Archive | March, 2012

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Maholm, ‘Pen Look Sharp in 3-3 Tie with Angels – Wrigley Field 3/31/12

Posted on 31 March 2012 by Lou

Paul Maholm looked good in his 2nd to last start of the spring – a 3-3 tie with the Angels.  Maholm worked almost 5 innings, giving up 2 ER on 3 hits and a walk.  He struck out 6 and had some nice control of all of his pitches.  Maholm could surprise this season as the Cubs 5th pitcher in the rotation.  Carlos Marmol, Rafael Dolis and James Russell also tossed scoreless perfect innings of relief to keep the score tied at 3.

The Cubs managed just 6 singles and doubles by Joe Mather and Darwin Barney in 10 innings and it looks like consistent offense could plague the Cubs again in 2012.  The Cubs are going to need a lot of clutch timely hitting this year as the rotation and bullpen will likely keep the Cubs in a bunch of games.  Then it will come down to the hitters coming through when they have runners on base and taking advantage of errors committed by the opposition – something they have struggled to do each of the last 2 seasons.

We’ll see how it goes, but spring training is quietly closing up and we’ll have “real” games very very soon on the north side of Chicago…

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Cubs Unveil 2012 Starting Lineup in 6-3 Loss to Dodgers – Wrigley Field 3/30/12

Posted on 30 March 2012 by Lou

The Cubs unveiled their 2012 starting lineup in Friday’s 6-3 loss to the Dodgers.  Here it is:  David DeJesus in Right Field; Darwin Barney at 2B; Starlin Castro at SS; Bryan LaHair at 1B; Alfonso Soriano in Left Field; Ian Stewart at 3B; Marlon Byrd in Center Field and Geovany Soto at catcher.

The team managed only 3 runs on 6 hits in the loss, but at least we know what we can expect from Manager Dale Sveum for at least the early part of the season.

Go Cubs Go!!!

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Samardzija Earns #3 Spot in Starting Rotation – Wrigley Field 3/29/12

Posted on 29 March 2012 by Lou

Jeff Samardzija locked up the 3rd spot in the Cubs starting rotation with his 6 scoreless innings against the Cleveland Indians in the Cubs 2-0 win on Wednesday.  He scattered 3 hits and just 1 walk while striking out 5.  He has had good outings this spring, but that was by far his best performance to date.  The pressure was on, as Samardzija knew he had to bounce back from his last outing when the Rockies rocked the big righty for 7 ER.  He answered the call and it looks like all the hard work that he put in this off-season – he showed up in Arizona back in November – really paid off.

Manager Dale Sveum had this to say about picking Samardzija – “I’s say it convinced me more than anything.  He did a good job yesterday, especially because they had seven or eight left-handers in their lineup, which is always a test against a right-handed pitcher.  He kept them off-balance, got weak popups.  That shows he was controlling bat speed and doing a good job of it.”

Samardzija was thrilled and relieved: “We just kind of said thanks to each other, for me personally to get the opportunity to do it and they were happy I didn’t take it for granted and just show up and go through the motions.  It felt good… You don’t know how many opportunities you’re going to get to start.  I really wanted to give this a full head of steam and have a full shot.”

This is a great move. I like the idea of 2 veterans at the front of the rotation – Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza.  Then you can throw Samardzija out there against other teams’ # 3′s and he is going to surprise a lot of people.  Then you have a Chris Volstad who has had a good spring and may have favorable match-ups against some weaker starters.  And then you might see Paul Maholm really take advantage of being in the #5 spot in the rotation.  That will give him a little extra time with an extended spring to get up to full game strength, and he has been around the block once or twice.  This rotation is going to surprise some people – you heard it hear 1st!

The Cubs also optioned Randy Wells back down to Triple-A Iowa…

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Maholm Back on Track in 2-0 Win Over Padres – Wrigley Field 3/27/12

Posted on 27 March 2012 by Lou

Paul Maholm was named the Cubs 5th starter, but with more outings like this, he could be a #1-4 in any team’s rotation.  Maholm who battled the flu early in the spring and has been behind due to that, finally got in a long outing in Monday’s 2-0 win over the Padres.  He pitched 5 scoreless innings, scattering 4 hits and 2 walks, while striking out 6.  He lowered his ERA to 0.90 and he could be a nice surprise for the Cubs at the back end of the rotation.

The rest of the bullpen was just as masterful after Maholm departed in the 6th.  Carlos Marmol allowed 2 runners on in the 6th inning, but got out of the game without giving up a run.  Casey Coleman worked 2 scoreless innings allowing just 1 hit with 2 K’s.  And spring training surprise Rafael Dolis looks to have all but assured himself a spot in the bullpen with another scoreless outing.  He gave up a walk in the 9th but closed the door on any Padres comeback.  He has yet to allow an earned run this spring.

The Cubs scored a run in each of the 1st 2 innings to give Maholm a little cushion and the rest was history. You would have liked to see more than 2 runs on 7 hits, but a win is a win, even in spring training.

Go Cubs Go!

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Garza Has Solid Outing; Sveum Names Dempster Opening Day Starter – Wrigley Field 3/23/12

Posted on 23 March 2012 by Lou

Matt Garza worked 5 strong innings in the Cubs 11-4 win over the Texas Rangers on Thursday.  He scattered 2 hits and 3 walks during his outing and all 3 runs that the Rangers scored in the 4th inning were unearned due to erros by Darwin Barney and Bryan LaHair.  He struck out 3 batters and tried to make it tough on Manager Dale Sveum who was about to name his opening day starter.

But at the end of the day, it was Ryan Dempster who gets the opening day nod for the 2nd consecutive season.  Dempster will square off against Nats’ phenom Stephen Strasburg on Thursday April 5th at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field.  Sveum also named Paul Malholm his 5th starter and reserved the right to name his 3rd and 4th starters until later next week.  Jeff Samardzija, Chris Volstad, Randy Wells and Rodrigo Lopez are fighting for the final 2 spots in the starting rotation. We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear anything on that front…

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Cubs Impress in Split Squad Games; Marmol OK – Wrigley Field 3/21/12

Posted on 21 March 2012 by Lou

The Cubs impressed in split squad games and Carlos Marmol is going to be just fine.

Even though the Cubs lost to the Rangers 6-2, it wasn’t all bad.  Ryan Dempster worked 6 innings of 2 run ball.  He scattered 4 hits – one of which was a 2-run jack in the 2nd inning – and 2 walks with 3 K’s.  Dempster appears to be on track to make his 2nd consecutive opening day start at Wrigley Field when the Cubs battle Stephen Strasburg and the Washington Nationals on April 5th at the Friendly Confines.

Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo each had 2 hits for the Cubs.

Carlos Marmol left the game after retiring only 2 batters in the 7th inning due to cramps in his hand.  He has experienced cramping during spring training and he does not think it will be a problem.  An MRI today confirmed no damage to his neck or upper shoulder area and he will get a few days off and be re-evaluated later this week.  But it is great news that it appears that Marmol avoided any serious injury.

And although the A’s rallied to tie the Cubs in the 9th inning, Rodrigo Lopez worked an efficient 5 innings – just 1 ER on 3 hits and 1 walk with 4 K’s.  Lopez will not gain a spot in the starting rotation, but he could prove useful as a nice veteran arm in the bullpen in 2012.  After struggling all spring, Tony Campana went 4 for 5 and scored a run.

The Cubs get a much-needed day off today.

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Talk About Bad – Travis Wood Has Another Miserable Outing – Wrigley Field 3/19/12

Posted on 19 March 2012 by Lou

Travis Wood has had 2 bad starts this spring, so he got just what he needed in his 3rd start today.  The Cubs scored 7 runs in the 1st inning to stake Wood to a nice 7-0 lead.  All he had to do was come out and throw strikes and get outs.  Well it didn’t work out that way, and his poor spring performance has all but assured Jeff Samardzija and Chris Volstad of the final 2 spots in the Cubs starting rotation heading into 2012.  Sure Randy Wells has pitched well too, but he has been given the opportunity as a starter already and he really hasn’t taken advantage of it.  It’s time for Samardzija to be given the chance to go out there and prove that he is a legitimate MLB starter.  And with how dominant Volstad has been so far this spring, there’s almost no way to justify not making him your 4th or 5th starter.

But back to Wood – he gave back 2 runs in the bottom of the 1st on a Ichiro HR.  In the 2nd, after giving up a run-scoring single to Chone Figgins, Wood threw a wild pitch that allowed Figgins to score to cut the lead to 7-4.  In the bottom of the 3rd, he gave up a 2-run jack to Jesus Montero and then a game-tying solo HR to Kyle Seager.  All 3 homers served up by Wood were the 1st homers for each player this spring.  Not good.  That was all Manager Dale Sveum needed to see in the 3rd as he yanked Wood after just 2+ innings – 7 runs, all earned on 7 hits and 2 walks.  WOW!  That Travis Wood for Sean Marshall deal is sure looking like a big mistake now.  Let’s hope a year at Triple-A will help get Wood back on track.

Gotta love the Cubs bats today.  They didn’t hit one HR in that 7-run 1st inning and all 7 runs were ER.  A Starlin Castro double, an Alfonso Soriano sac fly, a Jeff Baker single, a 2-run single by Joe Mather, a David DeJesus single and then a Darwin Barney double.  Can’t complain about solid hitting like that.

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day 2012 – Wrigley Field 3/17/12

Posted on 17 March 2012 by Lou

Happy St. Patrick’s Day from your friends at MyCubsToday.com!  Celebrate and enjoy the amazing weather!

Couple of Cubs side notes from yesterday -

Matt Garza worked 4 innings, giving up 2 ER on 3 hits and 1 walk with 3 K’s.  It was a much better outing for the big righty.

Anthony Rizzo clubbed his 2nd home run of the spring.

The Cubs out-hit the Giants 7-6, but still lost 3-2.

Go Cubs Go!!!

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Bad Day For Cubs – 2 Losses & Players Injured – Wrigley Field 3/16/12

Posted on 16 March 2012 by Lou

Thursday was a bad day for the Cubs, as each split squad suffered a bad loss, with players getting injured.

The D’Backs roughed up Ryan Dempster in a 12-2 drubbing. Dempster surrendered 3 ER on 8 hits in just 3 2/3 innings of work.  He did have 3 K’s though.

The Rockies also handed the Cubs a 7-5 loss.  Rodrigo Lopez gave up 2 ER on 6 hits in his 3 innings of work.

Darwin Barney was a late scratch with a leg injury.  Ian Stewart had a similar issue.  And Blake DeWitt was hit with a pitch on his hand and it is unknown how severe the injury is.

Wow – what a dousy.  Let’s hope the weekend produces better results for the Cubbies…

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Volstad Impressive Again – Cubs Top Reds 5-4 – Wrigley Field 3/14/12

Posted on 14 March 2012 by Lou

Chris Volstad has a new lease on life and he has Cubs new pitching coach Chris Bosio to thank for it.  Bosio has worked a little magic already with a few Cubs pitchers and it is paying off big time.  Volstad tossed another gem in his 2nd start of the spring.  He went 3 scoreless innings giving up just 2 hits with no walks and 1 strikeout.  He and Jeff Samardzija have been the biggest surprises of the spring thus far and are going to make it tough on Bosio and Dale Sveum when figuring out the starting rotation in the next few weeks.

Lefty reliever Scott Maine worked a scoreless inning and he too has impressed so far.  Maine has not given up an earned run this spring.

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