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Cubs Beat Brewers 8-2; Take 3 of 4 in Weekend Series @ Wrigley

Posted on 06 July 2009 by Lou

Brewers Cubs Baseball

Cubs defeated the Brewers 8-2 on Sunday afternoon at Wrigley Field.  Ted Lilly improved to 8-6 on the season, going 6 1/3 innings, allowing just 2ER on 9 hits and no walks.  Lilly fanned 9 Brewers players.  Carlos Marmol worked a scoreless 9th inning with 2K’s and seems to be back on track.

Derrek Lee and Jake Fox were the hitting heroes for the Cubs.  Derrek Lee went 2 for 4 with 3 RBI’s and 1 run scored, including a 2-run HR in the 1st inning.  Fox went 2 for 4 with 2 RBI’s and 2 runs scored, including a 2-run HR in a 3-run 4th inning.  Kosuke Fukodome, Ryan Theriot, Alfonso Soriano and Mike Fontenot each had 2 hits for the Cubs. 

The Cubs trail the Cards by 2.5 games and the Brewers by 1.5 games in the NL Cental race.  The Cubs have a 3-game seies against the Braves before opening up a huge 4-game weekend series against the Cards at Wrigley before the All-Star Break.

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Finally – Lou Pinella Moves Alfonso Soriano Down in Order!

Posted on 04 July 2009 by Lou

alfonso soriano 1

It’s about time!  Manager Lou Pinella has finally moved Alfonso Soriano down in the lineup for today’s game against the Brewers at Wrigley Field.  Soriano has been awful in 2009 after a decent start – .226 batting average; .291 on-base percentage; 26 walks, 77 K’s.  From June 24th-28th, Soriano actually had 2 hits in each of 4 of 5 Cubs games, but he has gone hitless in his last 3 games.  Soriano will bat 6th in the lineup in today’s game, with Kosuke Fukodome assuming the lead-off role for the Cubs.  The rest of the Cubs lineup looks like Ryan Theriot, Derrek Lee, Milton Bradley, Jake Fox – 2-5 – and then Geovany Soto and Mike Fontenot 7th and 8th in the lineup.

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Randy to the Rescue – Cubs Top Pirates 4-1

Posted on 02 July 2009 by Lou

Cubs Pirates Baseball

Randy Wells helped the Cubs get back on track with a 7-inning gem that helped the Cubs beat the Pirates 4-1.  Wells needed only 97 pitches, giving up only 1 ER on 6 hits and 1 walk.  He struck out 4 and did not allow a run after giving up a 1st inning run. The rookie Wells has turned into the Cubs most dependable starter right now, lowering his ERA 2.43 to and his WHIP to 1.08.  Wells had this to say about his quality 2009 start: “I like to think I’ve been consistent.  When I was called up to make my first start, I said, ‘Just be who you are. Go out, throw strikes, mix speeds and keep the flow of the game going.’”  Wells has certainly done that in his 10 starts – he has given up more than 2 runs in only 2 of his starts.

Carlos Marmol worked a scoreless 8th inning although he did hit the leadoff hitter with a pitch.  Kevin Gregg worked a 1-2-3 9th inning to preserve the win and pick up his 14th save of the season.

Derrek Lee got the Cubs off to a good start with a 2-run HR to deep right center field in the 1st inning.  Kosuke Fukodome’s solo HR in the 6th inning gave the Cubs a 3-1 lead and Geovany Soto’s RBI single in the 8th inning tacked on another insurance run for the Cubs.  Sam Fuld, recently called up to take the place of the injured Aaron Miles, had 2 hits and scored a run.  Ryan Theriot, Fukodome and Soto also each had 2 hits.

Manager Lou Pinella was ejected from the game in the 6th inning for arguing a call made by 1st base umpire Chad Fairchild who called Wells out.  The play ended a Cubs threat that would have scored a run.

The Cubs start the month of July with a win – good news.  The potential bad news – they start the most important home stand of the 2009 MLB schedule on Thursday night against the Brewers at Wrigley Field and it’s unclear if they are ready for it.  At 37-38, the Cubs trail the Brewers by 3.5 games, the Cards by 2.5 games and the Reds by .5 games.  The Cubs need to win at least 2 of the games against the Brewers this weekend.  Anything less than that and the season could be over.  Ryan Dempster (4-5. 4.09 ERA) takes the bump against Seth McClung (3-1, 3.55 ERA) in the Thursday night opener.

Cubs Pirates Baseball

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Cubs – Have they hit Rock Bottom Yet – We Think Not!

Posted on 01 July 2009 by Lou

Cubs Pirates Baseball

When will the tides turn for the 2009 Cubs?  And if it does turn, how long will it last?  2 frustrating questions for Manager Lou Pinella.

Pinella finally had something to smile about as the Cubs defeated the Pirates 3-1 on Monday night.  Rich Harden picked up the win (his 1st win in 6 starts), despite constantly working in and out of jams in his 7 innings of work.  Harden gave up 9 hits and 1 walk, but only 1 ER, while striking out 9.  The Cubs finally had a team fail to come through in the clutch, as the Pirates left the bases loaded in the 5th inning and 2 runners on base in each of the 6th and 7th innings.  Carlos Marmol and Kevin Gregg – 2 of the Cubs most inconsistent relievers all season long – worked perfect innings in the 8th and 9th to preserve the win.

The Cubs scored their runs on an Andres Blanco single in the 2nd inning; a Ryan Theriot HR in the 3rd inning and a Milton Bradley double in the 4th inning.

But the optimistism didnt last long for the Cubs, as .500 pitcher Ross Ohlendorf shutout out the Cubs on Tuesday night in a 3-0 embarassing loss for the north siders.  3 miscues summed up this game, and that’s all I’m going to say about it.

1 – The Pirates scored their 1st run of the game when Ted Lilly struck out Brandon Moss on what should have been an inning-ending strikeout.  Instead, it turned into a wild pitch and Freddy Sanchez scored on a heads-up play all the way from 2nd base when Lilly couldn’t field Geovany Soto’s low throw at home plate.  Bonehead play #1 for the Cubs.

2 -The Cubs managed only 2 hits off Olendorf through 6 innings, so the Cubs should have been careful when they got on base.  With 2 outs in the 7th inning, Soto singled and Mike Fontenot followed up with a single to left field.  Instead of staying at 2nd base for Ryan Theriot, Soto tried to advance to 3rd with the play right in front of him and he was easily thrown out to end the inning.  Bonehead play #2 for the Cubs.

3 – Ryan Theriot and Milton Bradley led off the 8th with singles and they each  advanced a base on Jack Wilson’s throwing error.  2nd and 3rd, nobody out, top of the order coming to the plate – great situation, right?  Maybe not.  Alfonso Soriano strike out, Kosuke Fukodome strike out and a weak Derrek Lee groundout to 2nd base – end of threat – end of ball game.  Bonehead play #3 for the Cubs.  Here’s your 3-0 loss Cubs fans…

This team really sucks…  The Brewers beat up on Johan Santana and the Mets to increase their lead over the Cubs to 4.5 games.  Not good.

The Cubs-Pirates Wednesday night finale will feature Randy Wells (winner of 2 straight) and Virgil Vasquez (who won his 1st start of 2009 last week against the Kansas City Royals).

Cubs Pirates Baseball

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Another Day, Another Loss, Tigers Sweep Cubs with 6-5 Win

Posted on 26 June 2009 by Lou

tigers sweep cubs in detroit1

The Tigers completed a 3-game sweep of the Cubs on Thursday afternoon with a 6-5 win over Ted Lilly.  Lilly had his worst outing of the 2009 MLB schedule and suffered his 5th loss of the season.  Although the Cubs staked Lilly to a 3-0 lead in the 1st inning and a 4-2 lead in the 4th inning, Lilly couldn’t hold it, giving up 6 ER and 10 hits in 6 innings of work.  He threw 107 pitches and and struck out 6.

Couple of positive hitting notes – Jake Fox went 3 for 4 with 3 RBI’s and 1 run scored as he clubbed his 1st career major league home run in the 1st inning.  Alfonso Soriano had 2 hits and scored on Fox’s HR and Kosuke Fukodome had 2 hits including an RBI triple in the 4th inning.  Micah Hoffpauir stroked his 7th HR of the season to pull the Cubs within 1 run leading off the 9th, but the Cubs failed to cash in on Fukodome’s 2 out double as Tigers closer Francisco Rodney struck out Geovany Soto to end the game.  On a side note, Derrek Lee went 0 for 4 and had his career-best 21-game hitting streak come to an end in the loss.

This Cubs team might be one of the most inconsistent teams in club history.  After winning 4 games over the White Sox and Indians last weekend, the Cubs have now lost 4 in a row and look lost out there.  The Cubs are now back under .500 at 34-35 and have 3 games coming up against the White Sox at US Cellular Field where they typically do not play well.  The Cubs went winless on a 6-game road trip to St. Louis and San Diego back in May, and it looks like they may eclipse that mark if the White Sox sweep them over the weekend.

Fortunately for the Cubs, the Cards and Brewers keep losing too.  The Cards are 40-34 and have a 1 game lead over the Brewers (38-34) and a 3.5 game lead over the Cubs.

Cubs Tigers Soto Marijuana Baseball

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Cubs Losing Streak at 3, with 5-3 Loss to Tigers

Posted on 25 June 2009 by Lou

Cubs Tigers Baseball

The Cubs are falling back into their poor hitting ways.  The Cubs had 11 hits and 7 walks, but scored only 3 runs in the 5-3 loss.  The Cubs had their chances, but never seemed to come up with the clutch hit.  After a 1-2-3 1st inning, the Cubs got at least 2 runners on base in the 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 9th innings, but never scored more than 1 run in a given inning.  In the 5th inning, Micah Hoffpuair struck out with the bases loaded and 2 outs.  In the 6th inning, the Cubs had the bases loaded with no one out and scored only 1 run on a Mike Fontenot ground out.   In the 7th inning, the Cubs had the bases loaded and only 1 out, but scored only 1 run on Jake Fox’s sacrifice fly.  And in the 9th inning, Derrek Lee walked and moved to 2nd on Hoffpauir’s single with no one out.  But Milton Bradley struck out, Jake Fox flew out to deep right field and Kosuke Fukodome struck out to end the game.  The Cubs are 1 for 19 with runners in scoring position during the 3-game losing streak and have averaged only 2.3 runs in each loss despite numerous scoring chances.

The pitching left a lot to be desired in the game as well in a rare off-night.  Rich Harden needed 109 pitches to labor through 5 1/3 innings.  He gave up 4 runs (2 earned) on 4 hits and 4 walks.  Not a good start by any means.  Aaron Heilmand gave up 3 hits in his 1 2/3 innings of work and walked in a run, while Jose Ascansio also gave up 3 hits and a run in his 1/3 of an inning. Manager Lou Pinella called upon Carlos Marmol to put out Ascansio’s 2 on, 2 out mess in the 8th inning and promptly walked the 1st 2 batters that he faced, giving the Tigers an important insurance run that pushed the lead from 1 to 2 runs.

All in all, another bad road showing from the Cubs as they provided little fireworks in an 11-hit offensive attack.  Back at .500 – 34-34 – the Cubs still trail the Cards by 3.5 games in the NL Central race.

Cubs Tigers Baseball

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No Clutch Hitting = 2-0 Loss for Cubs in Atlanta

Posted on 23 June 2009 by Lou

Cubs Braves Baseball

The old demons are back – the Cubs lost to the Braves 2-0 on Monday night in Atlanta.  Despite getting 10 hits and 3 walks, the Cubs left 18 runners on base and got shut out.  Beautiful.  Andres Blanco led the Cubs with 4 LOB, while Kosuke Fukodome, Jake Fox and Derrek Lee each had 3 LOB.  Fox had 2 hits filling in for Alfonso Soriano in left field, but they never came at the right time. Same could be said for Blanco who also had 2 hits.  There were 5 innings in which the Cubs had at least 2 runners reach base, but they could never push over a run.

Ryan Dempster pitched well enough to earn a win, but Manager Lou Pinella may have left him in the game too long.  Down 1-0 after 6 innings, Pinella opted to let Dempster lead off the top of the 7th inning – he made an out.  The next 2 Cubs reached base, but Fox and Lee failed to move them home.  Who knows what would have happened if Pinella had sent up a pinch-hitter instead of Dempster.  Then Dempster got into trouble in the bottom of the 7th inning, allowing the Braves 2nd run of the game on a Chipper Jones sacrifice fly.  Pinella then pulled Dempster after 118 pitches, 8 hits, 4 walks and 6 K’s.  While it was another quality start for Dempster, he was constantly working out of jams from the 3rd inning on and he fell to 4-5 on the season.

Pinella gave Milton Bradley and Soriano the night off to get ready for interleague play this week against the Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox.  The Cubs did not lose any ground in the NL Central race as the New York Mets defeated the St. Louis Cardinals at CITI Field in New York.  The Cards still lead the Cubs by 2.5 games.

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Back-to-Back Dramatic Wins for Cubs – Top Indians 8-7 in 10 @ Rocking Wrigley Field

Posted on 20 June 2009 by Lou

Indians Cubs Baseball

2 – for -2 – as the Cubs made it 2 dreamatic come-from-behind wins in a row, topping the Indians 8-7 in 10 innings.  The Cubs last 3 wins have come as the walk-off variety at Wrigley Field, including the last 2 days against the White Sox in the 9th inning on Thursday and the Indians in the 10th inning on Friday.

It didn’t look like the Cubs were going to build off the momentum of Thursday’s big win over the White Sox in the series finale of the cross-town classic.  The Cubs trailed the Indians 7-0 in the 5th inning and Cliff Lee was dominating the Cubs in every way.  Rich Harden had a poor outing – 7 ER on 7 hits and 3 walks, including a pair of 3-run home runs to Luis Valbuena and Victor Martinez.  But the Cubs didn’t give up. The bullpen kept the Cubs in the game with 5 scoreless innings – David Patten, Aaron Heilman, Jose Ascansio, Carlos Marmol and Kevin Gregg – and the Cubs hitters kept chipping away at the 7-run lead.

Reed Johnson hit a solo home run in the 5th inning and Derrek Lee followed suit with a solo shot of his own in the 6th inning.  With the lead 7-2 starting the bottom of the 8th inning, Milton Bradley got a big leadoff single that knocked Lee out of the ball game.  The Indians have one of the worst bullpens in the league, so no lead is safe with them.  As was the case at Wrigley on Friday afternoon.  A Geovany Soto double and a Reed Johnson loaded the bases with 2 outs.  Then the fun began.  Andres Blanco hit a 2-RBI single to right field and Koyie Hill smoked a hard groundball to 3rd bases that Jhonny Peralta couldn’t handle.  It was ruled an error, but in any event, the Cubs had cut the lead to 7-5.  Soriano cut the Indians lead to just 1 run with a single to center field.  Ah the Drama.

Carlos Marmol worked out of a 9th inning 1st and 2nd, 2-out jam, by striking out Martinez to end the threat.  The Indians brought in former Cubs closer Kerry Wood to close out the 1-run win for the Indians, but he promptly served up a 1-out game-tying homer to Derrek Lee that sent the Wrigley faithful into a tizzy.

Kevin Gregg had to escape a rough 10th inning as well – a single, 2 errors and a HBP led to a 2-out bases loaded jam.  But Gregg got pinch-hitter Ryan Garko to line out to center field on a great sliding catch by Kosuke Fukodome to preserve the 7-7 tie.

In the 10th, the Cubs used small ball once again to get the job done.  With 2 outs, Alfsonso Soriano coaxed a walk and stole 2nd base to get into scoring position.  Ryan Theriot hit a hard ground ball towards the right side that took a bad hop to evade the glove of Martinez.  Soriano scored easily from 2nd and the Cubs had the 8-7 win. Cubs win!  Cubs Win! Cubs Win!

It was not a great day for former Cubs Wood, but Mark DeRosa put in a solid 1 for 3 effort, with 2 walks, 1 RBI and 1 run scored.

Let’s hope the Cubs can get out to an early lead on Saturday behind Ted Lilly.  It would be the Cubs first 3-game winning streak in a very long time…

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Cubs Pull off Dramatic 6-5 Win Over Sox in Bottom of 9th Inning

Posted on 19 June 2009 by Lou

White Sox Cubs Baseball

The Cubs defeated the White Sox 6-5 in the bottom of the 9th inning.  I was getting ready to write my same old blog post over again – Cubs waste good outing from Cubs starting pitcher “X”; Cubs hitters can’t get clutch hit and score only 1 run; Cubs lose… again… – but then the baseball gods smiled upon the Cubs and fans at Wrigley Field.  Micah Hoffpauir had a good at-bat against reliever Scott Linebrink and eventually hit a hard-hit groundball to 2nd base that Chris Getz’s misplayed for an error.  Alfonso Soriano then singled to center field for 1st and 2nd with only 1 out.  Then it looked like the Cubs were back to their usual hitting ways – a Ryan Theriot popout and a Milton Bradley strikeout.  Two on, two outs for Derrek Lee and with 1 swing of the bat, Lee crushed Linebrink’s pitch to righ field for a 3-run home run.  Geovany Soto then cruched a solo home run to left center field to tie the game at 5.

Kevin Gregg worked a scoreless 9th inning despite giving up a leadoff single to Alexei Ramirez.  And the Cubs played small ball to perfection in the bottom of the inning.  Reed Johnson pinch-hit for the 0 for 3 Kosuke Fukodome and singled to lead off the inning.  Andres Blanco sacrificed Johnson to 2nd base to put the winning run into scoring position.  After an Aaron Miles groundout, Alfonso Soriano hit a bloop single to right center field that drove in Johnson with the winning run.

Carlos Zambrano pitched a good game – 7 innings, 6 hits, 3 walks and 3 ER with 3 K’s.  Big Z made only 1 bad pitch all day – that a fastball to Alexei Ramirez in the top of the 7th inning which Ramirez took deep to left to give the White Sox a 3-1 lead.  The game looked finished when Carlos Marmol took over for Zambrano and promptly gave the White Sox 2 insurance runs on a Chris Getz double and a Gordon Beckham single.  But the Cubs never gave up and pulled off the improbable win to the delight of the “Wrigley Faithful”.

The Cubs moved back to .500 with the win at 31-31.  They trail the Brewers by 4 games in the NL Central.

White Sox Cubs Baseball

White Sox Cubs Baseball

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Cubs Replace Hitting Coach Gerald Perry with Von Joshua

Posted on 15 June 2009 by Lou

Twins Cubs Baseball

With the Cubs hitting funk getting worse and worse, the Cubs decided to make a move by replacing Cubs hitting coach Gerald Perry with Triple-A Iowa hitting coach Von Joshua.  GM Jim Hendry had this to say about the move:  “Obviously, we’ve been struggling for a long time.  I’m not one to dump all the blame on the coaches.  I’ve never mad a coaching change to my knowledge in the middle of the year.  I think sometimes you need a different voice.  Every day, we have five guys in the lineup who have played in the All-Star Game.  For whatever reason, they are not performing anywhere close to where they’ve performed in their careers.  Sometimes you have to try something different, and sometimes it’s a different voice maybe saying the same things.”

Von Joshua has been a hitting coach since 1984.  He is in his 4th year at Iowa and has worked with several of the young Cubs players on the major league roster, including Ryan Theriot, Micah Hoffpauir and Mike Fontenot.  Joshua also worked at the big league level with the cross-town rival Chicago White Sox.

The move was tough on Manager Lou Pinella who had Perry on his staffs in both Seattle and Chicago.  “It’s tough on me, because I’ve been with Gerald a long time, six years.  This was an organizational decision.  Gerald and I were together in Seattle and together here in Chicago.  We’ve had success together.  I thank him for all the hard work that he’s put in on my staffs.”

It has been frustrating for everyone involved.  In 2008, the Cubs led the National League in runs scored.  But in 2009, the Cubs rank 14th and are hitting only .246 as a team.  Ryan Theriot has the highest batting average of any starter at .278 – what a joke.  Alfonso Soriano is hitting .233; Kosuke Fukodome only .266 after starting the season well over .300; Milton Bradley only .226 and Geovany Soto only .209.  When the Cubs lost 2-0 to the Twins on Saturday, it was the 13th time in the last 23 games in which the Cubs have scored 2 runs or less in a ball game.  Not good. Not good.

I guess it can’t get any worse, and maybe having a new coach working with the players could help.  Maybe he’ll spot something on a player or 2 that Perry missed, and once 1 or 2 guys start to get hot, it could have a snowball effect at some point down the line.  Trying to stay optimistic here…

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