Archive | Aramis Ramirez

Shockingly Good Pitching From Harden; Shockingly Bad Hitting by Cubs Offense

Posted on 22 July 2009 by Lou

Cubs Phillies Baseball

Where did it all go wrong for GM Jim Hendry and Manager Lou Pinella with this frustrating 2009 Cubs ball club? The Cubs lost to the Phillies 4-1 in 13 innings on Tuesday night as Jayson Werth’s 3-run HR off of Jeff Samardzija gave the Phillies their 10th straight win.  That wasn’t surprising.  What was surprising was how good Rich Harden looked and how bad the Cubs bats are on a daily basis.

First Harden – as I wrote yesterday, I expected the Phillies to knock Harden around, but he threw a season high 117 pitches in 7 solid innings.  Harden gave up only 1 ER on 4 hits and 2 walks and the lone run scored on a Jimmy Rollins solo home run way back in the 3rd inning.  Harden also had 6 K’s.  The rest of the bullpen was up to the challenge too – Carlos Marmol worked 2 scoreless innings, Angel Guzman tossed a scoreless inning and Sean Marshall and Aaron Heilman combined for a scoreless 11th inning.  Jeff Samardzija even looked good – he retired the 1st 5 batters he faced over the 12th and 13th innings, but got into trouble when he walked both Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez with 2 outs in the 13th.  Not a good move – because walks always come back to haunt you.  Then Samardzija served up the game-winning HR to Werth and the Cubs had dropped the 1st 2 games to the Phillies at Citizens Bank Ballpark.

But the big issue is the Cubs hitting.  After knocking around one of baseball’s worst pitching staff’s against the Nats in DC over the weekend, it was back to the “real-world” for the Cubs.  The Cubs should have felt good as Citizens Bank Ballpark is one of the best hitter park in the big leagues.  Batters improves their statistics each night they get to play in the ball park.  But not the Cubs hitters.  In 22 innings, the Cubs have managed just 2 runs off of the mediocre Phillies pitching.  Worse than that, they managed only 6 hits in Monday’s loss and only 5 hits in Tuesday’s loss.  After drawing only 3 walks on Monday, the Cubs didn’t walk once on Tuesday night.  Not 1 walk in 13 innings!?  How can that be?  Only 3 Cubs players had hits in both games – Alfonso Soriano had 3 hits on Monday and 1 hit on Tuesday, while Ryan Theriot and Kosuke Fukodome each had 1 hit in each game.  Derrek Lee is a combined 1 for 8 while Aramis Ramirez is a combined 0 for 7 in the series.  What makes it even worse is the fact that the Cubs seem to waste good pitching outings with horrible hitting performances.  Rich Harden’s Tuesday night start was another quality start for the Cubs starting rotation.  The Cubs now have 57 quality starts on the season, but only 47 wins to show for it.  When you don’t win quality starts, you are not going to be near the top of your division.

This team is only still in contention because the rest of the NL Central is so bad.  The Cubs are 47-45 and are tied with the Brewers and Astros for 2nd place behind the Cardinals.  I feel like I’ve given the team (and Hendry and Pinella) the benefit of the doubt in 2009, but after 92 games, it’s time to step up and take accountability for your play on the field.  Stay tuned for some more critical posts about the state of the Cubs and what they need to do to make sure the team can stay competitive for the forseable future…

Cubs Phillies Baseball

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Cubs Win 11-3, Complete Sweep over Nationals in DC

Posted on 20 July 2009 by Lou

Cubs Nationals Baseball

The Cubs defeated the Nationals 11-3 on Sunday afternoon and swept the Nationals in a 4-game weekend series at Nationals Park in Washington, DC.  In Sunday’s win, the Cubs scored 11 runs, clubbed 16 hits, drew 5 walks and took advantage of 2 Nats errors to complete the 4-game sweep over baseball’s worst team.  Jake Fox and Alfonso Soriano each hit HR’s for the Cubs in the win.  Soriano finished the game with 2 hits, 2 RBI’s and 1 run scored, while Fox finished the game with 3 hits, 4 RBI’s and 2 runs scored.  Cubs clean-up hitter Micah Hoffpauir had 3 hits and 2 runs scored in the win.  Mike Fontenot also had 3 hits on the day.

Kevin Hart pitched 5 innings, working in and out of trouble all day long.  Hart only gave up 2 ER, but he surrendered 5 hits and 5 walks along the way.  Jeff Samardzija had a solid relief outing – 3 innings, 2 hits and 3 K’s, giving up a single run on Adam Dunn’s 24th HR of the year in the 7th inning.  Jeff Stevens pitched a scoreless 9th inning for the Cubs – Stevens has not allowed a run in either of his 2009 appearances.

Highlights from the weekend:

Friday night – Carlos Zambrano led the Cubs on the mound and at the plate.  Big Z pitched 5 innings of 1 run ball, and although he did not have his best stuff (4 hits and 4 walks), he had 6 K’s and did just enough to keep the Nats away from the big inning.  The only run allowed was unearned and came courtesy of a Ryan Theriot fielding error in the 1st inning.  Zambrano also hit a 2-run double in the bottom of the 2nd inning to give the Cubs their 1st lead at 2-1.  Aramis Ramirez hit his 1st HR since coming back of the DL – a solo shot in the 3rd inning to increase the Cubs lead to 3-1.  The Cubs bullpen did a solid job the final 4 innings of the game – no runs, only 2 hits and a combined 6 strikeouts from Aaron Heilman, Sean Marshall, Carlos Marmol and Kevin Gregg.

Saturday night – The Cubs rallied from a 4-0 deficit after 2 innings to win 6-5.  Alfonso Soriano hit a go-ahead 3-run HR in the 6th inning to give the Cubs a 5-4 lead.  Mike Fontenot’s solo HR in the 8th inning gave the Cubs a much-needed insurance run.  In the bottom of the 8th inning, after Aaron Heilman got into trouble, closer Kevin Gregg ended a threat by getting through the heart of the Nationals order.  Although Ryan Zimmerman hit a run-scoring sacrifice fly that cut the Cubs lead to 1, Gregg got out of the jam and then pitched a 1-2-3 9th inning to record his 1st 5-out save of the 2009 MLB schedule.  Randy Wells did not pitch his best game – 5 innings, 4ER, 7 hits and 1 walk – but it was enough to pick up his 5th win of the season and keep the Cubs in the game to get the big win over the Nats.

The Cubs increased the record to 47-43 on the season.  With the Cards winning 2 of 3 games in their weekend series against the Diamondbacks in St. Louis, the Cubs gained ground and now trail the Cards by only 2 games in the NL Central race.  The Cubs now occupy sole possession of 2nd place, ahead of both the Brewers and Astros.

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Manager Lou Pinella Confident That Cubs Can Win NL Central

Posted on 15 July 2009 by Lou

Cubs Milton Bradley Risk 1

The 1st half of the 2009 MLB schedule had an anti-climactic ending on Sunday, as the Cubs split a day-night double-header with the 1st place Cardinals.  After winning the 1st game 7-3, the Cubs were in perfect position to sweep the double-header and move ahead into 2nd place, just 1.5 games behind the Cards.  But it wasn’t meant to be – - Randy Wells served up 2 2-run home runs to Ryan Ludwick and the Cubs offense couldn’t muster more than 2 runs against Cards starter Adam Wainwright.  With the loss, the Cubs fell back to .500 – 43-43 – and into a 3rd place tie with the surging Astros.

That being said, Manager Lou Pinella still likes his team’s chances of making a strong showing in the 2nd half of the season.  “We have to swing the bats better in the second half than we did in the first half…  We swing the bats, stay healthy, we have a good chance to win the division.  We’ve been through a lot this summer.  If we don’t we’ll see what happens.  I’m curious myself.”

Key components of the Cubs offense have been missing for good portions of the 2009 MLB season.

Aramis Ramirez missed 2 months with a dislocated right shoulder – he had been the Cubs best hitter up until the injury.

Alfonso Soriano has been a disaster after starting off the season on a tear.  Although Soriano has had 9 game-winning hits for the Cubs this season – the most on the team – his batting average is down to .233 and his on-base percentage is down to .298.  He has 14 HR’s, 33 RBI’s and 50 runs scored, but he has not hit a home run since June 7th.  Soriano has struck out 82 times and walked only 29 times.  Because of his miserable numbers, Pinella recently dropped Soriano down in the lineup and will likely hit 5th or 6th the rest of the way.

Lastly, GM Jim Hendry’s big off-season signing – switch-hitting right fielder Milton Bradley – has been a complete bust.  Bradley is batting just .243 with 6 HR’s, 21 RBI’s and 28 runs scored.  Although his on-base percentage is above his career average – .379 – he has not been the run producer that the Cubs need him to be.  Plus, because of injuries, he has registered only 210 at-bats while playing in 210 games – not a great average for a starting outfielder.  Bradley recently declared that he is back and will have a far better 2nd half than the 1st three months of the season.  This after going 0 for 1 with 3 walks in the 1st game of Sunday’s double-header and 2 for 3 with an RBI and a walk in the 2nd game of the double-header.  Woohoo – Milton is back.  He had this to say about why he thinks he will be ready to break out in the 2nd half:  “I’ve been working ever so hard to get my stroke, get my rhythm, get my eye, and to end it like that was disappointing [referring to being called out on strikes to lead off the 9th inning on Sunday night]…  I walked about 37 times today.  Suddenly, I’m going to take a thrid strike right there?  I got my rhythm, I feel good… It’s disappointing, but what can you do?  You move on.  It ain’t the first time, it won’t be the last… Don’t read the newspapers, don’t watch TV, just play.  We’ve got everything we need right here.  If we stay together in here, cut out all the outside stuff, we’ll be fine.  There’s way too much hoopla, there’s way too much talk, there’s way too much speculation.”

I like the optimism, but the Cubs have not shown any real fire this season, and I’m not sure what we should expect that to change over night.  The team seems resigned to the fact that it will lose close ball games, and when you don’t have that confidence, it’s hard to put together big winning streaks.  Last year, the Cubs played like they could win any game, even if they were losing in the 7th, 8th or 9th innings.  This year, if they’re down after 6 innings, you might as well write off the game.

Pinella had 1 more quote that summed it up best.  It also doesn’t seem like he’s really that confident that his team will be able to pull off a 3rd straight NL Central title.  Guess we’ll have to wait and see.  “I feel we’re in good position to win this division.  Two things – - stay healthy, get healthy and swing the bats.  That’s it.  We do those 2 things, we can win the second half.  Those are two big ‘ifs’ though.”

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Cubs Split With Cards – Still Trail by 3.5 Games

Posted on 13 July 2009 by Lou

Cardinals Cubs Baseball

Cardinals Cubs Baseball

The Cubs and Cards split Sunday afternoon’s Day-Night Double-Header on Wrigley Field.  It could have been better, but I guess it could have been worse too.  The Cubs trailed the 1st place Cards by 2.5 games in the NL Central when the 2 teams started the 4-game weekend series on Friday, and after 4 games, nothing had changed.  At least they didn’t get swept.

Carlos Zambrano picked up the win in the early game as the Cubs won 7-3.

Randy Wells suffered the loss in the nightcap as the Cubs lost 4-2.

The most interesting play of the day-night, came in the 9th inning of Game 2.

We’ll have a mid-year report in the next couple of days as we have a few days off for the All-Star Break.

Cardinals Cubs Baseball

Cardinals Cubs Baseball

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Cubs Lose To Braves 2-1 in Disappointing Wrigley Loss

Posted on 08 July 2009 by Lou

Braves Cubs Baseball

So much for the Cubs bats breaking out.  Javier Vazquez shut down the Cubs offense for the 2nd time this year as the Cubs fell 2-1.  Tuesday night, the Cubs managed just 5 hits against Vazquez, scoring their lone run on a 2-out single by Koyie Hill in the 2nd inning.  Vazquez did not walk a batter and struck out 6 as the Cubs left 12 men on base.  Vazquez ERA is now 2.95 and his WHIP is 1.05. Vazquez has dominated the Cubs this season in 2 wins – 13 2/3 innings pitched, 1 ER, 14 hits, 2 walks & 11 K’s.

Braves closer Rafael Soriano put the clamps down on the Cubs in the 9th inning earning his 9th save.  Soriano now has a 1.59 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP – amazing.

Aramais Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano each had 2 hits for the Cubs.  Carlos Zambrano made the start on 3 days rest and threw 91 pitches in an efficient 6 inning start.  He took the loss though – giving up 2 ER on 5 hits and 3 walks, with 6 K’s.  Big Z fell to 4-4 on the 2009 MLB schedule.

The Cubs fell to 41-40 on the season, and with the Cardinals 5-0 win over the Brewers, the Cubs are now 3 games out of 1st place in the NL Central.

The loss of Ryan Dempster to the disabled list with a broken toe also forced the Cubs to recall Kevin Hart to start Wednesday’s afternoon finale against Kenshin Kawakami.  Kawakami held the Cubs to just 3 ER in 7 innings of a Braves 6-5 win in Atlanta back on June 2nd.

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Randy The Rock Helps Cubs Beat Braves 4-2

Posted on 07 July 2009 by Lou

Braves Cubs Baseball

Randy Wells is my Cubs MVP for 2009.  Wells won his 4th straight start as the Cubs beat the Braves 4-2 at Wrigley Field on ESPN Monday Night Baseball.  Wells needed only 87 pitches to get through 6 innings.  He gave up 2 ER on 7 hits and no walks while striking out 4.  In a tumultuous season in which the Cubs have had to deal with injuries to starting pitchers Carlos Zambrano and Rich Harden, Wells has stepped in to fill the void and even bumped 5th starter Sean Marshall from the rotation once Big Z and Harden were able to return full time.  Wells has been nothing but brilliant with a 2.48 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP.  Wells should even have 3 more wins under his belt, but the Cubs bullpen blew leads in those games after Wells had left with the lead intact.

Derrek Lee also continued his hot hitting with a 2-run HR in the 1st inning that gave the Cubs a 2-0 lead.  Lee went 2 for 4 on the night, while new lead-off hitter Kosuke Fukodome had another great night at the plate going 2 for 3 with 1 RBI and 1 run scored.  Kosuke’s RBI double in the 2nd inning increased the Cubs lead to 3-0 and Ryan Theriot’s single right after that capped off the Cubs scoring for the evening.

Sean Marshall, Carlos Marmol and Kevin Gregg each worked scoreless innings of relief to preserve the win for the Cubs.

The Cubs recalled 3 players from rehab assignments.  Aramis Ramirez started at 3rd base and batted 5th in the lineup – he went 0 for 4.  Reed Johnson and Angel Guzman were also recalled but did not see game action.  To make room for the 3, the Cubs sent Sam Fuld and Kevin Hart back down to Triple-A Iowa and put David Patton on the disabled list.  The Cubs also traded Ryan Freel to the Kansas City Royals for a player to be named later.

The Cubs have won 6 of their last 10 games and are now 41-39 on the season.  The Cubs have the same number of losses as the Cardinals and Brewers with less games played, so for as badly as things have gone in 2009, the Cubs are still right in the thick of things.

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Cubs Lose to Reds 4-3 In 11 Innings

Posted on 07 June 2009 by Lou

reds-beat-cubsa1

Lack of hitting continues to plague the Cubs day in and day out.  The Cubs could must only 8 hits and 3 runs off of a 1st time starter and a trio of Reds relievers in the 4-3 11-inning loss on Saturday night in Cincinnati.  With Fukodome’s average dropping below the .300 mark, the Cubs do not have an every day hitting over .300 – what a joke for a high-payroll team.

The Cubs scored their only runs on Bobby Scales and Geovany Soto solo home runs and a Jake Fox sacrifice fly that tied the game at 3 in the 8th inning.

The pitching was great – Ryan Dempster pitched 6 strong innings.  The only 3 runs scored off of Dempster in the 1st inning were all unearned – courtesy of a Mike Fontenot error.  Do ya think we miss Mark DeRosa right now?  At least we have 3 pitchers in the minor leagues pitching well…

Dempster only agve up 6 hits and 2 walks, while striking out 7.  Aaron Heilman, Carlos Marmol and Angel Guzman each worked scoreless innings of relief.  After Sean Marshall worked a scoreless 10th inning, he fell into immediate trouble in the 11th when he issued a lead-off walk to Jay Bruce (the guy is hitting below .220).  Bruce advanced to 2nd base on a wild pitch and took 3rd on a sacrifice bunt.  Marshall intentionally walked the next batter to set up a force play, but the next batter’s weak groundball to 3rd baseman Mike Fontenot allowed the winning run to score.  Fontenot looked lost fielding the ball as he lobbed the ball to Geovany Soto at the plate.  The runner easily scored, but may not have if Aramis Ramirez was on the field.

The Cubs are now 4 1/2 games behind the Brewers and they still trail the Cards and Reds as well.  Not good for a ball club that was expected to compete for a World Series in 2009…

reds-beat-cubs1

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Cubs Keep Losing – 7 & Counting..

Posted on 24 May 2009 by Lou

Cubs Padres Baseball

I feel like a keep writing the same post over and over.  So today, I’ll focus on the 1 positive – Reed Johnson hit a 2-run home run today.  Woo-hoo!

The Cubs bats were silent again – only 4 hits.  I can’t believe Manager Lou Pinella hasn’t killed someone yet…

And for a change, the pitching was bad today too.  Ted Lilly lost his 2nd straight decision, giving up 5 ER on 8 hits and 2 walks over 6 1/3 innings.

The Cubs are 21-21 – this time last year (after 42 games), the Cubs were 10 games over .500.  Remarkably, the Cubs are only 4 games behind the slumping Brewers.  Only problem, I don’t see the Cubs making any major strides until Aramis Ramirez gets back in the lineup or until GM Jim Hendry makes a trade for some offensive help.  Neither of these will happen anytime soon.

The Cubs return home for a 7-game home stand against the Pirates and Dodgers.  Maybe the Cubs will find their swings back at Wrigley Field.

Cubs Padres 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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Congrats to All of Our Free Cubs Tickets Winners So Far!

Posted on 12 May 2009 by Lou

cubs-win

Well we can’t believe that we’re 31 games into the 2009 MLB schedule already.  It’s been fast and furious so far, with mixed results on the north side of Chicago.  The Cubs have battled through injuries to key players – Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Zambrano, Carlos Marmol, Derek Lee, Milton Bradley & Geovany Soto – and are still 3 games over .500 with a 17-14 record.  The Cubs trail the 1st place Cardinals by only 2.5 games in the NL Central, so a 3rd consecutive Central Division crown is still in sight.

We wanted to take this opportunity to congratulate our 1st 4 free Cubs tickets winners:

Opening Day – April 13th v. Rockies – Ray from Chicago – Section 505, Row 3

Friday – April 17th v. Cards – Carlos from Chicago – Section 237, Row 25

Friday – May 1st v. Marlins – Section 209, Row 16 – due to a late scheduling issue on our part, our winner was unable to attend

Friday – May 15th v. Astros – Shannon from Elgin – Section 240, Row 30

We still have 10 weekends left for which we will be giving away 2 free Cubs tickets to games at Wrigley Field, so please spread the word around.  It’s never too late to sign up for our free cubs tickets lottery, as we try to notify winners at least 7-10 days before the day of the game for which they won.

And a special thanks to our ticketing partner – Ticketchest.com – for supplying the great tickets to the 2009 Cubs season for our great winners.  We could not have done it without the 1st class service of the guys at Ticketchest.com.  Ticketchest.com is a full service, nation-wide ticket broker located just a block from Wrigley Field on Clark Street.  Feel free to check out their site at Ticketchest.com for all your ticket needs.

And Go Cubs Go!

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