Posted on 15 May 2012 by Lou
This is going to be the story for the 2012 Cubs – they play good, just not good enough to win consistently. The surprising fact that they are playing so many close games this season makes it tough to swallow when they do lose close ones. But at least they are battling and at least the players seem to have some renewed fight in them under the new Theo, Jed and Dale regime.
The Cubs dropped the series finale to the Cards 7-6 in the bottom of the 9th. After staking Paul Maholm to a 3-0 lead in the 1st, Maholm slowly gave it back with 2 runs in the 1st, 1 run in the 2nd and 1 more run in the 5th. The Cubs fought back with a game-tying Bryan LaHair homer in the 6th (his 10th of the season) and a go-ahead pinch-hit RBI single in the 7th by Reed Johnson that drove in Darwin Barney who had doubled. But the bullpen ran into trouble after that.
Kerry Wood issued 2 walks in the 7th inning and he allowed the game-tying single to Allen Craig. James Russell served up Matt Carpenter’s go-ahead homer in the 8th that gave the Cards a short-lived 6-5 lead. After the Cubs answered in the top of the 9th with Alfonso Soriano’s 1st home run of the season – yes, you read that correctly – his 1ST HOME RUN! – that tied the game at 6, it was Rafael Dolis’ turn to allow the Cards to win. He served up the game-winning single to Yadier Molina with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th.
Sure, you can question Dale Sveum’s decision not to walk RBI machine Molina to face Carpenter, but the Cubs had plenty of chances to win this one, and they just didn’t get it done.
Monday night’s win was equally as frustrating, but at least they pulled that one out. The Cubs finally gave Ryan Dempster some run support with 4 runs in the 5th inning to give the Cubs a 4-0 lead. But he gave it right back in the 6th with a 4-run inning. This time, Shawn Camp and Dolis got the job done with 3 scoreless innings. And Soriano came through with a big game-winning single in the 8th inning. They fought back and won, and it shows that they can compete, but you just wish they had won some of these earlier games in the season.
With a win today, the Cubs could have pulled within 4 games of the Cards for 1st place in the NL Central! But it wasn’t meant to be. They’re now 15-21 and 6 games back. Even if just 3 of those games go the other way this season, they would be 18-18 and would likely be talked about as one of the biggest surprises of 2012…
Posted on 14 May 2012 by Lou
It was an ugly weekend for the Cubs all-around, but at least they didn’t get swept. The Cubs scored in each of the game’s final 5 innings en route to their 1st “easy” win in a LONG time. The top of the order has been on fire for the Cubbies. David DeJesus had 2 hits and a run scored. Tony Campana had 3 hits, 1 run scored and 1 RBI. And Starlin Castro added 2 hits with an RBI. Jeff Samardzija pitched 5 innings but needed 91 pitches to labor through his outing. He allowed just 1 ER on 3 hits and 2 walks, while striking out 6, but he did not factor in the decision.
James Russell, Kerry Wood and Michael Bowden each worked scoreless innings of relief to preserve the win.
It was a much-needed victory given how they lost the 1st 2 games of the series. On Friday night, after taking a 4-1 lead on David DeJesus’ grand slam in the top of the 7th, the Cubs gave it right back with 4 runs in the bottom of the frame. DeJesus came through again in the clutch in the 9th inning as they rallied for a 7-5 lead with 3 runs in the inning. But Rafael Dolis gave it right back with a 2-run shot to Corey Hart in the bottom of the inning. The Cubs would go on to lose 8-7 in 13 innings.
On Saturday, it was the same old story for Chris Volstad. He always seems to have 1 brutal inning that costs him and the Cubs the game. It was a 1-1 game through 5 1/2 innings and then Volstad served up a 5-run 6th inning, capped off by Edwin Maysonet’s 2-out grand slam. Just brutal. Volstad fell to 0-5 while watching his WHIP soar to 1.46 and his ERA soar to 6.92. Something has gotta give with this guy. If the Cubs are still competing at the end of the month (currently they are 14-20, 6 games back of the Cards), look for the Cubs to release/trade Volstad and bring up either Randy Wells or Travis Wood to take his place.
Cubs travel to St. Louis for 2 games against the Cards today and tomorrow. Let’s hope Ryan Dempster and Paul Maholm keep up their solid pitching…
Posted on 11 May 2012 by Lou
It is a night of returns for the Cubs in the 1st game of a 3-game weekend set against the Brewers at Miller Park in Milwaukee. Matt Garza who skipped his last scheduled start because of a nasty flu bug penetrating the Cubs clubhouse will square off against Randy Wolf in the series opener. Garza is 2-1 on the season with a nasty 0.89 WHIP and solid 2.67 ERA. Garza loves facing the Brew Crew – he has a career 1.90 ERA against the club and in his last outing against the Brewers back on April 12th at Wrigley Field, he fell just 1 out shy of a complete game shutout as the Cubs won 8-0.
Dale Sveum spent the last 6 seasons on the Brewers coaching staff and is looking forward to his return – this time as the Cubs manager – “Yeah, I have a lot of memories there and a lot of friends, but when the games start, you don’t think about anything like that. You just think about winning the game and managing the baseball game.”
The Cubs and Brewers are both tied for last place in the NL Central – 13-18 – 7 games back of the 1st place St. Louis Cardinals. Let’s hope the Cubs can take at least 2 out of 3 this weekend with the starters they have going – Garza, Dempster and Samardzija…
Posted on 09 May 2012 by Lou
It was a pitcher’s duel series, as Paul Maholm out-dueled Tim Hudson in the series finale today at Wrigley Field. Maholm pitched 7 scoreless innings, winning his 4th straight decision. He scattered 3 hits and 3 walks while striking out 3. He lowered his WHIP to 1.08 and his ERA to 4.05. Nice!
The Cubs were equally ineffective offensively – 5 hits and no walks. Starlin Castro almost scored the game’s first run in the bottom of the 4th inning as his line drive down the right field line scooted past Jason Heyward. He had a triple and tried to score an inside-the-park HR but was gunned down on a nice relay throw by Dan Uggla. They had to wait until the 7th inning when David DeJesus led off with a single. Dejesus moved over to 3rd base on a sac bunt by Tony Campana and groundout by Castro. Then Bryan LaHair came up with the clutch 2-out single to left center field that plated DeJesus with the only run of the game.
James Russell made it interesting in the 8th inning when he put 2 runners on base, but he got Uggla to pop out to DeJesus to end the threat. Then Rafael Dolis worked a perfect 9th inning for his 3rd save of the season. Dolis got Chipper Jones to line out to left field to lead off the inning – that was likely his last at-bat for his illustrious career at Wrigley Field.
With the win, the Cubs improved to 13-18. They have won 2 straight series and they split the 2 series before that against the Phillies and Reds, so they are actually playing some pretty good ball right now.
Posted on 07 May 2012 by Lou
Jeff Samardzija improved to 4-1 with a dominant 5-1 win over the Braves on Monday night at Wrigley Field. The Braves had won 3 in a row scoring 29 runs in a 3-game sweep over the Rockies in Colorado over the weekend, but Samardzija worked his magic and held the Braves to just 1 run on Jason Heyward’s homer in the 2nd inning. Samardzija worked 7 innings and allowed just 5 hits and 2 walks while striking out 7. He lowered his WHIP to 1.19 and his ERA to 3.03. Samardzija continued to show great command and a mastery of mixing up his pitches to keep the hitters off-guard.
Carlos Marmol made his 1st appearance after being removed from the closer’s role. In the 8th inning, he walked the 1st two batters and threw wild pitch before getting the next 3 batters without allowing a run. It wasn’t pretty, but at least he preserved the lead.
James Russell worked the 9th – he allowed a hit with 2 K’s and closed the door for the Cubs 3rd win in 4 games.
Bryan LaHair hit his 8th home run off the season to tie the game at 1. Ian Stewart followed up with a back-to-back homer right after that and Reed Johnson almost made it 3 in a row, but his shot fell just short of the wall in deep left. Starlin Castro added 2 hits including an RBI single in the 7th inning that increased the Cubs lead to 3-1. Geovany Soto gave the Cubs some much needed insurance runs with a 2-run blast in the 8th inning.
It’s always good to get the 1st win in a series, so let’s hope the Cubs can clinch another series win with a big W on Tuesday night at the Friendly Confines…
Posted on 01 May 2012 by Lou
The Cubs were looking for their 2nd straight series win, but settled for a split with the Phillies after losing 6-4 on Monday night. It was not a pretty night for Chris Volstad yet again as he surrendered 4 1st inning runs to put the Cubs in an early hole. Volstad ended up going a full 6 innings (4ER on 8 hits and 3 walks) to his credit, but he can’t keep having these sub-par outings.
Give the Cubs some credit for battling back against the Phillies though. Geovany Soto wasted a golden opportunity with the bases loaded and nobody out in the 7th when he grounded into a double play. But at least he didn’t strike out I guess.
In the 8th, Tony Campana walked, stole 2nd and scored on Starlin Castro’s RBI single. Then it was Bryan LaHair who stroked a game-tying 2-run jack to deep right center field to give the Cubs new life.
But it was short-lived as the Cubs bullpen couldn’t force extra innings. Scott Maine plunked Juan Pierre with 1 out in the 8th. Then Rafael Dolis served up a Jimmy Rollins single which put runners on the corners with 2 outs. Dolis couldn’t close the door as he gave up a game-winning 2-run double to Placido Palonco to give the Phils a 6-4 win.
The Cubs go to Cincinnati to take on the Reds – they are 8-15 – 7 games back of the 1st place St. Louis Cardinals.
Posted on 26 April 2012 by Lou
Chris Volstad is 3 for 3 – not in a good way – he has lost each of his last 3 starts. The Cubs dropped the series finale to the Cardinals 5-1 on Wednesday afternoon, just missing out on their 1st sweep of the young campaign.
Volstad actually didn’t pitch all that bad, but a 3-run 6th inning did him in. He allowed a go-ahead double to Carlos Beltran and then a 2-run bomb to deep left field to David Freese. Just like that, a 1-1 tie turned into a 4-1 deficit. Volstad finished the 6th and was hit up for 4 ER on 6 hits. The good news was that he did not walk a batter. The bad news was that he lost his 3rd straight decision and still has an ERA of 6.14.
The Cubs offense didn’t do him any favors on Wednesday. They managed just 6 hits and 2 walks against surprise “ace” Lance Lynn. Lynn is 4-0 with a nasty 0.81 WHIP and 1.33 ERA. However, the Cubs had their chances – but never seemed to put a solid inning together. In the 2nd, Ian Stewart erased Alfonso Soriano’s lead-off single with a double play. The next hitter Steve Clevenger doubled, but nobody was on base. In the 5th inning, Darwin Barney reached 3rd base with only 1 out, but Tony Campana and Starlin Castro could not deliver him home. The Cubs lone run scored on Bryan LaHair’s solo shot in the 4th inning. LaHair has lived up to the pressure of playing 1st base at Wrigley Field so far. He leads the teams with 4 home runs and 11 RBI’s and he is hitting .364 with a plentiful .463 on-base percentage.
The Cubs now start on a difficult 7-game road trip through Philadelphia and Cincinnati. At least the Phillies are still without Ryan Howard and Chase Utley which should give the Cubs pitchers a slightly better chance…
Posted on 25 April 2012 by Lou
WOW – 2 nights in a row, the Cubs pull off the walk-off win. It gave the Cubs their 1st winning streak of the season (2 games) and their 1st series win of the season. Even if the Cubs lose to the Cards today (which it looks like they will), they’ll still have won 2 of the 3 games this series en route to their 1st series win. 18 games seems a long way to wait for that elusive win, but we’ll take it. At 6-12, the Cubs trail the 1st place Cards by just 5 games now.
It was a full team effort. Jeff Samardzija was masterful again – it was great to see him bounce back from his poor outing in Miami when he uncharacteristically walked 5 batters and gave up 8 hits and 5 ER in just 3+ innings of work. On Tuesday night, Samardzija was mixing his speeds and pitches, keeping the Cards hitters guessing and off their game. Samardzija tossed 6 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing just 4 hits and 2 walks while striking out 9. He did not factor in the decision, but he kept his club in the game.
The bullpen almost blew the lead – Rafael Dolis walked Rafael Furcal in the 8th and then Matt Holiday stroked the go-ahead 2-run homer off of Carlos Marmol to give the Cards a 2-1 lead.
But Bryan LaHair’s lead-off homer in the 9th inning tied the game at 2 and sent the contest into extra innings.
With 1 out in the 10th, Tony Campana singled and stole second base on a controversial play in which it appeared that the Cardinals 2nd baseman – Tyler Greene – blocked the bag before Campana could reach 2nd. Cards Manager Mike Matheny argued the call and was eventually thrown. After a Starlin Castro strikeout (he struck out in each of his last 3 at-bats!!!), the interim bench coach opted to walk the hot-hitting LaHair to face the light-hitting Alfonso Soriano. That move back-fired, as Soriano hit a bad-hop single right at Greene that brought home Campana with the running run.
James Russell pitched a perfect top of the 10th with 2 K’s to pick up his 1st win of 2012. He has not allowed an ER all season. Michael Bowden – who was acquired from the Red Sox for Marlon Byrd over the weekend – made his Cubs debut. He loaded the bases in the top of the 9th by issuing 2 walks and a single, but he got out of the jam to keep the Cubs within 1 run for LaHair’s heroics.
The Cubs have some momentum going. Let’s hope they can come back again today to get the win before they head off on a 7-game tough road trip through Philadelphia and Cincinnati.
Posted on 23 April 2012 by Lou
After Paul Maholm shut down the Reds 6-1 on Saturday, the Cubs finally had a chance to win a series on Sunday. But their hopes were dashed as Randy Wells made a spot start in place of the injured Ryan Dempster. Wells was rusty in his 2012 debut – 6 hits and 5 walks in only 5 innings of work. He only allowed 2 runs as he consistently worked out of trouble but his day was done when he racked up 93 pitches by the end of the 5th frame.
Rodrigo Lopez’s tough luck continued in the 6th inning. He faced 3 batters and all 3 reached base – a leadoff walk and then 2 errors by catcher Geovany Soto – to load the bases. Lopez allowed one run to score on a groundout and he was charged with the 2nd run after Scott Maine walked Jay Bruce with the bases loaded and 2 outs.
The Cubs were still in it though, trailing just 4-2. They made it interesting with Starlin Castro’s lead-off triple in the 9th inning off of former Cub Sean Marshall. But the offense would not muster another hit and they fell to 4-12 on the young season.
Posted on 20 April 2012 by Lou
The losses keep piling up for skipper Dale Sveum and his mediocre ball club. The Reds handed the Cubs a 9-4 loss today at Wrigley Field in a brutally cold, annoying contest. I’m not sure how I missed this, especially after a lot of positives built up during a “successful” spring training. But this team is bad and it is going to take a LONG time for Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and staff to build it back up.
Chris Volstad dropped to 0-2 after giving up 6 runs (5 earned) on 7 hits and 2 walks in his 5 innings of work. His 1.38 WHIP and 6.19 ERA needs to improve. The Cubs position players didn’t help much – they committed 3 errors in the field and managed just 5 hits. The Reds committed 2 errors themselves leading to 3 unearned runs on the day. Not good when only 1 of your 4 runs scored was a legit run. The star of the day was clean-up hitter Bryan LaHair who had 2 doubles on the day.
The Cubs also got some bad news off the field. They placed Kerry Wood on the 15-day with shoulder tiredness. And Ryan Dempster has a sore right quadriceps muscles which he had examined in Chicago today. If he can’t go on Sunday against the Reds, Randy Wells will make the spot start for the Cubs in the series finale against the Reds.
The Cubs are now on a 6-game losing streak. Their 3-11 record is the worst in baseball and they trail the NL Central leading St. Louis Cardinals by 6.5 games already…