Archive | Alfonso Soriano

No Clutch Hitting = 2-0 Loss for Cubs in Atlanta

Posted on 23 June 2009 by Lou

Cubs Braves Baseball

The old demons are back – the Cubs lost to the Braves 2-0 on Monday night in Atlanta.  Despite getting 10 hits and 3 walks, the Cubs left 18 runners on base and got shut out.  Beautiful.  Andres Blanco led the Cubs with 4 LOB, while Kosuke Fukodome, Jake Fox and Derrek Lee each had 3 LOB.  Fox had 2 hits filling in for Alfonso Soriano in left field, but they never came at the right time. Same could be said for Blanco who also had 2 hits.  There were 5 innings in which the Cubs had at least 2 runners reach base, but they could never push over a run.

Ryan Dempster pitched well enough to earn a win, but Manager Lou Pinella may have left him in the game too long.  Down 1-0 after 6 innings, Pinella opted to let Dempster lead off the top of the 7th inning – he made an out.  The next 2 Cubs reached base, but Fox and Lee failed to move them home.  Who knows what would have happened if Pinella had sent up a pinch-hitter instead of Dempster.  Then Dempster got into trouble in the bottom of the 7th inning, allowing the Braves 2nd run of the game on a Chipper Jones sacrifice fly.  Pinella then pulled Dempster after 118 pitches, 8 hits, 4 walks and 6 K’s.  While it was another quality start for Dempster, he was constantly working out of jams from the 3rd inning on and he fell to 4-5 on the season.

Pinella gave Milton Bradley and Soriano the night off to get ready for interleague play this week against the Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox.  The Cubs did not lose any ground in the NL Central race as the New York Mets defeated the St. Louis Cardinals at CITI Field in New York.  The Cards still lead the Cubs by 2.5 games.

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Have the Cubs “Righted” the Ship?

Posted on 22 June 2009 by Lou

Indians Cubs Baseball

Have the Cubs “righted” the ship?  The upcoming 10-game road trip to Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago (against the White Sox at US Cellular Field) and Pittsburgh should shed a lot of light on that question.

After starting the just-completed home stand at Wrigley Field with 3 losses in 4 games, it was not looking good for the Cubs.  But with miraculous come-from-behind victories on Thursday against the White Sox and Friday and Saturday against the Indians, a calm seemed to settle over the Cubs.  A calm similar to that possessed by the Cubs in 2008 when the finished with the best record in the National League.  On Sunday, the Cubs cruised through a 6-2 win over the Indians to complete the sweep over Cleveland and get Randy Wells his 1st major league victory.

Key players have started to swing the bat better during the 4-game winning streak.  Derrek Lee has an 18-game hitting streak and now has his average up to .287.  Milton Bradley has a 10-game hitting streak and has his batting average up to .248.  Ryan Theriot has a modest 7-game hitting streak and now has his average heading back to the .300 mark at .282.  And Geovany Soto has hits in 4 of his last 5 games and his batting average at .225.  Not where their career numbers are, but at least they are trending in the right direction.  Alfonso Soriano is the only Cubs player still in his hitting funk – with only 4 hits in his last 7 games.  Luckily, 2 of those hits helped the Cubs win recent ball games, but his batting average still sits at .224.  Despite the bad numbers, he still leads the Cubs with 14 HR’s and 43 runs scored.

Jake Fox and Micah Hoffpauir continue to provide sparks every so often, and seem more comfortable in the part-time contributing roles.

The starting pitching staff continues to go out there and throw quality starts, so they are keeping the Cubs in ball games.  As long as they continue to pitch well, if the Cubs bats consistently provide 4-5 runs per game, the Cubs should win more than they lose.

The Cubs are 34-31 and they trail the Cards by 2.5 games.  The Cubs take on the Braves in Atlanta tonight – making up a game that was rained out at the beginning of June.  Ryan Dempster takes on Javier Vasquez.

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Back-to-Back Dramatic Wins for Cubs – Top Indians 8-7 in 10 @ Rocking Wrigley Field

Posted on 20 June 2009 by Lou

Indians Cubs Baseball

2 – for -2 – as the Cubs made it 2 dreamatic come-from-behind wins in a row, topping the Indians 8-7 in 10 innings.  The Cubs last 3 wins have come as the walk-off variety at Wrigley Field, including the last 2 days against the White Sox in the 9th inning on Thursday and the Indians in the 10th inning on Friday.

It didn’t look like the Cubs were going to build off the momentum of Thursday’s big win over the White Sox in the series finale of the cross-town classic.  The Cubs trailed the Indians 7-0 in the 5th inning and Cliff Lee was dominating the Cubs in every way.  Rich Harden had a poor outing – 7 ER on 7 hits and 3 walks, including a pair of 3-run home runs to Luis Valbuena and Victor Martinez.  But the Cubs didn’t give up. The bullpen kept the Cubs in the game with 5 scoreless innings – David Patten, Aaron Heilman, Jose Ascansio, Carlos Marmol and Kevin Gregg – and the Cubs hitters kept chipping away at the 7-run lead.

Reed Johnson hit a solo home run in the 5th inning and Derrek Lee followed suit with a solo shot of his own in the 6th inning.  With the lead 7-2 starting the bottom of the 8th inning, Milton Bradley got a big leadoff single that knocked Lee out of the ball game.  The Indians have one of the worst bullpens in the league, so no lead is safe with them.  As was the case at Wrigley on Friday afternoon.  A Geovany Soto double and a Reed Johnson loaded the bases with 2 outs.  Then the fun began.  Andres Blanco hit a 2-RBI single to right field and Koyie Hill smoked a hard groundball to 3rd bases that Jhonny Peralta couldn’t handle.  It was ruled an error, but in any event, the Cubs had cut the lead to 7-5.  Soriano cut the Indians lead to just 1 run with a single to center field.  Ah the Drama.

Carlos Marmol worked out of a 9th inning 1st and 2nd, 2-out jam, by striking out Martinez to end the threat.  The Indians brought in former Cubs closer Kerry Wood to close out the 1-run win for the Indians, but he promptly served up a 1-out game-tying homer to Derrek Lee that sent the Wrigley faithful into a tizzy.

Kevin Gregg had to escape a rough 10th inning as well – a single, 2 errors and a HBP led to a 2-out bases loaded jam.  But Gregg got pinch-hitter Ryan Garko to line out to center field on a great sliding catch by Kosuke Fukodome to preserve the 7-7 tie.

In the 10th, the Cubs used small ball once again to get the job done.  With 2 outs, Alfsonso Soriano coaxed a walk and stole 2nd base to get into scoring position.  Ryan Theriot hit a hard ground ball towards the right side that took a bad hop to evade the glove of Martinez.  Soriano scored easily from 2nd and the Cubs had the 8-7 win. Cubs win!  Cubs Win! Cubs Win!

It was not a great day for former Cubs Wood, but Mark DeRosa put in a solid 1 for 3 effort, with 2 walks, 1 RBI and 1 run scored.

Let’s hope the Cubs can get out to an early lead on Saturday behind Ted Lilly.  It would be the Cubs first 3-game winning streak in a very long time…

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Cubs Pull off Dramatic 6-5 Win Over Sox in Bottom of 9th Inning

Posted on 19 June 2009 by Lou

White Sox Cubs Baseball

The Cubs defeated the White Sox 6-5 in the bottom of the 9th inning.  I was getting ready to write my same old blog post over again – Cubs waste good outing from Cubs starting pitcher “X”; Cubs hitters can’t get clutch hit and score only 1 run; Cubs lose… again… – but then the baseball gods smiled upon the Cubs and fans at Wrigley Field.  Micah Hoffpauir had a good at-bat against reliever Scott Linebrink and eventually hit a hard-hit groundball to 2nd base that Chris Getz’s misplayed for an error.  Alfonso Soriano then singled to center field for 1st and 2nd with only 1 out.  Then it looked like the Cubs were back to their usual hitting ways – a Ryan Theriot popout and a Milton Bradley strikeout.  Two on, two outs for Derrek Lee and with 1 swing of the bat, Lee crushed Linebrink’s pitch to righ field for a 3-run home run.  Geovany Soto then cruched a solo home run to left center field to tie the game at 5.

Kevin Gregg worked a scoreless 9th inning despite giving up a leadoff single to Alexei Ramirez.  And the Cubs played small ball to perfection in the bottom of the inning.  Reed Johnson pinch-hit for the 0 for 3 Kosuke Fukodome and singled to lead off the inning.  Andres Blanco sacrificed Johnson to 2nd base to put the winning run into scoring position.  After an Aaron Miles groundout, Alfonso Soriano hit a bloop single to right center field that drove in Johnson with the winning run.

Carlos Zambrano pitched a good game – 7 innings, 6 hits, 3 walks and 3 ER with 3 K’s.  Big Z made only 1 bad pitch all day – that a fastball to Alexei Ramirez in the top of the 7th inning which Ramirez took deep to left to give the White Sox a 3-1 lead.  The game looked finished when Carlos Marmol took over for Zambrano and promptly gave the White Sox 2 insurance runs on a Chris Getz double and a Gordon Beckham single.  But the Cubs never gave up and pulled off the improbable win to the delight of the “Wrigley Faithful”.

The Cubs moved back to .500 with the win at 31-31.  They trail the Brewers by 4 games in the NL Central.

White Sox Cubs Baseball

White Sox Cubs Baseball

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Different Day, Same Old Story for Cubs in 4-1 Loss to White Sox

Posted on 18 June 2009 by Lou

White Sox Cubs Baseball

The White Sox defeated the Cubs 4-1 in the opener of the Cross-Town Classic at Wrigley Field.  John Danks pitched into the 8th inning and stymied the over-matched Cubs hitters all game long.  Danks gave up only 1 ER on 5 hits and picked up his 5th win of the 2009 MLB schedule.  Danks had 9 strikeouts and did not walk a batter in only 99 pitches.

As we’re getting used to, the Cubs blew way too many early opportunities early in the game – 1st and 2nd nobody out in the 2nd inning and 1st and 3rd nobody out in the 4th inning.  The Cubs came away empty-handed each time and then started pressing the rest of the way, swinging at way too many 1st pitches and not forcing Danks to work deeper into counts.  The Cubs got their only run on an Alfonso Soriano RBI groundout in the bottom of the 8th inning, but by then the game was aleady in the bag.

Ryan Dempster pitched OK, but did not have the control that has kept him in so many ballgames over the years.  He labored through 104 pitches in 6 innings, giving up 3 ER on 4 hits and 6 walks. He had 4 strikeouts but it was really not a typical solid outing from Dempster.  The loss dropped him to 4-4 on the season.  The Cubs are now back under .500 at 30-31.  They trail the Brewers by 4.5 games in the NL Central race.

The Cubs and White Sox play the abbreviated finale on Thursday afternoon at Wrigley Field.  Carlos Zambrano takes the bump for the Cubs against Gavin Floyd of the White Sox.

White Sox Cubs Baseball

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Cubs Replace Hitting Coach Gerald Perry with Von Joshua

Posted on 15 June 2009 by Lou

Twins Cubs Baseball

With the Cubs hitting funk getting worse and worse, the Cubs decided to make a move by replacing Cubs hitting coach Gerald Perry with Triple-A Iowa hitting coach Von Joshua.  GM Jim Hendry had this to say about the move:  “Obviously, we’ve been struggling for a long time.  I’m not one to dump all the blame on the coaches.  I’ve never mad a coaching change to my knowledge in the middle of the year.  I think sometimes you need a different voice.  Every day, we have five guys in the lineup who have played in the All-Star Game.  For whatever reason, they are not performing anywhere close to where they’ve performed in their careers.  Sometimes you have to try something different, and sometimes it’s a different voice maybe saying the same things.”

Von Joshua has been a hitting coach since 1984.  He is in his 4th year at Iowa and has worked with several of the young Cubs players on the major league roster, including Ryan Theriot, Micah Hoffpauir and Mike Fontenot.  Joshua also worked at the big league level with the cross-town rival Chicago White Sox.

The move was tough on Manager Lou Pinella who had Perry on his staffs in both Seattle and Chicago.  “It’s tough on me, because I’ve been with Gerald a long time, six years.  This was an organizational decision.  Gerald and I were together in Seattle and together here in Chicago.  We’ve had success together.  I thank him for all the hard work that he’s put in on my staffs.”

It has been frustrating for everyone involved.  In 2008, the Cubs led the National League in runs scored.  But in 2009, the Cubs rank 14th and are hitting only .246 as a team.  Ryan Theriot has the highest batting average of any starter at .278 – what a joke.  Alfonso Soriano is hitting .233; Kosuke Fukodome only .266 after starting the season well over .300; Milton Bradley only .226 and Geovany Soto only .209.  When the Cubs lost 2-0 to the Twins on Saturday, it was the 13th time in the last 23 games in which the Cubs have scored 2 runs or less in a ball game.  Not good. Not good.

I guess it can’t get any worse, and maybe having a new coach working with the players could help.  Maybe he’ll spot something on a player or 2 that Perry missed, and once 1 or 2 guys start to get hot, it could have a snowball effect at some point down the line.  Trying to stay optimistic here…

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Cubs Losing Streak Hits 3; Drop Opener to Twins 7-4

Posted on 13 June 2009 by Lou

cubs suck 1

Guess it wasn’t home cooking that the Cubs needed to get back on the winning side of things.  The Twins beat the Cubs 7-4 in the opener of the 3-game weekend series at Wrigley Field between the 2 teams.  It was only the third win for the Twins in 10 tries at the Friendly Confines.

Different day, same old story for the Cubs.  No hitting, no hitting, no hitting.  The Cubs managed just 6 hits and 1 walk off of 6 Twins pitchers.  The Cubs had 12 strikeouts at the plate today, including 10 by starter Kevin Slowey.  In fact, the Cubs had only 1 good hitting inning – in the 6th, the Cubs got back-to-back singles from Aaron Miles and Bobby Scales to lead off the inning.  After an Alfonso Soriano K, Mike Fontenot walked to load the bases.  Milton Bradley had the big hit with a 2-RBI double, and Derrek Lee followed with an RBI groundout to cut the Twins lead to 4-3.  But that’s where things turned in the wrong direction for Bradley and the Cubs.

On the Lee groundout, Bradley ran into an easy tag out by Joe Crede at 3rd base, taking away another scoring opportunity by staying at 2nd base and in scoring position.  The next inning, with a runner at 1st base, Bradley lost Jason Kubel’s lazy flyball to right field in the sun.  Instead of a man on 1st and 2 outs, it became 2 men on with 1 out.  Then with 2 outs and 2 on still, Bradley got a bad jump on a ball hit to shallow right field, and his diving attempt fell just short as the ball scooted under his glove.  That allowed a run to score.  Then, as if those plays weren’t bad enough, Bradley lost track of the number of outs in the 8th inning.  With 1st and 3rd and 1 out, Bradley caught Joe Mauer’s flyball to right and thought it was the 3rd out of the inning.  Nick Punto tagged from 3rd and scored, but when Bradley through the ball to the fans in the bleachers, Brendan Harris was awarded 3rd base for his error.  It’s bad enough that Bradley’s numbers are awful and he’s always hurt.  But when you’re not in the game, it makes it look like you’re not even trying.  Hendry should be seriously criticized for the Bradley signing – what a joke.

Randy Wells had his worst outing of 2009.  After the Cubs failed to even make a dent in 2 inings against Slowey, it looked like Wells lost his focus.  Given how much support they’ve given him in his previous 5 starts, it’s hard not to forgive Wells for bailing out early in this contest.  Wells lasted just 3 2/3 innings, giving up 4 earned runs on 7 hits and 2 walks.  Oh well.

Manager Lou Pinella mixed things up a bit with his lineup in an effort to jumpstart the offense.  Here are some good numbers for you – Mike Fontenot in the 2 hole – 0 for 2 with a walk and K; Geovany Soto in the 5 hole – 0 for 4 with 2 K’s; Kosuke Fukodome in the 6 hole – 0 for 4 with 3 K’s; & Ryan Theriot in the 7 hole – 0 for 4 with 2 K’s.  Guess it’s back to the drawing board Lou.

There’s always tomorrow, and pretty soon, we’re all going to be saying, there’s always next year…

cubs suck 2

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Cubs Win Ugly in 14 Innings in Cincinnati

Posted on 08 June 2009 by Lou

Cubs Reds Baseball

The Cubs 6-3 win over the Reds in Cincinnati on Sunday wasn’t pretty – but they will take it, especially since the Brewers and Cards lost too.  With the win, the Cubs moved just 1.5 game behind the Cards and 3.5 games behind the Brewers in the NL Central race.

Once again, the Cubs bats left a lot to be desired.  The Cubs managed only 12 hits in 14 innings.  The Cubs scored 1 run in the 1st inning on Ryan Theriot’s solo home run and 2 runs in the 3rd inning on Derrek Lee’s 2-out 2-run single, but they didn’t score another run until their 3-run “outburst” in the top of the 14th inning. Alfonso Soriano led off the inning with a solo home run.  Ryan Theriot singled and Kosuke Fukodome walked, and after a Derrek Lee foul out, Mike Fontenot drove in the 2nd run of the inning with an infield single.  Reed Johnson then doubled home Fukodome to give the Cubs the 6-3 lead.

The Cubs used 8 pitchers in all.  David Patton picked up his 2nd win of the season by pitching a scoreless 13th inning.  Angel Guzman picked up his 1st career major-league save by working a scoreless bottom of the 14th inning.  Randy Wells turned in another solid start – 6 2/3 innings, 7 hits, 2 earned runs, 1 walk and 4 K’s.  And once again he did not get the win – because of a familiar character – Carlos Marmol.  Marmol faced only 2 batters in the 8th inning and he walked them both.  By this time, Manager Lou Pinella had seen enough and he yanked Marmol for Aaron Heilman.  Heilmand minimized the damage as best as he could by allowing only 1 run to score.  The most impressive outing may have come from Jose Ascansio, however.  Ascansio worked 3 scoreless innings in the 10th, 11th and 12th to keep the Cubs in the game.  He did give up 2 hits and 2 walks, but he was able to navigate through some tricky waters to get through his 3 innings unscathed.

The Cubs are now 28-26.  The Cubs can rest on Monday with a scheduled day off, and then make the trip to Houston to take on the Astros.  Heres how the match-ups look:  Ted Lilly v. Brian Moehler on Tuesday night; Carlos Zambrano v. Wandy Rodriguez on Wednesday night; and Ryan Dempster v. Roy Oswalt on Thursday afternoon.

Cubs Reds Baseball

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Marmol & Gregg Blow Another Great Randy Wells Start, Cubs Lose 6-5

Posted on 03 June 2009 by Lou

Cubs Braves Baseball

Randy Wells must have the patience of Yoda.  In 5 major league starts, Wells has pitched 32 innings, giving up only a total of 6 earned runs, 24 hits and 7 walks good for a 1.69 ERA and 0.97 WHIP.  Based on those stats, you would think that Wells is 5-0, 4-1 or maybe even 3-1.  But guess what it really is – 0-2.  Yes, that’s right, he still hasn’t earned a major league win yet, and that includes games in which he has left the game where the Cubs have had a 4-0 lead and a 5-1 lead.

The latest debacle came on Tuesday night in the opener of the Cubs important 9-game road trip.  For this disaster, I actually blame 3 people – Manager Lou Pinella and relievers Carlos Marmol and Kevin Gregg.  First Pinella – Wells pitched a no-hitter through 6 innings and gave up the first hit of the game with 2 outs in the 7th inning to Chipper Jones.  After Jones reached, Wells was just fine as he got Brian McCann to ground out to end the inning.  With the Cubs leading 5-0 and Wells’ pitch count still under 80 pitches to start the bottom of the 8th inning, this should have been Wells’ game to finish off, especially given the tough luck he has endured over his 1st 4 major league starts.  Wells served up a leadoff home run to Garrett Anderson, and then Martin Prado reached 1st on a weak grounder to shortstop and Derrek Lee’s fielding error.  With his pitch count still at only 83, Pinella decided to take Wells out and bring in Carlos Marmol.  Big mistake.  Wells was about to face the last 3 hitters in the Braves lineup (none of whom had gotten a hit so far).  And while Pinella probably felt like he would bring in his top 2 relievers to finish off the win without any problems, those to relievers – Marmol and Gregg have been so inconsistent this year, there was no assurance that these 2 guys would be able to preserve the 4-run lead.  And guess what happened – these 2 guys blew it.

Marmol walked Jeff Francoeur amd got Gregor Blanco to line out to right field on a great play by Kosuke Fukodome.  Marmol then hit pinch-hitter Greg Norton with a pitch (loading the bases) and walked Kelly Johnson to give the Braves an easy run.  Marmol got Yunar Escobar to hit a run-scoring sacrifice fly to Kosuke Fukodome on another good play and retired Chipper Jones on a full-count pitch to preserve the 5-3 lead.  Granted Marmol minimized the damage that he created himself, but if Pinella had left Wells in the game, I am confident that Wells would have finished the 8th with a 5-1 lead.

Now move on to the 9th inning.  For once, Kevin Gregg actually got the lead off out.  But when Gregg struck out Garrett Anderson, his off-speed pitch was very wild and allowed Anderson to reach 1st base.  Gregg got Prado to fly out to center field for the 2nd out, but Jeff Francoeur stroke a 2-run game-tying home run off Gregg to tie the game at 5-5.  Now I know Pinella said that the base runner should not have even been on base because of the quirky wild pitch, but he was and Gregg had to deal with it.  Gregg has been downright awful for the Cubs, and Pinella needs to replace him as the Cubs closer.  Gregg has a 5.24 ERA, a 1.66 WHIP and he has issued 13 walks in 22 1/3 innings.  Not good.

Now I know Marmol isn’t much better – 23 walks in 24 innings and a 1.50 WHIP, but he’s only given up 13 hits and 1 HR (as opposed to 24 hits and 5 HR’s for Gregg in 2 less innings) and he does have that deadly strikeout pitch – 27 K’s in all.   For the good of the time and for morale purposes, Pinella needs to make a drastic move, and that move should start with the closer.  Gregg is not dependable and he cannot be trusted to hold a lead anymore.  Maybe in a less stressful 9th inning role, Gregg will be more effective.

Well I have ranted enough.  Pinella, Marmol and Gregg blew a perfectly phenomenal start from Wells… again.  The game was over when Francoeur hit that HR off Gregg – it just took until the 12th inning on Chipper Jones’ walk-off single to make it official. The Marmol/Gregg disaster also ruined good starts from Alfonso Soriano (who hit a lead off HR), Derrek Lee who had an RBI double and a solo home run and Kosuke Fukodome and Mike Fontenot who each had 2 hits.

It would have been a great way for the Cubs to start the brutal 9-game road trip – especially after going winless on their last road trip, but I guess it wasn’t meant to be.  The Brewers and cards keep leaving openings for the Cubs to make a move in the NL Central race, and the Cubs keep making the same move in response – tripping over the own feet in defeat…

Cubs Braves Baseball

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Jake Peavy, Padres Hand Cubs 5th Straight Loss

Posted on 23 May 2009 by Lou

Cubs Padres Baseball

The bad news keeps rolling in for the Cubs.  Jake Peavy and the Padres dominated the Cubs on Friday night at Petco Park in San Diego.  Peavy pitched 6 scoreless innings giving up only 2 hits and 4 walks while striking out 10.  Even the Padres relievers got in on the fun.  25-year old Luke Gregerson kept the Cubs scoreless over 1 2/3 innings while striking out 3.  25-year old Edward Mujica also worked a scoreless inning while striking out 3.  Heath Bell came into a jam in the top of the 9th – with 2 on and 2 out, Bell walked Kosuke Fukodome to load the bases, but got Derrek Lee to pop out to 1st base to end the game and record his 12th save of the season.

Check out the Cubs lineup that Lou Pinella threw out there:

Soriano .263

Theriot .276

Fukodome .320

Lee .240

Hoffpauir .297

Scales .286

Hill .300

Miles .207

Bradley (.182), Soto (.206) & Fontenot (.193) were each out of the lineup for the Cubs.  It’s a joke out there.  With Aramis Ramirez out of the lineup until at least July, if GM Jim Hendry doesn’t add a few pieces to the Cubs roster soon, the Cubs could find themselves way behind the Brewers and Cards by the All-Star Break.

One positive, Carlos Zambrano returned from his stint on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring.  Big Z was on a pitch count and showed some rusty signs – making 97 pitches in 4 2/3 innings, walking 4 and giving up 3 earned runs on 3 hits.  He did have 7 K’s.

The Cubs are on a 5-game losing streak and are now 21-19.  They trail the Brewers by 4 games, the Cardinals by 3 games and the Reds by a half game.  Not good.

Cubs Padres Baseball

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