Posted on 23 June 2009 by Lou
The old demons are back – the Cubs lost to the Braves 2-0 on Monday night in Atlanta. Despite getting 10 hits and 3 walks, the Cubs left 18 runners on base and got shut out. Beautiful. Andres Blanco led the Cubs with 4 LOB, while Kosuke Fukodome, Jake Fox and Derrek Lee each had 3 LOB. Fox had 2 hits filling in for Alfonso Soriano in left field, but they never came at the right time. Same could be said for Blanco who also had 2 hits. There were 5 innings in which the Cubs had at least 2 runners reach base, but they could never push over a run.
Ryan Dempster pitched well enough to earn a win, but Manager Lou Pinella may have left him in the game too long. Down 1-0 after 6 innings, Pinella opted to let Dempster lead off the top of the 7th inning – he made an out. The next 2 Cubs reached base, but Fox and Lee failed to move them home. Who knows what would have happened if Pinella had sent up a pinch-hitter instead of Dempster. Then Dempster got into trouble in the bottom of the 7th inning, allowing the Braves 2nd run of the game on a Chipper Jones sacrifice fly. Pinella then pulled Dempster after 118 pitches, 8 hits, 4 walks and 6 K’s. While it was another quality start for Dempster, he was constantly working out of jams from the 3rd inning on and he fell to 4-5 on the season.
Pinella gave Milton Bradley and Soriano the night off to get ready for interleague play this week against the Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox. The Cubs did not lose any ground in the NL Central race as the New York Mets defeated the St. Louis Cardinals at CITI Field in New York. The Cards still lead the Cubs by 2.5 games.
Posted on 18 June 2009 by Lou
The White Sox defeated the Cubs 4-1 in the opener of the Cross-Town Classic at Wrigley Field. John Danks pitched into the 8th inning and stymied the over-matched Cubs hitters all game long. Danks gave up only 1 ER on 5 hits and picked up his 5th win of the 2009 MLB schedule. Danks had 9 strikeouts and did not walk a batter in only 99 pitches.
As we’re getting used to, the Cubs blew way too many early opportunities early in the game – 1st and 2nd nobody out in the 2nd inning and 1st and 3rd nobody out in the 4th inning. The Cubs came away empty-handed each time and then started pressing the rest of the way, swinging at way too many 1st pitches and not forcing Danks to work deeper into counts. The Cubs got their only run on an Alfonso Soriano RBI groundout in the bottom of the 8th inning, but by then the game was aleady in the bag.
Ryan Dempster pitched OK, but did not have the control that has kept him in so many ballgames over the years. He labored through 104 pitches in 6 innings, giving up 3 ER on 4 hits and 6 walks. He had 4 strikeouts but it was really not a typical solid outing from Dempster. The loss dropped him to 4-4 on the season. The Cubs are now back under .500 at 30-31. They trail the Brewers by 4.5 games in the NL Central race.
The Cubs and White Sox play the abbreviated finale on Thursday afternoon at Wrigley Field. Carlos Zambrano takes the bump for the Cubs against Gavin Floyd of the White Sox.
Posted on 17 June 2009 by Lou
Heavy rains forced the postponement of Tuesday night’s Cubs-Sox opener at Wrigley Field. The two teams should be able to play the next 2 games of the cross-town class despite rain in the forecast for each of Wednesday and Thursday.
Cubs Manager Lou Pinella bumped Tuesday night’s starter Carlos Zambrano to Thursday afternoon. Ryan Dempster will make his scheduled start for the Cubs on Wednesday. White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen opted to keep his scheduled rotation intact, pushing each starter back by a day. John Danks will square off against Dempster on Wednesday afternoon, while Gavin Floyd will face Zambrano on Thursday afternoon.
The Cubs are 30-30 and they trail the Brewers by 3.5 games in the NL Central race.
The White Sox are 30-34 and they trail the Tigers by 4 games in the AL Central race.
A re-scheduled date for Tuesday night’s rainout has not been announced yet, but it is expected to be replayed in September. The Cubs have already had 3 other games rained out, with 1 to made up on June 22nd in Atlanta and with the other 2 games to be made up at Wrigley Field in July.
Posted on 16 June 2009 by Lou
The Chicago Cubs will host the White Sox at Wrigley Field this week in the 1st installment of the 2009 cross-town classic. The Cubs and White Sox will battle at U.S. Cellular Field on the south side next weekend from Friday June 26 through Sunday June 28th.
In 2008, when the teams first met, it was a battle of division leaders. The Cubs swept all 3 games at Wrigley Field, while the White sweot all 3 games at the Cell.
This year is a totally different year. Both teams are hitting poorly and that has led to dismal records for each team. The Cubs are at .500 with a 30-30 record. The Cubs trail the Brewers by 3 games in the NL Central race and the Cards by 2 games. The White Sox are below .500 with a 30-34 record. The White Sox trail the Tigers by 4.5 games in the NL Central and the Twins by 1.5 games. Each team ranks in the bottom 3rd of the league in hitting – the Cubs 26th with a .246 team batting average and the White Sox 24th with a .251 team batting average. Not good.
So does that mean we should count on low-scoring pitching duels this week at Wrigley? Not likely. These teams always seem to battle it out in high-scoring affairs no matter how bad or good they are playing, so look for several close games this week at Wrigley.
Carlos Zambrano (4-2) will take on John Danks (4-5) in the Tuesday night opener. Zambrano has an ERA under 1.00 in his last 3 starts, but has only 1 win to show for it. He is 5-2 lifetime against the White Sox, but did not start against them in 2008. Danks had a great outing last week against the Tigers, but had an ERA over 7.00 in his previous 8 starts. Danks had 1 start against the Cubs in 20080 in which he pitched 6 innings of 1-run ball.
In the Wednesday matinee, Ryan Dempster will battle Gavin Floyd. In the Thursday matinee, Randy Wells will take on Jose Contreras.
Posted on 12 June 2009 by Lou
It felt like Grounds Hog Day on Thursday in Houston. The Astros beat the Cubs 2-1, this time in 13 innings. For the 2nd straight day, the Cubs scored only 1 run courtesy of a solo home run – this time by Derrek Lee. The HR was a little more dramatic as it tied the game at 1 when the Cubs were down to the their last 2 outs in the 9th inning. But the Cubs bats were mostly silent the rest of the way, and the Cubs eventually fell in the 13th inning on a run-scoring single by Geoff Blum. It was the 2nd consecutive game in which Geoff Blum had a walk-off hit to win the game for the Astros.
The Cubs had a frustrating road trip. Although the Cubs went 4-4 (good for them on the road), 5 of the 8 games went to extra innings and the Cubs continue to blow chance after chance in each game. The Cubs are getting no clutch hitting in 2009, and because of that, they are losing way to many close games. They outscored their opponents 28-21 on the road trip, but only won 4 games. The Cubs endured 4 1-run losses on the trip and they continue to waste good pitching efforts from the starting pitchers. Ryan Dempster pitched 7 innings, giving up 7 hits and only 1 earned run in the 1st inning. He didn’t walk a batter and he racked up 4 K’s. Carlos Marmol worked 2 scoreless innings without allowing a hit (he did walk 1 batter). Kevin Gregg also worked 2 scoreless innings, but he did have to work out of a few jams as he allowed 3 hits during his work. Jose Ascansion took his 1st loss of the season by giving up the game-winning hit to Blum in the 13th inning.
Manager Lou Pinella had this to say about the frustrating road trip: “What am I going to do? Just keep running them out there and hope it gets better. They’re going to have to find the answers on the field. That’s the bottom line. It sounds cruel, it sounds harsh, but it’s reality. We really did nothing. When we had chances, we’re swinging at bad pitches out of the zone, can’t make contact. Come on. This is Major League Baseball. I know the game isn’t easy to play because I played it for a long time, but it’s not this darn hard.”
The Cubs are now just 1 game over .500 at 29-28. Luckily, the Brewers have lost 4 in a row, so the Cubs are only 2.5 games out of 1st place. The bad news – the Cubs still have to jump over the Cards and Reds to catch the Brewers. The Cubs return home to Wrigley Field for a 9-game home stand. The Cubs will face 3 members of the AL Central division in inter-league play. Friday-Sunday, June 12th-14th v. the Minnesota Twins; Tuesday-Thursday, June 16th-18th v. Chicago White Sox; and Friday-Sunday, June 19th-21st v. Cleveland Indians.
Posted on 11 June 2009 by Lou
The Astros defeated the Cubs 2-1 on Wednesday night, as the Cubs bats wasted a 3rd straight gem by Carlos Zambrano. After their 16-hit, 7 runs barrage on Tuesday night, the Cubs scored only 1 run on a solo home run by Geovany Soto in the 2nd inning. The Cubs managed only 7 hits and 2 walks against Wandy Rodriguez and Chris Sampson. Ryan Theriot was the only Cubs player with more than 1 hit. The Cubs had more than 1 batter reach base in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th innings, but only scored 1 run in that span. They didn’t have another serioues threat until the 8th inning when Ryan Theriot and Derrek Lee singled, but Reed Johnson struck out to end the inning.
Zambrano needed only 104 pitches to work through 8 innings. Zambrano gave up only 1 earned run on 3 hits and 2 walks. He struck out 3 batters. His only mistake was issuing a lead off walk to Hunter Pence in the 7th inning. Pence advanced to 3rd base on Carlos Lee’s single to center field and then scored on a weak groundball by Geoff Blum. In his last 3 starts, Zambrano has pitched 21 innings, giving up just 2 earned runs (3 total) on 12 hits and 10 walks. He has 16 K’s along the way, but only a 1-0 record to show for it.
Angel Guzman had been the Cubs most reliable reliever until last night. Guzman gave up a leadoff single to Miguel Tejada and then walked Hunter Pence. Carlos Lee’s flyout to right field moved Tejada to 3rd base with only 1 out. Manager Lou Pinella opted to walk Lance Berkman to load the bases to set up a force play at every base, but Geoff Blum’s soft single to center field won the game for the Astros.
The two teams play an afternoon finale on Thursday in Houston. Ryan Dempster will face off against Roy Oswalt.
Posted on 08 June 2009 by Lou
The Cubs 6-3 win over the Reds in Cincinnati on Sunday wasn’t pretty – but they will take it, especially since the Brewers and Cards lost too. With the win, the Cubs moved just 1.5 game behind the Cards and 3.5 games behind the Brewers in the NL Central race.
Once again, the Cubs bats left a lot to be desired. The Cubs managed only 12 hits in 14 innings. The Cubs scored 1 run in the 1st inning on Ryan Theriot’s solo home run and 2 runs in the 3rd inning on Derrek Lee’s 2-out 2-run single, but they didn’t score another run until their 3-run “outburst” in the top of the 14th inning. Alfonso Soriano led off the inning with a solo home run. Ryan Theriot singled and Kosuke Fukodome walked, and after a Derrek Lee foul out, Mike Fontenot drove in the 2nd run of the inning with an infield single. Reed Johnson then doubled home Fukodome to give the Cubs the 6-3 lead.
The Cubs used 8 pitchers in all. David Patton picked up his 2nd win of the season by pitching a scoreless 13th inning. Angel Guzman picked up his 1st career major-league save by working a scoreless bottom of the 14th inning. Randy Wells turned in another solid start – 6 2/3 innings, 7 hits, 2 earned runs, 1 walk and 4 K’s. And once again he did not get the win – because of a familiar character – Carlos Marmol. Marmol faced only 2 batters in the 8th inning and he walked them both. By this time, Manager Lou Pinella had seen enough and he yanked Marmol for Aaron Heilman. Heilmand minimized the damage as best as he could by allowing only 1 run to score. The most impressive outing may have come from Jose Ascansio, however. Ascansio worked 3 scoreless innings in the 10th, 11th and 12th to keep the Cubs in the game. He did give up 2 hits and 2 walks, but he was able to navigate through some tricky waters to get through his 3 innings unscathed.
The Cubs are now 28-26. The Cubs can rest on Monday with a scheduled day off, and then make the trip to Houston to take on the Astros. Heres how the match-ups look: Ted Lilly v. Brian Moehler on Tuesday night; Carlos Zambrano v. Wandy Rodriguez on Wednesday night; and Ryan Dempster v. Roy Oswalt on Thursday afternoon.
Posted on 07 June 2009 by Lou
Lack of hitting continues to plague the Cubs day in and day out. The Cubs could must only 8 hits and 3 runs off of a 1st time starter and a trio of Reds relievers in the 4-3 11-inning loss on Saturday night in Cincinnati. With Fukodome’s average dropping below the .300 mark, the Cubs do not have an every day hitting over .300 – what a joke for a high-payroll team.
The Cubs scored their only runs on Bobby Scales and Geovany Soto solo home runs and a Jake Fox sacrifice fly that tied the game at 3 in the 8th inning.
The pitching was great – Ryan Dempster pitched 6 strong innings. The only 3 runs scored off of Dempster in the 1st inning were all unearned – courtesy of a Mike Fontenot error. Do ya think we miss Mark DeRosa right now? At least we have 3 pitchers in the minor leagues pitching well…
Dempster only agve up 6 hits and 2 walks, while striking out 7. Aaron Heilman, Carlos Marmol and Angel Guzman each worked scoreless innings of relief. After Sean Marshall worked a scoreless 10th inning, he fell into immediate trouble in the 11th when he issued a lead-off walk to Jay Bruce (the guy is hitting below .220). Bruce advanced to 2nd base on a wild pitch and took 3rd on a sacrifice bunt. Marshall intentionally walked the next batter to set up a force play, but the next batter’s weak groundball to 3rd baseman Mike Fontenot allowed the winning run to score. Fontenot looked lost fielding the ball as he lobbed the ball to Geovany Soto at the plate. The runner easily scored, but may not have if Aramis Ramirez was on the field.
The Cubs are now 4 1/2 games behind the Brewers and they still trail the Cards and Reds as well. Not good for a ball club that was expected to compete for a World Series in 2009…
Posted on 06 June 2009 by Lou
The Cubs defeated the Reds 2-1 on Friday night in Cincinnati behind an all-around effort from Carlos Zambrano. Carlos Zambrano won his 100th career game, pitching 6 2/3 scoreless innings of 2-hit ball. Zambrano needed a lot of pitches, however (108 total), as he walked 5 batters and struck out 7. Zambrano’s solo home run to deep center field in the 5th inning ended up being the game-winning run.
Angel Guzman got Zambrano out of a jam in the bottom of the 7th inning by retiring Johnny Gomes on a harmless ground ball with 2 on and 2 out. Guzman has been lights out this season, lowering his WHIP to 0.90 and his ERA to 2.45. Carlos Marmol struggled again – giving up the Reds only run in the 8th inning on 2 walks and a hit. But Kevin Gregg stepped up big in the 9th inning to record his 10th save of the season.
The Cubs bats continue to struggle. It is getting to be a huge issue for the Cubs and very frustrating for Manager Lou Pinella. No one ever seems to come up with the big hit. A perfect example was the 1st inning – the Cubs loaded the bases with only 1 out on a Ryan Theriot infield single and consecutive walks to Kosuke Fukodome and Derrek Lee. But the Cubs could only muster 1 run as Micah Hoffpauir struck out, Miek Fontneot coaxed another walk out of Reds starter Micah Owings, and then Koyie Hill struck out to end the inning. The Cubs only had 7 hits and left 18 runners on base.
The Cubs and Reds continue the weekend series today – Ryan Dempster v. Matt Maloney who will be making his 1st career major league start.
Posted on 05 June 2009 by Lou
The Thursday night series finale between the Cubs and Braves was rained out. The game will be made up in Atlanta on Monday, June 22nd – a mutual day off for both teams.
Carlos Zambrano will now start Friday night against Micah Owings and the Reds in Cincinnati. Zambrano is in search of his 100th career victory. Ryan Dempster will now start on Saturday and Randy Wells will start on Sunday. Sean Marshall, Saturday’s schedule starter will now go back into the bullpen until the Cubs need another 5th starter later next week.
Manager Lou Pinella might have an important decision soon, however. If Rich Harden can return to the Cubs rotation at some point late next week, Pinella might decide to stick with Marshall coming out of the bullpen for the Cubs to give them another option. With as well as Wells has been pitching as a starter, this would make perfect sense.
We’ll keep a close watch on this as the week continues and as Harden makes a rehab start early next week.