Posted on 01 October 2009 by Lou
This image of Sam Fuld and Micah Hoffpauir colliding in the outfield sums up the Cubs 2009 MLB schedule perfectly. Ted Lilly and Carlos Zambrano each struggled in their final 2009 starts, as the Cubs dropped a double-header to the Pirates at Wrigley Field on Thursday. Guess that really sums up what a bad 2009 the Cubs organization has endured.
In the opener, Lilly gave up all 4 runs in the 1st inning. After that, he settled down and pitched 7 innings, giving up just a total of 5 hits and 2 walks. He struck out 8. Lilly will end the year with 12 wins, a 3.10 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP. The sad part was that the Cubs bats were silenced by rookie Charlie Morton. Just 5+ weeks ago, the Cubs lit up Morton for 10 ER on 7 hits in just 1 inning of work. How he goes from that to a complete game 4-hit shutout against the same team is mind-boggling. Just proves how inconsistent the Cubs have been at the plate in 2009.
In the nightcap, the team did not fare much better. Zambrano pitched just 6 innings because of a high pitch count (117 pitches). Big Z walked 4 and ended up giving up 4 ER and 6 hits. Zambrano suffered his 7th loss of the season, and it will be the 1st time in 6 seasons that Carlos does not end up with double-digit wins. Very disappointing from your supposed ace.
Esmailin Caridad had another perfect inning of relief work and now has a 1.56 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP. Carlos Marmol, on the other hand, continued to struggle when not in a save situation. Marmol gave up a leadoff home run in the 9th inning and 2 walks before recording the 27th and final Pirates out of the night.
Jeff Samardzija will make another spot start in the series finale against the Pirates on Thursday night at Wrigley Field. The Cubs are still stuck on 82 wins…
Posted on 18 September 2009 by Lou
Randy Wells has struggled down the stretch here during the 2009 MLB schedule. The Cubs 38th round draft choice in 2002 has logged 147 innings in 24 starts, so it’s not surprising that he’s experiencing a little arm fatigue right now. Manager Lou Pinella played it right yesterday. After just 4 innings of work – 5 ER on 5 hits and 5 walks in 80 pitches – Pinella pulled Wells for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the inning. Micah Hoffpauir came through with a clutch 2-out double that cut the Brewers lead to 5-4. The move got the Cubs closer in the game, and gave Wells a little extra rest here.
The Cubs have now dropped 5 of Wells’ last 6 starts. Not all of it has not been Wells’ fault, but he has not been as crisp as he was at the start of the season. In 3 of the starts, Wells gave up 5 runs with all but 2 of those runs being earned. The Cubs lost all 3 games. In the other 3 starts, however, he gave up a total of 5 runs with only of the runs being earned. Wells and the Cubs went 1-2 in those 3 games. The bigger concern is watching Wells lose some of his command. In the 6 starts, he walked 2, 4, 2, 0, 3 and 5 respectively. Not good for someone who has had a WHIP in the low 1.20’s for most of the season. Regardless of how it all shakes out here, Wells has been a pleasant surprise in 2009 and has likely earned him a slot in the 2010 Cubs starting rotation. Let’s just hope the Cubs can get the rest of their act together before the start of spring training 2010.
Oh yeah, the Cubs lost 7-4, and Milton Bradley left the game with left knee inflammation after a single in the top of the 6th inning. The Cubs trail the Cards by 9 games (Cards magic number is 8) and the Rockies by 7 games. Yippee…
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 26 June 2009 by Lou
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.
Posted on 25 June 2009 by Lou
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.
Posted on 24 June 2009 by Lou
The Tigers defeated the Cubs 5-4 in the bottom of the 9th inning on Ryan Raburn’s pinch-hit, game-winning, walk-off HR off Cubs closer Kevin Gregg.
We should have known the way this game was going to end when the Cubs muffed a bases loaded, no out opportunity in the top fo the 1st inning against Edwin Jackson. Alfonso Soriano and Ryan Theriot started the inning of with singles and Milton Bradley coaxed a walk from Jackson to load the bases with no one out. What a great way to get off to a good start on the road where the Cubs have won only 13 games this season, right? Well cue up the tape from at least 30 other games this year. Derrek Lee grounds into a fielder’s choice which drives in Soriano. 1st and 3rd, one out. Then Micah Hoffpauir strikes out and Geovany Soto grounds out to end the threat without any further damage.
After those 1st 2 hits against Jackson, the Cubs got only 2 hits against the Tigers through the next 23 outs of the game. One of those was a bunt single too. Talk about futility…
With 2 outs in the 8th inning, Derrek Lee singled and Micah Hoffpauir gave the Cubs a short-lived 4-3 lead with a 2-run bomb to right field off of Joel Zumaya (who helped Micah out in a big way by throwing a change-up right down the heart of the plate). Lee extended his career-best hitting streak to 20 games with 2 hits in the loss.
But just when you think the Cubs are going to pull off the come-from-behind road win in Detroit, flash forward to the 9th inning for closer Kevin Gregg. Gregg walked the lead off hitter David Taylor. After getting Brandon Inge to pop out, pinch-hitter Ryan Raburn crushed a Gregg fastball over the left center field fence to give the Tigers the 5-4 win.
How many times do you say – “you can’t walk the lead-off man in an inning 0 it always come back to haunt you.” And so it did last night against Gregg. It also hurt Carlos Zambrano in the 7th inning. With the Cubs leading 2-1, Zambrano walked Taylor and then served up a 2-run HR to Brandon Inge. That’s 2 runs handed to the Tigers by walks last night. It is completely unacceptable.
Except for a shaky 1st inning and the Taylor walk in the 7th, Big Z pitched a solid game – 7 innings, 3 ER, 5 hits and 2 walks. Instead of getting the win, Zambrano suffered a no decision.
The two teams play again tonight in Detroit – Rich Harden against rookie Rick Porcello who is seeking his 9th win of the 2009 MLB schedule.
Posted on 22 June 2009 by Lou
Have the Cubs “righted” the ship? The upcoming 10-game road trip to Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago (against the White Sox at US Cellular Field) and Pittsburgh should shed a lot of light on that question.
After starting the just-completed home stand at Wrigley Field with 3 losses in 4 games, it was not looking good for the Cubs. But with miraculous come-from-behind victories on Thursday against the White Sox and Friday and Saturday against the Indians, a calm seemed to settle over the Cubs. A calm similar to that possessed by the Cubs in 2008 when the finished with the best record in the National League. On Sunday, the Cubs cruised through a 6-2 win over the Indians to complete the sweep over Cleveland and get Randy Wells his 1st major league victory.
Key players have started to swing the bat better during the 4-game winning streak. Derrek Lee has an 18-game hitting streak and now has his average up to .287. Milton Bradley has a 10-game hitting streak and has his batting average up to .248. Ryan Theriot has a modest 7-game hitting streak and now has his average heading back to the .300 mark at .282. And Geovany Soto has hits in 4 of his last 5 games and his batting average at .225. Not where their career numbers are, but at least they are trending in the right direction. Alfonso Soriano is the only Cubs player still in his hitting funk – with only 4 hits in his last 7 games. Luckily, 2 of those hits helped the Cubs win recent ball games, but his batting average still sits at .224. Despite the bad numbers, he still leads the Cubs with 14 HR’s and 43 runs scored.
Jake Fox and Micah Hoffpauir continue to provide sparks every so often, and seem more comfortable in the part-time contributing roles.
The starting pitching staff continues to go out there and throw quality starts, so they are keeping the Cubs in ball games. As long as they continue to pitch well, if the Cubs bats consistently provide 4-5 runs per game, the Cubs should win more than they lose.
The Cubs are 34-31 and they trail the Cards by 2.5 games. The Cubs take on the Braves in Atlanta tonight – making up a game that was rained out at the beginning of June. Ryan Dempster takes on Javier Vasquez.
Posted on 19 June 2009 by Lou
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.
Posted on 15 June 2009 by Lou
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…