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…
Posted on 15 April 2012 by Lou
It was a lost weekend for the Cubs in St. Louis, especially after Jeff Samardzija pitched the Cubs to the opening win of the series on Friday. Game 1 went smoothly for the Cubs. Ian Stewart gave the Cubs an early lead with his 3-run homer in the 1st inning. Bryan LaHair’s 1st career grand slam opened that lead up to 8-0 in the 3rd inning. Sure, Samardzija made it interesting with his 5-run 5th inning, but the bullpen shut down the Cards offense the rest of the way. Rafael Dolis worked 2 scoreless innings allowing just 1 hit. James Russell and Kerry got 3 outs in the 8th inning to set it up for closer Carlos Marmol in a non-save situation in the 9th. Marmol pitched a perfect 9th with 2 K’s and just like that, the Cubs had their 1st winning streak of 2012.
But the rest of the weekend was awful. The bats went quiet against Lance Lynn in a 5-1 loss on Saturday and against Jake Westbrook in a 10-3 drubbing on Sunday. On Saturday and Sunday, the Cubs offense combined for just 4 runs on 12 total hits. And on Saturday, Chris Volstad pitched 6 innings, but a 4-run 4th inning (due in part to 2 Starlin Castro errors) doomed him and the Cubs. Volstad only gave up 6 hits and didn’t walk a batter, but Cubs pitchers are going to have to be better than that night in and night out. On Sunday, Paul Maholm had his 2nd straight awful start giving up 6 ER on 6 hits in just 4 innings of work. A veteran used to pitching to NL central ball clubs has now racked up a 1.88 WHIP and 13.50 ERA in 2 starts. Ouch…
The Cubs now travel to Miami to take on Ozzie Guillen, Carlos Zambrano and the new-look Marlins in a much-anticipated series. I can’t wait…
Posted on 12 April 2012 by Lou
Matt Garza was dominant in the Cubs 8-0 win over the Brewers today at Wrigley Field. Garza should have even had a complete game shutout if he hadn’t thrown the ball into the stands on Aoki’s come-backer with 2 outs in the 9th inning. That was his 119th pitch and Manager Dale Sveum decided it was time to pull the righty. Garza ended up going 8 2/3 innings, scattering 3 hits and 2 walks while striking out 9. The Cubs have had some great starting pitching efforts so far this season from Ryan Dempster, Garza and Jeff Samardzija. Now if they could just get some consistent hitting, they might be able to string some wins together here.
The big inning for the Cubs came in the 3rd when they rocked Zach Greinke for 6 hits in 7 batters scoring 6 runs. Steve Clevenger had 2 doubles, a single and scored 2 runs. David DeJesus, Starlin Castro and Ian Stewart each had 2 hits. Castro and Alfonso Soriano each had 2 RBI’s.
The 2-5 start was not exactly what the Cubs wanted, but it is what it is, and now they need to get off to a better start on the road with games against the Cardinals in St. Louis and the Marlins in Miami…
Posted on 11 April 2012 by Lou
Ouch – this series against the Brewers at Wrigley has been downright awful. Not sure why I thought this team as constructed would be able to compete on a daily basis, but it is very clear that Theo & Co. have a LOT of work to do over the next few years. It is going to be a LONG stretch of poor play on the north side for Cubs fans. We’ve already endured the miserable 2010 and 2011 MLB seasons and it doesn’t look like anything is going to all that much better in 2012 or 2013.
The Cubs dropped the series opener to the Brewers on Monday night 7-5. Chris Volstad had a ho-hum start for the Cubs – 5 innings, 3 ER on 5 hits and 2 walks with 6 K’s. Shawn Camp was bad in his 2 innings of work – he allowed the Brewers to increase their lead with 3 more ER on 5 hits. His ERA balooned to 8.10 and his WHIP rose over 2 at 2.10. Not good.
The Cubs rallied in the 9th to cut the lead to 7-5 and had the bases loaded with 2 outs for their best hitter – Starlin Castro. But John Axford got Castro on 3 straight pitches, and just like that, the game was over.
In game 2, Paul Maholm gave the Brew Crew a nice 5-run cushion in the 1st inning and just like that the game was over. Maholm lasted just 4 innings in his dismal 1st start as a Cub – 6 ER on 6 hits, 2 walks and 2 HBP. Not good. David DeJesus and Alfonso Soriano are the only 2 Cubs hitters batting consistently. Each player had 2 hits and Soriano had 2 RBI’s.
In Game 3, Ryan Dempster pitched his heart out for a 2nd second start, but it wasn’t meant to be … again. Dempster protected a 1-0 lead all the way into the 7th inning before he served up a 2-run jack to back-up catcher George Kottaras with 2 outs in the inning. That would be enough for the Brewers to rack up a 3rd straight win over the Cubs as Yovani Gallardo overmatched the Cubs through 7 innings. Game, set match.
Kudos to Dempster, however. He scattered 5 hits and 3 walks over 6 2/3 innings pitched and is sporting a nasty 0.91 WHIP and 1.88 ERA despite his 0-1 record.
Matt Garza tries to keep the Cubs from being swept by the Brewers on Thursday afternoon at the Friendly Confines…