Archive | Ryan Dempster

Disappointing Dempster – Poor Outing off DL Leads to 11-6 Cubs Loss

Posted on 29 July 2009 by Lou

chicago cubs ryan dempster

Ryan Dempster has been one of the biggest disappointments for the Cubs in 2009.  Coming off of a brilliant 2008 season – 17-6 record, 2.96 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 206 2/3 innings pitched, 187 K’s v. 76 walks  – Dempster has failed to live up to the high expectations that the Cubs had for him when they signed him to a lucrative deal in the off-season (4 years, $52 million).

After spending a few weeks on the DL with a broken toe that he injured jumping over the Cubs dugout fence after a win, Dempster made his return last night and crapped the bed.  Dempster labored through 86 pitches in 5 innings, giving up 6 runs (5 earned) on 9 hits.  Although he didn’t walk any batters, he had a mental lapse in the 3rd inning when he failed to throw home on a weakly hit groundball right back at him.  Instead of nailing the advancing runner at home, he tried to turn a double play by throwing to 2nd base, and ended up chucking the ball into center field and prolonging the inning.  The Astros scored 3 in the frame and opened up a big 4-0 lead at the time.

Now granted, after the Cubs got back in the game with back-to-back 3-run innings in the 4th and 5th, the Cubs bullpen had a rare off-night, but Dempster dug the team into a deep hole, and has been largely inconsistent all season long.  In 18 starts during the 2009 MLB schedule, Dempster has pitched a full 7 innings only 5 times.  Dempster has won only 2 games since May 14th.  Dempster has given up at least 8 hits in each of his last 4 starts and he has given up 4 earned runs in 7 starts.  A $13 million starting pitcher should have better numbers than these – 5-5 record, 4.31 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 92 K’s v. 44 walks.  If the Cubs expect to compete for a 3rd straight NL Central division title the rest of the way, Dempster will need to step up his performance in his final 12 starts.

On a bright note, the Cubs offense drew 10 walks.  All 3 batters that walked in the 4th inning came around to score and Derrek Lee (who walked in the 5th inning) came around to score on Aramis Ramirez’ 3-run home run.  And while the Cubs only had 5 total hits in the game, the patience at the plate created scoring opportunities for the Cubs.  Another Ramirez is always nice to see as well.

With the 11-6 loss, the Cubs dropped a half game behind the St. Louis Cardinals for 1st place in the NL Central race.  It will likely be an up-and-down roller coaster ride for the Cubs and Cubs fans all across the nation the rest of the pennat race…

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It’s Never Too Late to Develop a Winning Formula!

Posted on 28 July 2009 by Lou

Astros Cubs Baseball

Hey Cubs Fans – – it’s never too late to develop a winning formula.  Good pitching and timely hitting usually results in numerous wins.  The Cubs – at least since the All-Star Break – can attest to that.  Except for Ted Lilly’s debacle against the Phillies in Philadelphia on July 20th, the Cubs have had excellent pitching and solid, often-clutch hitting, and the results show.  Since the All-Star Break, the Cubs have put together a solid 9-2 record to take over 1st place from the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central race.  Great pitching, coupled with excellent hitting from Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano has catapulted the Cubs into the lead.

In last night’s 5-1 win in 13 innings over the 2nd place Astros, pitching took center stage for much of the game.  Carlos Zambrano put together another solid outing – 7 innings, 1 ER, 7 hits and 4 walks.  The lone run scored on Carlos Lee’s home run in the 2nd inning.  Aaron Heilman, Carlos Marmol, Jeff Stevens and Sean Marshall combined to pitch 4 straight scoreless innings from the 8th throught the 11th innings.  And Jeff Samardzija threw 2 scoreless innings and picked up his 1st win of the 2009 MLB schedule when Alfonso Soriano stroked his walk-off game-winning Grand Slam off of Chris Sampson to the delight of the Wrigley faithful.

That’s a perfect lead-in to the Cubs offense.  Although it wasn’t all good (Reed Johnson and Ryan Theriot were a combined 0 for 12 in the 1-2 spot at the top of the order, while Soriano was 0 for 5 heading into his 13th inning at-bat), Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez continued their hot hitting.  Lee hit a solo home run off of Wandy Rodriguez in the 4th inning to tie the game at 1 and also drew 3 walks, 1 of which started the Cubs rally in the 13th.  Ramirez notched 3 hits and raised his batting average to .338.  Ramirez’s single in the 13th moved Lee to 3rd base and forced Astros’ Manager Cecil Cooper’s hands to intentionally walk Milton Bradley to load the bases to face Soriano.  The move back-fired in a hurry as Soriano launched the game-winning shot deep to center field to give the Cubs the dramatic 5-1 win.  It was Soriano’s 4th career Grand Slam and he had this to say about the swing – – “I think that’s my best swing I made in the second half.”  Id’ agree.

The Cubs increased their winning streak to 5 games and they increased their lead over the Astros to 3 games and the Brewers to 4 games.  How long will the streak go – guess we’ll just have to wait and see…

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Wells, Hart, Harden Lead Weekend Sweep Over Reds

Posted on 27 July 2009 by Lou

Cubs Pirates Baseball

With the Cubs continuing to get good starting pitching on an-almost daily basis, the rest of the NL Central better be on notice about the Chicago Cubs.  The stellar Cubs pitching has kept the Cubs within striking distance of the NL Central leaders throughout the 2009 MLB schedule.  The lack of offense has kept the number of wins down, but with the bats starting to come alive with the resurgence of Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano, the wins have started piling up as the pitchng continues to excel.

This weekend was a perfect example.

Randy Wells has been one of the Cubs most consistent pitchers in 2009.  Wells has made 14 starts in 2009, pitching at least 5 innings in all but 1 starts.  He has not allowed more than 4 earned runs in any of his starts, and even then, he has done that only 3 times.  Wells has a fantastic strikeout to walk ratio (59 to 19) and his low WHIP (1.16) demonstrates that.  In Friday’s win over the Reds (his 6th of the season), Wells pitched 6 innings, giving up just 3 earned runs on one bad pitch – a 3-run HR to the Reds pitcher. Wells has won 6 of his last 7 decisions.  It would be hard to imagine the Cubs being where they are without the solid pitching of Wells this year.  Having Wells in the starting rotation has allowed Manger Lou Pinella to move Sean Marshall back to the bullpen as the Cubs lone lefty in the pen.

On Saturday, Kevin Hart delivered another solid start filling in for the injured Ryan Dempster and Ted Lilly.  His 6-inning, 1-run, 5-hit performance helped him notch his 2nd consecutive victory.  More importantly, Hart walked only 1 batter – in each of his previous 5-inning starts, Hart had walked 5 batters.  This is a good sign for the Cubs as Ted Lilly will continue to be on the DL for at least 3 more weeks after undergoing surgery on his left knee today.

On Sunday, Rich Harden had one of  his best starts of the year.  Harden gave up a solo home run to the 3rd batter of the game – Joey Votto – but retired the other 18 batters he faced, including the final 16 batters in a row.  Harden needed only 90 pitches to notch his 7th win of the season.  Harden has given up only 1 run in each of his last 3 starts.  This outing was even more special because of the struggles he has had this year during the day (1-5; 7.38 ERA) and at home at Wrigley Field (2-5; 7.59 ERA).

Carlos Zambrano has been a mainstay in the rotation as well (7-4; 3.48 ERA; 1.35 WHIP), while the Cubs expect to get Ryan Dempster back on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field.  Good news for Cubs fans all across the nation.

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Aramis Ramirez Gets Hot, Cubs Vault to NL Central Lead

Posted on 26 July 2009 by Lou

Reds Cubs Baseball

So Aramis Ramirez goes, so the Cubs go.  It took a couple of weeks for Aramis Ramirez to get back into the “swing” of things after his 2+ month stint on the DL, but he is “back and better than ever” to quote “Mike & Mike” in the morning.  Ramirez’ hot hitting has coincided with the Cubs catapult into 1st place in the NL Central race with a 1/2 game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals.  Who knows how long they will be there, but it must have come as a welcome relief to know that they have it in there despite all of the poor play and injuries that have plagued the Cubs ball club during the 2009 MLB schedule.

Aramis Ramirez has been on fire since Wednesday’s win in Philadelphia.  In that game, Ramirez went 2 for 4 with 2 walks, 2 RBI’s and 2 runs scored.  He had home runs in Friday’s and Saturday’s wins and 2 more hits in Sunday’s sweep of the Reds.  Overall, in his last 4 games, Ramirez is 9 for 16 with 2 home runs, 4 doubles, 7 RBI’s and 4 runs scored.  His batting average is back up over .330 and his on-base percentage is just under .400 at .394.    When Ramirez starts hitting, it seems like the rest of the team starts hitting and developing more scoring chances.

Alfonso Soriano has really turned it on as of late.  Soriano has a modest 9-game hitting streak, and his batting average is back above .250.  Soriano has 5 multi-hit games during that stretch, with 3 home runs, 8 RBI’s and 5 runs scored.  If the Cubs can get a more consistent and productive Soriano down the stretch in the 6-hole, the Cubs should be able to stay in the NL Central race for the duration of the 2009 MLB schedule.

The Cubs open a big 4-game series against the 3rd place Houston Astros on Monday night at Wrigley Field.  Carlos Zambrano will start the opener against Wandy Rodriguez.

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Cubs Keep Getting Bad News on Injury Front

Posted on 25 July 2009 by Lou

Cardinals Cubs Baseball

The hits just keep on coming for the 2009 Cubs.  The Cubs have placed Ted Lilly on the disabled list with a sore left shoulder.  Lilly had an MRI on Friday, and while there is no material structural damage to the arm, there does appear to be some shoulder tendinitis that is casuing the irritation for Lilly.  Lilly has also been bothered by a sore left knee of late.  To deal with that injury, Lilly will undergo artheroscopic surgery on the knee to repair the miniscus issue.  The recovery time will be between 3-4 weeks, so the Cubs should have Lilly back by the week of August 17th or August 24th.  Ted Lilly was the lone Cubs All-Star in 2009 – 3.59 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and a 9-7 record.

The Cubs pitching staff is in disarray right now.  Kevin Hart has taken the place of Ryan Dempster while he dealt with a broken toe.  The Cubs expect to have Dempster back this week, but with the injury to Lilly, Hart will likely stay in the rotation until he can return.  The Cubs have already relied upon rookie Randy Wells to shoulder a bulk of the starting pitching role this season.  He has been one of the Cubs most consistent pitchers, compiling a 6-4 record with a 3.10 ERA and 1.16 WHIP.  The Cubs will call up another rookie from Triple-A Iowa Justin Berg to fill the void in the bullpen.

Manager Lou Pinella says that the rest of the team just needs to step up their games to account for the recent loss of Dempster and Lilly and catcher Goevany Soto:  “There’s never a positive when a player goes on the DL, but in this case, if we can get his knee and shoulder taken care of at once [it’ll be good].  What we need to do is keep hanging in there… We’ll just go with what we have, and hang in there and get healthy and make a run.  We’re in a good position.  These kids are capable of pitching the same way the veterans are.”

Easier said than done, Lou.  This is shaping up NOT to be the Cubs year.  Where have we heard that before?!  Hey Cubs fans – wait until next year!!!

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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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Randy The Rock Helps Cubs Beat Braves 4-2

Posted on 07 July 2009 by Lou

Braves Cubs Baseball

Randy Wells is my Cubs MVP for 2009.  Wells won his 4th straight start as the Cubs beat the Braves 4-2 at Wrigley Field on ESPN Monday Night Baseball.  Wells needed only 87 pitches to get through 6 innings.  He gave up 2 ER on 7 hits and no walks while striking out 4.  In a tumultuous season in which the Cubs have had to deal with injuries to starting pitchers Carlos Zambrano and Rich Harden, Wells has stepped in to fill the void and even bumped 5th starter Sean Marshall from the rotation once Big Z and Harden were able to return full time.  Wells has been nothing but brilliant with a 2.48 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP.  Wells should even have 3 more wins under his belt, but the Cubs bullpen blew leads in those games after Wells had left with the lead intact.

Derrek Lee also continued his hot hitting with a 2-run HR in the 1st inning that gave the Cubs a 2-0 lead.  Lee went 2 for 4 on the night, while new lead-off hitter Kosuke Fukodome had another great night at the plate going 2 for 3 with 1 RBI and 1 run scored.  Kosuke’s RBI double in the 2nd inning increased the Cubs lead to 3-0 and Ryan Theriot’s single right after that capped off the Cubs scoring for the evening.

Sean Marshall, Carlos Marmol and Kevin Gregg each worked scoreless innings of relief to preserve the win for the Cubs.

The Cubs recalled 3 players from rehab assignments.  Aramis Ramirez started at 3rd base and batted 5th in the lineup – he went 0 for 4.  Reed Johnson and Angel Guzman were also recalled but did not see game action.  To make room for the 3, the Cubs sent Sam Fuld and Kevin Hart back down to Triple-A Iowa and put David Patton on the disabled list.  The Cubs also traded Ryan Freel to the Kansas City Royals for a player to be named later.

The Cubs have won 6 of their last 10 games and are now 41-39 on the season.  The Cubs have the same number of losses as the Cardinals and Brewers with less games played, so for as badly as things have gone in 2009, the Cubs are still right in the thick of things.

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Lee Leads Cubs to 9-5 Win Over Brewers @ Wrigley Field

Posted on 03 July 2009 by Lou

Brewers Cubs Baseball

Derrek Lee powered the Cubs to a 9-5 victory over the 1st place Brewers with 2 home runs on Thursday night at Wrigley Field.  Lee’s 3-run HR gave the Cubs an early 3-0 lead inthe 1st inning.  Lee’s 2nd home run of the game was a grand slam in the 4th inning, capping off a 5-run inning that gave the Cubs a 9-2 lead.  Lee went 2 for 4 on the night and had a career-best 7 RBI’s.  Lee now leads the Cubs in HR’s (14) and RBI’s (48).  Jake Fox and Geovany Soto also each hit solo home runs for the Cubs, as the Cubs scored all of their runs via the long ball.  Sam Fuld continued to swing a hot bat getting 2 hits and scoring 2 runs.  Ryan Theriot was the 3rd Cub batter with 2 hits on the night.

Ryan Dempster did the job to protect the Cubs early lead. Dempster went 6 2/3 innings giving up 3 ER on 8 hits and 2 walks.  Dempster struck out 9 Brewers batters in picking up his 1st win since the end of May.  Carlos Marmol worked a scoreless 9th inning despite issuing a walk (his 39th free pass in 38 1/3 innings) to slugger Prince Fielder.  Marmol has now worked 3 straight scoreless innings after struggling against the White Sox last weekend.

It was a big win for the Cubs as they needed to get off to a good start in this big 4-game weekend series with the 1st place Brewers.  The offensive explosion is a good sign that the Cubs are primed and ready to contend for a 3rd straight division title.  The Cubs have their work cut out for them as they still need to jump 2 other teams (the Cards and Reds) in order to achieve that 1st place goal.  Stay tuned as Carlos Zambrano battles Jeff Suppan in Game 2 of the exciting 4th of July weekend series with the Brewers…

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Randy to the Rescue – Cubs Top Pirates 4-1

Posted on 02 July 2009 by Lou

Cubs Pirates Baseball

Randy Wells helped the Cubs get back on track with a 7-inning gem that helped the Cubs beat the Pirates 4-1.  Wells needed only 97 pitches, giving up only 1 ER on 6 hits and 1 walk.  He struck out 4 and did not allow a run after giving up a 1st inning run. The rookie Wells has turned into the Cubs most dependable starter right now, lowering his ERA 2.43 to and his WHIP to 1.08.  Wells had this to say about his quality 2009 start: “I like to think I’ve been consistent.  When I was called up to make my first start, I said, ‘Just be who you are. Go out, throw strikes, mix speeds and keep the flow of the game going.'”  Wells has certainly done that in his 10 starts – he has given up more than 2 runs in only 2 of his starts.

Carlos Marmol worked a scoreless 8th inning although he did hit the leadoff hitter with a pitch.  Kevin Gregg worked a 1-2-3 9th inning to preserve the win and pick up his 14th save of the season.

Derrek Lee got the Cubs off to a good start with a 2-run HR to deep right center field in the 1st inning.  Kosuke Fukodome’s solo HR in the 6th inning gave the Cubs a 3-1 lead and Geovany Soto’s RBI single in the 8th inning tacked on another insurance run for the Cubs.  Sam Fuld, recently called up to take the place of the injured Aaron Miles, had 2 hits and scored a run.  Ryan Theriot, Fukodome and Soto also each had 2 hits.

Manager Lou Pinella was ejected from the game in the 6th inning for arguing a call made by 1st base umpire Chad Fairchild who called Wells out.  The play ended a Cubs threat that would have scored a run.

The Cubs start the month of July with a win – good news.  The potential bad news – they start the most important home stand of the 2009 MLB schedule on Thursday night against the Brewers at Wrigley Field and it’s unclear if they are ready for it.  At 37-38, the Cubs trail the Brewers by 3.5 games, the Cards by 2.5 games and the Reds by .5 games.  The Cubs need to win at least 2 of the games against the Brewers this weekend.  Anything less than that and the season could be over.  Ryan Dempster (4-5. 4.09 ERA) takes the bump against Seth McClung (3-1, 3.55 ERA) in the Thursday night opener.

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Cubs – White Sox Crosstown Classic ReCap

Posted on 30 June 2009 by Lou

Cubs White Sox Baseball

Took a few days off on Sunday and Monday to get ready for the Cubs big home stands at Wrigley Field during the month of July (the Cubs play 18 July games at Wrigley).  I picked a great time to go, as the Cubs looked atrocious on the south side and were lucky to win Friday’s game to avoid the sweep and what would have been a 7-game losing streak.

Here’s a recap of how the weekend went for the Cubs:

Friday, Cubs win 5-4:  Jake Fox hit a 2-run HR in the 4th inning to give the Cubs a short-lived 2-1 lead (Randy Wells gave the run back on a soloe shot to Jim Thome in the bottom of the inning).  Geovany Soto got the Cubs back on top with a 3-run bomb to left center field off Jose Contreras that gave the Cubs a 5-2 lead.  6 outs to go, 3 run lead, easy win, right?  No.  For some unknown reason, Manager Lou Pinella yanks Wells (98 pitches, 2 ER, 5 H, 2 BB, 6 K’s) and brings in Mr. Walk himself, Carlos Marmol.  What???!!!  Marmol walks Gordon Beckham to lead off the inning.  Surprise, surprise.  After a Scott Posednik flyout, Marmol walks Alexei Ramirez and then gives up a Jermaine Dye single to load the bases.  Jim Thome hit a soft line drive that knicked off the glove of Derek Lee, scoring Ramirez and Beckham to cut the lead to 5-4.  By that time, Pinella had seen enough of Marmol.  He let Marmol intentionally walk Paul Konerko and then brought in lefty Sean Marshall who coaxed A.J. Pierzynski into a lucky inning ending 3-2-3 doubel play.  Marshall was huge as it preserved the 5-4 Cubs lead.  Kevin Gregg picked up his 12th save of the 2009 MLB schedule, depsite walking Josh Fields with 2 outs.  Wells picked up his 2nd consecutive win and lowered his ERA to 2.57 and WHIP to 1.09.

Saturday, White Sox win 8-7.  Alfonso Soriano, Ryan Theriot and Andres Blanco each had 2 hits for the Cubs, while Soriano, Theriot and Lee each had 2 RBI’s in the win.  After the Cubs took a 7-6 lead in the top of the 8th inning on Andres Blanco’s groundout to shortstop, the Cubs bullpen blew the final 6 outs once again.  Carlos Marmol gave up a run on 2 hits in another inffective outing (at least he didn’t walk anybody this appearance).  The run tied the game at 7 in the 8th inning.  In the 9th inning, Sean Marshall gave up a single to Paul Konerko and then Pinella took him out when White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen pinch-hit righty Jayson Nix for Chris Getz.  Pinella brought in Jose Ascansio who promptly walked Nix and then gave up the game-wining single to Gordon Beckham.  Ryan Dempster looked awful again – 5 innings, 5 ER, 8 hits, 3 walks and 2 K’s.  Not good…

Sunday – White Sox win 6-0.  John Danks shut down the Cubs with 7 masterful innings of 0-run, 4 hit ball.  The pivotal point came in the 6th inning with the White Sox having a 3-0 lead.  Alfonso Soriano hit a leadoff double and moved to 3rd with only 1 out on a Ryan Theriot groundout.  Milton Bradley thought he earned walk as a 3-1 pitch from Danks sailed low, but the home plate umpire called it a strike.  Bradley wasn’t happy with the call as he was already a third of the way down the line and his lack of focus cost him as he struck out on a bad changeup that was well out of the strike zone.  Once again, the Cubs can’t get a runner in from 3rd with less than 2 outs, a problem that keeps recurrnig way too many times in 2009.  Derrek Lee and Jake Fox both worked walks out of Danks to get the bases loaded with 2 outs for Geovany Soto.  A hit would have turned the game around, but Alexei Ramirez slid and caught Soto’s line drive one-hopper and he forced Lee out at 3rd base for the final out.  The only other fire works came when Carlos Zambrano plunked DeWayne Wise in the bottom of the 6th inning.  Chris Getz had just scored on a suicide squeeze off Zambrano – Big Z spotted the squeeze but in an attempt to throw the ball to the outside corner of the plate so Wise couldn’t hit the ball, he threw the ball straight for the back stop.  Big Z’s next pitch went straight at the back of Wise.  Words were exchanged, but no fight occurred.  Danks plunked Ryan Freel in the top of the 7th in retaliation, and Freel calmly rubbed his arm and laughed at Danks on his way to 1st – pretty funny.  That brought an end to the disastrous 1-6 start to the Cubs 1st 7 games on a 10-game road trip.

The Cubs have 3 games against the Pirates in Pittsburgh at the start of the week before starting a big 4-game weekend series against the 1st place Milwaukee Brewers from Thursday to Sunday at Wrigley Field.

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