innings – courtesy of a sacrifice fly by Aramis Ramirez in the 1st inning; an RBI single from Darwin Barney in the 3rd inning; and an RBI double from Reed Johnson and back-to-back RBI singles from Starlin Castro and Barney in the 4th inning.

But the Dodgers rallied to re-take the lead from Ryan Dempster with 3 runs in each of the 5th and 6th innings.  Dempster could not hold the lead again and has had a brutal start to the season.  He could not make it out of the 6th inning, giving up 7 ER on 9 hits (3 home runs) and 3 walks with only 3 K’s.  The Dodgers added an insurance run in the 7th to increase their lead to 8-5.  But a disastrous bottom of the 8th inning for Matt Guerrier cost them the win.  Castro drove in 2 runs with a bases loaded single to center field that cut the lead to 1.  Barney fielder’s choice groundout allowed Kosuke Fukudome to score with the tying run.  And then Jeff Baker’s 2-out, 2-run, game-winning double to the gap in right field put the Cubs ahead for good 10-8.

Jeff Samardzija struck out 3 of the 4 batters that he faced in his inning and a third work to pick up the W.  Carlos Marmol picked up his 5th save by working a scoreless 9th inning despite issuing another walk.  He has now issued 7 walks in 10+ innings of work.  Thos walks eventually come back to haunt you, as they already have in his 2 blown saves this season.

In Sunday’s 7-3 loss, Carlos Zambrano allowed a 5-run 1st inning and the Cubs could never recover.  Big Z ended up lasting 5 innings, but he gave up 6 ER on 8 hits with 4 K’s.  His 10-game winning streak is now over as he suffered his 1st loss of 2011.  He has a 1.30 WHIP and a 5.28 ERA.

Kosuke Fukudome, Darwin Barney, Aramis Ramirez and Marlos Byrd each had 2 hits in the loss.  The Cubs drew only one walk all game long.

The Cubs host the Rockies for 3 games this week at Wrigley Field before embarking on a 7-game road trip to Arizona and Los Angeles on Thursday.  Matt Garza starts tonight for the Cubs still looking for his 1st win in a Cubs uniform.

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Dodgers Pound Cubs 12-2 – Worst Pitching Ever? – Wrigley Field 4/22/11

Posted on 23 April 2011 by Lou

It was not the way the Cubs wanted to start the series with the Dodgers – an embarrassing 12-2 loss to a team that had been struggling to score runs.  Boy is this going to be another fun season!

The Cubs pitching was simply awful.

Casey Coleman worked out of trouble during the 1st two innings before finally getting touched for 6 ER while retiring just 2 batters in a 6-run 3rd inning.  Coleman’s line is a joke – 2 2/3 innings, 6 hits, 6 ER, 4 walks and a whopping 90 pitches!

Jeff Stevens line was not much better although he did allow just 1 hit in his 3 1/3 innings.  Stevens allowed 3 ER on the 1 hit and 6 walks and he tossed a whopping 89 pitches!  He really took one for the team which has major pitching issues with the recent injuries to Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner.  Never thought I would see the day when 179 pitches from just 2 pitchers would only get you through 6 lousy innings.

John Grabow was the lone bright spot – 2 scoreless innings with 2 K’s – before Marcos Mateo had another disastrous outing.  Mateo gave up 6 hits in the 9th inning as the Dodgers added 3 “insurance” runs to pad the lead.

Ugly, ugly, ugly.

Kosuke Fukudome was the lone hitting star for the Cubs – he had 3 hits in the lead-off spot.  Starlin Castro is still stuck in a “mini-slump”.  Castro has just 3 hits in his last 4 games, a streak spanning 17 at-bats.  But he is still hitting .369 on the season.

Let’s hope Ryan Dempster fares better today against the Dodgers and can get at least into the 7th inning when he can had it off to Kerry Wood or Sean Marshall or Carlos Marmol to close the door in a Cubs win…

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Cubs Open Up Weekend Series Against Los Angeles Dodgers – Wrigley Field 4/22/11

Posted on 22 April 2011 by Lou

The Cubs host the Los Angeles Dodgers in a weekend series at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field.  The Cubs are an even 9-9 on the season, while the Dodgers are one game under .500 at 9-10.  The Dodgers are making more news off the field than they are on the field of late. Commissioner Bud Selig announced yesterday that Major League Baseball is taking over the business and day-to-day operations of the organization.  Owner Frank McCourt’s troubled financial issues and his unresolved divorce settlement from his wife have left the team in a huge mess.

Casey Coleman will start for the Cubs in search of his 2nd win in a row.  Coleman earned the Cubs only win over the Rockies last weekend at Coors Field in Denver.  He will face Chad Billingsley who has struggled early on this season.  Billingsley is 1-1 with a 4.91 ERA, but he held the Cardinals to 8 scoreless innings in a 2-1 Dodgers win in his last start.

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Cubs Can’t Complete Sweep of Padres – Wrigley Field 4/21/11

Posted on 21 April 2011 by Lou

After Reed Johnson’s dramatic walk-off home run to left field propelled the Cubs to a 2-1 win of the opener, there was hope that the Cubs would be able to pull off the sweep.  But it wasn’t meant to be as the Padres exploded for 3 home runs against James Russell in the game’s first 5 innings to rush out to a 4-0 lead.  The Cubs cut the lead to 4-2 on an RBI double from Reed Johnson and an RBI single by Darwin Barney in the bottom of the 5th inning and then again to 5-4 on Alfonso Soriano’s 2-run home run to deep left center field in the bottom of the 8th inning, but they didn’t have another rally left in the tank in the 9th.

After his heroics in the 1st game, Johnson made the most of his start in Game 2.  Johnson had 3 hits and an RBI, but was thrown out at 3rd base in the 5th inning on an overly aggressive base-running blunder that probably cost the Cubs a much-needed run.  After he was thrown out for the 2nd out in the inning, the Cubs started a 2-out rally with consecutive singles by Jeff Baker, Kosuke Fukudome and Barney.  If Johnson had been on base, who knows what would have happened with only 1 out and those 3 singles…  Fukudome hit lead-off and had 2 hits in 5 at-bats.  Barney had 2 hits as well and Starlin Castro went 1 for 4 as the team’s 3rd hitter in the lineup.  Castro had a rough day at the plate in the double-header – 1 for 9 with 5 runners left on base.

With the split, the Cubs were tied for 1st place in the NL Central with 3 other teams – the Brewers, Reds and Cards – all with 9-9 records…

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Cubs-Padres to Play 2 at the Friendly Confines Today/Tonight – Wrigley Field 4/20/11

Posted on 20 April 2011 by Lou

With rain due to pound the Chicago area Tuesday during the day and night, the Cubs called Tuesday night’s contest and scheduled a day-night double-header for Wednesday afternoon and night at Wrigley Field.  The Padres are not scheduled to visit Wrigley again this season, and with the Padres scheduled to host the Phillies Thursday night back in San Diego, MLB decided to try to pull-off the day-night doubleheader on Wednesday.

With the 1st game now moving into the 11th inning, when the 2nd game will even start is up in the air.  Matt Garza had his 1st good start of the 2011 MLB schedule – 6 scoreless innings, 6 hits and 3 walks with 9 K’s.  Despite walking the bases loaded with 1 out in the 6th inning, Garza was able to get out of the jam by inducing an inning-ending double play by Brad Hawpe.  The Padres left the bases loaded in the top of the 7th inning without scoring a run and it looked like the Cubs would put away the Padres in another 1-0 affair with Carlos Marmol closing out the game in the 9th.  But Marmol issued a 1-out walk to Cameron Maybin who came around to score the game-tying run on Jason Bartlett’s sacrifice fly.

Garza scored the Cubs lone run in the 3rd inning.  After a Geovany Soto double, Garza attempted to bunt him over to the 3rd, but he made a poor bunt and Soto was thrown out at 3rd base.  Garza advanced to 2nd base when Bartlett dropped what should have been an inning-ending double play ball.  After another fielder’s choice by Darwin Barney, Marlon Byrd’s 2-out RBI single plated Garza from 3rd base with the unearned run.

We’re now in the bottom of the 11th inning with the scored still tied at 1.  Wait – there is an update – Reed Johnson just hit a walk-off home run into the left field bleachers to lead off the 11th inning as the Cubs win 2-1.  Despite 2 hits and 3 walks allowed in just 2 innings pitched, Jeff Samardzija stayed tough and didn’t allow any runs to pick up his first win of 2011.  Go Cubs Go!!!

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Zambrano Dominant as Cubs Win Nail-Biter in Extras – Wrigley Field 4/19/11

Posted on 19 April 2011 by Lou

Carlos Zambrano didn’t get the win, but he put the Cubs in a perfect position to win the game in 10th inning.  Big Z tossed 8 scoreless innings, scattering just 3 hits during his outing while striking out 10.  He allowed just 1 walk.  He lowered his ERA from 6.11 to 4.21 and retired the last 13 batters that he faced.  Sean Marshall retired 2 batters in the 9th inning before handing the ball off to closer Carlos Marmol with 1 on.  Marmol recorded the final 4 outs of the game with 2 K’s and picked up the win when Tyler Colvin’s 2-out pinch-hit double scored Geovany Soto all the way from 1st base in the bottom of the 10th.  After Kosuke Fukudome’s walk with 1 out in the 10th, Soto grounded into a fielder’s choice but kept the inning alive by not being doubled-up.  He showed some speed on Colvin’s hit – one of the few times that you’ll see Soto score in that fashion.

The Cubs got back to .500 with the win at 8-8 and trail the Reds by just 1 game in the NL Central.  The Cubs, Brewers, Cardinals and Pirates are all 8-8.  James Russell goes for the Cubs tonight as he looks to rebound from a bad start last week in Houston when he didn’t even make it out of the 2nd inning.

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