Posted on 06 April 2011 by Lou
The Cubs gave Andrew Cashner a nice 4-1 lead in his major league starting debut and it looked as if he would cruise to a nice easy win over the Diamondbacks. But then disaster struck in the top of the 6th inning. After retiring the first batter that he faced, Cashner walked Willie Bloomquist and then had to be removed from the game with an apparent arm/back injury. Jeff Samardzija came on to strike out the next 2 batters to get out of the inning and preserve the 4-1 lead for Cashner and the Cubs.
However, the DBacks rallied for 3 runs against Samardzija, Marcos Mateo and James Russell, and just like that, the game was tied at 4 and Cashner was no longer eligible for the win after pitching so well.
Fortunately, the Cubs showed some fight and immediately re-rook the lead in the bottom of the 7th on a Marlon Byrd double and a Tyler Colvin bases loaded walk.
And the Cubs hung on for a 6-5 win as Russell got he W and Sean Marshall picked up the save with both Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol unavailable to pitch.
But the big news focused on Cashner and then Randy Wells. Both pitchers will be sidelined for at least 2 weeks with arm issues. Not good, not good at all…
Posted on 05 April 2011 by Lou
Randy Wells picked up right where he left off from spring training as he pitched a gem to lead the Cubs to a 4-1 over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field on Monday afternoon. Wells got the 1st win for any Cubs starter as he tossed 6 solid innings. After giving up a lead-off home run, Wells allowed no runs, 5 hits and 4 walks over the next 18 outs to earn the victory. He struck out 6 on the day. He was happy with the start despite the walks – “A little sloppy… You never want to be around the belt or mid-thighs. Try to attack the bottom of the zone and good things happen.”
The bullpen did the rest as Sean Marshall, Marcos Mateo and John Grabow each recorded an out in the 7th inning to preserve a 2-1 Cubs lead. After a Starlin Castro error allowed the tying run to reach base in the 8th inning, Kerry Wood worked out of a bases loaded, 1-out jam to keep the DBacks off the board. Carlos Marmol bounced back from a blown save on Sunday to pick up the save. It was Wood’s 2nd hold off the early season and Marmol’s 2nd save of the season as each pitcher pitched in 3 consecutive games. Marshall, Grabow, Wood and Marmol are all going to have to have above average years if the Cubs expect to make some noise in the NL Central race this season.
Timely hitting also helped the Cubs. Alfonso Soriano hit his 2nd home run in as many days to tie the game at 1 in the 3rd inning. Carlos Pena’s sacrifice fly in the 4th inning put the Cubs ahead for good. And Geovany Soto and Soriano gave the Cubs some insurance runs with run scoring hits in the bottom of the 8th inning.
The Cubs are back at .500 at 2-2…
Posted on 04 April 2011 by Lou
It was the same old story for the Cubs during their opening weekend series loss to the Pirates at Wrigley Field. By dropping 2 of 3 to the Pirates, the Cubs already fell 2 games behind the Cincinnati Reds (who swept the Milwaukee Brewers) for 1st place in the NL Central.
Friday Opener – Cubs 3, Pirates 6. Ryan Dempster took the loss as he gave up a grand slam to Neil Walker in the 5th inning and a 2-run home run to Andrew McCutchen in the 7th inning on his 114th pitch of the game. A lack of clutch timely hitting hurt the Cubs as it did oh so often in 2010. It became the theme for the weekend. With the bases loaded and only 1 out in the 3rd inning, Carlos Pena grounded out in a fielder’s choice and the Cubs were held to 1 run instead of having a big inning. In the bottom of the 7th, with 2 on and only 1 out, Marlon Byrd and Aramis Ramirez flew out to end the scoring chance. The same exact thing happened in the 9th inning with 1 out. This time Byrd struck out and Ramirez grounded out to end the game. Not good.
Saturday #2 – Cubs 5, Pirates 3. Although the Cubs rallied to win the game, the Cubs wasted 2 runners in each of the 5th and 6th innings without scoring any runs. Kudos to the Cubs hitters for taking advantage of Lyle Overbay’s error in the 8th inning that permitted the Cubs to score 3 unearned runs and win the game. Blake DeWitt proved his worth as a pinch hitter by delivering the game-winning 2-run double. Big Z kept the Cubs in the game by allowing just 3 ER in 6 good innings of work and he didn’t let the lack of run support get him down. Kerry Wood, Sean Marshall and Carlos Marmol all looked sharp in their 1st 2011 game action. Each reliever tossed a scoreless inning of relief without allowing a single hit. Wood had 2 K’s, Marshall had 1 K and Marmol struck out the side in the 9th inning for his 1st save of the season.
Sunday #3 – Cubs 4, Pirates 4. The Cubs came back from 2-0 and 3-2 deficits to take a 4-3 lead on Alfonso Soriano’s solo home run in the 6th inning. However, a leadoff walk by Carlos Marmol in the 9th inning came to haunt him. Pedro Alvarez’s 2-run single gave the Pirates the 5-4 win. Matt Garza was not good. Although Garza worked out of trouble well, he allowed way too many base runners – 12 hits?! You gotta love the 12 K’s though. Once again, the game should not have been that close as the Cubs blew numerous opportunities to have a big inning. The Cubs got runners on in each of the 1st 2 innings but never scored. In the 4th inning, Carlos Pena tied the game at 2 with a 2-run double with nobody out. But with 2nd and third and nobody out, Geovany Soto and Alfonso Soriano could not push another run across with weak flyouts. Then the Pirates smartly walked Tyler Colvin to get the easy Matt Garza out to end the inning without any further damage. This was completely unacceptable and you just knew it would come back to haunt them at the time. Soto failed to come through in the 5th inning with 2 on and 2 out as he grounded out to end the inning. Then again in the 9th inning down by 1, the Cubs blew a great chance to win the game or at least send it into extra innings. With 1st and 2nd and only 1 out, Byrd grounded into the game-ending double play. Not good.
All in all, the pitching was pretty good, especially the bullpen (ignoring Marmol’s blown save on Sunday). Then again, the Cubs continue to show that they have trouble pushing across runs and winning close games. Manager Mike Quade needs to nip this in the bud before the trend grows too strong…
Posted on 01 April 2011 by Lou
Ryan Dempster and the Cubs host Kevin Correja and the Pirates on Opening Day today at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field. Ryan Dempster will be making his 1st opening day start as a Cubs player since joining the team several years ago. He’s honored to be able to make that opening day start and he says his squad is ready to show that they are going to win, and win often, in 2011 – “I’ve picked us and that’s all that matters. We’ve picked ourselves to go out and win ballgames and do well. I saw that CC Sabathia yesterday picked his team to win it all. Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do? I think is we listened to the experts as kids, a lot of us wouldn’t be in the big leagues. I know there are some really great teams on paper, but it’s about wins and losses.”
The Cubs opening day lineup looks like this:
Kosuke Fukudome RF; Starlin Castro SS; Marlon Byrd CF; Aramis Ramirez 3B; Carlos Pena 1B; Geovany Soto C; Alfonso Soriano LF; Darwin Barney 2B; and Dempster.
Let’s go Cubs! A win on opening day and maybe even a series sweep over the Pirates this weekend would be a great way to kick off the 2011 MLB schedule…