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Cubs Lose Game, Series to Marlins – Rough Start to 2nd Half – Wrigley Field 7/18/11

Posted on 18 July 2011 by Lou

It was not the way the Cubs wanted to start their 2nd half of the 2011 season – with 3 losses in 4 games to the Marlins at Wrigley Field.  In Sunday’s 7-5 loss, Kerry Wood was the goat – giving up 3 ER on 2 hits and 2 walks in the 8th inning with the game tied at 4.  Just like that, the Cubs were on their way to another loss.

Randy Wells had pitched OK in his 6 innings – 4 ER on 8 hits and 3 walks with 4 K’s.  On a humid, steamy day, Wells gave the bullpen a much-needed break with his 102-pitch effort.  His 1.74 WHIP and 6.71 ERA are well above his career averages.  Coming off of a solid spring, Wells was injured in his 1st start and has struggled mightily since he returned to the Cubs starting rotation back on May 28th.

Aramis Ramirez had 2 hits, 2 RBI’s and a run scored in the loss.  He is now hitting .300 on the season.  Reed Johnson and Starlin Castro each had a hit, an RBI and a run scored in the game.

The Cubs host the Phillies at Wrigley Field for a 3-game set this week.  They get to face Roy Halladay tonight, Cliff Lee on Tuesday and rookie stud Vance Worley (5-1, 2.15 ERA) on Wednesday. Can you say sweep?!?!

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Marmol Wastes Garza Gem as Cubs Fall 6-3 – Wrigley Field 7/15/11

Posted on 15 July 2011 by Lou

What a joke – Carlos Marmol blew Matt Garza’s gem by allowing 5 runs in the 9th as the Cubs fell to the Marlins 6-3 to start the 2nd half on a down note.

Maybe the Cubs should consider dealing Marmol for some young talent in return…

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Matt Garza, Cubs Kick off 10-Game Homestand Against Anibal Sanchez and Florida Marlins – Wrigley Field 7/14/11

Posted on 14 July 2011 by Lou

Matt Garza and the Cubs will kick off their 10-game homestand against Anibal Sanchez and the Florida Marlins at Wrigley Field on Thursday night. The Cubs have the 2nd worst record in all of baseball at 37-55 and they are the only MLB team NOT to have at least a 3-game winning streak during the season.  Not much is expected from this mediocre squad in the 2nd half, but Garza and most Cubs fans hope that the big righty can have a solid 2nd half which will help justify trading away 4 prospects for the righty who needed a change of scenery from Tampa Bay.

Garza has made 16 starts this season, sporting a 4-7 record with a 1.34 WHIP and 4.26 ERA.  Garza is 2nd on the team with 99 strikeouts and he has walked only 33 batters in 95 innings.  Garza hopes to rebound from his last start in which he allowed 7 runs to the Washington Nationals in just 2 innings pitched…

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Castro Learns from All-Star Positives & Negatives – Wrigley Field 7/13/11

Posted on 13 July 2011 by Lou

It was an interesting 1st All-Star Game for Starlin Castro.  Caastro entered the game as a pinch runner for Troy Tulowitzki in the 5th runner.  Castro promptly stole 2nd and 3rd base to get into scoring position with less than 2 outs – a great feat for a “green” 21-year old.  But then Castro tried to score on a weak groundball hit slowly towards the pitcher’s mound and he was gunned out at the plate. And as we discussed yesterday, Castro’s one knock has been his propensity to commit errors in the field.  So we weren’t at all surprised when he cleanly fielded Carlos Quentin’s 1-out grounder in the 9th inning, but then threw the ball in the dirt allowing the A.L. to get a mini-rally going.  The A.L. never plated a run in the inning to close the 5-1 lead, but it could have turned into a disaster for Castro if his gaffe allowed the A.L. to get the win.  And so it goes for the young Castro.  He became only the 5th player to have 2 stolen bases in the same all-star game, putting his name in the company with legends like Willie Mays and Kenny Lofton.

Castro has been the Cubs best and most consistent since he came up to the big league club last May.  He has also shown some brilliant fielding prowess.  But he still makes that annoying error on routine plays and he still makes mental mistakes.  But he has clearly emerged as the Cubs best player and hopefully the Cubs will be able to surround him with a better core over the next few seasons as big contracts come off of the books at the end of the 2011 campaign.  Castro has also learned a lot from his short time in the big leagues, especially when Manager Mike Quade sat Castro for a few games last September when the superstar forget how many outs there were in the inning and didn’t run hard enough down the 1st base line as he grounded out into an inning-ending double play.  Despite that play, Castro has earned the honor and respect of Quade today — “Every experience is exactly what you make of it.  I watched him the entire time we were here, watched him interact with the greatest players on the planet, and I thought he handled himself really well.  It’s one thing to have the kind of talent he does, but when you go about your business the way he’s going about it, there’s a chance he’s really going to be something special.”

Gotta love it – now let’s hope he continues to improve on the field and that the Cubs make some smart decisions this off-season so that Castro has some help behind him…

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Starlin Castro Lone Cubs Representative in Tonight’s All-Star Game – Wrigley Field 7/12/11

Posted on 12 July 2011 by Lou

Starlin Castro is the Cubs lone representative in tonight’s All-Star Game at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona.  Now I know, Manager Quade was asked to be part of Bruce Bochy’s NL coaching staff, but gimme a break.  Quade has really under-achieved as a manager this season and it is clear that he will be back as an “assistant coach” somewhere else following the 2012 MLB season when his contract expires.

Castro has lived up to the hype once again with a solid sophomore season.  Castro is hitting .307 with an .335 on-base percentage.  He has 117 hits, 49 runs scored and 39 RBI’s.  He has walked 17 times while striking out 47 times.  He has 10 stolen bases and has only been caught stealing once.  The only negative is his fielding – he has committed a team high 18 errors on a team that has committed a whopping 77 errors.  That’s a lot of errors for a team that has played 92 games.

Good luck Starlin!

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Cubs Finish 1st Half with 2nd Worst Record in All of Baseball – Wrigley Field 7/11/11

Posted on 11 July 2011 by Lou

What a joke – after losing 7 of their last 10 games heading into the break, the Cubs finished with the 2nd worst record in all of baseball at 37-55.  Ouch…

The Cubs trail the Brewers and Cardinals by 12 games in the race for 1st place in the NL Central.  The Cubs trail the Braves by a whopping 17 games for the wild card spot.  Only the Houston Astros (30-62) have a worse record than the Cubs in all of baseball.

Starlin Castro has been the Cubs best and most consistent hitter all season – .307 batting average, 49 runs scored and 39 RBI’s.  Aramis Ramirez put together a phenomenal close to the 1st half to help his numbers look more like his career average numbers – .298 batting average, 15 HR’s and 51 RBI’s.  Carlos Pena leads the team with 19 HR’s after not hitting a single home run in the entire month of April.  And despite a stint on the DL, Alfonso Soriano has put up decent numbers – 14 HR’s and 41 RBI’s.

The pitching stats are not pretty.  Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster are tied for the team lead in wins with 6.  Matt garza has the best starter ERA at 4.26.  Dempster leads the team with 102 K’s while Garza is right on his heels with 99.

Let’s go Cubs — at least it can’t get much worse than what we’ve seen in the 1st half, right?!?!

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Cubs Rally for 5-2, 13-Inning Win Over Giants – Wrigley Field 6/30/11

Posted on 01 July 2011 by Lou

The Cubs rallied for a 5-2, 13-inning win over the Giants at Wrigley Field on Thursday afternoon.  After Aramis Ramirez’ solo home run tied the game at 1 in the bottom of the 9th inning, the Cubs needed to rally again when the Giants Pablo Sandoval hit a home run off of John Grabow in the top of the 13th inning to give the Giants a 2-1 lead.  The Cubs did just that.  Darwin Barney singled in Jeff Baker to tie the game at 2.  Then after a walk to Starlin Castro, Geovany Soto stroked a game-winning, 3-run walk off home run to give the Cubs the 5-2 win.  Hip Hip Hooray!

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Marmol Blows Dempster Gem, But Ramirez Saves Day in 9th – Wrigley Field 6/30/11

Posted on 30 June 2011 by Lou

Ryan Dempster shocked me as he matched 2-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum pitch-for-pitch in a remarkable pitching duel.  Dempster worked 8 scoreless innings and had a 1-run lead as he stepped onto the bump in the top of the 9th at 78 pitches. But when he allowed a lead-off double to Pat Burrell, Manager Mike Quade made the shocking move to “pull” Dempster from the 1-0 game after he had just pitched one of the best games of his career.  Come on, Quade – you are 11.5 games out of 1st place.  It’s not like this win is that important in the grand scheme of things.  Dempster earned the right to pitch out the game and try to get out of the 1-on, nobody out jam in the 9th.  But Quade made the move to go with closer Carlos Marmol to “save” the all-important game for the Cubs.  And the move totally back-fired.  After a strikeout, Marmol allowed an RBI single that tied the game at 1.  He then gave up a walk and a hit to put the go-ahead run in scoring position with only 1 out and luckily got Cody Ross to hit into an inning-ending double play to preserve the 1-1 tie.  But by then, the excitement over a big 1-0 win over Lincecum was long gone.

That being said, the Cubs showed some grit when Tony Campana singled to lead off the 9th inning and and Reed Johnson sacrificed him over to 2nd base to put the speedster in scoring position with only 1 out.  Geovany Soto grounded out, but pinch-hitter Aramis Ramirez came through with the clutch game-winning hit to drive in Campana with the winning run.

After 6+ scoreless innings, the Cubs finally broke through off of Lincecum in the 7th inning.  Blake DeWitt’s single drove in Carlos Pena who had doubled to lead off the inning.  It was nice to see some clutch hitting there.

The Cubs are 33-48 and they trail the Brewers by 10.5 games in the NL Central race.

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Davis/Lopez Awful in Double-Header Sweep Loss to Giants – Wrigley Field 6/29/11

Posted on 29 June 2011 by Lou

What an awful display of baseball from the Cubs on Tuesday as they dropped a day-night doubleheader by the score of 19-10 to the Giants at Wrigley Field.

In the opener, Doug Davis allowed the worst hitting team in baseball to score 10 earned runs off of him in 4+ innings.  Davis surrendered 12 hits and issued 3 walks during his embarrassing outing.

Reliever Chris Carpenter did not fare much better in his 1 2/3 innings of work – 2 ER on 4 hits and 1 walk.

Carlos Pena hit another home run – his 17th of the season – and Koyie Hill also added his 2nd home run of the season in a nice 2nd inning that tied the game at 3.  But the Cubs squandered some great chances to score against Ryan Vogelsong as he allowed 10 runners to reach base in his 5 innings of work.  Starlin Castro’s hitting streak came to an end with his 0 for 5 effort.

The 2nd game didn’t get much better.  Rodrigo Lopez allowed 4 runs (only 1 earned) on 8 hits and 2 walks in 4 2/3 innings pitched.  Granted 3 of his runs were unearned because of Reed Johnson’s fielding gaffe, but you’ve gotta pick each other up.  John Grabow tried to get Lopez out of the 5th inning, but he allowed the 1st 4 batters he faced to reach base with a walk and 3 hits before he recorded the final out of the inning.  But by then, it was too little too late as the Giants regained a 6-2 lead over the Cubs.

Luis Montanez hit his 1st career major league home run off of Barry Zito in the 3rd inning.  His HR gave the Cubs a 2-1 lead.  Aramis Ramirez also hit a solo home run in the 9th inning. Starlin Castro started another hitting streak by going 1 for 4 in the loss.

Let’s hope Ryan Dempster can bring his “A” game against Tim Lincecum tonight.  Lincecum is only 6-6 on the year, but he has a nasty 3/16 ERA and 1.19 WHIP with 113 K’s against only 38 walks in 105+ innings pitched…  The Cubs are a season-low 16 games under .500 at 32-48.

 

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Cubs Top Rockies 7-3 in Make-Up Game on Monday – Wrigley Field 6/28/11

Posted on 28 June 2011 by Lou

The Cubs defeated the Rockies 7-3 in the makeup game of a game rained out back on April 27th.

Matt Garza pitched into the 8th inning, allowing just 3 ER on 5 hits.  Most importantly, Garza did not allow a walk and he struck out 6 hitters in his 111-pitch effort.

Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena are both heating up.  Ramirez went 3 for 4 with 3 RBI’s and 3 runs scored.  He hit a 2-run HR in the 1st inning and a solo home run in the 7th inning.  Pena hit 2 home runs – a solo shot in the 4th inning and a 2-run bomb in the 5th inning.  Pena now leads the club with his 16 home runs and 42 RBI’s despite a batting average in the low .200′s. Starlin Castro had a single to extend his hitting streak to 11-games.

The Cubs are now 32-46 and they trail the Brewers by 11.5 games in the NL Central race.  Not good..

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