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 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 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 24 July 2009 by Lou
The Cubs countered the Cards’ Friday acquisition of A’s slugger Matt Holliday by slugging out a big 8-5 home win over the Cincinnati Reds at Wrigley Field. Randy Wells picked up his 6th win of the season – 6 innings, 7 hits, 1 walk and 5 K’s. The Reds scored their lone runs off of Wells on pitcher Aaron Harang’s 1st career home run – a 3-run shot in the 2nd inning that gave the Reds a 3-1 lead. But Wells settled down after that and Aaron Heilman and Carlos Marmol each worked perfect innings to get the Cubs to a 4-3 lead in the 8th.
The Cubs bats added 4 runs in the bottom of the 8th inning to blow the game open – but it was good that happened because closer Kevin Gregg struggled in a no-save situation in the 9th by giving up 2 runs on 3 hits and a walk.
The Cubs offense had a productive day 8 runs on 14 hits, including 4 home runs. Aramis Ramirez was the star – 4 for 5 with 3 RBI’s and 1 run scored, including the go-ahead solo HR in the 6th inning that gave the Cubs the lead for good. Derrek Lee and Kosuke Fukodome each had 2 hits. Mike Fontenot and Jeff Baker each hit solo home runs. Could this be a sign of good things to come? One think I’ve leanred with this Cubs team – you have to take it day-by-day.
The St. Louis Cardinals now have a 1.0 game lead over the Cubs pending their game against the Phillies Friday night in Philadelphia. The Cards are hoping to make a big splash with the Holliday acquisition, but gave up 3 young prospects, one of whom was considered to be the Cards best minor league player – power-hitting 3rd baseman Brett Wallace – to acquire Holliday. Plus with Holliday becoming a free agent in the off-season, there is no guarantee that the tight-spending Cards will be able to sign Holliday to a long-term deal with slugger Albert Pujols becoming a free agent following the 2010 MLB schedule.
The Cubs fended off the Milwaukee Brewers in 2008 after the Brewers landed prized ace C.C. Sabathia in early July for the stretch pennant run, and the Cubs hope that they will be able to overtake the Cards in 2009 during the last 2+ months of the season despite the Holliday acquisition.
Although the Cubs won’t be making any big moves themselves because of the tenuous sale/ownership situation, having certain players perform at higher levels will serve as “mid-year” acquisitions in 2009. Aramis Ramirez getting back on track after his shoulder injury and Milton Bradley and Alfonso Soriano hitting closer to their career numbers will certainly go a long way. Getting Ryan Dempster and Geovany Soto back from their injury stints on the disabled list will also help. It’s not the ideal situation for the Cubs, but it is what it is. Should be a fun, but rocky ride in August and September – let’s just hope they have enough in the tank to win a 3rd straight NL Central division title.
Posted on 22 July 2009 by Lou
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…
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 13 July 2009 by Lou
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.
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.
Posted on 08 July 2009 by Lou
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.
Posted on 07 July 2009 by Lou
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.