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Danica, Travis, Anthony & Carlos – What More Can You Ask For? – Wrigley Field 7/1/12

Posted on 01 July 2012 by Lou

What a way to kick off the month of July as the Cubs swept the Astros in a 3-game weekend set at Wrigley Field.

Travis Wood continued his dominance since being called up to take the place of the struggling Chris Volstad.  Wood tossed 7+ scoreless innings, scattering 3 hits and no walks in an almost perfect game.  Wood picked up his 3rd win and lowered his WHIP to 1.09 and his ERA to 3.05.  Theo & Co. are looking like genies for pulling off the Sean Marshall for Wood trade this past off-season.  In his last 3 starts, Wood has yielded just 1 ER in his last 20 2/3 innings pitched – not too shabby…

Anthony Rizzo had another “game-winning hit” as his RBI single in the 6th scored Wood with the 1st run of the game.  That lone run would be good enough for the Cubs to roll to a 3-0 victory.  Jeff Baker followed that up with a 2-run single that gave Wood and the bullpen a little cushion.

And Carlos Marmol picked up his 8th save and looks to have things back on track since being removed from the closer role.  He gave up a single in the 9th, but buckled down to strike out 2 and close out the win.

And what about Danica Patrick throwing out the first pitch?!  I think the photos tell it all. Look at that form?! What do ya think James Russell was thinking after catching that strike to the plate?!

GO CUBS GO!  The Cubs finished June with a nice 5-1 home stand.  Sure they are 29-49 and they still trail the 1st place Reds by 14 games, but it’s been fun to watch this team the last week or so.  Let’s hope they can continue playing good baseball on their road trip to Atlanta and New York before the All-Star Break.  And then let’s hope they can keep the momentum going as the 2nd half starts up back at Wrigley Field on Friday July 13th!!!

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Garza, Rizzo Lead Cubs to 3-2 Win Over Astros – Wrigley Field 6/30/12

Posted on 30 June 2012 by Lou

Matt Garza battled for his 4th win and Anthony Rizzo had another game winning hit as the Cubs defeated the Astros 3-2 on Saturday.

Garza did not have his best stuff – 9 hits and 3 walks in just 5 1/3 innings pitched – but he limited the Astros to just 2 ER’s to keep his team in the game.

In the pivotal 5th inning, Starlin Castro’s 2-out RBI single drove home Luis Valbuena to cut the Astros lead to 2-1.  Then Rizzo’s bomb to deep right gave the Cubs the lead for good.

The bullpen did the rest – 4 2/3 innings of scoreless ball.  Carlos Marmol walked a batter in the 9th, but struck out 2 to pick up his 7th save of the season.  Since being re-inserted into the closer’s role, Marmol has 5 saves and he has given up a run only once – in mop-up duty at the end of a 10-5 loss to the D’Backs. Trade bait anyone?!?!

The Cubs go for the series sweep on Sunday when Travis Wood takes the hill.

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Cubs Take 2 of 3 From Mets, But Samardzija Struggles in 17-1 Finale Loss – Wrigley Field 6/27/12

Posted on 27 June 2012 by Lou

The Cubs took 2 of 3 games from the New York Mets this week at Wrigley Field to bounce back from a 2-4 road trip.  Anthony Rizzo’s Cubs major league debut went off without a hitch on Tuesday night.  He went 2 for 4 and his 2-out RBI double in the 4th inning proved to be the game winner in the Cubs 5-3 win.  After Randy Wells struggled through the game’s first 3 innings, the Cubs bullpen did the rest.

The Cubs win guaranteed a series win, but the Mets absolutely destroyed Jeff Samardzija and the Cubs in the finale today – to the tune of 17-1.  Samardzija fell to 5-7 on the season – he lasted just 4 1/3 innings, giving up 9 ER on 6 hits and 4 walks.  He served up 2 home runs and only struck out 1 batter.  Samardzija has been miserable in his last 4 start – 25 ER on 26 hits and 10 walks.  And his previous outing to that stretch, he only allowed 2 ER, but he battled throughout giving up 7 hits and walking 5.  Not good.  Casey Coleman got sucked into the madness – Manager Dale Sveum was not about to tax the rest of his bullpen in the blowout, so Coleman was left out there on a tough day to serve up 7 more ER on 6 hist and 2 walks.  He too allowed 2 home runs.

The Cubs could use an off-day – especially when it is supposed to be over 100 degrees here in Chicago on Thursday.  Then they open up a weekend series with the Houston Astros.  Fun fun fun…

 

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D’Backs Sweep Cubs in Arizona; Rizzo Set to Make Cubs Wrigley Field Debut Tuesday Night – Wrigley Field 6/25/12

Posted on 25 June 2012 by Lou

The Arizona D’Backs swept the Cubs in 3 straight ugly games over the weekend.  The D’Backs outscored the Cubs 21-7 in the 3-game set.  Rookie Wade Miley made it look easy against the struggling Cubs offense – he held the Cubs to just 3 hits in 8 innings, with the Cubs scoring their only run on Alfonso Soriano’s 14th HR of the season.  Matt Garza fell to 3-6 despite pitching well – 3ER on 5 hits and 1 walk over 7 solid innings.  He struck out 7.

The Cubs continue to have the worst record in baseball – at 24-48.  They trail the NL Central leading Cincinnati Reds by an incredible 15.5 games – and we haven’t even hit the end of June yet.  Travis Wood will square off against Johan Santana in the opener of a 3-game series with the surprising NY Mets.  The Mets are 39-34 and they trail the Washington Nationals by only 3.5 games in the race for the top spot in the NL East.

But Cubs fans have the future to look forward to – Cubs top prospect Anthony Rizzo will make his season debut in Tuesday night’s game against the Mets.  Expect Rizzo to play 1st base, shifting Bryan LaHair to right field and David DeJesus over to center field.  That may also free up some off-days for Soriano who has continued to hobble around on a bum knee.  Rizzo is stroking it at Triple-A Iowa – .342 batting average; 23 HR’s and 62 RBI’s.

GO CUBS GO!!!

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Cubs Belt 5 Home Runs en Route to 12-3 Laugher Over White Sox – Wrigley Field 6/19/12

Posted on 19 June 2012 by Lou

It’s also nice to get an easy win – especially for the Cubs who still have the worst record in all of baseball at 23-44.  The Cubs belted 5 home runs and cruised to an easy 12-3 win over the White Sox on the south side.  It was the 1st time the Cubs beat the White Sox in 4 tries this year.  Matt Garza pitched 6 innings on a 90+-degree night and won just his 3rd game of the season. He gave up 3 ER on 2 home runs, but limited the damage while striking out 6.  He lowered his WHIP to 1.11, but his ERA is still over 4 at 4.07.

The Cubs clobbered 15 hits and scored 12 runs.  Starlin Castro had 3 hits (1 home run), 2 RBI’s and 3 runs scored.  Bryan LaHair added 2 hits, 2 RBI’s and 1 run scored on his 13th homer of the year.  Alfonso Soriano (1 home run) had 2 hits and 2 RBI’s and 2 runs scored.  But the real star was Luis Valbuena who added 3 hits including a 3-run homer in the 7th inning.  He has raised his batting average to .294 while getting extended playing time while Ian Stewart is injured.

Jake Peavy and Travis Wood get to face the 90+degree elements tonight in what should be another high-scoring affair.  Look for lots more long balls – this time probably a few more from the south siders who “only” hit 2 on Monday night.

Go Cubs Go!!!

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Cubs Drop Final 2 Games to Red Sox as Samardzija, Maholm Struggle – Wrigley Field 6/18/12

Posted on 18 June 2012 by Lou

The Red Sox took the final 2 games against the Cubs during the weekend set at Wrigley Field.  Jeff Samardzija’s struggles continued in the heat on Saturday night at the Friendly Confines.  He gave up 3 ER on 4 hits and 3 walks in just 5 1/3 innings.  He racked up 6 K’s but his high 108-pitch count forced Manager Dale Sveum to pull the big righty early in the game.  The Cubs tallied their 3 runs on Luis Valbuena’s 1st career major league home run – a 3-run blast off of Jon Lester that cut the Red Sox lead to 4-3.  But the game would end like that.

Franklin Morales started for the injured Josh Beckett on Sunday night and he out-dueled Cubs starter Paul Maholm.  Maholm pitched OK – 3 ER on 6 hits and 1 walk, with 6 K’s – but it wasn’t good enough.  The Red Sox scored 3 runs in the 7th and 1 in the 8th to break open a 3-3 tie.  Starlin Castro finally broke out of his slump with 3 hits, including a double and a triple.  He drove in 2 of the Cubs 3 runs.

The Cubs fell to 22-44 with the series loss to the Red Sox – they once again have the worst record in baseball.  The Cubs “travel” south to take on the White Sox for 3 games at U.S. Cellular Field starting tonight.  Matt Garza will square off against Zach Stewart in the series opener.

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Cubs Strike First – Take Opener Over Red Sox 3-0 – Wrigley Field 6/15/12

Posted on 15 June 2012 by Lou

The Cubs beat the Red Sox 3-0 in the opener of the much-anticipated series between Theo Epstein’s new team and his old team.  And while it is great that the Cubs got the win, barring a herculean pitching effort by Ryan Dempster, it should have been another loss for the north siders.  The Cubs managed just 2 hits by a non-pitcher in the win today.  Fortunately, both hits drove in the Cubs 3 runs.  Steve Clevenger had a timely 2-out bases loaded double that drove in 2 runs in the 1st inning.  And the next inning David DeJesus single drove in Ryan Dempster.  Dempster had reached base earlier that inning on a “triple” to right field that regular 1st baseman Adrian Gonzalez misplayed down the line.  So even that 2nd run was a little “lucky”…

Dempster pitched another solid outing – 7 scoreless innings, 4 hits, 2 walks and 3 K’s.  Sure the Red Sox lineup is missing a little umph without Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury, but if you can keep David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez off the scoreboard for an entire game, you’ve gotta be doing something right.

Carlos Marmol made it interesting in the 9th.  He gave up a hit and a walk and a Luis Valbuena error in between put Marmol in a bases loaded 2-out jam.  But Valbuena made a 2nd fabulous play in the inning with a hard line drive grounder by Pedroia to the hot corner that he scooped up and raced to make the game-ending force out just ahead of the racing footsteps by Mike Aviles.

With the win, the Cubs “improved” to 22-42.  The Red Sox fell to 31-33.  Not exactly the type of match-up that MLB envisioned in the winter.

Go Cubs Go!

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Cubs Make Move For Future While Finishing Up Dismal 2-8 Road Trip – Wrigley Field 6/11/12

Posted on 11 June 2012 by Lou

Ryan Dempster won for the 2nd time on the Cubs atrocious 2-8 road trip through San Francisco, Milwaukee and Minnesota.  It were Dempster’s first 2 wins of the 2012 MLB season.  He pitched 8 scoreless innings to help the Cubs avoid the sweep by the Twins.  He scattered 4 hits and 1 walk while striking out 6.  He has an amazing 1.03 WHIP and 2.31 ERA, but only has a 2-3 record as the Cubs have failed to provide him much run support in his starts.  Starlin Castro led the Cubs 9-hit attack by going 3 for 5 with 3 runs scored.  Reed Johnson added 2 hits and 3 runs scored in the lead-off spot.

Off the field, the Cubs landed highly touted Cuban prospect Jorge Soler in the “free agent” market.  The 20-year old outfielder was considered the next biggest star out of Cuba after Yoenis Cespedes signed with Oakland for $36 million earlier this spring.  The Cubs were able to negotiate a 9-year, $30 million deal for the player they have set their sights on for quite a while now.  Other top teams – the Yankees, White Sox, Phillies and Red Sox – were all believed to be involved in the bidding for Soler, but the Cubs got him.  The Cubs did not make any public announcement about the deal today, but look for some news later this week.

At 20-40, the Cubs are on pace to finish with more than 100 losses for only the 3rd time in franchise history.  Both the 1962 and 1966 Cubs finished 59-103.  Not good – not good at all, but at least it looks like new ownership has a plan in place, and the tools necessary to implement that plan…

 

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At Last – Dempster Leads Cubs to 10-0 Road Win Over Brewers at Miller Park – Wrigley Field 6/5/12

Posted on 05 June 2012 by Lou

At last – the Cubs crushed the Brewers 10-0 at Miller Park ending their 11-game road losing streak.  Ryan Dempster retired the 1st 15 batters that he faced in the game, flirting with a perfect game.  But he allowed a lead-off single to Cody Ransom to lead off the 6th inning which ended his bid.  Dempster ended up going 7 innings of 3-hit ball AND he picked up his 1st win of the season, ending an 18-start streak (dating back to August 18th of last year) in which he had not won a game.  Dempster sounded relieved when the Cubs had won: “It felt nice.  It’s been a while.  It was nice to go out there and win a game like that, and see everybody, the guys played great defense and hit the ball and they made all the plays and scored a bunch of runs.”

Alfonso Soriano, Jeff Baker and Bryan LaHair all hit home runs.  Starlin Castro had 3 hits.

Let’s hope they can keep it up against Zach Greinke on Wednesday night at Miller Park.  Greinke is almost unbeatable at home, so Paul Maholm and the Cubs will have their work cut out for them.

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Road Skid Continues with 3-2 Loss to Giants in Sweep at Pac Bell – Wrigley Field 6/4/12

Posted on 04 June 2012 by Lou

The Giants beat the Cubs 3-2 on Monday afternoon, extending the Cubs road losing streak to 11 games.  It is their longest road losing streak since 1954 – ouch! Jeff Samardzija had a rare bad performance, lasting just 5 innings.  He walked 5 batters – a season high – but he kept his team in the game with clutch pitching with runners on base.  He allowed just 2 ER even though he permitted 12 runners to reach base in his short outing.

Carlos Marmol took the loss when he gave up 2 walks and a line drive single of his back in the pivotal 7th inning.  With the bases loaded and nobody out, Marmol induced a double play, but the winning run still scored.

The Cubs never scored a run in more than 1 inning during the series against the Giants in San Francisco.  In Monday’s 3-2 loss, the Cubs scored 2 runs in the 2nd inning on 5 hits – with RBI singles delivered by Steve Clevenger and Samardzija.

In Friday’s 4-3 loss, the Cubs waited until the 9th inning to score all 3 runs on an Alfonso Soriano home run.  In Saturday’s 2-1 loss, the lone run came on David DeJesus’ solo HR.  And Barry Zito blanked the Cubs 2-0 in Sunday’s loss.

Talk about poor hitting.  It is almost shocking how bad a hitting team the Cubs are. The Cubs are 6-14 in 1-run games.  That is the worst in the majors…

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