Archive | July, 2011

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Cubs Rally for 5-4 Win Over Astros – 1st 3-Game Winning Streak of 2011 Season?!?! – Wrigley Field 7/25/11

Posted on 25 July 2011 by Lou

Believe it or not – yesterday’s 5-4 win in 10 innings gave the Cubs their 1st 3- game winning streak of the 2011 campaign.  The Cubs were the last team to reach that mark this season.  What a joke…

Jeff Samardzija wasted another great outing from Matt Garza.  Garza allowed just 2 ER on 5 hits and 3 walks over 7 impressive innings.  He struck out 9 and lowered his ERA to 3.72 and his WHIP to 1.30.  He left with a 3-2 lead, but when Samardzija served up Carlos Lee’s go-ahead 2-run HR in the 8th inning, he was forced to take another no decision.

Fortunately, 3 straight hits allowed the Cubs to tie the game on Alfono Soriano’s single to start off the 8th inning.

And after Carlos Marmol survived a bases loaded, 1-out jam in the 9th inning, karma seemed to be on the Cubs side when Hunter Pence lost Marlon Byrd’s flyball in the sun to lead off the 10th inning giving Byrd a “gimme” triple.  After Geovany Soto struck out for the 1st out of the inning, the Astros walked the bases loaded intentionally.  And Jeff Baker came through with the clutch game-winning line drive single to left field that plated Byrd with the winning run.

Byrd had 4 hits and 3 runs scored.  Soto had 3 hits, an RBI and a run scored.

The Cubs are now 42-60 and they have opened up a “safe” 8.5 game lead over the Astros to avoid having the worst record in the NL.  Now that’s something to cheer about – Go Cubs Go!!!

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Zambrano, Ramirez, Soriano Power Cubs to 4-2 Win Over Astros – Wrigley Field 7/22/11

Posted on 22 July 2011 by Lou

They did it!  The Cubs beat the worst team in baseball 4-2 on a perfect day at Wrigley Field on Friday.  With the heat and humidity finally gone for the most part, Carlos Zambrano labored through 6 innings, but kept the feisty Astros at bay.  Despite allowing 9 hits and 1 walk in his outing, Big Z minimized the damage to just 2 ER.  He had 3 K’s and he improved to 7-5 on the season.

The Cubs scored in only one inning but they made it count.  They plated 4 runs in the 5th inning.  Alfonso Soriano hit his 15th HR of the year as he put the Cubs on the board with a leadoff solo home run.  Darwin Barney and Zambrano each reached base.  After Barney stole 3rd base, he came home on Starlin Castro’s important sac fly which tied the game at 2.  And then Aramis Ramirez put the Cubs ahead for good with his 2-run HR, his 18th of the season.

The bullpen even looked good.  After James Russell allowed a lead-off single in the 7th inning, Jeff Samardzija, John Grabow, Carlos Marmol and Sean Marshall retired the final 9 batters to preserve the Cubs win.  Marshall picked up his 3rd save.

Yippee!!! The Cubs are now 40-60 while the Astros are 33-66.  Ah some breathing room…

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Marshall Blows 1st Chance in New Closer Role – Wrigley Field 7/20/11

Posted on 20 July 2011 by Lou

Manager Mike Quade was all out of ideas as he watched Sean Marshall blow the save in his 1st chance as the Cubs “new closer”.  Yippee.  Think Quade is happy that he went ahead and accepted this awful Cubs managerial post?!

Quade called on Marshall to pick up a 2-inning save after Matt Garza gave up a lead off hit in the 8th inning.  My question is this – if you were going to pull Garza if he allowed a runner to reach base, and since he had already thrown 113 pitches in 7 innings pitched, why not just pull him for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the 7th inning instead of having him lead off and strike out?  Sure you might not get an insurance run, but Reed Johnson and Aramis Ramirez each singled later that inning, so you never know.  And then maybe you use Kerry Wood or someone else in the 8th inning and bring in Marshall to close the game in the 9th.  Forcing Marshall to pick up a 6-out save in his 1st big chance since replacing Carlos Marmol as the club’s closer just did not seem like the smart thing to do.  And this is just another example of why the Cubs have to be questioning Quade as the long-term manager of this team…

That being said, Marshall did not perform well.  And after allowing the tying runs in the 8th inning, Marshall still could have kept his team in the game.  But he allowed 2 more runs in the 9th inning and the Phillies won 4-2.  Marshall has now allowed 7 ER in his last 6 appearances.  Not good.

Lost in the shuffle was Matt Garza who turned in another good start.  Garza pitched 7+ innings, allowing just the 1 run on 4 hits and 3 walks while striking out 5.  He has clearly emerged as the ace of the staff as he has lowered his WHIP to 1.31 and his ERA to 3.80.

The top of the order was en fuego against Cliff Lee.  Johnson had 3 hits and a run scored.

Starlin Castro had 2 hits and knocked in the Cubs only 2 runs in the 1st inning with a line drive 2-run HR.

And Aramis Ramirez had 2 hits in 4 at-bats to raise his batting average up to .302.

The Cubs are now 39-59 and they trail the Pittsburgh Pirates and Milwaukee Brewers by 13.0 games in the NL Central race.

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Lopez Outduels Halladay in Cubs 6-1 Win Over Phillies?!?! – Wrigley Field 7/19/11

Posted on 19 July 2011 by Lou

Wasn’t sure if I was dreaming last night or watching the unbelievable?  Rodrigo Lopez topping Roy Halladay in the Cubs 6-1 win?  Crazy stuff – I guess that’s why you play the games.

Lopez picked up his 2nd win of the season, scattering 5 hits over 6+ innings in an improbable win over arguably the best pitcher in baseball.  He did not walk a batter and only allowed 1 run on Jimmy Rollins solo home run in the 4th inning.  Manager Mike Quade decided to go with James Russell in the 7th after Lopez gave up 2 singles even though one single was erased on a double-play ball.  Jeff Samardzija pitched a perfect 8th inning.  Carlos Marmol made his 1st appearance since blowing 2 saves.  Marmol retired the 1st 2 batters he faced before walking 2 batters with 2 outs.  He got John Mayberry to strikeout to end the game.

Aramis Ramirez powered the Cubs offense with a solo home run and a sacrifice fly.  Carlos Pena had 3 hits including his 20th HR of the season.  Starlin Castro Darwin Barney and Marlon Byrd each had 2 hits in the win.

It doesn’t get any easier for the Cubs tonight.  They will try to beat another “Phillies ace” in Cliff Lee – Lee has dominated the Cubs of late – 4-0 with a 1.59 ERA in 5 career starts against the north siders.  Good luck with that Matt Garza…

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Cubs Lose Game, Series to Marlins – Rough Start to 2nd Half – Wrigley Field 7/18/11

Posted on 18 July 2011 by Lou

It was not the way the Cubs wanted to start their 2nd half of the 2011 season – with 3 losses in 4 games to the Marlins at Wrigley Field.  In Sunday’s 7-5 loss, Kerry Wood was the goat – giving up 3 ER on 2 hits and 2 walks in the 8th inning with the game tied at 4.  Just like that, the Cubs were on their way to another loss.

Randy Wells had pitched OK in his 6 innings – 4 ER on 8 hits and 3 walks with 4 K’s.  On a humid, steamy day, Wells gave the bullpen a much-needed break with his 102-pitch effort.  His 1.74 WHIP and 6.71 ERA are well above his career averages.  Coming off of a solid spring, Wells was injured in his 1st start and has struggled mightily since he returned to the Cubs starting rotation back on May 28th.

Aramis Ramirez had 2 hits, 2 RBI’s and a run scored in the loss.  He is now hitting .300 on the season.  Reed Johnson and Starlin Castro each had a hit, an RBI and a run scored in the game.

The Cubs host the Phillies at Wrigley Field for a 3-game set this week.  They get to face Roy Halladay tonight, Cliff Lee on Tuesday and rookie stud Vance Worley (5-1, 2.15 ERA) on Wednesday. Can you say sweep?!?!

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Marmol Wastes Garza Gem as Cubs Fall 6-3 – Wrigley Field 7/15/11

Posted on 15 July 2011 by Lou

What a joke – Carlos Marmol blew Matt Garza’s gem by allowing 5 runs in the 9th as the Cubs fell to the Marlins 6-3 to start the 2nd half on a down note.

Maybe the Cubs should consider dealing Marmol for some young talent in return…

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Matt Garza, Cubs Kick off 10-Game Homestand Against Anibal Sanchez and Florida Marlins – Wrigley Field 7/14/11

Posted on 14 July 2011 by Lou

Matt Garza and the Cubs will kick off their 10-game homestand against Anibal Sanchez and the Florida Marlins at Wrigley Field on Thursday night. The Cubs have the 2nd worst record in all of baseball at 37-55 and they are the only MLB team NOT to have at least a 3-game winning streak during the season.  Not much is expected from this mediocre squad in the 2nd half, but Garza and most Cubs fans hope that the big righty can have a solid 2nd half which will help justify trading away 4 prospects for the righty who needed a change of scenery from Tampa Bay.

Garza has made 16 starts this season, sporting a 4-7 record with a 1.34 WHIP and 4.26 ERA.  Garza is 2nd on the team with 99 strikeouts and he has walked only 33 batters in 95 innings.  Garza hopes to rebound from his last start in which he allowed 7 runs to the Washington Nationals in just 2 innings pitched…

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Castro Learns from All-Star Positives & Negatives – Wrigley Field 7/13/11

Posted on 13 July 2011 by Lou

It was an interesting 1st All-Star Game for Starlin Castro.  Caastro entered the game as a pinch runner for Troy Tulowitzki in the 5th runner.  Castro promptly stole 2nd and 3rd base to get into scoring position with less than 2 outs – a great feat for a “green” 21-year old.  But then Castro tried to score on a weak groundball hit slowly towards the pitcher’s mound and he was gunned out at the plate. And as we discussed yesterday, Castro’s one knock has been his propensity to commit errors in the field.  So we weren’t at all surprised when he cleanly fielded Carlos Quentin’s 1-out grounder in the 9th inning, but then threw the ball in the dirt allowing the A.L. to get a mini-rally going.  The A.L. never plated a run in the inning to close the 5-1 lead, but it could have turned into a disaster for Castro if his gaffe allowed the A.L. to get the win.  And so it goes for the young Castro.  He became only the 5th player to have 2 stolen bases in the same all-star game, putting his name in the company with legends like Willie Mays and Kenny Lofton.

Castro has been the Cubs best and most consistent since he came up to the big league club last May.  He has also shown some brilliant fielding prowess.  But he still makes that annoying error on routine plays and he still makes mental mistakes.  But he has clearly emerged as the Cubs best player and hopefully the Cubs will be able to surround him with a better core over the next few seasons as big contracts come off of the books at the end of the 2011 campaign.  Castro has also learned a lot from his short time in the big leagues, especially when Manager Mike Quade sat Castro for a few games last September when the superstar forget how many outs there were in the inning and didn’t run hard enough down the 1st base line as he grounded out into an inning-ending double play.  Despite that play, Castro has earned the honor and respect of Quade today — “Every experience is exactly what you make of it.  I watched him the entire time we were here, watched him interact with the greatest players on the planet, and I thought he handled himself really well.  It’s one thing to have the kind of talent he does, but when you go about your business the way he’s going about it, there’s a chance he’s really going to be something special.”

Gotta love it – now let’s hope he continues to improve on the field and that the Cubs make some smart decisions this off-season so that Castro has some help behind him…

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Starlin Castro Lone Cubs Representative in Tonight’s All-Star Game – Wrigley Field 7/12/11

Posted on 12 July 2011 by Lou

Starlin Castro is the Cubs lone representative in tonight’s All-Star Game at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona.  Now I know, Manager Quade was asked to be part of Bruce Bochy’s NL coaching staff, but gimme a break.  Quade has really under-achieved as a manager this season and it is clear that he will be back as an “assistant coach” somewhere else following the 2012 MLB season when his contract expires.

Castro has lived up to the hype once again with a solid sophomore season.  Castro is hitting .307 with an .335 on-base percentage.  He has 117 hits, 49 runs scored and 39 RBI’s.  He has walked 17 times while striking out 47 times.  He has 10 stolen bases and has only been caught stealing once.  The only negative is his fielding – he has committed a team high 18 errors on a team that has committed a whopping 77 errors.  That’s a lot of errors for a team that has played 92 games.

Good luck Starlin!

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Cubs Finish 1st Half with 2nd Worst Record in All of Baseball – Wrigley Field 7/11/11

Posted on 11 July 2011 by Lou

What a joke – after losing 7 of their last 10 games heading into the break, the Cubs finished with the 2nd worst record in all of baseball at 37-55.  Ouch…

The Cubs trail the Brewers and Cardinals by 12 games in the race for 1st place in the NL Central.  The Cubs trail the Braves by a whopping 17 games for the wild card spot.  Only the Houston Astros (30-62) have a worse record than the Cubs in all of baseball.

Starlin Castro has been the Cubs best and most consistent hitter all season – .307 batting average, 49 runs scored and 39 RBI’s.  Aramis Ramirez put together a phenomenal close to the 1st half to help his numbers look more like his career average numbers – .298 batting average, 15 HR’s and 51 RBI’s.  Carlos Pena leads the team with 19 HR’s after not hitting a single home run in the entire month of April.  And despite a stint on the DL, Alfonso Soriano has put up decent numbers – 14 HR’s and 41 RBI’s.

The pitching stats are not pretty.  Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster are tied for the team lead in wins with 6.  Matt garza has the best starter ERA at 4.26.  Dempster leads the team with 102 K’s while Garza is right on his heels with 99.

Let’s go Cubs — at least it can’t get much worse than what we’ve seen in the 1st half, right?!?!

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