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.