Posted on 26 May 2011 by Lou
With another storm heading towards Chicago, each team knew they had to score early and often to be ahead in a game that was certainly going to be rain-shortened at some point before 9 innings were played. The Cubs took a 4-1 lead after 1 inning of play courtesy of 2-out, 2-run doubles from Reed Johnson and Alfonso Soriano in a clutch hitting performance. But Casey Coleman and Justin Berg gave it right back by allowing the Mets to take command with a 5-run 2nd inning. Coleman recorded only 4 outs in his start — 6 ER on 7 hits and 1 walk. Why is he still in the rotation? Manager Mike Quade went with young gun Justin Berg to get Coleman out of the 2nd inning jam, but what did he do? Berg literally threw 12 pitches – all balls – to walk in 2 runs in a miserable effort. James Russell came on to save the day and keep the game close by striking out the final 2 batters of the game with the bases loaded and only 1 out. Sure the Cubs trailed 6-4, but it could have been worse. With the rain coming, the Cubs knew they needed to score and score soon, but they could never muster anything else off of Dillon Gee the rest of the way. The game was eventually called after 6 full innings of play.
It was another frustrating loss in another frustrating year for the Cubs…
Posted on 03 May 2011 by Lou
The Dodgers defeated the Cubs 5-2 on Monday night in Los Angeles.
James Russell lost for the 4th time in 5 starts.
Alfonso Soriano hit his major-league leading 11th home run in the loss.
Go Cubs Go!
Posted on 18 April 2011 by Lou
It was a lost weekend for the Chicago Cubs against the Rockies at Coors Field in Denver Colorado. The Rockies shut out the Cubs on Friday 5-0 and then after Casey Coleman’s great start and a 8-3 win on Saturday, the Cubs couldn’t get the win on Sunday to take the series from the NL’s best team.
On Saturday, Casey Coleman worked into the 6th inning holding one of the best hitting teams in baseball to just 1 ER on 4 hits and 3 walks. He picked up his 1st win of 2011.
Coleman got plenty of help from his teammates to get the win. Starlin Castro led the way with 4 hits including a home run and a double. He drove in 3 and scored 1 run. Darwin Barney had 2 hits an RBI and a run scored, while Carlos Pena had 2 hits and a run scored. Alfonso Soriano also had a big day with 3 hits including a home run and 2 RBI’s.
On Sunday, however, Ryan Dempster dug his squad into an early hole by giving up 4 runs in the 1st inning. He ended up giving up 5 ER on 7 hits and 2 walks and left with the game tied at 5. Jeff Samardzija kept the game close with 2 scoreless innings of relief in his best outing of the season. But it was Marcos Mateo who had a rare bad outing (he had made 5 consecutive scoreless appearances heading into the game) when allowed a 4-run 8th inning rally to the Rockies that gave the home team a win. Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney kept up their hotting. Castro had 3 more hits with an RBI and a run scored and is now hitting .418 on the season. Barney had 2 hits and a run scored and is hitting .333. The 1-2 combination of Castro and Barney at the top of lineup has given the Cubs offense a much-needed spark early in the season. Let’s hope they can keep it up.
The Cubs fell to 7-8 on the season, but still only trail the 1st place Cincinnati Reds by 2 games in the NL Central. Carlos Zambrano goes for his 3rd straight win of the season (and 12th win overall dating back to last season) as the Cubs square off against the San Diego Padres tonight at Wrigley Field.
Posted on 14 April 2011 by Lou
Carlos Zambrano pitched great for the game’s 1st 5 innings, but then ran out of gas in a 5-run 6th inning. Big Z allowed 5 runs in the frame and was finally removed after he issued a 2-out walk to J.R. Towles. Marcos Mateo came on to retire Jason Michaels which kept Zambrano in a position to win. Big Z gave up 5 ER on 7 hits and 3 walks, but moved to 2-0 despite a 6.11 ERA. Now Zambrano just needs to learn to put it together for a full 6-7 innings in his next few starts.
The bullpen was superb down the stretch. After Mateo, Sean Marshall, Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol each tossed scoreless innings to preserve the win for the Cubs. Marmol was the only one to allow and Astros hitter to reach base with a walk. Not what you want from your closer, but Marmol shut the door on the rally in a non-save situation.
The Cubs raced out to a 5-0 lead on Jeff Baker’s 2-run double and Alfonso Soriano’s 3-run HR in the 1st inning. Starlin Castro had 3 hits and a run scored. Darwin Barney had 2 hits, an RBI and a run scored. And Aramis Ramirez had 3 hits, an RBI and a run scored. The 9 runs scored and 14 hits were season highs for the Cubs. The Cubs hope to continue their winning ways as they travel northwest to take on the hottest team in baseball – the Colorado Rockies – at Coors Field in Denver…
Posted on 07 April 2011 by Lou
It was not a good day for the Cubs as Ryan Dempster fell to 0-2 as the Cubs lost to the DBacks 6-4. Dempster gave up 5 runs (4 earned) on 10 hits over 7 innings pitched. It was the most hits he had allowed in a game since 2008. Dempster did strike out 8 DBacks hitters, but his ERA rose to 6.59 and his WHIP rose to 1.46. Not good for your “ace” of the staff.
Aramis Ramirez hit his 1st home run of the season and has gotten off to a hot start – .333 batting average. Alfonso Soriano hit his 3rd home run of the season, but they have all been solo shots and he is only hitting .273. After a very slow start, Marlion Byrd had 2 hits in the loss and is now up over .300. And Kosuke Fukudome had 2 hits and is hitting .357. Now we just need the rest of the team to start swinging a good bat.
As for the other losses, they came off the field. Randy Wells woke up with a strained forearm the day after his Monday start, but an MRI showed no structural damage. Wells with not pick up a baseball for 2 weeks and should be able to pitch fairly soon after that assuming no further pain develops. Wells was the Cubs most consistent pitcher all spring and he followed that up with a great first start – only 1 ER allowed over 6 innings pitched in the Cubs 4-1 win on Monday.
Andrew Cashner was having a similar great 1st start on Tuesday when he developed shoulder soreness in his throwing shoulder. An MRI revealed that he has a mild strain of the back of the rotator cuff of his right arm. Cashner will not do anything for two weeks too, but look for the Cubs to be even more careful with Cashner. He has a powerful arm and is seen as a top major league starter for years to come.
Casey Coleman was called up from Triple-A Iowa and will start against the Brewers in Milwaukee on Sunday. James Russell – who has pitched out of the bullpen thus far this season – could end up starting for the Cubs against the Astros in Houston next week. We’ll keep you posted as soon as the Cubs decide exactly what to do with the 5th starter…
Posted on 05 April 2011 by Lou
Randy Wells picked up right where he left off from spring training as he pitched a gem to lead the Cubs to a 4-1 over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field on Monday afternoon. Wells got the 1st win for any Cubs starter as he tossed 6 solid innings. After giving up a lead-off home run, Wells allowed no runs, 5 hits and 4 walks over the next 18 outs to earn the victory. He struck out 6 on the day. He was happy with the start despite the walks – “A little sloppy… You never want to be around the belt or mid-thighs. Try to attack the bottom of the zone and good things happen.”
The bullpen did the rest as Sean Marshall, Marcos Mateo and John Grabow each recorded an out in the 7th inning to preserve a 2-1 Cubs lead. After a Starlin Castro error allowed the tying run to reach base in the 8th inning, Kerry Wood worked out of a bases loaded, 1-out jam to keep the DBacks off the board. Carlos Marmol bounced back from a blown save on Sunday to pick up the save. It was Wood’s 2nd hold off the early season and Marmol’s 2nd save of the season as each pitcher pitched in 3 consecutive games. Marshall, Grabow, Wood and Marmol are all going to have to have above average years if the Cubs expect to make some noise in the NL Central race this season.
Timely hitting also helped the Cubs. Alfonso Soriano hit his 2nd home run in as many days to tie the game at 1 in the 3rd inning. Carlos Pena’s sacrifice fly in the 4th inning put the Cubs ahead for good. And Geovany Soto and Soriano gave the Cubs some insurance runs with run scoring hits in the bottom of the 8th inning.
The Cubs are back at .500 at 2-2…
Posted on 25 March 2011 by Lou
WOW – what an ugly win for the Cubs over the White Sox on Thursday. There were some positives, but also a LOT of negatives.
It was great that the Cubs hung on to win, but the White Sox actually out-hit the Cubs 16-8. Ouch. Good pitching was clearly not on display yesterday in Mesa.
I’m still waiting for Matt Garza to have that breakout start that shows it was a smart decision for the Cubs to unload 4 top prospects for the big righty from the Tampa Bay Rays. Garza started off well with 3 straight scoreless innings to start the game. But he ended up giving up 3 ER on 8 hits and 2 walks which actually lowered his ERA to 8.68 for the spring. But a 2.0 WHIP during a game is never good, even if you end up winning. Not sure if Garza is still fine-tuning things and working on pitches no matter what the situation in the game, but I really hope that he starts pitching for real before the season starts. He has 1 more start next week before he makes his Cubs debut next Sunday at Wrigley Field, so it would be nice to see a stellar outing out of Garza early next week.
The bullpen didn’t fare much better. Braden Looper gave up a run on 3 hits and a walk in his 2 innings of work and is out of the running for being the Cubs 5th starter. James Russell gave up 2ER on 2 solo home runs in the 8th inning, but will likely still make the opening day roster as a lefty reliever. And Carlos Marmol gave up a run in the 9th inning but managed to shut the door on the White Sox to preserve the 1-run win for the Cubs. All in all, it was a horrible showing by the pitching staff.
The bats finally came to life in the win. Alfonso Soriano had a solo home run and had 2 RBI’s on the day. Darwin Barney continued to show Manager Mike Quade that he deserves a shot at starting at 2B this season. He had 2 more hits including a triple and he drove in 2 runs and scored 1 run. Marlon Byrd continued his torrid hitting and had 2 RBI’s. Satrlin Castro had a double and a walk and scored 2 runs.
When these guys are being patient and swinging the bats well, the Cubs are capable of putting up some runs each game. But is a matter of consistency and hoping that guys like Carlos Pena, Alfonso Soriano and Geovany Soto all don’t go into prolonged slumps at the same time.
It’s a week away from opening day – can’t wait for another fun MLB schedule to begin…
Posted on 23 March 2011 by Lou
So far so good for Carlos Silva today in Mesa – the righty has thrown 6 innings of 1-run ball and the Cubs lead 2-1. This could go a long way in helping Manager Mike Quade and the Cubs decide to go with Silva over Andrew Cashner for the 5th and final starting spot in the Cubs 2011 rotation. After giving up an earned run on 2 hits in the 1st inning, Silva really got into a groove through the next 5 innings. Silva surrendered just 1 hit during that stretch and he has yet to walk a batter while striking out 3. It is also impressive that Silva has made it unscathed through 6 innings. Cashner hasn’t pitched more than 4 innings in any spring appearance, so the length of the start could be a factor in Quade’s decision.
As I stated yesterday, I really think the safe move is to go with Silva in the 5th spot and Cashner out of the bullpen. The Cubs view Cashner as a long-term work-in-progress front-line starter, so there is no need to rush him in a 2011 campaign that will probably leave a lot left to be desired. Cashner hasn’t built up his arm strength to be a starter yet and with less than 10 days to go before the start of the big league season, I have a feeling that the Cubs will opt to go with Cashner out of the bullpen where he had some nice success in 2010. Silva has only this year left on his contract and if he performs well early this spring, the Cubs would more than likely try to move him before the trading deadline, even if they’re still in the hunt for a playoff spot. They would love to move some of Silva’s $12 million salary and if they did move Silva in a trade, they could then stretch out Cashner to be the 5th starter or bring up someone from the minor leagues to take over that 5th spot. Cashner was effective during long stretches in 2010, and although he did endure some bumps along the way, he is a dependable arm in the bullpen for the Cubs.
On a hitting side, although the Cubs have managed just 2 runs on 4 hits in today’s game so far, you had to like the 1st inning when both Geovany Soto and Alfonso Soriano came through with clutch 2-out run-scoring singles to give the Cubs a 2-1 lead. The Cubs are going to need a lot of clutch hitting this season if they expect to be competitive during the long MLB season. Without a lot of fire power outside of Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena, the rest of the team is going to need to be patient and get on base. And once on base, the Cubs are going to need to come through with timely hitting, especially with runners in scoring position or with 2 outs. Consistent quality hitting and patience at the plate are going to be 1 HUGE keys for how well this team does in 2011…
Posted on 24 February 2011 by Lou
Manager Mike Quade is sure that Aramis Ramirez will bat 4th in the Cubs lineup each and every day. The rest of the lineup is not so clear. “I see him as such a good RBI guy that it makes sense in the four-hole. He’s a guy who, as much as mizing and matching that I do, he doesn’t figure to be one of the guys I’ll mix and match with. Some guys don’t care [where they are in the lineup], and I know he does. He seems like the four-hole to me because I want him driving in runs. But I’m a grownup and I reserve the right to change my mind.”
Quade has indicated that Starlin Castro will likely hit in the 2-spot. Quade has hinted that Castro could some day be a lead-off hitter, but he doesn’t want to put too much pressure on the youngster, especially in his 2nd year which can often lead to a “sophomore slump.” Quade likes Kosuke Fukudome in the lead-off spot for some reason. He likes the fact that Fukudome makes pitchers throw a lot of pitches, but I think he is just way too inconsistent. He may have a good few weeks or so, but then he has the capability of disappearing for weeks at a time.
It should be interesting as spring progresses. Let’s hope someone emerges to claim that 3rd spot in the lineup. Marlon Byrd seems like the best fit because Carlos Pena and Alfonso Soriano strike out way too much there. But if a guy like Blake DeWitt emerges with a good spring, could we see Quade got with Fukudome, DeWitt and Castro in the top 3 spots? We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear anything concrete out of Mesa…
Posted on 22 February 2011 by Lou
Cubs hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo is confident that Alfonso Soriano has done what it will take to have a positive 2011 MLB season. GM Jim Hendry made a huge splash before the 2007 MLB season by out-bidding (in terms of years and dollars) every other team for the best free agent on the market at the time – Alfonso Soriano. Soriano signed an 8-year, $136 million deal and the Cubs have yet to see the fruits of their labor as Soriano has averaged just 26 HR’s, 70 RBI’s and 127 games played during the 1st 4 years of the contract. In 2010, Soriano played the most games during his tenure with the Cubs — 147 — but the numbers were still a fraction of what the Cubs expected when they signed him. Soriano batted just .258 – ouch! – with 24 HR’s and paltry 79 RBI’s. WOW – what a bad deal for the Cubs AND they still have to deal with the guy for 4 more years.
That being said, Jaramillo is confident that Soriano still has some juice left in the tank. The 2 worked together while Soriano played for the Texas Rangers and he had success under Rudy’s tutelage. With 1 year under their belts together again, Jaramillo feels like Soriano will surprise some people in 2011. “I can help him and Sori is definitely going back in the right direction. I can see that his foundation is better so hopefully he just becomes more consistent. We’ve just got to work on slowing his mind down and trust what he does in the cage. That way he can execute that approach…We’re really trying to stress the mechanical part and the approach that goes with every situation. Sori did well last year. I expect him to do better. I think he has a better understanding of what he and I tried to accomplish so I expect a good year from Sori.”
Great optimism, but I’ll believe it when I see it. I’m not expecting .320 batting average with 40 HR’s, but if he can somehow manage to hit close to .300 with 30 dingers, I think there will be a lot of happy Cubs fans on the north side of Chicago this summer…