Archive | Randy Wells

Harden Serves Up Another Good Start – Should Cubs Re-Sign Him?

Posted on 27 August 2009 by Lou

Nationals Cubs Baseball

Although Rich Harden took a no decision in Wednesday night’s 9-4 win over the Nationals at Wrigley Field, he turned in another stellar start in a very impressive 2nd half of 2009.  Harden worked through a shaky 1st inning and held the Nats to just 2 ER on 5 hits and 2 walks in 6 innings.  His pitch count was a bit high – 96 pitches – but it was his 8th straight since the all-star break in which he has not allowed more than 2 ER in an outing.  Very impressive for someone that entered the 2009 MLB schedule with a lot of question marks.

Harden now has 22 starts on the season and if he stays healthy the rest of the way, he should get at least another 7 starts before the season ends.  I remember most Cubs critics and fans saying that if Harden made 25 starts for the Cubs in 2009, that would be a huge success.  Harden has 8 wins and his ERA is under 4.00 (at 3.99) for the 1st time since April 26th after he held the Cardinals to just 2 ER in a 10-3 Cubs win in St. Louis.  Harden has made at least 22 starts in a season only 2 other times – back in 2004 (31 starts) and 2005 (22 starts).  With his 2009 performance, and his ability to prove to all other MLB clubs that he can stay healthy for a good portion of the year, he will likely be pursued hard in the off-season.  And that’s when the question becomes – should the Cubs sign him to a long-term deal?

A few things work against the Cubs on this one.  With the tenuous ownership situation, who knows when the new ownership team will be in place to determine a course of action for the off-season free agency period.  The Cubs will likely be at a disadvantage against other clubs as a new team might not be able to give GM Jim Hendry adequate guidance as to whom he can and cannot pursue this off-season.  Further, with close to $150 million already committed to athletes locked in for the 2010 MLB schedule, there will be little room to add significant payroll this off-season, especially with the new ownership group getting adjusted to life as a MLB team owner.  Lastly, there still has to be some concern with Harden’s health as a major league starter.  Harden spent some time on the DL at the end of 2008 with a “tired arm” and he had a stint on the DL again this past May-June and missed about 5 starts over a 3-week period.  Given past problems with pitchers with histories of arm woes – Mark Prior, Kerry Wood – I have a feeling that the Cubs won’t gamble on signing Harden to a long-term deal.

Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster and Ted Lilly are all locked in for 2010.  Randy Wells has emerged as a legitimate major league pitcher – 19 starts, 120 1/3 innings pitched, 1.20 WHIP, 2.84 ERA and will likely serve as the team’s 4th starter in 2010.  Sean Marshall can also return to a starting role and Jeff Samardzija, despite his struggles in 2009, is also seen as a viable starting pitcher down the line.

As for the 9-4 win, Koyie Hill was the Cubs offensive hero, going 3 for 3 with 2 RBI’s and 2 runs scored.  Hill scored the go-ahead run on Milton Bardley’s fielder’s choice groundout in the 7th inning and he broke the game open with a 2-out, 2-run double in the 8th inning that gave the Cubs a 5-2 lead.  The Cubs went on to score 6 insurance runs in the 8th inning.  Milton Bradley went 1 for 3 with a 2-run home run that gave the Cubs their 1st lead of the game in the 3rd inning.  Bradley had 3 RBI’s and 2 runs scored on the night.

At 63-61, the Cubs still trail the Cards by 9 games in the NL Central race and the Rockies by 7.5 games in the NL Wild Card race.  Not good…

Nationals Cubs Baseball

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It’s Do Or Die for Cubs with Upcoming 10-Game Homestand @ Wrigley Field

Posted on 25 August 2009 by Lou

Cubs Milton Bradley Risk 1

It’s do or die time for the Cubs with a HUGE 10-game homestand at Wrigley Field.  As I wrote yesterday, the Cubs are one of the better home teams in the National League (35-22).  The Cubs are 7.5 games back of the Rockies in the NL Wild Card race and 8 games back of the Cards in the NL Central race.  The Cubs have an “easy” 10-game homestand “teed up for them” to crush 350 yards straight down the fairway – 3 games against the Nationals (44-81); 3 games against the Mets (57-68) who will be without ace Johan Santana for the rest of the season; 3 games against the Astros (61-63) and 1 make-up game against the White Sox (63-62).

The Cubs have all 5 starters back and healthy – - Carlos Zambrano, Rich Harden, Randy Wells, Ted Lilly & Ryan Dempster.  Now all they need to do is win – a tough task for this frustrating, struggling 2009 Cubs ball club.

The Cubs have the 5th best team ERA in all of baseball at 3.88 – take out the relievers ERA and the Cubs starting staff has the best ERA in the big leagues.  But when you look at the offensive stats, the numbers are “startlingly” bad…  Tied for 3rd worst with a .253 batting average; 9th worst in runs scored and RBI’s; and 12th worst in slugging percentage and on-base percentage.  This coming from the team that led the National League in run production in 2008.  Awful seasons from Milton Bradley, Alfonso Soriano, Geovany Soto and Mike Fontenot, and long stints on the DL for Aramis Ramirez and Reed Johnson have contributed to the Cubs futility this year at the plate.  Ryan Theriot, Derrek Lee and Kosuke Fukodome are the only 3 players who have had somewhat consistent years at the plate.

It’s time for Manager Lou Pinella to give some more playing time to some of the Cubs young stars like Sam Fuld and Jake Fox.  Fuld (.283 batting average; .397 on-base percentage) and Fox (.305 batting average; .355 on-base percentage; 9 HR’s; 19 runs & 34 RBI’s) have been hitting the ball well and most importantly, they have been playing hard, unlike some of the efforts we’re seeing from Bradley and Soriano all season long.  If Pinella and the Cubs are serious about making a run before the end of the 2009 MLB schedule, the time is now.

Here’s hoping Pinella wakes up and smells the coffee and that the Cubs can actually mount some sort of offensive attack against the weak-hitting Nats and Mets in the next 6 games at Wrigley Field.  Big Z has a chance to prove why he is the Cubs “ace” – a good start tonight will go a long way in determining whether or not this team has what it takes to make the 2009 post-season…

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Call Me Crazy – But Maybe the Season Isn’t Over?!

Posted on 24 August 2009 by Lou

cubs

Call me crazy, but maybe the 2009 Cubs season isn’t really over…  The Cubs are 62-60 and they trail the Cards by 8 games in the NL Central race and the Rockies by 7 games in the NL Wild Card race.  Now don’t get me wrong – the Cubs are a bad baseball teams as a whole.  After a great start to the post-All-Star Break stretch run in July, they are just 8-13 in August, and they have lost 10 of their last 14 games.

But if you look at their schedule and where they play the vast majority of their games, it shouldn’t be all doom and gloom.  The Cubs have 40 games left on their 2009 MLB schedule – 24 of those games are at home at Wrigley Field where they are 35-22.  The other 16 games are on the road, and 7 of those road games are against 2 teams they are chasing to make the playoffs – the Cardinals (9/18-20) and the Giants (9/24-27).

Take it a step further, and you see that of the 40 games remaining, only 8 games are against team with winning records:

9/3 White Sox 63-61 – home game;

9/18-20 Cards 72-54 – in St. Louis; and

9/24-27 Giants 67-57 – in San Francisco.

The other 32 games breakdown as follows:

Washington Nationals 44-80 – 3 games at Wrigley Field;

New York Mets 57-68 – 3 games at Wrigley Field & 3 games at CITI Field;

Houston Astros 61-63 – 3 games at Wrigley Field;

Pittsburgh Pirates 51-71 – 3 games in Pittsburgh & 4 games at Wrigley Field;

Cincinnati Reds 52-71 – 3 games at Wrigley Field;

Milwaukee Brewers 60-63 – 4 games at Wrigley Field & 3 games at Miller Park; &

Arizona Diamondbacks 55-70 – 3 games at Wrigley Field.

Now don’t get me wrong, do I really think the Cubs have what it takes to pull this off?  No.  But with the schedule and the fact that the Cubs starting pitching – Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly, Rich Harden, Ryan Dempster & Randy Wells – is still top 5 in the entire major leagues in 2009, anything is possible.  If the joke of a Cubs offense actually puts up 4 or 5 runs every so often, the Cubs might actually put a little streak together.  The Cubs will need a lot of help from the Rockies, Giants, Braves and Marlins to start losing, but if that happens, the last week of the season could be interesting with the Cubs playing 7 games against the struggling Pirates and Diamondbacks at home to end the 2009 campaign…

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Big Z’s Back & He’s Bigger Ummm… Better than Before

Posted on 23 August 2009 by Lou

carlos cubs

The Cubs are anxiously waiting the return of their ace Carlos Zambrano.  Big Z – after admitting he is lazy and doesn’t like to do his ab work – is scheduled to face Garrett Mock and the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field.  Hip Hip Hooray!  Big Z needs to focus more on throwing strikes and getting guys out than giving piggyback rides in the dugout and eating bon bons.

Big Z has been dealing with back pain and back spasms since the beginning of August.  Zambrano tossed 5 scoreless innings at Triple-A Peoria on Thursday night and is ready to go against the Nats this week.  Big Z has a 7-4 record with a 1.35 WHIP and a 3.35 ERA – definitely the numbers you’d expect from the ace of your staff.  Mock has a 2-5 record with a 1.83 WHIP and a 5.10 ERA.  Think there was a reason the Cubs held him back to start Tuesday against the Nats and then Sunday against the Mets instead of this past weekend against the Dodgers in L.A.?

As for the Cubs game action on Saturday and Sunday…

About the only thing Cubs fans have to look forward to in 2010 is good starting pitching…

carlos zambrano

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Cubs Waste Another Great Randy Wells Effort

Posted on 22 August 2009 by Lou

Cubs Dodgers Baseball

Talk about your cursed pitchers in 2009 – Randy Wells pitched 6 2/3 innings of 7-hit, 2-walk ball against one of the better hitting teams in the NL and did not allow a single earned run, but still lost. With 2 outs and 1 on in the 2nd inning, Aramis Ramirez’s fielding error allowed Orlando Hudson to reach base to preserve the inning for the Dodgers.  Wells made a mistake to pitcher Randy Wolf who hit a 2-run double to give the Dodgers a 2-0 lead.  Game over…  With Wells’ sparkling 2.84 ERA and 1.20 WHIP, it is shocking to think that he has a 9-6 record.

The Cubs answered in the top of the 3rd inning after a Sam Fuld walk, a Wells sacrifice and a Ryan Theriot RBI single – their only hit of the game.  But that would be the only offensive threat that the Cubs mustered against Wolf and 2 Dodgers relievers.  Bad, bad, bad.

The Cubs are just 2 games over .500 now at 61-59.  They are just 26-37 on the road during the 2009 MLB schedule – how does a team like this play that bad away from Wrigley Field?  They trail the Cards by 7 games in the NL Central and the Rockies by 6 games in the NL Wild Card race.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Game Over!!!

We believe this will be the last post that we’ll do that focuses specifically on game action.  From now on, we will give you results and how far the Cubs have fallen behind the Cardinals and the NL Wild Card leaders, but we’ll focus out attention on the future.  How the Cubs will deal with the disappointing 2009 campaign, what moves could be in store in the off-season, how the new Ricketts ownership will manage the Cubs organization, etc.  We hope you enjoy the new focus as our beloved Cubs fall into oblivion…

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Cubs Finally Win in San Diego, Top Padres 7-1 behind Dominant Harden

Posted on 20 August 2009 by Lou

Cubs Padres Baseball

The Cubs got their 1st victory against the Padres at Petco Park in San Diego in 2009 last night behind a dominant performance from Rich Harden.  Harden threw 7 scoreless innings, holding the Padres to just 1 hit and 3 walks.  The Padres had 3 batters reach base in the 1st inning but didn’t score, and Harden was “lights-out” after that.  Harden struck out 8 batters on the night and improved his record to 8-7.  He is 3-1 after the All-Star Break with 3 no decisions, and he has not allowed more than 2 ER in the 7 starts.

The Cubs will have a big decision to make with respect to Harden in the off-season.  Harden has already made 21 starts during the 2009 MLB schedule and should get at least another 7 starts before the end of the year.  That would put him at 28 starts.  Health has always been a concern with Harden and except for a brief stint on the DL from May 17th – June 13th, has not missed any time because of injury.  That being said, he has made 30 starts only once in his career – that was back in 2004 when he threw 189 2/3 innings in 31 starts.  The following season he pitched 128 innings in 19 starts (22 appearances) and he missed good portions of the 2 seasons after that with arm issues.  It will be interesting to see how he feels in the off-season.  When Harden is on – like he was last night and in the 2nd half of the year so far – he is a dominating pitcher that can win a lot of games.  It could be worth signing him to a 2-3 year deal, but more than that could be risky.  Harden’s off-season regimen in Arizona seems to have paid off big time in 2009.  Assuming he continues to work hard in the off-season, it may be worth the shot to try to sign Harden to a long-term deal before he hits the free agent market…

The Cubs offense finally showed up last night as well.  Milton Bradley and Aramis Ramirez each hit home runs.  Ramirez also had a 2-run double in the 3rd inning and had 3 total RBI’s.  Bradley also walked 3 times and scored twice.  Ryan Theriot had 2 hits, 2 runs scored and a stolen base.  They did strike out 13 times as a team, however, leaving 14 runners on base.

The Cubs have their work cut out for them over the next 4 games against the Dodgers in Los Angeles.  The 1st place Cards took 2 out of 3 games from the Dodgers this week and now move on to the lowly Padres.  Not taking advantage of winning the Padres series has put them 6 games behind the Cards and 5 games behind the Rockies for the NL Wild Card lead.  It is going to be an uphill climb, as Tom Gorzelanny looks to get the Cubs off to a good start tonight against Jeff Weaver and the Dodgers.  The Cubs will finish the 4-game weekend series with Randy Wells, Ted Lilly and Ryan Dempster.

Cubs Padres Baseball

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Give the Cubs a Bad Team to Play & the Cubs Will Give You a Victory

Posted on 15 August 2009 by Lou

Pirates Cubs Baseball

The Cubs can’t seem to beat the good teams in 2009, but at least they’ve been taking it to the bad teams.  The Cubs crushed the Pirates 17-2 on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field.  During the then-current 5 game losing streak, the Cubs had only scored a TOTAL of 19 runs – not good.  The Cubs busted out with 18 hits and 6 walks in the 17-run attack against 3 Pirates’ pitchers. The Cubs scored 4 runs in the 1st inning on a Derrek Lee RBI single and a 3-run Kosuke Fukodome home run.  Then the Cubs tacked on 10 runs in the 2nd inning – all without a HR.  The Cubs batted around – 9 straight batters – without recording an out.  Derrek Lee led the club going 3 for 3 with 7 RBI’s and 2 runs scored, before being removed in the 5th inning.  Ryan Theriot also had 3 hits, driving in 1 while scoring twice.  Sam Fuld had 2 hits and 2 walks and scored 3 times.  Jake Fox was 2 for 4 with 2 RBI’s and 2 runs scored.  Koyie Hill and pitcher Randy Wells each had 2 hits and 2 runs scored as well.

Randy Wells was the biggest beneficiary of the offensive output on Friday.  Wells picked up his 9th win of the season – throwing 86 pitches in 6 innings.  He gave up 2ER on 7 hits and 2 walks, while striking out 3.  Wells now has a season WHIP of 1.20 and a season ERA of 3.01.

The Cubs are 59-55 and still trail the Cards by 4.5 games in the NL Central race.  The Cubs trail the Rockies by 4 games in the NL wild card race, but also have the Giants, Marlins and Braves to jump over in the wild card race, so they have their work cut out for them…

Pirates Cubs Baseball

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This Team Sucks – Pinella Rothschild Out of Ideas

Posted on 11 August 2009 by Lou

Cubs Rockies Baseball

The Cubs wrapped up a dismal 4-6 road trip by losing 3 of 4 to the wild card leading Rockies in Denver.  The Rockies outscored the Cubs 33-18 in the series, as the Cubs fell 3 games behind the Cardinals for 1st place in the NL Central and 3 games behind the Rockies for the NL wild card lead.  Can you say “Game Over”!

Manager Lou Pinella and pitching coach Larry Rothschild are out of ideas and probably already thinking about their golf games in October.  To make matters worse, with the still-pending sale of the Cubs, there’s really not much that the Cubs will be able to do in the off-season to turn things around for the 2010 MLB schedule.  The outfield is set – Alfonso Soriano, Kosuke Fukodome and Milton Bradley all have years left on their deals.  The pitching staff is set – Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly and Ryan Dempster all have years left on their deals, as does Randy Wells who is not even arbitration-eligible yet.  The Cubs will have to decide on Rich Harden, but the 5th starter slot could be filled from within – Sean Marshall, Jeff Samardzija, Tom Gorzelanny etc.  The infield is also set – Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee at the corners, Ryan Theriot at shortstop and Geovany Soto behind the plate.  Koyie Hill has established himself as a dependable catcher as well.  So the only real question mark in the infield is the 2nd base position, where Mike Fontenot has clearly shown that he is not capable of being a consistent, productive every day player.

Unless the Cubs could pull off a trade to move an outfielder – probably having to assume some of the money that GM Jim Hendry overpaid to each of Soriano, Fukodome and Bradley – the Cubs will be stuck.  And that doesn’t mean good things for 2010.

Sorry Cubs fans – hate to be brutally honest, but we could be in for a rough stretch for a few years to come.

Oh yeah – what about the 11-5 Cubs loss to the Rockies on Monday night?  Aw, who cares anyway.  It was more of the same.  No clutch hitting, poor fielding, and bad pitching.  Sound familiar?!

Cubs Rockies Baseball

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Cubs Doing Their Best to Avoid 2009 Post-Season Play

Posted on 10 August 2009 by Lou

Cubs Rockies Baseball

I was just way too irritated to even do a post on Sunday.  This could be one of the most frustrating Cubs teams to follow in the last few years.  No clutch hitting, no concentration, no desire to win, no emotion, no nothing.  Unless the Cardinals lose the rest of their games, I don’t see how this team will be able to win a 3rd straight NL Central crown.

The Cubs actually showed some grit in Saturday’s 6-5 win.  The Cubs took a 2-0 lead in the 4th inning on a Kosuke Fukodme double and a Ryan Dempster walk, only to have Dempster give back 4 runs right away in the bottom of the inning.  But the Cubs responded with 4 runs in the next 3 innings to take a 6-4 lead.  As they had done so many times earlier this season – Angel Guzman, Carlos Marmol and Kevin Greeg worked relatively easy scoreless innings of relief to preserve the 6-5 win.

Looking to build off the big win after losing Friday night, the Cubs looked to Randy Wells to put forth another solid start.  Wells had one of his worst outings of the year, and although the Cubs generated numerous scoring chances against Jason Hammel early in the game, they could only push across 3 runs in the game’s 1st 5 innings despite racking up an incredible 11 hits.  No clutch hitting once again, and the Cubs found themselves trailing 8-3 by the end of the 6th inning.  Wells ended up giving up 5 ER on 8 hits and 2 walks in 5 1/3 innings, while Jeff Stevens got lit up for 4 ER on 5 hits and 1 walk in his 1 inning of work that spanned the 6th and 7th innings.  All in all, it was bad day for the Cubs.

The loss pushed the Cubs 3 games behind the Cardinals for 1st place in the NL Central.  The Cards took care of business sweeping a weekend series over the Pirates in Pittsburgh.

Carlos Zambrano is back on the DL with lower back soreness that could have been aggravated by over-swinging during batting practice before Friday’s game.  Does Big Z realize he is a pitcher 1st and that the Cubs already have starting pitcher Ted Lilly on the DL?  Obviously not.  Big Z is scheduled to come off the DL on Friday, August 21st and Jeff Samardzija will likely make 2 starts during Big Z’s absence.

Aramis Ramirez has been dealing with right shoulder soreness from his early season dislocated shoulder.  Ramirez left Saturday’s game early and Jake Fox started for Ramirez on Sunday.  It is unclear if Ramirez will miss anymore time.

With Kosuke Fukodome batting great in the lead-off spot, I’m extremely confused as to why Manager Lou Pinella all of a sudden decided to re-jigger the lineup in Colorado.  Pinella had Ryan Theirot leading off, Milton Bradley batting 2nd and Fukodome batting 5th.  The players produced in the new lineup (Ryan Theriot had 3 hits on Saturday and 2 hits on Sunday; Bradley had 2 hits on Saturday and 4 hits on Sunday and his average is up to .266; & Fukodome had 2 hits in each game), but it seemed odd that Pinella would mess with a good thing, especially when the Cubs had already found themselves in so many poor hitting droughts several times during the 2009 MLB schedule.

Pinella did his best to motivate the club by getting thrown out of the game for arguing a horrible call at 2nd base on a double play ball that thwarted a Cubs rally, but in the end, the Cubs players looked like they wanted to join Pinella in the showers early instead of trying to win a baseball game.

The Cubs are still just 2 games behind the Cards and the Giants and Rockies for the wild card race, and they have even played 4 fewer games than the Cards and 2 fewer games than each of the Giants and Rockies, so there is room to gain ground.  But this team is too inconsistent, too prone to give up way too soon, and too apt to follow a 3-game winning streak with a 5-game skid.  I have officially given up – I’ll still root for the Cubs and report on the positives and the negatives, but at the end of the day, this is a middle of the road team, not a division leader…

Cubs Rockies Baseball

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Carlos Zambrano Screws Team Over in 6-2 Loss @ Colorado

Posted on 08 August 2009 by Lou

Cubs Rockies Baseball

Carlos Zambrano should have a locker room full of teammates pissed off at him right now.  Slated to start the opener of a big weekend series at Coors Field on Friday night, Big Z told Manager Lou Pinella that he couldn’t go 15 minutes before the start of the game.  Big Z left his start in the 3rd inning last Saturday because of a mild back strain.  He didn’t receive any special back treatment all week, and he told the team that it was nothing to be worried about.  But during pre-game warm-ups, Zambrano experienced some back spasms and then told Pinella he couldn’t go.  Pinella had this to say about the situation: “When he went out there to warm up, he says after he threw two or three pitches, his back tightened up and he started getting spasms.  This is something that happened right before the ball game.  If he had been complaining about anything, obviously, we wouldn’t have scheduled him to pitch.”

Not a smart move from Zambrano.  Especially since the Cubs had an off-day on Thursday, and the club could have moved Ryan Dempster up a day to start with his normal 4 days’ rest on Friday night.  Then Wells, Gorzelanny and Harden could have each moved up a day too, allowing Big Z a few more days off, or giving the Cubs an opportunity to call someone up from the minor leagues.  Instead, Zambrano gave the team no indication that his back might be a long-term issue, and forced the Cubs to go with Sean Marshall on no notice to make the start.  As it turned out, Marshall did not have his good stuff – 3 ER on 5 hits and 1 walk in 2 innings of work.  Jeff Samardzija then had to do a little bit off long-relief work, pitching 4 innings and allowing 2 ER on 5 hits and 1 walk.  Not a good way to start a 4-game series in hitter-friendly Coors Field.

The Cubs offense didn’t do much to help out the Cubs pitching staff.  The Cubs managed just 2 runs and 5 hits off of Ubaldo Jimenez and 3 Rockies’ relievers.  Alfonso Soriano was the only Cubs player with more than 1 hit and he also had the only Cubs RBI of the game.  The Cubs did draw 6 walks, but never seemed to come through with a big hit to break an inning open.  The Cubs had 2 runners on in the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 6th innings, but could only push across 1 run in the 1st and 6th innings.  Not good.

The only good news – sort of – catcher Geovany Soto returned to the Cubs lineup after a month stint on the DL.  Soto hit in the 5-spot, however, going 0 for 4 with 3 K’s.  Not the kind of spark we were looking for.

At 57-50, the Cubs trail the Cardinals by 1 game in the NL Central race and the San Francisco Giants and the Rockies by 2 games in the NL Wild Card race.

Cubs Rockies Baseball

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