Archive | Aramis Ramirez

Marshall, Bullpen Help Cubs Beat Brewers 4-2, Avoid Sweep at Miller Park

Posted on 11 May 2009 by Lou

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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.

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Aramis Ramirez Injured in 3-2 Cubs Loss to Brewers

Posted on 10 May 2009 by Lou

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The bad news keeps rolling for the Cubs.  After winning 6 of their last 7 games, the Cubs felt like they were finally starting to put things together in their 2009 schedule.  But just like that, the good news turned to bad news as Aramis Ramirez injured himself diving for Ryan Braun’s groundball in the 3rd inning of Friday night’s 3-2 loss to the Brewers in Milwaukee.

Ramirez dislocated his shoulder, something he had done when he was a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates back in 2000.  Ramirez underwent an MRI in Chicago on Saturday and we’ll keep you posted with the results as soon as we hear anything.

Manager Lou Pinella had this to say about the injury:  “He’s definitely going to be DL’ed.  Period of time, we don’t know.  I’ve never seen anything quite like this.  Every day, it seems to be something different.”

Makes the timing of the Cubs trade for Ryan Freel for Joey Gathright even more important now.  GM Jim Hendry made the trade on Friday afternoon before the start of the Cubs-Brewers game.  Freel will see immediate playing time with the Ramirez injury, and hopefully he can act as a catalyst for an offense that has sputtered from time to time.

It also makes the trade of Mark DeRosa even more annoying / perplexing.  If DeRosa was still on the team, the Ramirez injury would be a big deal, but the Cubs and Cubs fans would feel a lot more comfort knowing that DeRosa would man the hot corner until Ramirez’s turn.

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Cubs Lose Heart-Breaker, Ramirez In 3-2 Loss to Brewers

Posted on 09 May 2009 by Lou

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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.

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Cubs Top Astros 8-5 in Wild 9th Inning

Posted on 08 May 2009 by Lou

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The Cubs defeated the Astros 8-5 on Thursday night, completing a 2-game sweep of the Astros in Houston.  The Cubs are no 4-1 in Houston this season.

Ted Lilly picked up his 4th win of the 2009 campaign – going 6 innings, giving up just 2 earned runs on 4 hits and 3 walks.  Lilly also had 5 K’s.  Aaron Heilman and Carlos Marmol each worked a scoreless inning of relief.

The Cubs took a 4-2 lead into the top of the 9th inning and were prepared to have closer Kevin Gregg finish off the victory for the Cubs.  But in the Cubs half of the inning, Alfonso Soriano hit a 2-run home run – his 2nd homer of the game and his 9th on the season – Aramis Ramirez hit an RBI single and Mike Fontenot walked with the bases loaded to increase the Cubs lead to 8-2.  So instead of using Gregg, Manager Lou Pinella opted to go with recently called-up reliever Chad Fox.  Fox imploded – recording just 1 out and giving up 3 earned runs on 2 hits and a walk.  And ultimately, Gregg had to come in to close out the game for the Cubs.  Although Gregg did give up a run-scoring sacrifice fly to Kaz Matsui and a single to Miguel Tejada, Gregg struck out Lance Berkman to end the game.

The Cubs are now 16-12 on the season, just 2 games behind the 1st place Cardinals.  The Cubs open up a weekend series against the Brewers in Milwaukee on Friday night.  Randy Wells – just called up from the minors to start in place of the injured Carlos Zambrano – will make hist first ever major league start against Dave Bush and the Brewers.

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Aramis Ramirez – Improving Calf Keeps Slugger off DL

Posted on 02 May 2009 by Lou

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Good news Cubs fans – Aramis Ramirez is not headed for the disabled list.  Ramirez came out of last Friday night’s game against the Cardinals with a strained left calf and has not returned to the Cubs lineup.  The Cubs were prepared to make a move, but an MRI on Thursday revealed inflammation but no further damage.  Pinella had this to say about Ramirez’s status:  “He went through a fairly extensive array of stretching and running exercises, and he’s pretty much better than he was in Phoenix two days ago.  The feeling is, the next few days we can get him out there to play.”

The Cubs believed he would be ready to play before 15 days on the DL, so they opted not to place him on the DL.  And in fact, Ramirez appeared as a pinch-hitter in the 8th inning of Friday afternoon’s 8-5 win over the Marlins at Wrigley Field.  Ramirez flew out to right field, but it looks like he might be ready for full-time action sooner than expected.  This is great news for the Cubs who have been struggling to score runs all season long.  Milton Bradley and Derrek Lee have each played in back-to-back games now, and having Ramirez’s bat back in the middle of the lineup can only mean good things for the Cubs offense.

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10’s Wild In Arizona – Cubs Lose 10-0; Fall to 10-10

Posted on 30 April 2009 by Lou

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Why do I even write this blog.

After 20 games, I really don’t like the feel of this 2009 Cubs team. After losing 10-0 in Arizona on Wednesday, the Cubs completed a miserable 2-4 road trip and fell to 10-10 overall, 4 games behind the 1st place St. Louis Cardinals.

I knew I didn’t like the off-season move to acquire Milton Bradley.  GM Jim Hendry had to try too hard to convince everyone that Bradley would be able to stay healthy to play more than 120 games in the outfield in 2009.  Granted, he had only been able to do that twice in his career (way back in 2003 and 2004 ) and although he did play in 126 games in 2008, more than 90% of those games came with Bradley serving as the Rangers DH (an option not available for the Cubs who play in the National League where there is no DH).  Duh?

Right now, Bradley has played in only 13 games.  In 31 at-bats, he had 3 hits, including 1 home run good for a .097 batting average.  He has 1 RBI and 4 runs scored.   Not sure what Hendry was thinking on this one, especially since there were other left-handed hitting options out there – see Raul Ibanez (20 games, 78 at-bats, .359 batting average, 7 home runs, 17 RBI’s and 20 runs scored for the Phillies); Bobby Abreu (17 games, 71 at-bats, .352 batting average, 0 home runs, 12 RBI’s and 6 runs scored for the Angels); Adam Dunn (20 games, 68 at-bats, .324 batting average, 6 home runs, 15 RBI’s and 11 runs scored for the lowly Nationals).  All of these guys signed for similar or less deals than Bradley and have been far more productive than Bradley.  Given Bradley’s inability to play the outfield consistently over the last 5 years, this should have been obvious to Hendry.

What I liked even less was the move to unload Mark DeRosa for 3 minor leaguers.  DeRosa has gotten off to a slow start in 2009 (.236 batting average, 5 home runs, 18 RBI’s and 16 runs scored), but look deeper than that.  He has played in 21 games, and already accumulated 89 at-bats.  His 5 home runs best every player on the Cubs except Alfonso who has 7 home runs, and DeRosa would lead the Cubs in RBI’s (Kosuke Fukodome currently leads the Cubs with only 15 RBI’s).  The numbers don’t even bring into play the intangibles that come along with DeRosa for free.  His versatility is invaluable. Take the injuries to right fielder Milton Bradley and 3rd baseman Aramis Ramirez, for example.  If the Cubs still had DeRosa, the Cubs would not be relying on an infield that contained Mike Fontenot and Aaron Miles day in and day out.  Or if you went with those guys, DeRosa could play right field, so that Reed Johnson didn’t have to play the outfield everyday.  By not having these options, Soriano, Theriot and Fukodome have had to play in just about every Cubs game so far this year.  DeRosa also a great club house presence and is a great sounding board for younger, up and coming Cubs stars (Soto, Hoffpauir, Theriot).

While I love Mike Fontenot, he is not an everyday player.  In 20 games, he has 66 at-bats and a mediocre .227 batting average.  While he has shown some pop with his 3 home runs, he is better suited as a role player who makes 2-3 starts each week.  Hendry relying on him as an everyday player was a big mistake.  Hendrys’ other move to sign Aaron Miles as a utility infielder has also looked like a big mistake.  Forced into an everyday role, his weaknesses have also been glaring.  Miles has only 8 hits in 41 at-bats and he breaks more bats with his weak-ass swings than Carlos Zambrano does over his leg after a bad at-bat (and that is saying a lot).

Unfortunately Cubs fans, we are in for a long, bumpy ride this season.  Unless Hendry can pull off a Jake Peavy or Matt Holiday trade, the Cubs will likely hover around the top of the NL Central division and need a lot of luck down the stretch to pull of the unprecedented 3rd consecutive NL Central title.

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Injuries Taking Toll on Cubs Weak Lineup

Posted on 28 April 2009 by Lou

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Reed Johnson as your leadoff hitter?  No offense to Reed Johnson, but Manager Lou Pinella and GM Jim Hendry need to do something.  And they need to do something fast!

Here was the Cubs lineup from Monday night’s loss to Dan Haren and the Arizona Diamondbacks – Alfonso Soriano, Ryan Theriot, Kosuke Fukodome, Reed Johnson, Micah Hoffpauir, Geovany Soto, Mike Fontenot, Aaron Miles, Ted Lilly.  The Cubs managed 3 hits off of Haren all night long – solo home runs by Alfonso Soriano and Mike Fontenot and a single by PITCHER Ted Lilly.  Gimme a break!  The Cubs clearly have the shortest infield in MLB with Theriot (5′ 11″), Miles (5′ 8″) and Fontenot (5”8″) roaming around out there.

The Cubs are lucky to be 9-9 right now and still only 4 games out of 1st place, but if they don’t get Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez and Milton Bradley back soon, they could end up too far behind to catch up very very quickly.

Hendry and the Cubs really need to make a decision on Bradley soon.  Throw him on the DL and let him fully heal his bum hamstring.  It doesn’t make sense to bring him back in every 3rd or 4th day only to have him aggravate it again.  If they had taken the conservative approach with Bradley when he first injured the hamstring, his 15-day DL stint would be close to being over, and he would likely be back in the lineup soon.  Now we’re forced to wait and hope that the injury magically heals itself.

Ramirez and Lee are expected to be back soon, so hopefully that happens for 1 of the last 2 games in Arizona.  Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

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Injuries Mounting for Cubs, Pinella Frustrated with Lack of Personnel

Posted on 26 April 2009 by Lou

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The Chicago Cubs are reeling – both on and off the field.  The Cubs have lost 3 straight games and are now at 8-8 on the young 2009 MLB schedule.  After losing Geovany Soto for a week with a sore right shoulder, and Milton Bradley for 2 weeks with a strained groin muscle, it looks like the Cubs could be without Carlos Marmol and Aramis Ramirez for some time with leg injuries.

Carlos Marmol experienced soreness on the inside part of his left knee during Friday night’s 4-3 loss to the Cardinals.  Manager Lou Pinella and the Cubs staff took him out of the game after giving up the game-winning hit to Ryan Ludwick.  Marmol will likely miss a few games but does not think he will need a stint on the DL.

Aramis Ramirez felt discomfort in his left leg after he doubled in the 2nd inning.  He played until the 5th inning, but was removed when the discomfort grew worse.  It is unclear whether or not he will go on the DL, but he said that the leg did not feel good after the game.

Pinella is very frustrated with his roster right now.  Milton Bradley is still only available to pinch-hit because he cannot run.  “We’ve got no bench.  We’ve got an extra catcher in Koyie Hill and Micah Hoffpauir and Joey Gathright.  We’re going to have to get somebody in here. ”

Not good news for the Cubs.  The Cubs are already 3 games behind the Cards and could fall further back if the Cards pull off a sweep at home in St. Louis this weekend.  Let’s hope for some healthy legs soon on the North Side.

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Frustration Buliding for Cubs with 3rd Straight Loss

Posted on 25 April 2009 by Lou

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The Chicago Cubs are not getting off to the start that they wanted in 2009.  After starting the season with a 4-2 road trip, the Cubs have lost 6 of their last 10 games and find themselves at the .500 mark for the 1st time this year.  With injuries mounting – Carlos Marmol and Aramis Ramirez were injured in Friday night’s loss to the Cards – the Cubs are pushing way too hard too early in the season.

The Cubs bats have been eerily quiet for the last week or so.  The Cubs did not score until the 7th inning on Friday night, and even then, 2 out of the 3 runs scored were unearned because of an error that prolonged the inning.  Even with the error, the Cubs failed to really take advantage of the break when Ryan Theriot grounded into a double play with the bases loaded and no one out.  Sure it drove in the tying run, but it didn’t provide the Cubs with the big knockout punch that could have helped the Cubs end their 2- game losing streak.

The Cubs ended up losing the game in the bottom of the 8th inning.  After an Albert Pujols single and stolen base, Ryan Ludwick knocked in Pujols with the winning run with a single of Carlos Marmol.  Marmol then left the game with pain on the inside of his left knee.

Ryan Dempster pitched a decent enough ball game – 6 innings, 7 hits and 3 earned runs, with 1 walk and 6 K’s.  Dempster had one bad inning when he gave up a 2-run double to Joe Thurston and an RBI single to Skip Schumacher.  Other than that, he mainly stayed out of trouble.

The Cubs and Cards resume the series on Saturday afternoon in St. Louis.  Sean Marshall will face off against Mitchell Boggs.

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Cubs Top Reds 7-2 On Cold, Wintry Night @ Wrigley Field

Posted on 22 April 2009 by Lou

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The Cubs showed no ill signs of a 2-day “vacation” as they beat the Cincinnati Reds 7-2 on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field.  On a cold, drizzly night at the “Friendly Confines”, Rich Harden re-found his form and went 6 strong innings.  Harden allowed only 2 earned runs on 3 hits and 2 walks.  Harden notched 8 strikeouts – his 3rd consecutive start in which he has struck out at least 8 batters.  Harden had good control of all of his pitches – unlike his last game in which he needed 90+ pitches to get through only 3 innings of work.

Micah Hoffpauir drove in 2 runs with a solo home run in the 2nd inning and a sacrifice fly in the 5th inning.  Aramis Ramirez had 3 hits and 3 RBI’s for the Cubs, while Ryan Theriot notched 2 more hits – bringing his batting average up to .409 on the young season.  Kosuke Fukodome did not have any hits, but he did walk twice and each time Ramirez drove him in with a single.

Aaron Heilman, Carlos Marmol and Luis Vizcaino each pitched well in relief, but Neal Cotts struggled once again – he retired only 1 batter after allowing a walk and a hit.  Cotts’ poor outing forced Manger Lou Pinella to bring in Marmol in the 8th inning to quell the Reds’ mini rally.

Good news for the Cubs keeps rolling in.  The Cubs are now 8-4 on the season and looking strong.

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