Archive | Jason Hammel

The Song Remains the Same; Cubs Pitchers Get it Done on the Mound & at the Plate (AGAIN!)

Posted on 20 April 2016 by Bob

For the second night in a row, a Cubs pitcher held the opposing team in check and delivered an RBI single. This time it was Jason Hammel’s turn as he threw six innings of five-hit, one-run ball while striking out six. Facing a one run deficit in the top of the fourth inning, Hammel stepped to the plate with two outs and bases loaded. He proceeded to slap a grounder right between the third baseman and shortstop to drive in not one, but two runs as Jorge Soler and Ben Zobrist came around to score.  They would be the only runs the Cubs would score, but ultimately all the runs they would need as the bullpen combination of Warren, Wood, Strop, and Rondon would work innings seven through nine to keep the Cards at bay and make the one-run lead hold up. The Cardinals lone run coming on a Yadier Molina triple in the second inning that scored Randal Grichuk.

ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 19: Starter Jason Hammel #39 of the Chicago Cubs hits an RBI single against the St. Louis Cardinals in the fourth inning at Busch Stadium on April 19, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

It was in many ways a replay of the night before when John Lackey went seven strong innings and nabbed himself an RBI single, albeit not the game winner as Lackey was already working with a lead. This night was “Hammel Time” for sure but Jason Heyward grabbed some of the headline yet again this series.  In the bottom of the fourth, with Matt Holliday on third base representing the tying run, Yadier Molina flied out to right field. Holliday was sent by the third base coach and Heyward, using those defensive instincts we’ve heard so much about, got in perfect position to make the catch while already preparing his body to make the throw home. He rifled the ball to Catcher Miguel Montero who was able to apply the tag just as Holliday was sliding towards the plate. Despite another  ‘0-fer’ night at the plate, Heyward’s defense has not only helped us to forget the lack of hits but also preserved the Cubs lead at 2 – 1, which would become the final score.

Heyward throws out Holliday

There’s been a bit of fussing lately concerning the low batting averages of some of the Cubs big hitters and rightfully so. After all, we can’t expect Dexter Fowler to keep up the torrid pace he has begun the season with. Still, it ultimately comes down to if you win the game or not, and to date, the Cubs have done a lot more winning than losing. No one says the heart of your order has to bat  over .200 to win; sure, it helps, but it’s not required. Sometimes taking a walk, or finding a way to get on base, coupled with a stellar defensive effort is enough to get you in position. The Cubs bats will surely wake up as April gives way to May and (hopefully) warmer temperatures. In the mean time, the Cubs don’t need to apologize for anything. They have won big and now they have won a tight contest; the bottom line is that they are finding ways to win, always the hallmark of a good ball club.

The series finale is currently in progress with the Cardinals jumping on Kyle Hendricks early, notching 2 runs apiece in each of the first two innings. The Cubs got one back in the fourth against Carlos Martinez on an Anthony Rizzo solo home run, but it’s been pretty much all Cards so far. Given how well the Cubs pitchers had kept St. Louis in check in over the first two games, the Red Birds were due to break out a bit, especially at home against the Cubs #5 starter. The game is currently in a prolonged rain delay in the seventh inning.

Here’s hoping the Cubs can get the runs and weather to climb back into this thing and complete the sweep. If not, two out of three ain’t bad.

Let’s Go Cubs!

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Cubs Lose Shoot-Out to Tigers After Rain Delay; Look for Season-Split with Detroit

Posted on 19 August 2015 by Bob

Offense was out in full force at Wrigley Field Tuesday night; unfortunately so was the rain. The Cubs dropped a shoot-out to the Tigers 10 – 8 last night in a long, wet contest that was delayed over two hours due to heavy winds, rain, and tornado warnings in the Chicago land area. The game finished just after 1:00AM Wednesday morning as the Cubs, who had battled back from deficits of 3 – 0 and 6 – 2, were able to knot the game up at six a piece in the seventh inning on Anthony Rizzo’s single to right center, but Pedro Strop gave it all back in the top of the eighth inning as he loaded the bases before recording an out and allowed three runs to score before working out of the inning.

Kinsler

Ian Kinsler went five for five at the plate for Detroit, netting two RBI’s, the second of which came in the ninth and provided  a comfortable cushion as the Cubs would tack on two more runs in the bottom of the inning but that was still not enough, as the Tigers took the game 10 – 8 behind 19 hits. Jason Hammel was off his game again lasting only three innings (Although the rain did play a small part) and giving up five runs on nine hits. He gave up home runs to both Kinsler and J.D. Martinez in the first, and another homer to Anthony Gose in the second. This really taxed the bullpen as the Cubs were forced to use six relievers to finish the game.

A tarp covers the field during a rain delay at a baseball game between the Cincinnati Reds and the Chicago Cubs, Saturday, June 13, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

The Cubs did their part offensively behind a pair of home runs; the first from Chris Coghlan, a two-run shot in the second, and the other being a three-run, 419-foot blast to right in the fifth from none other than the phenomenal Kyle Schwarber to pull the Cubs within a run and get them right back in this game. You could feel the momentum shifting in the middle innings as the Cubs clawed their way back into this. It felt like they might outlast the Tigers and keep their incredible run going but alas, Pedro Strop completely fell apart in the eighth. A run or two might have been able to be overcome but not three that late in an already long and exhausting game.  While it’s frustrating to drop two straight, it’s a sign of how far this team has come when two straight losses is a rare and unexpected occurrence.

Luckily, the Cubs have Jon Lester going tonight vs. Daniel Norris, so that SHOULD help out a tired bullpen as the Cubs look to salvage a season-series split with the Tigers and keep pace in the Wild card chase. Game time is 7:05PM CST.

 

Let’s Go Cubs!

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Rizzo Homers Again as Cubs Cruise Past Brew Crew

Posted on 01 August 2015 by Bob

Anthony Rizzo is on a roll, homering in each of the last three games as he led the Cubs past Milwaukee on Friday night at Miller Park. Jason Hammel gave up a solo-shot to Ryan Braun in the bottom of the first to make it 1-0 but Chicago got that run right back in the second inning when Starlin Castro singled in Kris Bryant. From there Hammel scattered five hits over the remainder of his almost six innings of work to pick up the W, his seventh straight decision vs. the Brewers.

RIZZO HR - 3 in  row

While Rizzo and Jorge Soler each had two hits a piece, it was the oft-maligned Castro who drove in two runs and looked rejuvenated after slogging through a rough year at the plate.

“He had three really good at-bats for us,” Maddon said. “(He) did a nice job at shortstop, but he’s capable of that. I mean, that’s who he is.”

Hector Rondon picked up another save, his 15th this year and the Cubs are now back to eight games over .500 at 55 – 47 and only one game game for the second Wild Card berth as San Francisco lost to Texas on Friday night. The Cubs also posted a 15 – 12 record for the month of July, and have now played .500 or better in every calendar month of this 2015 season.

Yes, things are looking up on the North Side and they get a chance to go nine games over .500 tonight as Kyle Hendricks takes the mound vs. former Cub Matt Garza with first pitch coming at 6:10PM CST.

Let’s Go Cubs!

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Cubs Swept by Phillies as Disastrous Weekend Comes to an End

Posted on 27 July 2015 by Bob

This past weekend was one to forget for Cubs fans, except most might not be able to. Not only were the Cubs swept in humiliating fashion by the worst team in baseball, they were also on the wrong end of a No-Hitter (delivered by trade-bait, Cole Hamels), something that hadn’t happened to a Cubs team in almost 50 years. What was once the longest active streak in the Majors is now the shortest and what was once a team in command of a potential Wild Card berth is now a team in a 2.5 game hole. This was not how this weekend was supposed to play out.

Things started out poorly on Friday as Jason Motte failed to hold a 3 – 2 lead with one out in the ninth inning, allowing an RBI-ground rule double by Cody Asche to tie the game. Jeff Francoeur hit a two run homer in the tenth inning to allow the Phils to steal game one, 5 – 3 and wasted a decent effort by Jon Lester who allowed two runs on seven hits in seven innings of work. Fair enough. Saturday would be much better, right? After all, we had Jake Arrieta going against Cole Hamels.  WRONG.

Cole Hamels no hitter

Hamels was masterful on Saturday pitching a complete-game, No-Hitter while walking two and striking out thirteen in what was most likely his final start for a Phillies club that can ill afford to hold on to someone as valuable as himself with the atrocious record they currently occupy. Still, this was about what Hamels did on Saturday, not what he will do for one lucky team in the near future. Hamels had his stuff working and was for sure aided by a decent wind blowing in on a few hard hit balls to the warning track that on any other day are home runs. On Saturday, they were not however, and Cubs fans were forced to watch history made in their ballpark at their expense, a 5 – 0 loss that will sting for some time. There really isn’t much more to say as the Cubs offensive woes were on full display and turned what should have been a chance to gain some ground in the division into at least a 2-1 series defeat and at most, a sweep by a pretty terrible Phillies squad.

The latter result was realized on Sunday as the Phillies completed the three game sweep, this time an embarrassing 11 – 5 defeat in which Cubs starter Jason Hammel was chased after 3.2 innings while giving up six runs on eight hits and making this hapless Philly team look like a bunch of All-Stars. The only takeaway on another terrible day for the Cubs was Manager Joe Maddon calling on backup, veteran catcher David Ross to pitch the ninth inning and save some arms in the bullpen. This is the second time Maddon has doneso in 2015 and Ross did not disappoint again, pitching a 1-2-3 inning and keeping his career ERA at 0.00. Ross also homered in the bottom half of the inning to lighten the mood of an otherwise thoroughly disappointing weekend.

David Ross Pitching

Prior to this series, most would have pegged the Cubs to be the ones handing out a sweep and not the other way around but baseball isn’t played on paper and the Phillies showed up and kicked some butt. The Cubs got a good look up close at what Cole Hamels can do for a team but his asking price was probably too high before Saturday’s historic start; now the Cubs might not even be in the same zip code as teams with a greater sense of urgency may be more inclined to overpay. It would be nice to see the Cubs make a splash at the deadline but it appears they will more or less stay the course on their plan, already a year ahead of schedule and not willing to sacrifice the future for a one game Wild Card that is essentially a coin flip.

The Cubs will need to shake this one off and move on. Yes, it was a pretty embarrassing weekend but it was just one series, and despite the Phillies’ poor record, they still employ a roster of professional baseball players who play just as hard as these Cubs do. Even the best of teams take a tumble, but it’s imperative for the Cubs to stop this slide at three and keep pace in the Wild card chase.

Tonight they turn to Kyle Hendricks as he takes on Jorge De La Rosa and the Colorado Rockies in the first of a three game series at Wrigley Field. First pitch is 7:05 PM CST.

Let’s Go Cubs!

 

 

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Hammel, Cubs Send Dodgers Aces to Back to Back Losses for First Time This Year

Posted on 24 June 2015 by Bob

Something is brewing on the North Side; something young, something fun, but most of all, something good. Yes, the often used Cubs hashtag #Wearegood can now be considered something more than just a fun gimmick. After beating two of the best pitchers in the game on back to back nights against a division leading team, it’s safe to say that these Cubs are good and the positive energy they are exuding has taken the fan base by storm.

CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 23: at Wrigley Field on June 23, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Last night, despite it being a Tuesday in June, felt bigger than any game has at Wrigley in a long time. With Zack Greinke on the mound for the Dodgers; a team that hadn’t experienced back-to-back losses when their aces (Clayton Kershaw and Greinke) pitch in succession, and coming off a bitter defeat the night before that rendered Kershaw disgruntled and perturbed, the Cubs knew they would have to grind to do what no team had done yet this season.  And that is exactly what they did. Jason Hammel threw quite possibly his best game all year in pitching 7 and 2/3 innings while allowing just two hits and a pair of walks to carry the Cubs through this pitcher’s duel as Zack Greinke put up almost identical numbers,though only lasting six innings.

After nine innings of play and neither team able to push across even a single run, the clubs headed to extras and while the game was far from over, you couldn’t help but think that Cubs at least had an advantage. They are 18 – 12 in one run games, with nine wins in walkoff fashion, and 8 – 3 in extra innings contests. Those are pretty impressive numbers and while they scream for a regression to the mean, you also can’t deny how clutch this team has been in such contests.  This time it was Chris Denorfia’s turn to play the hero as his tenth inning long sac fly to center field drove in the winning run with the bases loaded and one out. Cubs Win 1-0. The Cubbie Magic had struck again.

Denorfia walk off

“I believe in magic but I believe it has to be earned,” Manager Joe Maddon said.

These Cubs are earning it and then some but there is still a long way to go as even with this four game win streak they still sit a half game back of the Pirates and 6.5 back from the Cardinals, the only two teams in the National League with better records than the Cubs. That’s right, the three best teams in the National League all reside in the Central at the moment.

“We have three months,” Hammel said. “We’re playing good ball right now. We’ve been playing good ball for three months. We don’t quit, We’re going to keep coming.”

Consider that a warning shot across the bow of the good ship “N.L”  You are all on notice.

 

Tonight: It’s Kyle Hendricks vs. Mike Bolsinger as the Cubs go for a fifth straight and a series victory over the Dodgers. Game time is 7:05PM CST.

Let’s Go Cubs!

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Hammel Stellar Again as Cubs Swat Nats

Posted on 06 June 2015 by Bob

Jason Hammel is having a hell of a year. That continued Saturday as he allowed one run on five hits in eight plus innings of work to put the clamps on the NL East leading Nationals in a 4-2 victory.  Anthony Rizzo, Dexter Fowler, and Jonathan Herrera all chipped in two hits a piece to set the Cubs up to take the series on Sunday.

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 06:  Jason Hammel #39 of the Chicago Cubs pitches during a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on June 6, 2015 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Hammel’s only two real mistakes where the solo-shots allowed to Wilson Ramos in the second inning and Bryce Harper to start the ninth. Other than that, Hammel did his thing and kept the Nats in check a day after they lit up the scoreboard in a 7-5 Cubs defeat. It was good to see the Cubs bounce back and now they have a chance to take three of four from a pretty good team.

Addison Russell got his first major league start at shortstop as Starlin Castro was given the day off. He looked good helping turn a double play and making a nice grab in the ninth to record an out.

Kyle Hendricks closes out the series on Sunday vs. Jordan Zimmerman. Game time is 3:05PM CST.

Go Cubs Go!

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Cubs Cruise behind Hammel’s Stellar Night

Posted on 02 June 2015 by Bob

Jason Hammel continued his incredible run this year powering the Cubs to victory with 11 strikeouts and only one earned run on Monday night vs. the Marlins in Miami. This stellar performance brought his season ERA to 2.82 as he’s recorded 69 strikeouts to just seven walks in the ten games he has pitched this season, a truly remarkable achievement when you stop to think about.

Hammel vs. Marlins

“When I’m missing, my misses are better,” Hammel said. “That’s about it. When I’ve made mistakes this year, it hasn’t hurt me.”

Hammel has been the Cubs most consistent and best pitcher date, outshining even the Cubs top two starters in Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta. His return to the Cubs, after last season’s deadline trade, has bolstered this Cubs rotation and enabled them to gain back half of what they gave up last year in acquiring Addison Russell, a player who should be a mainstay on the roster for years to come.

On offense the Cubs got production from their core group of young players as Rizzo, Soler, Russell, Bryant, and Starlin Castro all drove in runs as the Cubs cruised 5 – 1. Castro’s hit was by far the most memorable as he crushed the game’s only home run over 420 feet and took his time rounding the bags.  It was good to see this offense have a little spark after a tough performance on Sunday.

The Cubs look to string together three straight wins tonight as Kyle Hendricks gets the start against the Marlins’ Brad Hand, who has the worst record for a starter in the majors with 2o or more decisions. First pitch is 6:10pm CST as the Cubs hope to stay hot in Miami.

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Cubs Waste Solid Effort from Hammel; Give Game Away on Errors

Posted on 20 May 2015 by Bob

Jason Hammel did his best to outduel Padres pitcher James Shields, pitching seven innings while allowing only three hits and striking out eight but he was undone by three costly errors, all of which led to runs and ultimately cost the Cubs the game.  Up 2-0 after solo home runs from Chris Coghlan and Dexter Fowler, Hammel appeared to be cruising entering the fifth inning until Kris Bryant overthrew Anthony Rizzo on Justin Upton’s hit to third base. Upton came around to score on the next at-bat.

Hammel at Petco

Then in the seventh, Castro failed to field a fairly easy ball hit right at him allowing Matt Kemp to reach safely. This ended up extending the inning that would allow the tying run to come across. The biggest and most costly error was saved for last, with Addison Russell dropping a pop-up just beyond the infield which enabled Derek Norris to double in two runs later in the inning. Despite another Coghlan homer in the ninth, the Cubs were sunk 4-3 with James Shields striking out eleven.

Russell at Petco

You really hope these kind of games don’t come back to haunt the Cubs later in the season. It’s one thing to have a team beat you but it’s another to beat yourself. This is precisely what the Cubs did Tuesday night and it’s a shame, especially for someone pitching as well as Jason Hammel. The errors by Bryant and Russell while unfortunate, can be reasoned away. Bryant is still a rookie despite what his stellar start would tell you and is bound to make a mistake from time to time. Russell is in the same boat while also still learning the ropes of a new position at second base. No doubt these were costly errors but they should disappear with time and experience.

Unfortunately, time and experience have not been kind to Castro in this department. The five year vet just can’t seem to make the routine play from time to time and it’s something that has to be taken into consideration when considering his future with the club, especially with Russell waiting on the other side of second base to claim his spot. Castro is still young but he’s been in the league long enough now to not be making these types of mistakes with such regularity. He has shown marked improvement but still these issues persist.  How it all shakes out is anyone’s guess but Castro needs to play near perfect the rest of the season for the Cubs to even consider him their long-term shortstop, let alone a long-term player on their team.

 

Next Up: Tsuyoshi Wada makes his Cubs debut this season coming up from Triple-A Iowa after recovering from a groin injury. He will face the Padres Tyson Ross. Game time is 9:10PM CST.

 

 

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Hammel, Cubs Spin Another Gem; Take Three Straight

Posted on 28 April 2015 by Bob

 

Hammel at Wrigley

The Chicago Cubs rode Jason Hammel into the eighth inning Monday night as he spun a four-hit, seven-strikeout performance for the Cubs third straight victory. Stretching Hammel deep into the game was just what the doctor ordered for the Cubs bullpen as they got some much needed rest. They only needed Pedro Strop for one inning as he came on to retire the side 1-2-3 and cap a masterful performance.

Bryant and Rizzo each delivered two hits and two RBI’s to propel the Cubs to a 4-0 victory as the team returns for a six game homestand at Wrigley. This one-two punch is becoming as formidable as any in the league and  a primary reason behind the team’s winning record to start the first month of the season. “We preached it in spring training — we’ve got to survive April,” Rizzo said. “We can’t put ourselves in a hole like we’ve done in years past and we’re doing a good job of coming to the park every day, playing with a lot of energy, having fun and really playing with a purpose.”

This team is on a roll and doing it against their division rivals which is always a plus. The Cubs look to keep it up tonight as Travis Wood takes the mound vs. Jeff Locke.

Tune in at 7:05PM CST.

Go Cubs Go!

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Cubs Fall to Rockies in First Game on the Road

Posted on 11 April 2015 by Bob

The Cubs fell the to the Rockies 5 – 1 on Friday behind home runs from Troy Tulowitski and Justin Morneau for the Rockies as the Cubs once again struggled to score runs. Travis Wood lasted four and 2/3 innings allowing three runs on seven hits with two walks and five strikeouts on Opening Day at Coors Field.

It’s still early so we’ll reserve judgement for now but it’s pretty clear that the Cubs major issue is scoring runs after going 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position. The pitching should be a strength once guys get into a routine but it’s the hitting that is costing the Cubs right now.

A few more outings like this and you’ll hear the clamor for Kris Bryant rise to a fever pitch and the Cubs service time deadline can’t come soon enough.

Here’s to hoping for some positive news after tonight’s game.  First pitch is 7:10PM and Jason Hammel takes on Kyle Kendrick  as the Cubs continue their series with the Rockies at Coors Field.

Jason Hammel

 

 

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