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Cubs Looking to Put Florida Trip in Rear View Mirror

Posted on 03 August 2009 by Lou

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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!

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Cubs Acquire John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny from Pirates

Posted on 01 August 2009 by Lou

Cubs GM Jim Hendry did not sit pat leading up to the July 31st trading deadline.  And although he didn’t land a big splash like Matt Holliday, Victor Martinez or Jake Peavy, he did add a much-needed lefty to the Cubs bullpen.

John Grabow has been a solid left-handed reliever for the Pirates the last 2 seasons.  During the 2009 MLB schedule, Grabow appeared in 45 games for the Pirates, going 3-0 with a 3.42 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP.  He had 41 K’s against 28 walks.  In 2008, Grabow appeared in 74 games, going 6-3 with a 2.84 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP.  He had 62 K’s and only 37 walks.  For much of the season since Neal Cotts’ season-ending injury, the Cubs have relied upon just 1 lefty in the bullpen – Sean Marshall.  Marshall has been a rock since moving from the 5th starter into the bullpen role, but it’s nice for Marshall to have some company back there. Grabow made his Cubs debut against the Marlins in Florida on Friday night.  After walking Jeremy Hermida to lead off the 6th inning, Grabow retired the next 3 batters to work a successful scoreless inning.

The Cubs also acquired Tom Gorzelanny in the deal.  Gorzelanny has made 15 starts at the Triple-A level in 2009, going 4-3 with a 2.48 ERA.  Gorzelanny has made 65 career starts the major league level, going 25-26 with a 4.79 ERA and 1.50 WHIP.  With the departure of Kevin Hart in the deal, Gorzelanny could find himself in the Cubs rotation until Ted Lilly returns from the DL.

Kevin Hart pitched well for the Cubs in 2009, especially as a starter the last 4 starts.  Hart was 3-1 overall, winning each of his last 3 starts.  He had compiled a 2.60 ERA with a 1.48 WHIP.  The Cubs also dealt Jose Ascansio to the Pirates along with Single-A infielder Josh Harrison.

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Cubs Road Woes Continue – Lose to Marlins 5-2

Posted on 31 July 2009 by Lou

The Cubs road woes continued as they fell to the Marlins 5-2 in Florida, falling to 21-28 on the road during the 2009 MLB schedule.  Carlos Marmol took the loss, giving up 3 runs with 2 outs in the bottom of the 8th inning with the game tied at 2.  Rich Harden had pitched 5 solid innings, giving up just 2 ER while striking out 11.  The Cubs were held to just 7 hits and 2 runs after scoring 12 runs in each of the last 2 games.  Jake Fox accounted for the Cubs onoly runs of the game with a 2-run game-tying home run in the 7th inning.

The Cubs started the big 10-game road trip with a 54-46 record and a 1/2 game lead over the Cardinals for 1st place in the NL central.  After 2 more games in Florida, the Cubs play 3 against the Reds in Cincinnati and 4 against the Rockies in Colorado.

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Cubs Can’t Beat Good Teams, End of Story

Posted on 21 July 2009 by Lou

Cubs Phillies Baseball

It’s always amazing how 1 inning can foreshadow the outcome of a game.  Ted Lilly’s 1st inning in Monday night’s 10-1 loss to the Phillies did just that. Lilly was not locating his pitches early on and got into a jam with a leadoff single by Jimmy Rollins and a double by Shane Victorino that put runners on 2nd and 3rd with nobody out.  Not a good position to be in, especially with the heart of the Phillies lineup coming up in one of the best hitters’ park in baseball – Citizens Bank Ballpark in Philadelphia.  But Lilly momentarily found the “right” stuff when he got Chase Utley to ground out to Derrek Lee on a great play by the 1st baseman and Ryan Howard to strikeout without the Phillies scoring any runs.  It looked like Lilly was going to get out of the inning unscathed when he got 2 quick strikes on Raul Ibanez.  But then that lack of focus came through again as Lilly served up a 3-run bomb to Ibanez that gave the Phils an early 3-0 lead.  3 innings later, Lilly had given up a total of 9 runs (7 earned) on 8 hits and 2 walks, and the Cubs found themselves trailing 9-0.

Meanwhile, the Cub offense was lifeless.  The team managed just 6 hits and 3 walks off of starter Rodrigo Lopez and reliever Chad Durbin. Ryan Theriot drove in the only Cubs run with a single in the 5th inning.  Alfonso Soriano continued his hot hitting with 3 hits, but only 1 of them came with another player reaching base in the inning.  Not good.  Lopez has pitched well in his 3 starts in 2009 (he missed the entire 2008 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery).  Lopez is 2-0 with a 2.60 ERA and 1.21 WHIP, but he is a .500 career pitcher with an ERA just under 5.00 (at 4.76) and a WHIP at 1.40.  Give me a break.

We’ve seen this all before with this 2009 Cubs team.  They have stretches where they win ball games that they should win (see the weekend series in DC where they won all 4 games against the worst team in baseball).  But then they seem to play awful on national TV against good MLB teams and they seem to lack that energy and fight that can propel a team to victory even when they don’t play their best.

I’m expecting much of the same in the next 2 games (losses) for the Cubs in Philadelphia.  The Phillies should have a field day with Rich Harden on Tuesday night – Harden has 5.06 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP and has already served up 16 home runs on the season.  And then with the Cubs losing 2 in a row, and the pressure on Carlos Zambrano to shut end the losing streak in Wednesday’s afternoon finale, Big Z will try too hard and be over-juiced at the start.  Something will go wrong – a Milton Bradley or Alfonso Soriano mis-play in the field – and the wheels will start to come off.

The Cubs will lose all 3 games in Philly and they’ll fall back to 47-45 on the season.  Let’s just hope that the Astros can keep beating the Cards the next 2 days – even if the Astros jump the Cubs, at least they won’t fall further behind the Cards for 1st place in the NL Central…

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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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Finally – Lou Pinella Moves Alfonso Soriano Down in Order!

Posted on 04 July 2009 by Lou

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It’s about time!  Manager Lou Pinella has finally moved Alfonso Soriano down in the lineup for today’s game against the Brewers at Wrigley Field.  Soriano has been awful in 2009 after a decent start – .226 batting average; .291 on-base percentage; 26 walks, 77 K’s.  From June 24th-28th, Soriano actually had 2 hits in each of 4 of 5 Cubs games, but he has gone hitless in his last 3 games.  Soriano will bat 6th in the lineup in today’s game, with Kosuke Fukodome assuming the lead-off role for the Cubs.  The rest of the Cubs lineup looks like Ryan Theriot, Derrek Lee, Milton Bradley, Jake Fox – 2-5 – and then Geovany Soto and Mike Fontenot 7th and 8th in the lineup.

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Cubs Top Twins 3-2 with Dramatic Walk-Off Theriot Single

Posted on 14 June 2009 by Lou

APTOPIX Twins Cubs Baseball

Cubs Win!  Cubs Win! Cubs Win!  Wow – we haven’t been able to say that in a while, or often enough this year for that matter.  The Cubs avoided a home sweep at Wrigley Field with the thrilling 3-2 win.

Going into the 9th inning, the Cubs had only 5 hits and 2 runs on the day.  After a Milton Bradley out, Derrek Lee singled to start the rally.  In a daring play, Lee made it into 3rd base with one out on Geovany Soto’s single to left field.  Soto smartly advanced to 2nd base when he saw the throw go towards Lee at 3rd base.  The Twins then walked Mike Fontenot to load the bases for Ryan Theriot.  Theriot was 1 of only 4 Cubs to get a hit on Sunday (Milton Bradley had 1 hit, Lee had 2 hits and Soto had 3 hits), and his second hit of the day was a line drive past Twins 2nd baseman Nick Punto that brought Lee in with the winning run.  A much-needed celebration occurred in the middle of the field.

Carlos Marmol worked 1 1/3 scoreless innings to get the win.  He bailed out Ted Lilly in a 2 on, 2 out jam in the 8th inning, and he got out of his slef-made jam in the 9th inning after he issued 2 walks.  Amazingly, he got the Twins best hitter Joe Mauer to pop out to left and the Twins clean-up hitter to hit into an inning-ending groundout.

Lilly put in another sensational outing – 7 2/3 innings, 2 ER, 7 hits, 0 walks and 6 K’s.

The Cubs are now 30-30 after 60 games during the 2009 MLB schedule.  Shockingly, because of the poor play in the NL Central, the Cubs trail the Brewers by only 2.5 games and the Cards by 2 games.  It’s still up for grabs, and more importantly, anything can happen in the final 102 games of the season.

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Twins Cubs Baseball

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Cubs Dodgers – Re-match of 2008 NL Division Series

Posted on 29 May 2009 by Lou

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The Cubs and Dodgers are in the middle of an exciting 4-game weekend series at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field.  In Friday afternoon’s matinee, Ted Lilly (5-4) will take on Chad Bilingsley (6-2).  Lilly has gotten a decision in each of his 9 starts in 2009.  Lilly has dropped each of his last 2 starts, however, giving up 8 earned runs, 12 hits and 5 walks  over 13 1/3 innings in those 2 starts.  Billingsley has been one of the best starters in the NL during the 2009 MLB schedule.  Billingsley is 6-2 with a sparkling 2.82 ERA in 2009.  He had worst start of the season this past Sunday against the Angels, however, giving up  a season-high 5 runs and 9 hits in just 6 innings of work.  He took the loss and has now lost 2 of his last 3 decisions.

Let’s hope Lilly and Cubs can he can keep Billingsley and the Dodgers in the losing.  It won’t be easy as the Dodgers boast the best record in the NL and the Dodgers swept the Cubs out of the playoffs in October of last year.

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Super Bowl XLIII – Steelers Top Cardinals 27-23

Posted on 02 February 2009 by Lou

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Figured we all might be getting a little sick of reading about the Cubs moves to trade proven major league talent for minor league talent this off-season. So here’s a little something about Super Bowl XLIII.

The Steelers beat the Cardinals 23-20. After leading for most of the game, the Steelers choked away a 20-7 lead with 8 minutes left to go in the 4th quarter. The Cardinals took a 23-20 lead with 2:37 left in the game, following 2 touchdown passes from Kurt Warner to Larry Fitzgerald and a safety. But, in just under 2 minutes, Steelers Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger led his team on an 8-play, 78 yard drive which culminated in a 6-yard touchdown pass from Roethlisberger to Santonio Holmes. The game ended when Kurt Warner fumbled the football at midfield with 5 seconds left in regulation. The game ended 27-23.

Santonio Holmes was named the Most Valuable Player of the Super Bowl. Holmes caught 9 passes for 131 yards and the game-winning touchdown. Ben Roethlisberger also had a solid game and won his 2nd Super Bowl. He completed 21 of 30 passes for 256 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception. He had a 93.2 passer rating. Another key Steelers play involved NFL Defensive Player of the Year – James Harrison. As time expired at the end of the 1st half, Harrison intercepted a Kurt Warner pass at the goal line and returned the ball 100 yards for a touchdown which gave the Steelers a 17-7 halftime edge.

Two Cardinals players excelled in defeat. Kurt Warner put forth another solid Super Bowl effort – 31 of 43 completions, 377 yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception and 1 fumble – good for a 112.3 passer rating. Warner now holds the 3 best passing games in Super Bowl history – and he also holds the record for most total passing yards of any quarterback in Super Bowl history. Larry Fitzgerald also continued his hot post-season. Although the Steelers defense did keep Arizona off-balance for most of the game, Warner and Fitzgerald connected on 2 key 4th quarter touchdowns to put the Cardinals in position to win. Fitzgerald finished the game with 7 catches, 127 yards receiving and 2 touchdowns.

The win marked the 6th Super Bowl Championship for the Pittsburgh Steelers franchise – the most in NFL history.

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Cubs Sign Trio of Players

Posted on 14 December 2008 by Lou

The Chicago Cubs came to terms with 2 pitchers and 1 position player – avoiding salary arbitration in all 3 cases.

The Cubs signed a 1-year deal with outfielder Reed Johnson worth $3 million. He will play center field for the Cubs in 2009 – in a potential platoon with Kosuke Fukodome.

The Cubs signed a 1-year deal with pitcher Chad Gaudin worth $2 million. The Cubs acquired Gaudin from the A’s in the Rich Harden deal, and he pitched well for the Cubs before a back injury cut his season short.

The Cubs also signed a 1-year deal with pitcher Neal Cotts worth $1.1 million. He made 50 appearances for the Cubs in 2008 with a 4.39 ERA. He was a solid component of a good Cubs bullpen.

GM Hendry also announced that the Cubs would come to terms with 3-6 years players – Ronny Cedeno, Michael Wuertz and Kevin Gregg. Hendry has never gone to salary arbitration with any player while serving as the Cubs GM.

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