Posted on 11 May 2009 by Lou
The Cubs defeated the Brewers 4-2 at Miller Park Sunday afternoon to prevent the Brewers bid for a 3-game weekend series sweep. Sean Marshall pitched 5 innings, overcoming a rough start in which he gave up single runs in each of the 1st 2 innings. Marshall settled down, however, and kept the Cubs in the game despite giving up 5 hits and 3 walks over 97 pitches. The bullpen – which had handed defeat to the Brewers in the 2 previous games – Aaron Heilman with his 2-run home run to Ryan Braun in the 8th inning on Friday night and Neal Cotts, David Patton and Chad Fox collectively imploding in the 7th inning in Saturday night’s 12-6 loss – finally got it done at Sunday afternoon. Angel Guzman pitched 2 scoreless and hitless innings with 2 strikeouts. Carlos Marmol had another interesting 8th inning allowing Ryan Braun to get to 3rd base on a double and a balk with no one out. After striking out Prince Fielder, Marmol walked Mike Cameron and after J.J. Hardy popped out to shallow right field, Marmol walked Bill Hall to load the bases. But Marmol induced a Jason Kendall groundout to keep the Cubs lead 4-2. Kevin Gregg picked up his 6th save of the season although he did allow the tying run to come to the plate when he walked Rickie Weeks with 1 out. Gregg rebounded to strike out Corey Hart and Ryan Braun to end the game.
The Cubs tallied their 4 runs in a big 3rd inning off of Jeff Suppan. Alfonso Soraino tied the game with a 2-run home run. Aaron Miles doubled and Kosuke Fukkodome singled to keep the rally going, and Milton Bradley drove in Miles with an RBI single to center field. Fukodome moved up to 3rd base and scored the 4th run of the inning on a wild pitch and throwing error by catcher Jason Kendall.
The Cubs seem to be getting it done with smoke and mirrors – more about this tomorrow. But at least the Cubs came away with a victory on Sunday. At 17-14, the Cubs are just 2.5 games behind the Cardinals. The next 6 games are against the Padres and Astros, so if the Cubs can win each of those series, they should have a chance to cut into that lead as the Cardinals take on the Pirates and Brewers during that stretch. Then the Cubs play the Cardinals next week in St. Louis – already the 3rd meeting between the teams this season – for another chance to cut into the lead. As long as the Cubs can ride out these early season injuries to Milton Bradley, Derrek Lee, Carlos Zambrano and Aramis Ramirez to keep it close, they should be able to make a push for the division lead during the long, hot summer.
Posted on 09 May 2009 by Lou
The Milwaukee Brewers defeated the Chicago Cubs 3-2 on Friday night at Miller Park in Milwaukee. Ryan Braun’s 2-run home run off Aaron Heilman in the bottom of the 8th inning was the game-winner. Heilman walked Corey Hart on 4 straight pitches to start the inning, and after falling behind Bruan 1-0, he grooved a fastball that Braun crushed over the right center field fence to give the Brewers the 3-2 lead. They say walks always kill you, and in this situation, it certainly did. Heilman’s ERA is now 5.14 and the Cubs bullpen continues to disappoint in 2009.
Randy Wells made his 1st major league start filling in for the injured Carlos Zambrano. While it wasn’t pretty – 5 hits and 2 walks – Wells was able to get out of jams and stood to earn his first career major league win as he departed with a 2-0 lead. But Angel Guzman gave up a solo home run to JJ Hardy in the 6th inning to cut the lead to 1, and then Heilman worked his disastrous 8th inning.
The Cubs did have a chance to break open the game in the top of the 8th inning. With the bases loaded and only 1 out, Ryan Theriot hit into a fielder’s choice that resulted in Koyie Hill being forced out at home and Geovany Soto grounded out to the shortstop to end the threat.
As if the loss wasn’t bad enough, Aramis Ramirez injured his left shoulder diving for a ground ball in the 3rd inning. The Cubs believe that Ramirez dislocated his shoulder and will likely spend somewhere between 4-6 weeks on the disabled list to recover. We’ll keep you posted once we hear more on the injury.
The Cubs will need Ryan Dempster to step up his game on Saturday as the Cubs take on Yovani Gallardo and the Brewers again on Saturday. Gallardo has been lights out in his last 4 starts – giving up only 5 earned runs over 30 innings with 30 K’s.
Posted on 04 May 2009 by Lou
The Cubs defeated the Marlins 6-4 on Sunday afternoon at Wrigley Field to take 3 of 4 games from the Marlins during the weekend series. The Cubs have won 3 straight games and are 3.5 games behind the 1st place St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central Division.
The win did not come without a cost. Starter Carlos Zambrano, who earned his 3rd win of the season, injured his left hamstring while beating out a bunt single in the 5th inning. Zambrano initially stayed in the game, but came out shortly thereafter because of tightness in the leg. The Cubs will likely take a cautious approach with Zambrano and that means he could be placed on the disabled list. The Cubs do not want Zambrano to alter his pitching motion in order to compensate for the injury to his hamstring, so the only way to do that could be to shut him down for 15 days. We’ll have more as the Cubs update his status over the next few days.
Zambrano’s bunt single actually started the key rally for the Cubs in the 5th inning. Soriano flied out after Zambrano’s bunt, and then Ryan Theriot also bunted for a single to send pinch-runner Rich Harden to 2nd base. Kosuke Fukodome then reached on an error by 1st baseman Ross Gload which kept the inning going for Derrek Lee. And D Lee made them pay – hitting a grand slam to give the Cubs the commmanding 6-2 lead. Aaron Miles had an RBI double in the 2nd inning and Mike Fontenot hit a solo home run in the 4th inning – his 5th home run of the year.
Zambrano pitched effectively through the games first 5 innings – 2 earned runs on 4 hits and 1 walk. Zambrano also had 1 K. Angel Guzman gave up 1 run over 2 innings of work, and Carlos Marmol gave up a run on a solo home run to John Baker. But Kevin Gregg shut the door on his former team for his 2nd straight save and 3rd overall on the season.
Before the Sunday matinee, the Cubs retired the #31 to honor 2 legendary Cubs pitchers – Fergie Jenkins and Greg Maddux.
The Cubs start a 2-game series against the San Francisco Giants on Monday night. Ryan Dempster will face Jonathan Sanchez in the opener, while Sean Marshall will duel defending-Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum in Tuesday’s matinee finale.
Posted on 16 April 2009 by Lou
The St. Louis Cardinals beat the Chicago Cubs 7-4 at Wrigley Field today. It was an ugly affair – 3 Cardinals errors and 1 Cubs error. Milton Bradley gettng ejected from the game by the home plate umpire. With the score tied at 4 in the bottom of the 6th inning, Bradley let a 3-0 count slip away with the bases loaded and only 1 out. He took a called 3rd strike on an off-speed pitch from Adam Wainright and was ejected for arguing the call and getting too close for comfort.
Next up is a Friday matinee at Wrigley Field. Carlos Zambrano will face off against P.J. Walters who has been called up to replace the injured Chris Carpenter.
Posted on 14 April 2009 by Lou
The horrible cold, rainy weather didn’t have any negative affect on the the hometown Cubs during their opening day contest against the Colorado Rockies on Monday at Wrigley Field.
Ted Lilly took a no hitter through 6 2/3 innings before Garrett Atkins singled to left field to break up the no-no. After Lilly walked the next batter, Manger Lou Pinella took him out and the brave fans at Wrigley Field cheered him on to a standing ovation for his remarkable effort. Angel Guzman retired Brad Hawpe to end the threat and Aaron Heilman and Kevin Gregg took care of the rest. Although Heilman and Gregg each walked a batter in their scoreless innings of work, neither relief pitcher gave up a hit and Gregg struck out the side in the 9th inning to preserve the Cubs 4-0 win.
Cubs hitters did an excellent job of working counts again – racking up 9 hits and 9 walks. They never seemed to get the big hit, however, scoring their 1st run in the 2nd inning on a Koyie Hill bases loaded walk. The Cubs scored 2 more runs in the 4th inning on a Ryan Theriot ground out and a Derrek Lee single. Kosuke Fukodome’s single in the bottom of the 8th inning drove in Alfonso Soriano with an insurance run. Soriano, Lee and Hill each had 2 hits for the Cubs.
The 1-hitter marked Lilly’s 2nd 4-pitcher, 1-hitter in less than 8 months. He, Jeff Samardzija, Carlos Marmol and Bob Howry 1-hit the Houston Astros in Miller Park on September 15, 2008 – a day after Carlos Zambrano no-hit the Astros in the same ballpark. Lilly had this to say about the outing: “It’s definitely challenging when you’re trying to pitch in weather like this. I think, fortunately, it never got to where it was raining hard. When you can’t see and the hitter can’t see, then it’s really tough. I enjoy this weather, too. I understand the weather isn’t going to be perfect all the time. It makes it a little more fun when you have conditions like this, and it makes it a little more challenging.”
Wednesday’s forecast looks a little better for the Cubs and Rockies – sunny weather with temps in he mid 50′s – not great but for Cubs fans used to April and May weather, it couldn’t be any better. Let’s hope the Cubs can pull of the 2-game sweep over the Rockies and head into the big 4-game weekend series against the 1st place St. Louis Cardinals on a positive note…
Posted on 06 April 2009 by Lou
The Chicago Cubs finalized their bullpen and 25-man roster on Sunday when they let David Patton and Angel Guzman know that they had made the Cubs opening day roster.
The big story is David Patton. Patton had pitched in the Colorado Rockies minor league system for the last 5 years, but the Cubs picked him up in the Rule 5 Draft. At 24, Patton had never pitched above the Class A level and General Manager Jim Hendry didn’t give him much of a chance of making the opening day roster, which meant the Cubs either had to keep him on the opening day roster or return him to the Rockies at the end of spring training. Hendry had this to say about Patton and Guzman. “It was a long shot when [Patton] got there, and the kid deserves all the credit in the world for pitching himself into it. I think we owe it to ourselves to find out after all the time we’ve invested in Guzman – - he certainly has the stuff and ability to help us be a contending team and, hopefully, he’ll live up to that potential now.”
Patton pitched extremely well in spring training. Patton had a 1.26 ERA during the spring, giving up only 14 hits and 5 walks in 14 1/3 innings of work. “This is what you devote all your time to and what I’ve wanted since I was a little kid. This is just the beginning. I want to do something special and want to be a part of this organization.”
Guzman had a so-so spring, but because he was out of options and could not be sent down to the minor leagues within the Cubs system, Hendry and the Cubs decided to give him one more shot to show what he can do for the Cubs at the big league level. Guzman has battled elbow and shoulder injuries, and at 27, still has the potential to pitch well in the bigs. Guzman had this to say about making the team: “After everything I’ve been through, I still have a long way to go. I’m still young, and I have an opportunity to make a statement in the big leagues. That’s what it’s all about.”
Three other pitchers lost out on the 2 bullpen spots. Chad Gaudin had an atrocious spring – 10.26 ERA giving up 20 runs on 26 hits and 10 walks in just over 16 innings of work. Not good to say the least. The Cubs released Gaudin. Jeff Samardzija, who was a productive member of the Cubs 2008 bullpen, never found the right stuff this spring as he competed for the 5th starter position. Samardzija improved as the spring went on and as he resumed his role in the bullpen, but because he still has options left, the Cubs chose to send him down to Triple-A Iowa. He will likely be groomed as a starter again in the event the Cubs need to bring up a starter in case of injury. Chad Fox is still recovering from an off-season injury and he was also optioned to Iowa.
It will be interesting to see how Patton performs at the major league level. He obviously has talent, but will he be ble to perform at the high level when the bright lights are shining, especially in Chicago. Let’s hope he does…
Posted on 02 April 2009 by Lou
The Chicago Cubs tied the Oakland A’s 8-8 on Wednesday as Carlos Zambrano made his final start of the 2009 spring training schedule. Zambrano pitched 3 1/3 innings giving up 1 earned run on 2 hits and 2 walks. He also had 1 strikeout. Zambrano will start for the Cubs in the team’s 2009 opening game against the Astros in Houston on Monday night.
Several Cubs players had good games at the plate. Alfonso Soriano, Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Geovany Soto and Ryan Theriot each had 2 hits for the Cubs. Soto hit his first 2 home runs of the spring, including a grand slam in the 3rd inning when the Cubs scored 6 runs to take an early 6-0 lead.
The Cubs relievers did not fare so well however. Luis Vizcaino gave up 2 runs on 2 hits in only 2/3 of an inning of work. Neal Cotts was lit up for 3 earned runs and 5 hits in the 8th inning, while Angel Guzman and Jeff Samardzija gave up an unearned run in each of their 1 inning of work. Not so good given the fact that the regular season starts in 4 days.
Let’s hope the Cubs can work out these kinks in their final games of the spring – against the Indians in Mesa today and against the Yankees in the new Yankee Stadium in New York this weekend.
Posted on 01 April 2009 by Lou
There are 2 spots left in the Cubs 2009 bullpen, and 4 pitchers competing for those spots. It has come down to Jeff Samardzija, Chad Gaudin, Angel Guzman and Rule 5 Draft pick David Patton. Guzman is out of minor league options, and Cubs GM Jim Hendry has already said that none of the players will be placed on waivers. What does it all mean? That Patton and Guzman will either make the Cubs Opening Day Roster or be traded to another team before the start of the season.
As it stands now, Kevin Gregg will be the Cubs closer, with Carlos Marmol serving as the primary set-up man. Aaron Heilman, Neal Cotts and Luis Vizcaino have also locked up spots. Patton is the big X Factor – in 12+ spring innings, Patton has a .073 ERA giving up only 1 run on 10 hits. He has struck out 15 batters while walking only 2, but he has never pitched at a level higher than Class A. Cubs manager Lou Pinella had this to say about Patton: “He hasn’t been rattled all spring – it’s been very refreshing. It doesn’t look like the situation is getting to him. He’s out there competing and throwing the ball. We’ll see if everything works his way. “ He’ll get a big chance when he pitches against the New York Yankees in front of 40,000 people in the new Yankee Stadium. If he can show some resolve in that situation, we may see Patton on the Cubs Opening Day roster.
As for the other 3 players, none have had a good spring. Gaudin’s control has been bad – 20 hits and 9 walks in 13 2/3 innings with an ERA over 10.00. Guzman has an 8.71 ERA in 10 1/3 innings of Cactus league work. Samardzija has the best ERA of the 3, which isn’t saying much at 8.16. Samardzija does have options left and could be assigned to Triple-A Iowa to make room for one of the other 3 pitchers.
Pinella has indicated that nothing is permanent. “Regardless of how we go, if it’s not right, we’ll fix it. Let’s not forget that. We’re going to do the best we can. We’ve let everybody compete, like we said, so that’s not a problem. We’ll see how this thing stands by Saturday or Sunday and then we’ll make a decision and if it’s not the right decision, we’ll rectify it.”
Good attitude Lou. Maybe give the kid Patton a shot instead of losing him via trade and see if it works. And if not, you can always bring Samardzija back up from Triple-A Iowa. It should certainly be interesting to see how this all plays out. Opening Day on the road in Houston is only 4 days away!!!