Posted on 04 May 2011 by Lou
Ryan Dempster finally turned in a good outing and Carlos Pena finally delivered his 1st home run of 2011 as the Cubs rallied late to beat the Dodgers 4-1 in Los Angeles.
Dempster pitched 7 effective innings in his best start of 2011. Dempster allowed just 1 ER on 6 hits and 2 walks during his outing and although he didn’t factor in the decision, he was thrilled that he finally gave his team a chance to win during one of his starts.
Carlos Pena has struggled all season long and he was still looking for his 1st home run heading into last night’s game. Pena came through with a clutch game-tying home run in the top of the 7th inning off of Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley. Pena also came around to score on Geovany Soto’s game-winning double after he worked a 1-out walk in the top of the 9th inning that moved the winning run over into scoring position. Soto delivered the big game winning hit with 2 outs and Blake DeWitt followed that up with an RBI single to give the Cubs a 4-1 cushion.
After Dempster left the game, the bullpen did what they’ve been doing for the majority of 2011. Kerry Wood worked a 1-2-3 8th inning and ended up picking up his 1st win of 2011 when the Cubs scored 3 in the 9th. Carlos Marmol then notched his 8th save of 2011 with a 1-2-3 9th inning. Wood and Marmol both have WHIP’s under 1.09 and ERA’s under 1.84. This gives Manager Mike Quade and the Cubs a TON of confidence when they have the lead in the late innings and they know they can hand the ball over to Wood, Marmol and Sean Marshall. Cubs sit at 13-16 with 1 more game left against the Dodgers on Wednesday afternoon.
Posted on 02 May 2011 by Lou
The Cubs fell just short of getting a series win for the 1st time since they took 2 of 3 from the Padres at Wrigley Field back on April 20th.
Casey Coleman suffered another loss giving up 4 ER on 4 hits and 5 walks in just 5 innings of work. Coleman is 1-2 with a 7.36 ERA and a 1.96 WHIP. In 18 1/3 innings pitched in 4 starts, Coleman has given up 15 ER on 23 hits and 13 walks. Why is this guy still in the rotation? Isn’t there someone else in the minors that can give the Cubs more meaningful innings?
Geovany Soto, Darwin Barney and Marlon Byrd each had 2 hits in the Cubs loss. Soto had 2 doubles in the game, the 2nd of which cut the DBacks lead from 4-1 to 4-3 in the top of the 7th inning. The Cubs then stranded Soto at 2nd base in the 7th. After stranding the tying run in scoring position in the 8th inning too, Carlos Pena almost put the Cubs ahead in the top of the 9th with a deep drive to right field that Upton caught right at the wall. Marlon Byrd had doubled to lead off the inning and moved over to 3rd base with only 1 out. The DBacks then walked to Geovany Soto to get to a pinch-hitter. Jeff Baker only needed to hit a fly ball to tie the game but instead he swung at J.J. Putz’s first pitch and grounded into a game-ending double play. Not good.
The Cubs have only won 3 series all season long and have a 12-15 record. Lucky for them that no one else in the NL Central has put together a good stretch of baseball to try to gain a little space between the rest of the pack. Despite the slow start, the Cubs trail the 1st place Cards by only 3.5 games. Every time Casey Coleman and James Russell take the mound, you know the Cubs are likely going to lose, so knowing that Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner are both on the mend and hopefully back in the mix in the next few weeks can only mean improved play for the club. After these 3 final road games against the Dodgers in L.A., the Cubs open up a critical 9-game homestand against the Cincinnati Reds, Cardinals and San Francisco Giants which could leave them still right in the thick of things or getting ready for 2012…
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 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 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 29 March 2011 by Lou
The Cubs made the right move by sending Catcher Wellington Castillo down to Triple-A Iowa to continue getting regular playing time to learn and grow as a catcher. Sure Castillo hit much better than Koyie Hill who made the opening day roster as Geovany Soto’s back up. Castillo had 12 hits in 19 at-bats while Hill had only 1 hit in 31 at-bats this spring. But having Castillo play once a week with the Cubs at the major league level wouldn’t do him any good and it wouldn’t do the Cubs any good when it was time for Castillo to step up and play a more prominent catching role for the Cubs sometime in the near future.
Manager Mike Quade is thrilled with Castillo’s development thus far – “If he’ll keep his nose to the grindstone and do what he’s done the last year, he’s going to get better and better, and he’ll have some kind of future. The sky’s the limit for this guy.” Quade indicated that Castillo has work to do in managing pitchers and calling games, but that he is headed in the right direction. He also confirmed that Hill has a great grasp of the Cubs pitchers strengths and weaknesses and will serve as a quality back up for Soto during the 2011 MLB schedule.
This is definitely the right move. Hopefully Castillo has a healthy and productive year at the Triple-A level and then he will be ready to step up and claim the back-up catcher’s role in 2012. By playing every day at Triple-A, Castillo should also be ready to go in case Hill or Soto get hurt at some point during the regular season.
Posted on 11 March 2011 by Lou
Ryan Dempster continues to show why Manager Mike Quade anointed the veteran righty his opening day starter before spring ball even began. Dempster went a team high 5 innings in the 4-3 win over the White Sox. He struck out 6 batters and scattered just 2 hits and 1 walk during his impressive outing. He lowered his spring ERA to 1.50 by not allowing a single run. It was a great follow up to Randy Wells’ 4-inning scoreless gem yesterday. Carlos Zambrano, Wells and Dempster all already seem to be in mid-season form right now, so this is a good sign for Cubs fans.
Sean Marshall also tossed a scoreless inning of relief, but Jeff Samardzija struggled by allowing all 3 White Sox runs in the 9th inning – his only inning of work. Samardzija saw his ERA rise to 8.44 and he could be in jeopardy of being released by the Cubs since he does not have any options left.
The Cubs applied offensive pressure right from the start as well. The Cubs pushed across runs in each of the 1st 3 innings to stake Dempster to an early 3-0 lead. Geovany had 2 hits on the day and got things started for the Cubs with an RBI single in the 1st. Carlos Pena hit a solo home run in the 2nd inning and then racked up another RBI with a run scoring single in the 3rd inning. Jeff Baker batted lead-off and had 2 hits and a run scored. Brett Jackson also came through with a big insurance run in the top of the 9th on an RBI double. That proved to be the winning run as the White Sox rallied for 3 runs in the bottom of the 9th inning.
It was another nice win for the Cubs today. Let’s hope they can put a few more of these wins together over the next few weeks before the start of the MLB season to give the squad some much-needed confidence…
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 08 February 2011 by Lou
Where Geovany Soto and Blake DeWitt fit into the Cubs lineup for 2011 makes for some interesting chats.
Soto rebounded from a down 2009 MLB season with a solid 2010 campaign. Soto had a career-best .393 on-base percentage during the season and hit with HR’s and RBI’s. Will we see Soto higher up in the lineup? Probably not. Soto is better suited to be in the 5, 6 or 7 spot where he can drive in runs. He is a patient hitter, so if runners are on base in front of him, he puts pitchers in a tough position. They can walk him and put more runners on base, or they can pitch to him and risk letting him be the hero by driving in runs. Look for Aramis Ramirez to move up to the 3-spot in 2011, with Carlos Pena batting clean-up, Marlon Byrd in the 5-hole and Soto in the 6-hole.
Blake DeWitt is gearing up for a productive 2010. DeWitt spent the off-season eliminating a tap mechanism from his batting stance. The Cubs hope that the new hitting stance will give DeWitt an extra advantage against pitchers and allow him to be more patient at the plate. Hitting Coach Rudy Jaramillo has already spent time with DeWitt in Arizona, so he should be ahead of the game once camp breaks later this month.
These are all good signs Cubs fans. With expectations so low for this unpredictable ball club, the Cubs could end up surprising some people in 2011…
Posted on 17 January 2011 by Lou
The Cubs and Geovany Soto avoided salary arbitration as the big catcher signed a 1-year, $3 million deal. Soto turns 28 later this month and had a nice “bounce-back” year in 2010 with a .280 batting average and .393 on-base percentage (62 walks and only 82 K’s), 17 home runs and 53 RBI’s in 105 games. His season was cut short when he had arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder in September. Soto is expected to be fully healthy for 2011 Spring Training in February.
Soto was the National League Rookie of the Year back in 2008 when the Cubs had the most prolific offense in the NL. That year, Soto hit .285 with 23 dingers and 86 RBI’s. But injuries hampered Soto in 2009 as he struggled with a .218 batting average. He played in just 103 games in 2009 and had a career-low .321 on-base percentage. Let’s hope the positive trend continues for Soto in 2011. The Cubs need the catcher to be a consistent offensive threat in the middle of the lineup to provide a little extra protection for Aramis Ramirez, Marlon Byrd, Carlos Pena and Tyler Colvin.
The Cubs now have just 3 other players who are arbitration-eligible — Sean Marshall, Carlos Marmol and Matt Garza. It looks like the Cubs have traded Tom Gorzelanny to the Washington Nationals, so they will not have to come to terms with the lefty before the deadline. More on the Gorzelanny trade as details are confirmed.