Posted on 19 April 2011 by Lou
Carlos Zambrano didn’t get the win, but he put the Cubs in a perfect position to win the game in 10th inning. Big Z tossed 8 scoreless innings, scattering just 3 hits during his outing while striking out 10. He allowed just 1 walk. He lowered his ERA from 6.11 to 4.21 and retired the last 13 batters that he faced. Sean Marshall retired 2 batters in the 9th inning before handing the ball off to closer Carlos Marmol with 1 on. Marmol recorded the final 4 outs of the game with 2 K’s and picked up the win when Tyler Colvin’s 2-out pinch-hit double scored Geovany Soto all the way from 1st base in the bottom of the 10th. After Kosuke Fukudome’s walk with 1 out in the 10th, Soto grounded into a fielder’s choice but kept the inning alive by not being doubled-up. He showed some speed on Colvin’s hit – one of the few times that you’ll see Soto score in that fashion.
The Cubs got back to .500 with the win at 8-8 and trail the Reds by just 1 game in the NL Central. The Cubs, Brewers, Cardinals and Pirates are all 8-8. James Russell goes for the Cubs tonight as he looks to rebound from a bad start last week in Houston when he didn’t even make it out of the 2nd inning.
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 09 April 2011 by Lou
Carlos Zambrano didn’t have his best stuff, but he tossed 6 effective innings and matched a career-high with his 9th win in a row (dating back to last season). Zambrano gave up 4 ER on 7 hits and 3 walks, with 5 K’s, but had a quick 1-2-3 6th inning to keep the lead at 6-4 after his 112th pitch of the game. It was clear that he still had enough gas left in the tank and despite his less-than-stellar outing, he kept his wits about him and focused on getting through 6 innings to hand the ball off to the Cubs promising bullpen.
And boy did they do a great job. Sean Marshall worked an 11-pitch 1-2-3 7th inning with 1 K – hold #2 on the season. Kerry Wood worked a 9-pitch 1-2-3 8th inning – hold #3 on the season. And while Carlos Marmol allowed 2 batters to reach base, he struck out 2 in the 9th inning to preserve the win and pick up his 3rd save. Manager Mike Quade has gotta be pleased with this formula and as long as these guys stay healthy (Wood especially), there’s no reason to think that the Cubs shouldn’t feel comfortable with a late-inning lead.
The Cubs offense also pounded out 12 hits and 7 runs, lead by Jeff baker’s 4-hit game. Baker hit a go-ahead 3-run HR in the 4th inning and the Cubs never looked back. He had 4 RBI’s and 2 runs scored and is just crushing left-handed pitching. Geovany Soto hit a 2-run HR that tied the game at 2 in the 4th inning, while Marlon Byrd and Alfonso Soriano each had 2 hits in the win.
Matt Garza takes the bump against Chris Narverson in Game 2 of the series at Miller Park tonight. Let’s see if they can make it 2 in a row…
Posted on 08 April 2011 by Lou
Carlos Zambrano and the Cubs will square off against Randy Wolf and the Milwaukee Brewers tonight at Miller Park in Milwaukee. Something will have to give – the Brewers are riding a 3-game winning streak and Zambrano is riding a streak of winning his 7th straight decision at Miller Park.Big Z is 6-0 with a 1.97 ERA in his last 7 starts at the ballpark. As a team, the Cubs have won 9 of their last 13 games against the Brewers in Milwaukee, including a 6-3 record against the Brewers in 2010.
Posted on 04 April 2011 by Lou
It was the same old story for the Cubs during their opening weekend series loss to the Pirates at Wrigley Field. By dropping 2 of 3 to the Pirates, the Cubs already fell 2 games behind the Cincinnati Reds (who swept the Milwaukee Brewers) for 1st place in the NL Central.
Friday Opener – Cubs 3, Pirates 6. Ryan Dempster took the loss as he gave up a grand slam to Neil Walker in the 5th inning and a 2-run home run to Andrew McCutchen in the 7th inning on his 114th pitch of the game. A lack of clutch timely hitting hurt the Cubs as it did oh so often in 2010. It became the theme for the weekend. With the bases loaded and only 1 out in the 3rd inning, Carlos Pena grounded out in a fielder’s choice and the Cubs were held to 1 run instead of having a big inning. In the bottom of the 7th, with 2 on and only 1 out, Marlon Byrd and Aramis Ramirez flew out to end the scoring chance. The same exact thing happened in the 9th inning with 1 out. This time Byrd struck out and Ramirez grounded out to end the game. Not good.
Saturday #2 – Cubs 5, Pirates 3. Although the Cubs rallied to win the game, the Cubs wasted 2 runners in each of the 5th and 6th innings without scoring any runs. Kudos to the Cubs hitters for taking advantage of Lyle Overbay’s error in the 8th inning that permitted the Cubs to score 3 unearned runs and win the game. Blake DeWitt proved his worth as a pinch hitter by delivering the game-winning 2-run double. Big Z kept the Cubs in the game by allowing just 3 ER in 6 good innings of work and he didn’t let the lack of run support get him down. Kerry Wood, Sean Marshall and Carlos Marmol all looked sharp in their 1st 2011 game action. Each reliever tossed a scoreless inning of relief without allowing a single hit. Wood had 2 K’s, Marshall had 1 K and Marmol struck out the side in the 9th inning for his 1st save of the season.
Sunday #3 – Cubs 4, Pirates 4. The Cubs came back from 2-0 and 3-2 deficits to take a 4-3 lead on Alfonso Soriano’s solo home run in the 6th inning. However, a leadoff walk by Carlos Marmol in the 9th inning came to haunt him. Pedro Alvarez’s 2-run single gave the Pirates the 5-4 win. Matt Garza was not good. Although Garza worked out of trouble well, he allowed way too many base runners – 12 hits?! You gotta love the 12 K’s though. Once again, the game should not have been that close as the Cubs blew numerous opportunities to have a big inning. The Cubs got runners on in each of the 1st 2 innings but never scored. In the 4th inning, Carlos Pena tied the game at 2 with a 2-run double with nobody out. But with 2nd and third and nobody out, Geovany Soto and Alfonso Soriano could not push another run across with weak flyouts. Then the Pirates smartly walked Tyler Colvin to get the easy Matt Garza out to end the inning without any further damage. This was completely unacceptable and you just knew it would come back to haunt them at the time. Soto failed to come through in the 5th inning with 2 on and 2 out as he grounded out to end the inning. Then again in the 9th inning down by 1, the Cubs blew a great chance to win the game or at least send it into extra innings. With 1st and 2nd and only 1 out, Byrd grounded into the game-ending double play. Not good.
All in all, the pitching was pretty good, especially the bullpen (ignoring Marmol’s blown save on Sunday). Then again, the Cubs continue to show that they have trouble pushing across runs and winning close games. Manager Mike Quade needs to nip this in the bud before the trend grows too strong…
Posted on 14 March 2011 by Lou
Carlos Zambrano continued his spring dominance with a nifty 5 inning effort in a Cubs 4-3 win over the Dodgers on Sunday. Big Z scattered 6 hits and let up just 1 ER. He walked one, struck out 3 and lowered his ERA to 1.38 in the process. Manager Mike Quade and the Cubs have to be thrilled with Zambrano’s consistency and composure this spring.
On the offensive side of the ball, Starlin Castro keeps raking – he had 3 more hits and is now hitting .485 for the spring. Jeff Baker also had 3 hits and is looking like a great option for Quade in a platoon with Blake DeWitt at 2nd base this season.
With the win, the Cubs inched a little bit closer to the .500 mark at 8-10 on the spring.
Posted on 08 March 2011 by Lou
Carlos Zambrano continues to impress with a solid spring thus far. Zambrano pitched 3 innings against the Colorado Rockies, giving up just 1 ER on 5 hits and no walks. He struck out 1, but you have to love the fact that his control has been outstanding this spring. In 3 starts, Zambrano has put together an exciting 1.13 ERA.
Sean Marshall tossed a scoreless inning in relief and lowered his spring ERA to 2.70.
In a bid to make the opening day roster, Braden Looper was roughed up for 3 runs on a 3-run home run in the 7th inning. Looper now has a 7.20 spring ERA.
The Cubs bats were extremely quiet in the loss. The Cubs managed just 5 hits and no runs against 5 Rockies pitchers. Blake DeWitt, Starlin Castro and Geovany Soto each had hits.
Posted on 28 February 2011 by Lou
It wasn’t the way Mike Quade envisioned his 1st spring training game going in his first full season as the official manager of the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs lost to the Oakland A’s 15-7, committing 3 errors in the process.
But it is only the first game of spring and there is plenty of time to get things going in a different direction for the underdog Cubs in 2011.
Carlos Zambrano looked exceptional in his 2011 debut. Zambrano pitched to the minimum number of batters in his 2 innings of work. He walked one and struck out 2 and looked like the Carlos Zambrano who finished the 2010 campaign with 8 straight wins down the stretch.
Matt Garza, on the other hand, looked like he needed a lot of work. Garza served up a grand slam to Coco Crisp in his 1st inning of work and ended up giving up 5 ER on 5 hits and 1 walk. Garza was not deterred, however, by the fact that he gave up those 5 runs. “Today, my job was to get outs, and I got six of them, but not the way I wanted to go about it. It’s spring, I wasn’t throwing any breaking balls today, just fastballs and changeups. My location was off… It’s spring. At least the ball felt good coming out of my hand, it felt very explosive towards home plate. Everything that needs to be there is there. I’m not too worried about numbers right now. I’m just trying to get after it and work up a little sweat, which is difficult in Arizona.”
Let’s hope Garza has a better 2nd outing. Garza also got his first major league hit in his only at-bat of the day.
Posted on 23 February 2011 by Lou
Maybe this is a good sign. As we reported the other day, Carlos Zambrano really is OK with Manager Mike Quade naming Ryan Dempster his opening day starter, breaking a 6-year streak held by Big Z. Quade brought Dempster, Zambrano and newly acquired Matt Garza into his office to share the news and to explain his rationale for setting up the rotation the way he did for his 3 “aces”. It was a sign of respect from Quade that he considers all 3 starters to be top-of-the-line starters in his re-vamped rotation. Zambrano was disappointed with the decision, but he appears to have taken it in stride: “Nothing lasts forever. I wanted to be the Opening Days starter for all my years with the Cubs, but they chose Dempster for Opening Day. And it’s OK with me… He’s been pitching better than I have the past two years. He deserves it.”
WOW – could we really be seeing the new Carlos Zambrano. If he truly has his head on straight – and like I said before, I won’t believe it until he lasts a WHOLE season without incident – he could be primed and ready for a big 2011. If he can regain the form that made him one of the best starters in the National League, the Cubs could end up surprising some teams with nice trio of Demspter, Big Z and Garza. Let’s hope this trend continues…
Posted on 21 February 2011 by Lou
WOW — guess we’ll find out very quickly whether or not Carlos Zambrano has truly put his “anger issues” behind him. Manager Mike Quade has named Ryan Dempster his opening day starter on Friday April 1st against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Zambrano – who had made 6 consecutive opening day starts for the Cubs – will be the No. 2 starter on Saturday and Matt Garza will be the 3rd starter on Sunday to close out the series against the Pirates. Dempster was honored to be named the opening day starter, especially since it would take place at home at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field in front of the home crowd – “It’s going to be exciting. It’s going to be more nerves of anxiousness than nerves of being nervous… He [Zambrano] said he was happy for me, and that I deserved it. That’s somebody that I look up to, someone who goes out and competes as hard as anybody I’ve been around. So it meant a lot to hear something like that from him.”
Quade said he was looking ahead when he decided to go with Zambrano #2. The Cubs open the road part of the schedule on Friday April 8th in Milwaukee. By pitching Zambrano on Saturday or Sunday in the opening home series, that lines up Zambrano to make a start against the Brewers at Miller Park. Zambrano has had a TON of success pitching in Milwaukee, even throwing a no-hitter there against the Houston Astros back in 2009.
Interesting move by Quade. This guy definitely is out to show that he is running the team and that he is going to make his own decisions. It would have been easy to tab Big Z with the opening day start, especially the way that he closed out his 2010 season by going 8-0 in his final 11 starts. But Zambrano has to show he is out to perform at a high level again in 2011. It’s very similar to when Quade sent stud shortstop Starlin Castro a message late last season when Quade felt like Castro wasn’t giving his all and keeping his head in the game at all times. Quade benched Castro for 2 games and made it clear that everyone is responsible and accountable on the field, even superstars. Quade seems to have the respect and confidence of his players and staff, so it will be interesting to see how the team responds right from the get-go during the 2011 MLB schedule…