Archive | Ryan Dempster

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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Cubs Hitting Rock Bottom in San Diego – Lose to Padres Again

Posted on 19 August 2009 by Lou

Cubs Padres Baseball

Ouch – how the “mighty” have fallen.  It looks like the Cubs – the best team in the NL in 2008 –  have given up on the 2009 campaign.  In a lackluster effort, the Cubs fell to the Padres 6-3.  They are now 60-57 and they trail the Cards by 6 games in the NL Central race and the Rockies by 5 games in the NL Wild Card race.  These leads are by no means insurmountable, but when you look at the Cubs body language these days, you know it’s over.  Wait until next year Cubs fans!

A telling sign – the Cubs faced a rookie pitcher – Cesar Carrillo – in his 2nd major league start.  Carrillo had given up 8 ER on 4 hits (3 HR’s) and 2 walks in his 1st major league start just 6 days ago in Milwaukee.  Just the type of pitcher the Cubs needed to break out of their offensive woes on the west coast.  But it wasn’t meant to be.  The Cubs managed 7 hits and 4 walks against Carrillo but never got the big hit that blew an inning wide open.  The Cubs had 2 runners on in 4 of the 6 innings Carrillo pitched, but they never scored more than 1 run in an inning.  Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster had 2 of the Cubs 7 hits on the night and one of the Cubs RBI’s.  Gimme a break! Derrek Lee and Jeff Baker each had 2 hits, which means that only 1 other Cub player had a hit – that was Alfonso Soriano who got lucky on a bloop single to left field that scored a run in the 5th inning.  Talk about futile.  After the Padres took a 4-3 lead on Adrian Gonzalez’ solo home run in the bottom of the 5th inning, you could just see the wind get sucked out of the Cubs’ sails.  From the 6th through the 9th innings, the Cubs managed just 1 base runner – a Milton Bradley walk to lead off the 7th inning.  Not good.

Ryan Dempster didn’t help matters with another sub-par outing – 4 ER on 8 hits and 3 walks in 7 innings.  He did have 10 K’s, but when you lose your 7th game against only 6 wins, does it really matter?  Angel Guzman gave up 2 insurance runs to the Padres in his 1 inning of work – on an inside the park home run off the bat of Kyle Blanks that hit off the top of the center field fence and bounced away from center fielder Kosuke Fukodome.  Of course, Milton Bradley did a poor job of backing up the play, and Blanks scored easily to give the Padres a commanding 6-3 lead.

The Cubs needed to sweep the Padres this week.  The Padres are 51-70 and in last place in the AL West.  On paper, the Cubs are clearly better than the Padres, but when you don’t produce on the field, you’re not going to win.  The Padres swept the Cubs at Petco Park in a 3 game series back in May, and it looks like they’re going to do the same in August unless Rich Harden throws a complete game shutout tonight against the Padres.  I won’t hold my breath…

Cubs Padres Baseball

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Shocking – Gregg Blows Another Save & Pinella Actually Does Something About It!

Posted on 18 August 2009 by Lou

Cubs Padres Baseball

Cubs closer Kevin Gregg blew his 3rd game in his last 5 save chances, as the Cubs opened their big 7-game west coast road trip with a costly 4-1 loss to the Padres in San Diego.  Ted Lilly, John Grabow and Carlos Marmol kept the Padres offense scoreless for a good 2 hours and 15 minutes on Monday night, but in only took Kevin Gregg about 10 minutes to lose the game for the Cubs.  David Eckstein drew a 1-out walk off of Gregg and came around with the tying run 2 batters later when Chase Headley doubled to left center.  Pinella and Gregg intentionally walked Kevin Kouzmanoff to get to 22-year old Kyle Blanks, but the move back-fired when Blanks crushed a walk-off 3-run home run to deep left center field that gave the Padres the 4-1 win.  Brutal – just brutal.

Gregg is just not a good closer.  In limited time as a closer last year – he blew 9 SAVES! for the Marlins.  Gregg has blown 6 total saves during the 2009 MLB schedule and already 3 in the month of August.  Gregg has a 4.47 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP and he only has 58 strikeouts in 56 1/3 innings.  It is clear that Gregg does not have what it takes to be a closer, and Pinella indicated that he will likely make some changes in the back-end of the rotation.  Finally!!!

There were some positives from Monday’s game.  Ted Lilly came off the DL and looked phenomenal.  Lilly threw 6 scoreless innings (70 efficient pitches), allowing just 4 hits and 1 walk.  Lilly struck out 4.  John Grabow and Carlos Marmol set the table for Gregg with perfect 7th and 8th innings.  Derrek Lee had 2 hits and scored the Cubs lone run.  Aramis Ramirez was back in the Cubs lineup as the clean-up hitter, and he had 2 hits including the lone RBI that drove in Lee.

The bad news – the Cardinals rallied against the Dodgers in Los Angeles, so the Cubs now trail the Cards by 6 games in the NL Central race.  Gregg’s blown save also cost the Cubs a chance to pick up a 1/2 game on the idle Rockies in the NL wild card race.  Ryan Dempster looks to get the Cubs back on track in San Diego as he takes on Cesar Carrillo.  Carrillo gave up 8 ER on 4 hits and 2 walks (including 3 HR’s) in his major league debut on August 13th.  If the Cubs can’t find a way to generate runs off of this guy, they might as well just cash it in now and save us all a lot of time.

APTOPIX Cubs Padres Baseball

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Phillies Sweep Cubs @ Wrigley Field – – This is Getting Ugly Fast

Posted on 13 August 2009 by Lou

Phillies Cubs Baseball

Wow – how a season can turn.  Heading into last Friday’s game against the Rockies, the Cubs were tied for 1st place in the NL Central and just 2 games out of the NL Wild Card race.  6 losses in 7 game later, and the Cubs find themsleves in a very difficult situation.

On Wednesday night, the Phillies crushed the Cubs 12-5, behind a solid outing by Pedro Martinez.  Martinez made his 1st start of the 2009 MLB schedule and pitched 5 innings, allowing 3 ER on 7 hits and 1 walk.  He struck out 5.  Once again, the Cubs had scoring chances early, but failed to take advantage of the situations – they left 13 runners on base. Ryan Theriot was the only Cub player with more than 1 hit and he raised his batting average to .300 even.  Theriot and Derrek Lee have been the only consistent hitters for the Cubs all season long.  Starter Jeff Samardzija -3 1/3 innings, 7 ER on 8 hits (1 HR) – and Sean Marshall – 3 1/3 innings, 5 ER on 6 hits (2 HR’s) and 3 walks – were downright awful.  The Cubs sent Samardzija down to Triple-A Iowa after the loss.

In Thursday afternoon’s series finale, Cliff Lee shut the Cubs down with ease.  Lee won his 3rd straight since coming over in a trade from the Cleveland Indians.  Lee hasn’t allowed more than 1 ER in any of the 3 starts.  Not too shabby.  The Cubs did have 6 hits and 3 walks against Lee, but struck out 8 times and left 16 runners on base.  Jeff Baker had 2 hits and 2 walks and scored the only run for the Cubs on Ryan Theriot’s RBI single in the 5th inning.  Ryan Dempster lost his 6th game for the Cubs this season.  He pitched 7 innings which gave the Cubs bullpen a welcome rest.  He gave up 6 ER on 8 hits and 2 walks, and he struck out 8 Phillies hitters.  Justin Berg who was called up from Triple-A Iowa to take the place of Samardzija pitched the games final 2 innings.  In his major league debut, Berg allowed 2 hits and a walk but did not allow a run.

With the sweep, the Cubs are now 4.5 games behind the Cardinals for 1st place in the NL Central and 5.0 games behind the Colorado Rockies in the NL Wild Card race.  There’s always next year Cubs fans – although with essentially the same team locked in for 2010, it’s hard to imagine much better results in 2010…

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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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Geovany Soto to Re-Join Cubs on Friday in Colorado

Posted on 05 August 2009 by Lou

soto back 2

Geovany Soto is set to rejoin the Cubs for Friday’s game against the Rockies in Colorado.  Soto has been on the disabled list since July 7th with a mild strain of his left oblique muscle.  Soto will play in 3 minor league games at Double-A Tennessee this week and then head out to Denver.

Manager Lou Pinella is excited to have Soto back.  Koyie Hill has started 25 straight games behind the plate for the Cubs (including starting both ends of a day-night double-header against the St. Louis Cardinals on July 12th at Wrigley Field).  During that stretch, Hill caught 207 innings – almost 27 innings more than the next catcher – Russell Martin with 181 2/3 innings.  Jake Fox did catch a few innings late in games to give Hill a break here and there.  Pinella had this to say: “Wednesday wouldn’t be soon enough for me…  It gives us a chance to rest Hill on Thursday, and he’ll have from Tuesday to Friday off, and then maybe we can alternate them so both can catch… He’s done a nice job.  Give him credit.”

While it will be great to have Soto back, Hill has done a great job.  Since the All-Star Break, the Cubs are 14-5, and their nice run catapulted the Cubs back into a 1st place tie with the Cardinals in the NL Central race.  While Hill’s offense has been average at best, Hill has provided much needed consistency for the pitching staff, especially with Ryan Dempster and Ted Lilly each spending time on the DL during that stretch.  Randy Wells has thrived with Hill behind the plate and even recently traded Kevin Hart picked up 3 wins as a starter in July.  Kudos to Hill and let’s hope the winning ways keep coming on the north side of Chicago.

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Cubs Looking to Put Florida Trip in Rear View Mirror

Posted on 03 August 2009 by Lou

chicago cubs randy wells1

The Cubs are looking to put the disastrous Florida weekend series behind them.  Kevin Gregg and Carlos Marmol cost the Cubs 2 wins in Miami, and kept the Cubs from taking the 1st place lead in the NL Central back from the Cardinals.

Let’s take a quick look at some numbers.

Starting pitchers:  in Friday’s 5-2 loss, Rich Harden gave up 2 earned runs on 5 hits and 3 walks in 5 innings of work (he also had 11 K’s); in Saturday’s 9-8 extra innings win,  Carlos Zambrano lasted only 3 innings because of a lower back strain, giving up 2 runs (1 earned) on 3 hits and 3 walks; & in Sunday’s 3-2 loss, Ryan Dempster gave up 0 runs on 3 hits and 4 walks in 6 innings of work.

Relief pitchers: in Friday’s 5-2 loss, Carlos Marmol gave up 3 runs on 1 hit, 2 walks and 1 HBP in just 2/3 of an inning of work (the rest of the bullpen held the Marlins scoreless in 2 1/3 innings of work); in Saturday’s 9-8 extra innings win, Kevin Gregg blew the save in the 9th inning by giving up 3 runs on 4 hits in 1 painful inning of work (Jeff Samardzija had a shaky 1 2/3 innings giving up 3 ER, but the rest of the bullpen pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings) ; & in Sunday’s 3-2 loss, the bullpen gave up 3 runs on 4 hits in 2 1/3 innings of work with Gregg blowing the save for a 2nd straight night and taking the loss after giving up back-to-back home runs in the 9th inning.

The starters kept the Cubs in the games, but the bullpen imploded in each of the 3 games.

The Cubs bats weren’t all that hot either – if you take out Saturday’s 9-run, 13-hit barrage, the Cubs mustered only 4 runs and 13 hits combined in the Friday and Sunday losses.  Not good…

Manager Lou Pinella cannot be pleased with what he saw from his club in the 3-game weekend series loss in Florida.

The Cubs are 55-48 and they trail the Cards by 1/2 game in the NL Central race and the San Francisco Giants and Colorado Rockies by 2 games each in the NL Wild Card race.

But now for the good news.  Randy Wells gets the 1st start of the series against the Reds in Cincinnati.  Wells has been one of the most consistents Cubs’ starters all year and he beat the Reds at Wrigley Field on July 24th, allowing just 7 hits and 3 ER in 6 innings of the Cubs 8-5 win.  Overall, Wells is 7-4 with a 2.84 ERA and 1.15 WHIP.

The Reds are in a tailspin – they have lost 9 of their last 10 games – and have dropped into a tie for last place in the NL Central with the Pittsburgh Pirates.  The Reds are 14 games under .500 at 45-59.

And with the Cards idle tonight, a Cubs win over the Reds would mean a tie for 1st place in the NL Central.

Go Cubs!

chicago cubs randy wells2

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Kevin Gregg, Carlos Marmol Unreliable in Cubs Disastrous Weekend in Florida

Posted on 02 August 2009 by Lou

Cubs Marlins Baseball

Carlos Marmol and Kevin Gregg had awful weekends in Miami as the Cubs dropped 2 of 3 to the Florida Marlins.

Marmol took the loss on Friday night, giving up 3 earned runs on 1 hit, 2 walks and 1 HBP in the bottom of the 8th inning.  The game was tied at 2 when Marmol came in, and promptly lost the game for the Cubs with a mere 22 pitches, this after Rich Harden, John Grabow and Aaron Heilman held the Marlins to just 2 runs over the game’s first 7 innings.

In Saturday’s 9-8 extra innings win, Marmol and Gregg each did their best to blow it for the Cubs.  With the Cubs leading 6-5 in the 8th inning, Marmol replaced Angel Guzman and immediately got into trouble by walking the 1st batter and hitting the next.  After a sacrifice bunt moved runners to 2nd and 3rd with 1 out, Marmol intentionally walked Jorge Cantu to set up a force play at any base.  Then Marmol buckled down by striking out Dan Uggla and Jeremy Hermida to end the threat and preserve the tenuous 1-run lead.

The Cubs tacked on 2 much-needed insurance runs in the top of the 9th inning to increase the Cubs lead to 8-5.  Gregg came on for the “easy” save, but after striking out the 1st 2 batters in the inning, Gregg self-destructed.  Gregg surrendered a pinch-hit home run to Ronny Paulino (his 1st career pinch-hit HR), issued back to back singles to Chris Coghlan and Nick Johnson, and then served up the game-tying triple to Emilio Bonifacio that tied the game at 8.

Gregg picked up right where he left off on Sunday with another atrocious outing.  Jake Fox had just given the Cubs the 2-1 in the top of the 9th inning with a lead-off home run to left field.  In came Gregg for the “easy” save and he even retired the lead off hitter Hanley Ramirez on a popout to 3rd base.  But then Gregg served up home runs to Dan Uggla and Cody Ross on back-to-back pitches, and just like that the Cubs had lost 3-2.

If not for Derrek Lee’s solo home run in the top of the 10th inning on Saturday, we could be talking about a 3-game sweep by the Marlins.

Manager Lou Pinella and the Cubs are going to need more consistent outings from  Marmol and Gregg if they expect to make a run at the playoffs in 2009.  Marmol has more electric stuff than Gregg, so at this point, if Gregg has 1 more bad outing (or if his velocity continues to hover in the high 80’s/low 90’s instead of the mid-90’s), I really think Lou is going to have to make a move.  Marmol should be the Cubs closer, with Angel Guzman moving into the set-up role.  Guzman has a 2.36 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP and if he continues to stay healthy, he is probably the Cubs most reliable reliever at this point.  Sean Marshall has been solid in the pen and the addition of John Grabow gives the Cubs 2 dependable lefties.  Aaron Heilman is serviceable, and the Cubs may want to consider bringing Jeff Stevens back up to replace Jeff Samardzija (who has been average at best).

The Cubs are now 55-48 and 1/2 game behind the St. Louis Cardinals for 1st place in the NL Central.

Cubs Marlins Baseball

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