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Ted Lilly & Derrek Lee Red-Hot Finish in 2009

Posted on 14 September 2009 by Lou

Reds Cubs Baseball

Ted Lilly and Derrek Lee keep providing solid efforts down the stretch here in a frustrating 2009 MLB season for the Cubbies.

Lilly notched his 12th win of the season, pitching 6 scoreless innings.  His pitch count was very high – 119 pitches – so Manager Lou Pinella took him out after the 6 innings.  Lilly gave up 6 hits and 2 walks while striking out 7.  With the outing, Lilly lowered his ERA to 3.17 and his WHIP to 1.08.  Pretty sweet numbers in 25 starts in 2009.

Derrek Lee, meanwhile, kept on raking at the plate.  Lee increased his batting average to .302 with a 3 for4 4 performance at the plate.  He had 1 RBI on a solo home run in the 7th inning and he scored 2 runs.  Lee continues to lead the Cubs offense in most categories – HR’s, RBI’s, runs scored.

Andres Blanco has also put together a few nice games for the Cubs here down the stretch.  Blanco had 3 hits and 2 RBI’s on a single in the 4th inning that gave the Cubs a 3-0 lead.  Could we see a Jeff Baker / Andres Blanco platoon at 2nd base in 2010?

Aramis Ramirez also had another solid game – 2 hits and 1 run scored.  Ramirez is now hitting .322 with a .382 on-base percentage…

In what should have been a meaningful September series with playoff implications, the Cubs battle the Brewers in 4 meaningful games at Wrigley Field this week.  At 73-68, the Cubs are 9.5 games back of the Cardinals in the NL Central race and 7.5 games back of the Rockies in the NL Wild Card race.  At 69-73, the Brewers are 14 games back of the Cardinals in the NL Central race and 12 games back of the Rockies in the NL Wild Card race.  Talk about bad – especially for the 2 teams that battled down the stretch in 2008 for the NL central division title.

Reds Cubs Baseball

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Lilly, Marmol Shine – Offense Still Lifeless…

Posted on 03 September 2009 by Lou

Astros Cubs Baseball

If baseball rules didn’t require you to score any runs to earn a win or earn points, the Cubs would be one of the best teams in baseball with their solid pitching effort in 2009.  After Wednesday’s 2-0 shutout over the Astros, the Cubs still had the 5th best team ERA in all of MLB at 3.90.  If you took out their relievers numbers, the Cubs are close to the top of the list for starting pitching ERA numbers in 2009 (Randy Wells 2.90; Ted Lilly 3.17; Carlos Zambrano 3.91; Ryan Dempster 4.15; & Rich Harden 4.19).  At least that gives the Cubs some solace for turning things around in 2009…

Ted Lilly threw 8 shutout innings and would have been in line for a complete game shutout had he not topped 100 pitches after the 8 innings.  Lilly allowed only 4 base runners all day – 2 singles and 2 doubles (none in the same inning), no walks – so he was never in any real trouble all day long.  Lilly had 5 K’s.  And congrats to Carlos Marmol for picking up his 4th save in 4 chances since taking over the closer’s role.  Marmol did issue a 1-out walk to Hunter Pence, but it was a good at-bat for Pence who really worked the count on Marmol.  And even though Carlos Lee singled to make it 1st and 2nd with only 1 out, Marmol buckled down to get Miguel Tejada and Geoff Blum on flyouts to end the game and preserve the Cubs 2-0 win.

As for the offense, or lack of it, the Cubs managed just 4 hits and 3 walks, and never really had any real scoring chances.  Lilly even had one of the Cubs hits.  If not for Derrek Lee’s home run after Andres Blanco’s double in the 4th inning, the 2 teams might still be playing.  The Cubs offense is a complete joke – their .254 team batting average has them tied for 3rd worst in all of baseball with 3 other teams – the Kansas City Royals, Pittsburgh Pirates and Arizona Diamondbacks.  Only the Cincinnati Reds (.244) and San Diego Padres (.242) have worse batting averages.  Not good my friends.

Here’s hoping for a healthy pitching staff in 2010 and a LOT of shutouts…

Astros Cubs Baseball

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Cubs Pitching, Hitting Clicking on All Cylinders

Posted on 30 July 2009 by Lou

Astro Cubs Baseball

The Chicago Cubs pitching and hitting is clicking on all cylinders right now. The Cubs took 3 of 4 games from the Astros at Wrigley Field this week, outscoring the Astros 12-0 on Wednesday and 12-3 today.

The Cubs are now 54-46 and are 8 games over .500 for the 1st time during the 2009 MLB schedule.  The Cubs still trail the 1st place Cards by a half game in the NL Central race and can move into a tie with the San Francisco Giants for teh wild card lead if the Giants lose to the Phillies tonight.  The Cubs have also played 5 fewer games than the Cards with 2 less losses in the Astro Cubs Baseballall-important “L” column.

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Cubs – White Sox Crosstown Classic ReCap

Posted on 30 June 2009 by Lou

Cubs White Sox Baseball

Took a few days off on Sunday and Monday to get ready for the Cubs big home stands at Wrigley Field during the month of July (the Cubs play 18 July games at Wrigley).  I picked a great time to go, as the Cubs looked atrocious on the south side and were lucky to win Friday’s game to avoid the sweep and what would have been a 7-game losing streak.

Here’s a recap of how the weekend went for the Cubs:

Friday, Cubs win 5-4:  Jake Fox hit a 2-run HR in the 4th inning to give the Cubs a short-lived 2-1 lead (Randy Wells gave the run back on a soloe shot to Jim Thome in the bottom of the inning).  Geovany Soto got the Cubs back on top with a 3-run bomb to left center field off Jose Contreras that gave the Cubs a 5-2 lead.  6 outs to go, 3 run lead, easy win, right?  No.  For some unknown reason, Manager Lou Pinella yanks Wells (98 pitches, 2 ER, 5 H, 2 BB, 6 K’s) and brings in Mr. Walk himself, Carlos Marmol.  What???!!!  Marmol walks Gordon Beckham to lead off the inning.  Surprise, surprise.  After a Scott Posednik flyout, Marmol walks Alexei Ramirez and then gives up a Jermaine Dye single to load the bases.  Jim Thome hit a soft line drive that knicked off the glove of Derek Lee, scoring Ramirez and Beckham to cut the lead to 5-4.  By that time, Pinella had seen enough of Marmol.  He let Marmol intentionally walk Paul Konerko and then brought in lefty Sean Marshall who coaxed A.J. Pierzynski into a lucky inning ending 3-2-3 doubel play.  Marshall was huge as it preserved the 5-4 Cubs lead.  Kevin Gregg picked up his 12th save of the 2009 MLB schedule, depsite walking Josh Fields with 2 outs.  Wells picked up his 2nd consecutive win and lowered his ERA to 2.57 and WHIP to 1.09.

Saturday, White Sox win 8-7.  Alfonso Soriano, Ryan Theriot and Andres Blanco each had 2 hits for the Cubs, while Soriano, Theriot and Lee each had 2 RBI’s in the win.  After the Cubs took a 7-6 lead in the top of the 8th inning on Andres Blanco’s groundout to shortstop, the Cubs bullpen blew the final 6 outs once again.  Carlos Marmol gave up a run on 2 hits in another inffective outing (at least he didn’t walk anybody this appearance).  The run tied the game at 7 in the 8th inning.  In the 9th inning, Sean Marshall gave up a single to Paul Konerko and then Pinella took him out when White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen pinch-hit righty Jayson Nix for Chris Getz.  Pinella brought in Jose Ascansio who promptly walked Nix and then gave up the game-wining single to Gordon Beckham.  Ryan Dempster looked awful again – 5 innings, 5 ER, 8 hits, 3 walks and 2 K’s.  Not good…

Sunday – White Sox win 6-0.  John Danks shut down the Cubs with 7 masterful innings of 0-run, 4 hit ball.  The pivotal point came in the 6th inning with the White Sox having a 3-0 lead.  Alfonso Soriano hit a leadoff double and moved to 3rd with only 1 out on a Ryan Theriot groundout.  Milton Bradley thought he earned walk as a 3-1 pitch from Danks sailed low, but the home plate umpire called it a strike.  Bradley wasn’t happy with the call as he was already a third of the way down the line and his lack of focus cost him as he struck out on a bad changeup that was well out of the strike zone.  Once again, the Cubs can’t get a runner in from 3rd with less than 2 outs, a problem that keeps recurrnig way too many times in 2009.  Derrek Lee and Jake Fox both worked walks out of Danks to get the bases loaded with 2 outs for Geovany Soto.  A hit would have turned the game around, but Alexei Ramirez slid and caught Soto’s line drive one-hopper and he forced Lee out at 3rd base for the final out.  The only other fire works came when Carlos Zambrano plunked DeWayne Wise in the bottom of the 6th inning.  Chris Getz had just scored on a suicide squeeze off Zambrano – Big Z spotted the squeeze but in an attempt to throw the ball to the outside corner of the plate so Wise couldn’t hit the ball, he threw the ball straight for the back stop.  Big Z’s next pitch went straight at the back of Wise.  Words were exchanged, but no fight occurred.  Danks plunked Ryan Freel in the top of the 7th in retaliation, and Freel calmly rubbed his arm and laughed at Danks on his way to 1st – pretty funny.  That brought an end to the disastrous 1-6 start to the Cubs 1st 7 games on a 10-game road trip.

The Cubs have 3 games against the Pirates in Pittsburgh at the start of the week before starting a big 4-game weekend series against the 1st place Milwaukee Brewers from Thursday to Sunday at Wrigley Field.

APTOPIX Cubs White Sox Baseball

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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.

Cubs Braves Baseball

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Cubs Complete Sweep of Indians with 6-2 Win

Posted on 21 June 2009 by Lou

Indians Cubs Baseball

The Cubs completed a 3-game weekend sweep of the Indians with a 6-2 win on Sunday at Wrigley Field.  Starter Randy Wells earned his 1st career major league victory and Kevin Gregg earned his 11th save of the season. 

The Cubs defeated the Indians 6-5 in 13 innings on Saturday.  Former Cubs closer blew his 2nd save in as many days and ended up taking the loss when his wild pitch sailed past the catcher allowing Andres Blanco to score the winning run. David Patton pitched the top of the 13th inning and got the win despite giving up a then-go-ahead home run to Luis Valbuena.

The Cubs are now 34-31.  They are in 3rd place in the NL Central, trailing the Cards by 2.5 games and the Brewers by 1.0 game.

Indians Cubs Baseball

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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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All Systems A Go – Lilly, Bats Help Cubs Crush Astros 7-1

Posted on 10 June 2009 by Lou

Cubs Astros Baseball

The Cubs bats finally came to life in Tuesday night’s 7-1 win over the Astros at Minute Maid Park in Houston.  The Cubs racked up 16 hits and 7 runs, scoring in each of the 1st 3 innings to take a commanding 5-0 lead.  Ted Lilly, Aaron Heilman and Sean Marshall did the rest – holding the Astros to just 5 hits and 1 run in the game.  Lilly lasted only 6 1/3 innings, however, because of his high pitch count – 114 pitches as he worked deep in a lot of counts all night long.  He made the most of his pitches as the Astros never really posed any serious threat.

Mike Fontenot had 4 hits – including a solo home run in the 3rd inning – on his 29th birthday.  Geovany Soto continued his hot hitting with 3 hits and an RBI single in the 1st inning.  Kosuke Fukodome, Derrek Lee and Andrew Blanco also had 2 hits for the Cubs.  Lee has his average up to .269 and with 3 walks, you can tell that he is seeing the ball so well right now – he is back to being his patient old self.

With the Brewers and Reds both losing, the Cubs are tied with the Cards and Reds for 2nd place in the NL Central – just 2.5 games behind the Brewers.  Carlos Zambrano will take on Wandy Rodriguez in Game 2 of the Astros series tonight in Houston in an attempt to move the Cubs closer to the 1st place Brewers.

Cubs Astros Baseball

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Cubs Win! Cubs Win! Finally – 2 in a Row to Boot!

Posted on 27 May 2009 by Lou

Pirates Cubs Baseball

The Cubs defeated the Pirates 5-2 on Wednesday to take the series over the Bucs.  After snapping an 8-game losing streak with the 6-1 rain-shortened win over the Pirates on Tuesday night, the Cubs kept the mojo rolling with a big win on Wednesday.

The Cubs took an early 2-0 lead on Milton Bradley’s triple and Reed Johnson’s groundout in the 1st inning.  The Pirates, however, were able to tie the game on a Carlos Zambrano wild pitch that allowed Nyjer Morgan to score from 3rd base.  Zambrano thought that he tagged Morgan out before Morgan’s hand reached the base, and was eventually tossed by the home plate umpire for arguing the call and bumping the umpire as he leaned in to get closer to Zambrano.  These umps really go out of there way to antogonize players these days.  I hope this moron home plate umpire gets suspended himself for leaning into Zambrano.  Luckily Pinella and Rothschild got out there quick to prevent Zambrano from flipping out even more then he did.

The Cubs kept fighting though and eventually took the lead for good on Reed Johnson’s solo home run to the left field bleachers in the bottom of the 8th inning.  The Cubs added 2 insurance runs on back-to-back RBI doubles by recent Triple-A call-ups Andres Blanco and Jake Fox.

Carlos Marmol pitch a scoreless 8th inning to pick up the win and Kevin Gregg got the save despite giving up 2 walks in the 9th.  Gregg sure nevers makes it easy on himself.

The Cubs are back over .500 with a 23-22 record.  The Cubs still trail the 1st place Cards by 4 games and the 2nd place Brewers by 3 games in the NL Central.

Pirates Cubs Baseball

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