Posted on 05 August 2009 by Lou
Terrific Tom – Tom Gorzelanny looked like Cy Young, as he shut down the Cincinnati Reds over 7 1/3 innings en route to a spectacular Cubs debut. Gorzelanny gave up just 1 ER on 3 hits and 1 walk, while striking out 6. The Cubs just acquired Gorzelanny late last week before the trading deadline, and he took over the 5th starter role for Kevin Hart who moved to the Pirates in the trade. Hart had been filling in for Ted Lilly who will be on the DL for another 2 weeks or so.
Gorzelanny and the Cubs should have known it was going to be a good game for the visiting team. First, Kosuke Fukodome led off the game with his 1st ever lead-off home run (his 8th of the season). Then in the bottom of the inning, Adam Rosales tripled to left field on a ball that Alfonso Soriano just missed catching against the wall in left. With the Reds’ 2 best hitters coming up with a man on 3rd and less than 2 outs, things did not look good. But Gorzelanny buckled down, striking out Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips to end the threat and preserving the Cubs 1-0 lead. With the lead still 1-0, the Cubs got clutch 2-out singles from Koyie Hill, Gorzelanny himself and then Kosuke Fukodome to blow the game open. The back-to-back-to-back singles plated 4 Cubs runs and the Cubs built a 5-0 lead. Derrek Lee then added an insurance run with his 22nd HR on the year, a solo shot in the 7th to increase the Cubs lead to 6-0.
The only bad news – the Cubs bullpen. After Gorzelanny allowed to batters to reach base in the 8th inning, Sean Marshall gave up a single to Joey Votto that scored the Reds 1st run. And in the bottom of the 9th inning, Angel Guzman gave up 2 runs when he hit the lead off hitter and then served up a 2-run HR to Wladimir Balentien. Not good, especially when Manager Lou Pinella and the Cubs are looking to Guzman to step up his game in the late innings with Kevin Gregg dealing with “tired arm syndrome.” Going back to the last 5 road games, the Cubs bullpen has surrendered a total of 11 runs from the 8th inning on (3 in the 8th on Friday; 3 in the 9th on Saturday; 2 in the 9th on Sunday; 1 in the 9th on Monday and 2 in the 9th on Tuesday). This is completely unacceptable, as it cost the Cubs 2 games during the stretch. If the bullpen continues to flounder like this on a regular basis, the Cubs will struggle to stay in the 2009 NL Central and Wild Card race.
Rich Harden and the Cubs go for the sweep over the Reds tonight in Cincinnati. The Cardinals already lost to the Mets at CITI Field today in New York, so a Cubs win means sole possession of 1st place for the North Siders. Lets Go Cubs!
Posted on 05 August 2009 by Lou
Geovany Soto is set to rejoin the Cubs for Friday’s game against the Rockies in Colorado. Soto has been on the disabled list since July 7th with a mild strain of his left oblique muscle. Soto will play in 3 minor league games at Double-A Tennessee this week and then head out to Denver.
Manager Lou Pinella is excited to have Soto back. Koyie Hill has started 25 straight games behind the plate for the Cubs (including starting both ends of a day-night double-header against the St. Louis Cardinals on July 12th at Wrigley Field). During that stretch, Hill caught 207 innings – almost 27 innings more than the next catcher – Russell Martin with 181 2/3 innings. Jake Fox did catch a few innings late in games to give Hill a break here and there. Pinella had this to say: “Wednesday wouldn’t be soon enough for me… It gives us a chance to rest Hill on Thursday, and he’ll have from Tuesday to Friday off, and then maybe we can alternate them so both can catch… He’s done a nice job. Give him credit.”
While it will be great to have Soto back, Hill has done a great job. Since the All-Star Break, the Cubs are 14-5, and their nice run catapulted the Cubs back into a 1st place tie with the Cardinals in the NL Central race. While Hill’s offense has been average at best, Hill has provided much needed consistency for the pitching staff, especially with Ryan Dempster and Ted Lilly each spending time on the DL during that stretch. Randy Wells has thrived with Hill behind the plate and even recently traded Kevin Hart picked up 3 wins as a starter in July. Kudos to Hill and let’s hope the winning ways keep coming on the north side of Chicago.
Posted on 04 August 2009 by Lou
There won’t be any pressure on Tom Gorzelanny when he makes his 1st Cubs start against the Reds in Cincinnati on Tuesday night. Yeah right…
Newly acquired Tom Gorzelanny is scheduled to make his 1st start for the Cubs tonight in Cincinnati. Gorzelanny made 9 major league appearances for the Pirates in 2009, going 3-1 with a 5.19 ERA and 1.15 WHIP. Gorzelanny has also made 15 starts at Triple-A Indianapolis, going 4-3 with a solid 2.48 ERA, but he has not started a major league game since September 10, 2008. No pressure, right?
The Cubs are in a virtual tie with the St. Louis Cardinals for 1st place in the NL Central (the Cubs have played 4 fewer games than the Cards). The Cubs are hoping to put a little room between them and the Cards, as the Cubs play 2 more games against the slumping Reds, while the Cards have 2 games against the Mets at CITI Field, one of which is against Mets’ ace Johan Santana. After a Thursday day off, the Cubs have 4 games at Coors Field in Colorado against the NL wild-card-leading Rockies.
The Cubs are hoping that Gorzelanny can give the Cubs a little boost as he takes the spot of Ted Lilly who is on the DL with shoulder and knee issues. Gorzelanny should make 3 maybe 4 starts for the Cubs over the next 2+ weeks. Gorzelanny had this to say about the chance to start again at the major league level: “I know I can do it up here. I’m anxious to get that chance… I’m just getting prepared like I normally do. It’s obviously the first one of the season. I’ve done this before, and I know what’s expected. I just want to go out there and do my best and not worry about what’s happening on the other side other than the game.”
Nothing like throwing you right into the mix just days after a trade. Let’s hope Gorzelanny can at least keep the Cubs offense in games during his next few starts. With the offense performing at a higher level of late, as long as he doesn’t get lit up, the Cubs should have a chance to win each game he starts. Go Tom!
Posted on 01 August 2009 by Lou
Cubs GM Jim Hendry did not sit pat leading up to the July 31st trading deadline. And although he didn’t land a big splash like Matt Holliday, Victor Martinez or Jake Peavy, he did add a much-needed lefty to the Cubs bullpen.
John Grabow has been a solid left-handed reliever for the Pirates the last 2 seasons. During the 2009 MLB schedule, Grabow appeared in 45 games for the Pirates, going 3-0 with a 3.42 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP. He had 41 K’s against 28 walks. In 2008, Grabow appeared in 74 games, going 6-3 with a 2.84 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP. He had 62 K’s and only 37 walks. For much of the season since Neal Cotts’ season-ending injury, the Cubs have relied upon just 1 lefty in the bullpen – Sean Marshall. Marshall has been a rock since moving from the 5th starter into the bullpen role, but it’s nice for Marshall to have some company back there. Grabow made his Cubs debut against the Marlins in Florida on Friday night. After walking Jeremy Hermida to lead off the 6th inning, Grabow retired the next 3 batters to work a successful scoreless inning.
The Cubs also acquired Tom Gorzelanny in the deal. Gorzelanny has made 15 starts at the Triple-A level in 2009, going 4-3 with a 2.48 ERA. Gorzelanny has made 65 career starts the major league level, going 25-26 with a 4.79 ERA and 1.50 WHIP. With the departure of Kevin Hart in the deal, Gorzelanny could find himself in the Cubs rotation until Ted Lilly returns from the DL.
Kevin Hart pitched well for the Cubs in 2009, especially as a starter the last 4 starts. Hart was 3-1 overall, winning each of his last 3 starts. He had compiled a 2.60 ERA with a 1.48 WHIP. The Cubs also dealt Jose Ascansio to the Pirates along with Single-A infielder Josh Harrison.
Posted on 30 July 2009 by Lou
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 all-important “L” column.
Posted on 27 July 2009 by Lou
With the Cubs continuing to get good starting pitching on an-almost daily basis, the rest of the NL Central better be on notice about the Chicago Cubs. The stellar Cubs pitching has kept the Cubs within striking distance of the NL Central leaders throughout the 2009 MLB schedule. The lack of offense has kept the number of wins down, but with the bats starting to come alive with the resurgence of Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano, the wins have started piling up as the pitchng continues to excel.
This weekend was a perfect example.
Randy Wells has been one of the Cubs most consistent pitchers in 2009. Wells has made 14 starts in 2009, pitching at least 5 innings in all but 1 starts. He has not allowed more than 4 earned runs in any of his starts, and even then, he has done that only 3 times. Wells has a fantastic strikeout to walk ratio (59 to 19) and his low WHIP (1.16) demonstrates that. In Friday’s win over the Reds (his 6th of the season), Wells pitched 6 innings, giving up just 3 earned runs on one bad pitch – a 3-run HR to the Reds pitcher. Wells has won 6 of his last 7 decisions. It would be hard to imagine the Cubs being where they are without the solid pitching of Wells this year. Having Wells in the starting rotation has allowed Manger Lou Pinella to move Sean Marshall back to the bullpen as the Cubs lone lefty in the pen.
On Saturday, Kevin Hart delivered another solid start filling in for the injured Ryan Dempster and Ted Lilly. His 6-inning, 1-run, 5-hit performance helped him notch his 2nd consecutive victory. More importantly, Hart walked only 1 batter – in each of his previous 5-inning starts, Hart had walked 5 batters. This is a good sign for the Cubs as Ted Lilly will continue to be on the DL for at least 3 more weeks after undergoing surgery on his left knee today.
On Sunday, Rich Harden had one of his best starts of the year. Harden gave up a solo home run to the 3rd batter of the game – Joey Votto – but retired the other 18 batters he faced, including the final 16 batters in a row. Harden needed only 90 pitches to notch his 7th win of the season. Harden has given up only 1 run in each of his last 3 starts. This outing was even more special because of the struggles he has had this year during the day (1-5; 7.38 ERA) and at home at Wrigley Field (2-5; 7.59 ERA).
Carlos Zambrano has been a mainstay in the rotation as well (7-4; 3.48 ERA; 1.35 WHIP), while the Cubs expect to get Ryan Dempster back on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field. Good news for Cubs fans all across the nation.
Posted on 26 July 2009 by Lou
So Aramis Ramirez goes, so the Cubs go. It took a couple of weeks for Aramis Ramirez to get back into the “swing” of things after his 2+ month stint on the DL, but he is “back and better than ever” to quote “Mike & Mike” in the morning. Ramirez’ hot hitting has coincided with the Cubs catapult into 1st place in the NL Central race with a 1/2 game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals. Who knows how long they will be there, but it must have come as a welcome relief to know that they have it in there despite all of the poor play and injuries that have plagued the Cubs ball club during the 2009 MLB schedule.
Aramis Ramirez has been on fire since Wednesday’s win in Philadelphia. In that game, Ramirez went 2 for 4 with 2 walks, 2 RBI’s and 2 runs scored. He had home runs in Friday’s and Saturday’s wins and 2 more hits in Sunday’s sweep of the Reds. Overall, in his last 4 games, Ramirez is 9 for 16 with 2 home runs, 4 doubles, 7 RBI’s and 4 runs scored. His batting average is back up over .330 and his on-base percentage is just under .400 at .394. When Ramirez starts hitting, it seems like the rest of the team starts hitting and developing more scoring chances.
Alfonso Soriano has really turned it on as of late. Soriano has a modest 9-game hitting streak, and his batting average is back above .250. Soriano has 5 multi-hit games during that stretch, with 3 home runs, 8 RBI’s and 5 runs scored. If the Cubs can get a more consistent and productive Soriano down the stretch in the 6-hole, the Cubs should be able to stay in the NL Central race for the duration of the 2009 MLB schedule.
The Cubs open a big 4-game series against the 3rd place Houston Astros on Monday night at Wrigley Field. Carlos Zambrano will start the opener against Wandy Rodriguez.
Posted on 25 July 2009 by Lou
The hits just keep on coming for the 2009 Cubs. The Cubs have placed Ted Lilly on the disabled list with a sore left shoulder. Lilly had an MRI on Friday, and while there is no material structural damage to the arm, there does appear to be some shoulder tendinitis that is casuing the irritation for Lilly. Lilly has also been bothered by a sore left knee of late. To deal with that injury, Lilly will undergo artheroscopic surgery on the knee to repair the miniscus issue. The recovery time will be between 3-4 weeks, so the Cubs should have Lilly back by the week of August 17th or August 24th. Ted Lilly was the lone Cubs All-Star in 2009 – 3.59 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and a 9-7 record.
The Cubs pitching staff is in disarray right now. Kevin Hart has taken the place of Ryan Dempster while he dealt with a broken toe. The Cubs expect to have Dempster back this week, but with the injury to Lilly, Hart will likely stay in the rotation until he can return. The Cubs have already relied upon rookie Randy Wells to shoulder a bulk of the starting pitching role this season. He has been one of the Cubs most consistent pitchers, compiling a 6-4 record with a 3.10 ERA and 1.16 WHIP. The Cubs will call up another rookie from Triple-A Iowa Justin Berg to fill the void in the bullpen.
Manager Lou Pinella says that the rest of the team just needs to step up their games to account for the recent loss of Dempster and Lilly and catcher Goevany Soto: “There’s never a positive when a player goes on the DL, but in this case, if we can get his knee and shoulder taken care of at once [it'll be good]. What we need to do is keep hanging in there… We’ll just go with what we have, and hang in there and get healthy and make a run. We’re in a good position. These kids are capable of pitching the same way the veterans are.”
Easier said than done, Lou. This is shaping up NOT to be the Cubs year. Where have we heard that before?! Hey Cubs fans – wait until next year!!!
Posted on 20 July 2009 by Lou
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.
Posted on 09 July 2009 by Lou
The Cubs lost to the Braves 4-1 on Wednesday afternoon. It was the same old story for the Cubs bats – only 6 total hits and only 2 walks drawn. Not good. The Cubs sole run came on a Kosuke Fukodome home run in the 6th inning. The Cubs went 1 for 6 with runners in scoring position, never coming through with the clutch hit. Kevin Hart took the loss for the Cubs. The Cubs have now scored 1 or less runs in 15 of their last 47 games. Incredible.
The Cubs are 41-41 and trail the 1st place Cards by 3.5 games in the NL Central race. The Cubs and Cards open a big 4-game weekend series at Wrigley Field on Friday afternoon.