Archive | Rich Harden

Cubs Can’t Beat Good Teams, End of Story

Posted on 21 July 2009 by Lou

Cubs Phillies Baseball

It’s always amazing how 1 inning can foreshadow the outcome of a game.  Ted Lilly’s 1st inning in Monday night’s 10-1 loss to the Phillies did just that. Lilly was not locating his pitches early on and got into a jam with a leadoff single by Jimmy Rollins and a double by Shane Victorino that put runners on 2nd and 3rd with nobody out.  Not a good position to be in, especially with the heart of the Phillies lineup coming up in one of the best hitters’ park in baseball – Citizens Bank Ballpark in Philadelphia.  But Lilly momentarily found the “right” stuff when he got Chase Utley to ground out to Derrek Lee on a great play by the 1st baseman and Ryan Howard to strikeout without the Phillies scoring any runs.  It looked like Lilly was going to get out of the inning unscathed when he got 2 quick strikes on Raul Ibanez.  But then that lack of focus came through again as Lilly served up a 3-run bomb to Ibanez that gave the Phils an early 3-0 lead.  3 innings later, Lilly had given up a total of 9 runs (7 earned) on 8 hits and 2 walks, and the Cubs found themselves trailing 9-0.

Meanwhile, the Cub offense was lifeless.  The team managed just 6 hits and 3 walks off of starter Rodrigo Lopez and reliever Chad Durbin. Ryan Theriot drove in the only Cubs run with a single in the 5th inning.  Alfonso Soriano continued his hot hitting with 3 hits, but only 1 of them came with another player reaching base in the inning.  Not good.  Lopez has pitched well in his 3 starts in 2009 (he missed the entire 2008 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery).  Lopez is 2-0 with a 2.60 ERA and 1.21 WHIP, but he is a .500 career pitcher with an ERA just under 5.00 (at 4.76) and a WHIP at 1.40.  Give me a break.

We’ve seen this all before with this 2009 Cubs team.  They have stretches where they win ball games that they should win (see the weekend series in DC where they won all 4 games against the worst team in baseball).  But then they seem to play awful on national TV against good MLB teams and they seem to lack that energy and fight that can propel a team to victory even when they don’t play their best.

I’m expecting much of the same in the next 2 games (losses) for the Cubs in Philadelphia.  The Phillies should have a field day with Rich Harden on Tuesday night – Harden has 5.06 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP and has already served up 16 home runs on the season.  And then with the Cubs losing 2 in a row, and the pressure on Carlos Zambrano to shut end the losing streak in Wednesday’s afternoon finale, Big Z will try too hard and be over-juiced at the start.  Something will go wrong – a Milton Bradley or Alfonso Soriano mis-play in the field – and the wheels will start to come off.

The Cubs will lose all 3 games in Philly and they’ll fall back to 47-45 on the season.  Let’s just hope that the Astros can keep beating the Cards the next 2 days – even if the Astros jump the Cubs, at least they won’t fall further behind the Cards for 1st place in the NL Central…

cubs lose to phillies ted lilly ryan theriot2

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Cubs Beat Nationals 6-3 to Open 2nd Half on High Note

Posted on 17 July 2009 by Lou

Cubs Nationals Baseball

The Cubs defeated the Nats 6-3 at Nationals Park in Washington DC on Thursday night.  The win moved the Cubs within 3 games of the idle Cardinals for 1st place in the NL Central. Rich Harden evened his record at 6-6 with a solid outing – 6 innings,  3 hits, 7 K’s and most importantly no walks.  The only run Harden allowed was an unearned run in the 6th inning.  Angel Guzman and Carlos Mamrol each worked scoreless innings of relief and Kevin Gregg closed out the game despite giving up a solo home run to Ryan Zimmerman in the 9th inning.

Derrek Lee kept up his hot hitting.  He went 3 for 4 with a solo home run.  Reed Johnson had 2 hits and an RBI in the leadoff spot.  Ryan Theriot had only 1 hit, but 2 RBI’s.

Let’s hope the Cubs can pull off 3 more wins against the lowly Nats the rest of the weekend.

Cubs Nationals Baseball

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Cubs Open 2nd Half Against Lowly Nats in DC

Posted on 16 July 2009 by Lou

harden beats reds1

The 1st 4 games of the 2nd half of the 2009 MLB schedule should tell-all for the Chicago Cubs.  The Cubs are 43-43 and are within striking distance of the 1st place St. Louis Cardinals whom they do not play again until September.  What better way to open up the 2nd half than to play 4 games against the worst team in baseball – the Washington Nationals.  Although the games are on the road where the Cubs have struggled (the Cubs are 27-18 at Wrigley Field, but just 16-25 away from home), the Nats have won only 26 total games in 2009 and are 10 games under .500 at home at Nationals Park.

If the Cubs are going to show that they are capable of making a run at a 3rd straight NL Central crown, they need to show it by sweeping the Nationals during the long weekend series.  The Cards host the Arizona Diamondbacks (who have been playing better) in a 3-game weekend set in St. Louis, while the 2nd place Brewers are on the road at the Reds in Cincinnati, so there could be room to make up some ground if they can win all 4 (or at least 3) games in DC.

Rich Harden has a lot to prove in the Thursday night opener against John Lannan (6-6; 3.70 ERA).  Since coming off the disabled list on June 13th, Harden has a 1-4 record and has lasted more than 6 innings only once.  Even in his lone win over the Pirates in Pittsburgh, Harden gave up 9 hits and 1 walk and was constantly working in and out of jams.  He has given up at least 7 hits in each of his last 3 starts, so hopefully the extra time off over the All-Star Break will give him an extra burst of energy to take out on the lowly Nats.

The rest of the series shapes up like this:

Friday night – Carlos Zambrano (5-4; 3.53 ERA) v. Seth Olsen (2-4; 6.03 ERA)

Saturday night – All-Star Ted Lilly (9-6; 3.18 ERA) v. Jordan Zimmerman (3-4; 4.50 ERA)

Sunday afternoon – Randy Wells (4-4; 2.72 ERA) v. Garrett Mock (0-2; 6.92 ERA)

Ryan Dempster will be on the disabled list for a few more weeks, so it is still unclear who Manager Lou Pinella will tap to be the Cubs 5th starter until Dempster’s return.

Looking at the numbers, the Cubs better win at least 3 of the 4 games against the Nats.  Keep your fingers crossed – things have not gone the Cubs way in 2009 and we don’t expect things to change simply because the Cubs are playing the worst team in baseball..

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Cubs Struggling in Big Weekend Series Against Cards at Wrigley Field

Posted on 10 July 2009 by Lou

Cardinals Cubs Baseball

The Cubs dropped the 1st game of the big weekend series against the Cardinals on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field 8-3.  Not a good way to start of the weekend.  Entering the game, the Cubs trailed the 1st place Cards by 3.5 games in the NL Central.  At worst, the Cubs needed to split the 4-game series with the Cards to remain 3.5 games out of 1st place.  Now that means they must win 2 of 3 the rest of the way before next week’s All-Star Break.  A tall task for a team that just can’t seem to buy a clutch hit.

After scoring just 1 run in each of their previous 2 losses to the Braves at Wrigley Field, the Cubs managed just 3 runs against the Cards – all on Derrek Lee’s 3-run HR in the 3rd inning that tied the game at 3.  The Cubs did manage 9 hits in today’s loss, but they left 13 men on base.  Just awful.

Rich Harden had another atrocious start but did manage to get 2 hits off Cards’ starter Chris Carpenter.  Harden struggled through 101 pitches in 5 innings.  Harden gave up 4 ER on 7 hits and 4 walks, but did strike out 6 Cards hitters to minimize the damage.  Reliever Aaron Heilman was a train-wreck in his one inning of work.  Heilman gave up 4 ER on 3 walks and 2 hits and saw his ERA rise to 4.35 and his WHIP rise to 1.65.  Heilman has been a major disappointment for Manager Lou Pinella, GM Jim Hendry and the Cubs in 2009.

One positive – Jeff Stevens – acquired from the Indians in the off-season trade that sent beloved Mark DeRosa to Cleveland – made his major league debut and pitched a 1-2-3- 9th inning.

Here’s how the rest of the weekend looks:

Saturday – 3:10PM – Ted Lilly v. Brad Thompson

Sunday – 12:05PM – Randy Wells v. Kyle Lohse

Sunday – 7:05PM – Carlos Zambrano v. Adam Wainwright

Saturday’s game almost becomes a must-win for Lilly and the Cubs…

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McGehee, Brewers Pound Harden, Cubs 11-2 @ Wrigley Field

Posted on 05 July 2009 by Lou

Brewers Cubs Baseball

The Brewers crushed the Cubs 11-2 on Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field.  Former Cubs player Casey McGehee had a career day going 4 for 5 with 5 RBI’s and 3 runs scored.  McGehee was a double shy of hitting for the cycle.  Rich Harden took the loss – going 2+ innings, giving up 7ER on 8 hits and 1 walk.  Batting 6th in the lineup for the 1st time all season, Alfonso Soriano went 0 for 4 with 2 K’s.  David Patton and Jeff Samardzija each gave up 2 ER in relief outings.  Ouch.

With the Reds beating the Cards, the Cubs stayed 2.5 games behind each of the Brewers and Cards for 1st place in the NL Central.

Brewers Cubs Baseball

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Cubs Top Brewers 2-1 with Walkoff Walk; Bradley a Disaster in Right Field

Posted on 04 July 2009 by Lou

Cubs Milton Bradley Risk 1

The Cubs defeated the Brewers 2-1 in 10 innings on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field.  Jake Fox’s bases loaded walk with 2 outs in the bottom of the 10th inning forced in the winning run.  The Cubs may have caught a break as Mark DiFelice’s pitch appeared to get much of the plate despite being a tad high.  DiFelice was shocked that the home plate umpire called the pitch a ball, but it is what it is and the Cubs have taken the first 2 games of this big weekend series.

Jeff Suppan and Carlos Zambrano dueled for much of the game.  Zambrano lasted 7 innings, giving up just 1 ER on 5 hits and 3 walks.  The lone run scored when Big Z walked Corey Hart with the bases loaded in the 4th inning.  Zambrano also hit Prince Fielder with a pitch.  Suppan also pitched 7 innings, giving up just 1ER on 4 hits and 2 walks.  His lone run scored on a Carlos Zambrano single to center field.  Suppan also hit Derrek Lee and Jake Fox.

Kosuke Fukodome had a game-saving play in the 7th inning with the score tied at 1.  On Prince Fielder’s line drive single to center field, Kosuke came up firing and nailed Suppan at the plate to prevent the Brewers from taking a 2-1 lead.

The Cubs left 2 runners on base in each of the 8th and 9th innings, but finally got the winning run in the 10th.  Ryan Theriot got a 1-out single and advanced to 2nd base on a wild pitch.  After Derrek Lee flew out to right field, the Brewers intentionally walked Milton Bradley to get to Geovany Soto.  DiFelice threw 3 straight balls and ultimately intentionally walked him to get to rookie Jake Fox.  With the count 3-2, Fox fought off pitch after pitch and eventually took ball 4 to win the game.

Kevin Gregg pitched 2 scoreless innings in the 9th and 10th to pick up his 3rd win of the season.  Gregg has now held the other team scoreless in 24 of his last 27 appearances.  He has issued only 8 walks in the last 28 appearances as well (he had walked 8 batters in his 1st 10 appearances on the season).  The lone hit charged to Gregg was a pop up that Milton Bradely lost in the sun in the 9th inning that would have ended the inning.  This is not the 1st time that Bradley has lost a ball in the sun this year and luckily it didn’t cost the Cubs the game on Friday.  Bradley is a complete disaster this year – one of GM Jim Hendry’s worst signings ever.  Rumor has it that Bradely and Manager Lou Pinella exchanged wors after the game.  We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear anything.

The Cubs and Brewers play Game 3 of the weekend series today at 12 noon at Wrigley Field.  Rich Harden will battle Braden Looper – both pitchers have a 1.40 WHIP and ERA’s over 4.50, so it should be a slugfest at the Friendly Confines today!

Brewers Cubs 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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Tigers Top Cubs 5-4 on Walk-Off Home Run in 9th Inning

Posted on 24 June 2009 by Lou

Cubs Tigers Baseball

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.

Cubs Tigers Baseball

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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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Rich Harden on the Right Track

Posted on 09 June 2009 by Lou

harden-beats-reds1

Rich Harden is on the right track rehabbing from his mid-back muscle strain.  Harden has been on the disabled list since May 18th and he made his 1st rehab start for Triple-A Iowa on Monday night.  Harden threw 70 pitches in 4 1/3 innings, throwing 44 pitches for strikes.  He allowed 2 runs (1 earned) on 3 hits and 2 walks.  He also had 6 strikeouts.

Harden is 4-2 with a 4.74 ERA during the 2009 MLB schedule.  Assuming Harden does not experience any further discomfort over the next few days, Manager Lou Pinella could call upon Harden to return to the starting rotation on Saturday against the Minnesota Twins at Wrigley Field.  We’ll keep you posted over the next couple of days…

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