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Cubs Drop Series to Nationals @ Wrigley Field

Posted on 28 April 2010 by Lou

Just when you think the Cubs are going to turn it around riding a 4-game winning streak, they lay an egg and drop the final 2 games of the series to the Nationals @ Wrigley Field.  So painful.  The Cubs reverted their own old recipe for disaster — waste great starting pitching by not getting any clutch hits.  Tom Gorzelanny was the tough-luck lose on Tuesday night as the Cubs couldn’t get through to 67-year veteran Livan Hernandez (just kidding – he’s “only” 35 years old but it seems like he’s been in baseball for 35 years).  Gorzelanny recovered after a shaky first inning to limit the Nats to just 2 ER on 5 hits and 2 walks in 7 solid innings.  Despite having a 1.05 WHIP and 2.45 ERA, Gorzelanny is 0-3 on the season.  Ouch.  The Cubs actually out-hit the Nats 7-6, but they were only able to push through 1 run, on a fielder’s choice in the 2nd inning.

As if the 3-1 loss on Tuesday night wasn’t painful enough, the Cubs repeated the feat on Wednesday afternoon’s 3-2 loss.  Ryan Dempster pitched 8 great innings, allowing just 3 ER on 4 hits and 1 walk, while striking out 2.  Solo home runs to Adam Kennedy in the 1st inning and Adam Dunn in the 4th inning proved might costly for Dempster.  Dempster himself has a nifty 0.98 WHIP and 2.78 ERA, but is just 2-1.  Ouch.  Once again, the Cubs outhit the Nats 9-4, but could only push across 2 runs in the loss.  In each of the 5th, 7th and 8th innings, the Cubs got 2 runners on base but were unable to come through with any clutch hitting to tie the game at 3.  Poor and poorer.  Marlon Byrd led the way with the Cubs futility, leaving 6 runners on base during his 4 at-bats.

The Cubs are back to 2 games under .500, while the Nats improve to 2 games over .500.  The Cubs welcome the Arizona Diamondbacks to Wrigley Field for 4 straight day games from Thursday through Sunday.  Let’s hope the Cubs can find some clutch hitting during this series.  Ted Lilly will make his 2nd start of the 2010 campaign and looks to build off a strong 1st outing in which he pitched 6 scoreless innings against the Brewers in Milwaukee last weekend…

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Cubs Fun Fact of the Day — Carlos Silva

Posted on 27 April 2010 by Lou

We have a new daily feature for the MyCubsToday website – a fun fact of the day related to Chicago Cubs lore.  It could be anything to do with a particular player or coach.  It could related to Wrigley Field.  Or it could relate to the Cubs organization in general.  We hope you like it, and here’s our first ever “Cubs Fun Fact of the Day”

We’ll start it off with a fact about Cubs starting pitcher Carlos Silva.  Silva has been a major surprise in the Cubs rotation during this 2010 MLB schedule.  After last night’s quality start, he has now made 4 consecutive quality starts to start off his Cubs career – a pretty impressive stat.  The last Cubs starting pitcher to start his Cubs career with 4 straight quality starts???!!!  You guessed it, current Cubs starter Ted Lilly he began his career with the Cubs with a bang back in 2007.  In his 3+ year stint with the Cubs, Lilly has made 96 starts and won 45 of them.  His 44 wins from 2007-2009 tops all Cubs starting pitchers during that same time span.  If Silva puts up those kind of numbers over the next 2-3 years, we will be very very happy Cubs fans, and we could finally be talking about a Cubs World Series Championship.  Ah, to dream…

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Carlos’ Lead Cubs to 4-3 Extra Innings Win Over Nationals at Wrigley

Posted on 27 April 2010 by Lou

What a way to open the Cubs 7-game homestand at Wrigley Field – with an exciting 4-3 10-inning win over the Washington Nationals.  It was a trio of Carlos’ that paved the way for the win for the Cubs.

Starter Carlos Silva notched his 4th straight quality start for the Cubs – 3 ER on 7 hits and 1 walk in 7 innings pitched.  If not for Willy Nieves RBI single in the 6th inning, Silva likely would have picked up his 3rd win of the season.

Newly-appointed right-handed set-up man (and former ace) Carlos Zambrano worked 1 2/3 scoreless innings and even worked out of a “mini” 2-on, 1 out jam in the 8th inning by getting an infield popup and a strikeout to end the threat.

And Carlos Marmol worked a scoreless 10th inning to keep the game tied at 3.  He got the win when Aramis Ramirez walked with the bases loaded to plate Ryan Theriot with the winning run.

Ramirez had a hit and 2 RBI’s in the win.  Marlon Byrd raised his batting average to .355 and has been one of the most consistent hitters for the Cubs all season.  Ryan Theriot had 2 hits and 1 run scored and is now hitting .333 for the season.

A new feature to our stories on Cubs games – the “Stat You May Have Missed Feature”!  For Monday’s win, you may have missed the fact that Alfonso Soriano walked THREE (3) times in the win.  Yes, you read that correctly — 3 walks for Alfonso “I swing at anything” Soriano.  Unbelievable.  If I was the Alias Sports Bureau, I could tell you how many 3-walk games that Soriano has had in his 3+ years in a Cubs uniform.  But since I’m not, I’ll simply say that you can count Soriano’s 3-walk games on one hand…

Cubs go for the 5-game winning streak in support of Tom Gorzelanny tonight at Wrigley Field.  Back at .500 at 10-10, can the Cubs get over .500 for the 1st time all season?  Guess we’ll have to wait and see…

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Cubs to host college football game at Wrigley

Posted on 27 April 2010 by David McCormick

The Chicago Cubs are set to host its first college football game since 1938 at Wrigley Field on Nov. 20.  Northwestern will take on Illinois in the Big Ten match up. The field is going to run from the cubs dugout to the right field bleachers. When the Chicago Bears played at Wrigley it ran from the left field bleachers to the visitors dugout, the Bears have not played there since 1970.

The last time Northwester and Illinois took the field on the north side the park was called Cubs Park and they had 32,000 fans show up in 1923.

Football field at Wrigley field

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Carlos Silva Looking Sharp Early in 2010 Campaign

Posted on 26 April 2010 by Lou

I must admit, I didn’t think we’d ever see outings like we’ve seen from Carlos Silva thus far this season — I was just glad that Milton Bradley was gone.  When he had an awful 1st start during spring training, my worst nightmares seemed to be coming true.  Silva was washed up after he had signed that big 4-year, $48 million free agent contract with the Seattle Mariners back in 2008.  He would never even get back to being an average pitcher who would eat up innings for the Cubs, he would just continue to rack up poor numbers and be the guy who went 5-18 with a hefty 6.81 ERA in his 2 seasons in Seattle.

But somehow, Silva turned it around this spring and won one of the open starting spots in the rotation fairly early in the process.  After that 1st bad outing, he became a much more focused and consistent pitcher and constantly pounded the strike zone.  He has continued that effort into the regular season in a big way.  Silva is 2-0 with a sparkling 0.93 ERA and a phenomenal 0.63 WHIP in 3 starts for the Cubs.  He has allowed just 1 ER in 2 of his starts and zero earned runs in his other start.  Typically a contact pitcher who relies on his defense to make plays and record outs, Silva has helped himself by giving up just 1 solo home run and issuing just 2 free passes all season long.  In fact, he didn’t even walk a batter this season until his most recent start against the Mets in New York this past week.

Silva is thrilled with his new “lease on life”: “Thank God for the three good starts.  I still have a little problem with my shoulder and everything.  God knows what I went through the last few years.  I’m a guy who never gives up.  Everything happens for a reason, and thanks God everything has gone well, but it’s a long, long season.”

Silva also credited the Cubs pitching staff for helping him get off to a good start — “[Pitching Coach Larry Rothschild] said ‘I want you to do this, this and this’.  I was like, Whoa’.  It gave me a lot of confidence in him.  I said ‘Wow, this guy is ready to work with me.’ That means a lot to me.  .. For the last two years, I’ve been working so hard to get something good out of all this work.  This is a good start, but we have to keep working hard.  There’s a long way to go.  I can continue helping this team.”

Silva has the right attitude and appears to be at a good place in his life.  He doesn’t take anything for granted – Milton Bradley – do you hear that? – and he takes responsibility for being ready to pitch every 5th day.  Now I know he won’t go undefeated or keep his ERA or WHIP under 1.00 forever, but this is a fabulous start for Silva and the Cubs.  It takes the pressure off the rest of the pitching staff and it gives him more and more confidence that he can be a dominating pitcher in this league – expecially in the lighter-hitting National League.  Good luck Carlos – we wish you the best!

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Cubs Crush Brewers 12-2; Complete 3-Game Sweep at Miller Park

Posted on 25 April 2010 by Lou

WOW – what a turn of events.  The Cubs were reeling after dropping 5 of 7 games to the lowly Astros and Mets.  But they didn’t give up and completed an impressive 3-game weekend sweep over the Brewers at Miller Park with a 12-2 rout on Sunday.  The Cubs scored 12 runs and belted out 18 hits, including home runs by Kosuke Fukudome, Derrek Lee, Tyler Colvin and Geovany Soto.  Fukudome and Colvin each had 3 hits apiece, while Ryan Theriot had 5 hits and 3 RBI’s and now has his average up to .329 after a slow start to the season.  Theriot was even briefly demoted form the lead-off spot during the series against the Mets in New York.

Randy Weels did a great job on the mound – 7 innings, 2 ER on 7 hits and no walks, with 6 K’s.  Another great start from the dependable Wells.

The Cubs next face the resurgent Nationals in a 3-game set this week at Wrigley Field.  This isn’t your old Nats team, however, as the Nats have already won 11 games this season – 2 more than the Cubs.  Let’s keep the good times rolling on Monday night with Carlos Silva on the bump…

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Cubs Crush Brewers 8-1 @ Miller Park in Milwaukee on Friday Night

Posted on 24 April 2010 by Lou

The Cubs seemed to put their hitting and pitching woes from NY behind them with a convincing 8-1 win over the Brewers on Friday night in Milwaukee.  Ryan Dempster tossed 1-run ball for 7 2/3 innings, scattering 7 hits and 1 walk.  Ryan Theriot, Kosuke Fukudome, Marlon Byrd, Tyler Colvin and Koyie Hill each had 2 hits in the win.  Fukudome and Colvin stroked home runs in the hitter-friendly Miller Park.

The Cubs are leading the Brewers 5-1 in the 9th inning tonight.  Two good pitching signs for the Cubs.  Ted Lilly made his 2010 debut tossing 6 shutout innings, giving up just 3 hits and 2 walks.  Carlos Zambrano also made his 2010 debut – out of the bullpen – and he did well.  He recorded the final out of the 7th inning and then worked the 8th inning as well.  He did give up a run on 2 hits and a walk in the 8th.  But it looks like Lilly is back on track and ready to compete in 2010 and it looks like Big Z is capable and able out of the bullpen.

Go Cubs!  Let’s hope Randy Wells can spark a Brew Crew sweep in Sunday’s contest.

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Cubs Lose 5-2; Drop 3 of 4 to Mets @ CITI Field in New York

Posted on 23 April 2010 by Lou

How much worse can it get?  During the last 7 games, the Cubs played 2 of the worst teams in the National League (the 1-8 Houston Astros and the 4-8 New York Mets).  How did they fare?  Not good – they dropped 2 of 3 to the Astros at Wrigley Field and then 3 of 4 to the Mets at CITI Field.  The Cubs are now 6-10 overall, they trail the 1st place St. Louis Cardinals by 4.5 games in the NL Central already, and they have to play the red-hot Brewers at Miller Park in Milwaukee this weekend.  Ouch.

The Cubs managed to score just 3 runs in the 3 losses against the Mets in NY.  They are going to need to step up their offensive game if they expect to get back on track in Milwaukee. In Thursday night’s 5-2 loss, Tom Gorzelanny turned in another solid outing.  He did not allow a hit until the 5th inning and got into trouble in the 6th inning in which he allowed 2 earned runs.  Mike Fontenot’s error on a groundball that should have ended the inning allowed 2 more unearned runs to score.  Overall, Gorzelanny has a 1.07 WHIP and a 2.40 ERA in 3 starts.  And while the offense did have 10 hits in the game, they never came through with any clutch hits that could have turned the game around.  Same old story, just a different night.

Ryan Dempster takes the hill against Jeff Suppan and the Brewers on Friday night.  Ted Lilly will make his 1st start of the 2010 on Saturday night against Doug Davis.  The Sunday afternoon series finale will feature Randy Wells against Dave Bush.  The match-ups work in favor of the Cubs, so let’s hope some positive things happen in Milwaukee this weekend…

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Carlos Zambrano to Cubs Bullpen?!?!

Posted on 22 April 2010 by Lou

This crazy Cubs season gets even crazier as the Cubs opt to send ace starter Carlos Zambrano to the Cubs bullpen.  What are GM Jim Hendry and Manager Lou Pinella thinking?!?!

Granted the bullpen has been brutal early in the season – 1-6 record with a 6.15 ERA – costing the club at least 4 or 5 games in which they held the lead in the 7th inning or later.  And granted, Carlos Silva (2-0, 0.95 ERA and 0.63 WHIP in 3 starts) and Tom Gorzelanny (0-1, 1.93 ERA and 1.07 WHIP in 3 starts) – the 2 pitchers who earned starting rotation spots until Ted Lilly could return from injury – have pitched well beyond expectations.  But is moving the “ace” of your staff – the highest paid starting pitcher on the team – into the right-handed throwing, 8th inning SET-UP role really the answer?  This astounds me.

Pinella had this to say about the move — “We’ll have a Carlos setup guy and a Carlos closer… I talked to Carlos today and told him we really needed him in the bullpen, and that we felt he could do a nice job for us.  He said he’d do what’s best for the team.  I’m very appreciative.  He talked about maturing.  This proves it to me.”

Big Z for his part said the right things too — “I told Lou I wanted to help this team until you find somebody.  I told him I want to be back for the playoffs.  If we go to the playoffs, I want to go back to the rotation… I don’t like to be a reliever.  I don’t want to be a reliever.  This team needs somebody to step up and help the bullpen.”

WOW – I am still in shock.  I can’t see the club keeping Big Z in the bullpen for long.  How do you justify paying a set-up guy $17 million per year?  It doesn’t make any sense.  I guess this might help stabilize things for a little while until the younger players can get their feet on the ground in the bullpen or until Hendry can make a move to bring in a veteran reliever into the mix for the late innings.  In addition to the money issue, who knows how effective Big Z will be out of the ‘pen.  Being a reliever, you have to get warmed up differently, you come into the game in different situations and you might have to start throwing out of the stretch right away.  Can Big Z really adjust to this new role in 3 days?  Guess we’ll see very very soon.  Zambrano could make a relief appearance as early as this Friday against the Brewers at Miller Park in Milwaukee…

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Cubs Anemic Offense Leads to 4-0 Shutout Loss to Mets @ CITI Field in New York

Posted on 21 April 2010 by Lou

So much for righting the ship against the lowly New York Mets – Carlos Zambrano took the loss in the Cubs 4-0 loss against the Mets on Tuesday night.  But this wasn’t all Zambrano’s fault.  Sure, he had trouble with his control early on.  And his walk to the pitcher with 2 outs in the bottom of the 2nd inning kept the inning alive for the next batter – Jose Reyes – to stroke a 2-run triple to left center field to give the Mets the early lead.  But Big Z found a way to work 6 strong innings, giving up just those 2 runs on 6 hits and 3 walks.  He racked up 9 K’s.  It was the Cubs 4th quality start in the last 6 games, but the Cubs have a 1-5 record during that stretch. During the team’s current 4-game losing streak, they have scored just 6 total runs.  That is completely unacceptable, especially when you are playing the worst team in the NL Central – the Astros – and the worst team in the NL East – the Mets.

Pretty much every Cubs batter is in a funk, but no one is struggling more than clean-up hitter Aramis Ramirez.  Ramirez is hitting .145 with a .213 on-base percentage.  He leads the team with 19 strikeouts in just 14 games.  Ouch.  Ramirez is frustrated with his effort thus far — “I’m not seeing the ball good right now.  I’m swinging at too many bad pitches… I just have to stay focused and get some better pitches to hit… I'[m trying to do too much and trying to hit a four-run home run with nobody on base… I haven’t gotten the job done.  No excuses.  I’m 100 percent.  I just have to keep working and try to get out of it.”

Manager Lou Pinella is also frustrated as even his tinkering with the batting order each night in New York hasn’t worked — “I don’t think anybody is too pleased… We had chances.  We just don’t seem to get base hits with men on base or men in scoring position.”

I feel like I am writing a bunch of similar posts to the ones I wrote during the Cubs 2009 atrocious season.  See  my thoughts on how good the Cubs starting pitching was in 2009 and how well the pitching staff did down the stretch despite limited run support.  My biggest fear is that the Cubs hitters get on track only to have the starting pitching go down the drain.  Guess we have to be patient – it is only April 21st, but if the Cubs continue to under-perform with the highest payroll in the National League, look for the Ricketts Family to make some changes (hear that Jim Hendry, Lou Pinella?) this off-season.

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