Posted on 19 July 2010 by Lou
While Saturday’s disastrous loss left a bitter taste in my mouth, you have to be pleased with the Cubs taking 3 of 4 games from the better Phillies squad this weekend at Wrigley Field. The Cubs could really pack it in now that the season is all but over, but they played hard and they played well in the series against the Phillies.
The ageless Jamie Moyer has had some pretty incredible starts this season yet the Cubs took it to him in the 12-6 series opening win on Thursday night. Ryan Dempster did what he needed to do to get the win.
Joe Blanton continues to baffle the Cubs – as he did in Friday afternoon’s pitching duel with Ted Lilly – but Aramis Ramirez propelled the Cubs to the 4-3 win with his game-winning home run in the 8th inning. Carlos Marmol picked up a perfect 3-strikeout save in the 9th inning to preserve the 4-3 win.
It was another pitcher’s duel on Saturday as Randy Wells matched Cole Hamels pitch-for-pitch. The Cubs took the 1-run lead in the bottom of the 7th inning on Ryan Theriot’s perfect suicide squeeze play that scored Starlin Castro. Castro reached base on a double down the left field line and then made a “heads-up” play on groundball to the shortstop where Castro was able to get over to 3rd base with less than 2 outs. Castro used his instincts to realize that since the ball was hit behind him, it was going to be a tough play to throw him out at 3rd base. But then disaster struck in the 9th inning – Carlos Marmol walked 2 Phillies hitters but then managed to get 2 outs to give Cubs fans hope that they could get out of the jam for the 1-0 win. But when Geovany Soto could not cleanly catch Tyler Colvin’s one hop throw to home that would have nailed Brian Schneider at the plate to end the game, the flood gates opened. 3 more walks and a wild pitch by Marmol led to a devastating 4-1 loss in front of the Wrigley Field faithful. Just when you think that the 2010 Cubs have lost in just about every frustrating way possible, they go and lose another close game with bad play after bad play.
Fortunately, the Cubs managed to salvage game 4 of the series against Roy Halladay. The Cubs capitalized on Halladay’s hitting Marlon Byrd twice – Geovany Soto drove him home with a homer in the 2nd inning and Alfonso Soriano drove him home with a homer in the 6th inning. The Cubs managed to get 6 runs on 7 hits off of Halladay and then 5 more runs on 5 hits and 1 walk off 2 relievers in the 7th inning that blew the game wide open. Tom Gorzelanny wasn’t great – 3 runs (2 earned) on 5 hits and 5 walks in 6 2/3 innings – but he limited the damage and kept the Cubs in the game.
Kudos to Manager Lou Pinella for going with Tyler Colvin and Starlin castro 1-2 at the top of the order on both Saturday and Sunday. Gotta give these kids chances and both responded in Sunday’s win – Colvin was 3 for 5 with 2 runs scored, while Castro was 3 for 4 with and RBI and 1 run scored.
Despite the positive weekend, the Cubs still trail the Cards by 9.5 games in the NL Central and the Reds and Rockies by 9 games in the NL Wild Card race. But at least it looks like the team is going to fight all the way to the end. And that’s all you can really ask for at this point in the season.
Posted on 16 July 2010 by Lou
Not the way I expected the Cubs’ 2nd half to start – with 2 wins over the Phillies at Wrigley Field. But I guess we’ll take it. Now the Cubs batters have to face Hamels and Halladay over the weekend – 2 guys “slightly better” than Moyer and Blanton. Can Randy Wells and Tom Gorzelanny get the job done against the Phillies’ aces? We’ll have to wait and see.
Thursday night – Ryan Dempster was pretty dominant –6 2/3 innings pitched – 2 ER on 6 hits and 3 walks with 9 K’s. He lowered his WHIP to 1.20 and his ERA to 3.57.
Derrek Lee, Alfonso Soriano and Geovany Soto had home runs for the Cubs in the win. Aramis Ramirez continued his hot hitting with 2 2-run doubles to help break open the game.
Ted Lilly sent a message to teams in need of starting pitching in the Cubs 4-3 win this afternoon. Lilly tossed 7 great innings of 3-run ball, giving up just 4 hits (2 home runs) and 1 walk while striking out 10. Lilly is good – let’s hope the Cubs can move him to a winner for the final few months of the season and then re-sign him to a 3-year deal in the off-season. He is worth it.
Marlon Byrd had a 2-run home run and Aramis Ramirez – the red-hit A-Ram – won it in the 8th inning with his deep home run to left field off of Ryan Madsen.
Sweep Sweep Sweep!
Posted on 11 July 2010 by Lou
On Friday night, the Cubs lost to the Dodgers 9-7. Ted Lilly had one of his worst starts of the season — 3 2/3 innings, 7 hits, 7 runs (5 earned), 2 walks. Although the Cubs racked up 11 hits and made it interesting in the end, they still lost. Marlon Byrd stroked 4 hits and had 3 RBI’s. Aramis Ramirez had 3 hits , 1 RBI and 2 runs scored and he is finally over the Mendoza line @ .204.
On Saturday afternoon on FOX, the Cubs bounced back with a 7-3 win behind a strong outing from Tom Gorzelanny. Gorzelanny picked up his 4th win of the season, going 6 innings and giving up just 1 ER on 6 hits with 7 K’s. He now has a 3.16 season ERA – not too shabby. Geovany Soto paced the Cubs offense with 3 hits and 3 RBI’s. Starlin Castro, Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee each had 2 hits in the win.
We’ll have more on Sunday’s loss on Monday, but it is not looking good – down 7-0 in the 8th inning. Vincent Padilla no-hit the Cubs until Castro doubled to lead off the 6th inning.
Posted on 09 July 2010 by Lou
The Cubs blew a perfect opportunity to pick up ground on the Reds & Cards, but lost to the Dodgers 3-2. Instead of moving up to “just” 9.5 games behind the Reds and 6.5 games, behind the Cards (who had both lost already), the Cubs stayed put in the standings. This game – like so many others – have summed up how frustrating a year it has been for the club and Cubs fans alike.
Cubs starter pitches a great 6 or 7 innings, but because of a “weak” bullpen, Manager Lou Pinella opts to keep him in a batter or 2 too long. Wells had dominated the Dodgers for 6 innings, giving up just 4 hits and 1 run. He gave up a lead off single to Russell Martin and while Pinella might have mad a move then with a deeper staff, he had to let Wells finish it out. Wells did get the next 2 batters out, but Rafael Furcal hit a 2-run home run that gave the Dodgers the 3-2 lead. It was only Furcal’s 6th homer of the season. And as so often has happened this season, a close Cubs lead of 1 or 2 runs turned into another frustrating nightmare as the opposition rallied for a late run or 2.
The Cubs were stymied for most of the night by Clay Kershaw, but they got 7 hits off of him. They scored on an Alfonso Soriano solo home run and a Geovany Soto RBI single, but that was it. In a game that the Cubs knew would be close, the 3rd inning was particularly frustrating. With 1 out, Ryan Theriot singled to right field, but then got picked off of 1st base by Kershaw. The man at the plate – Marlon Byrd – then singled, but his aggressive base-running forced him to get thrown out at 2nd base. So even though the Cubs got 2 hits in the inning, they didn’t really threaten because of their base-running mistakes. With a team like this that is struggling to score runs (and that has typically struggled to score runs in Los Angeles), you cannot make those mistakes and expect to win.
As I wrote yesterday, the Cubs really needed to win 3 of 4 against the Dodgers to finish off a 6-1 road trip before the All-Star Break. That means they now need to win the final 3 games of this series – which is not going to happen. Let’s just hope that Ted Lilly and Carlos Silva both pitch well to help increase their trade value over the next few weeks….
Posted on 06 July 2010 by Lou
WOW – that was a long time. The Cubs finally won the opening game of a series for the 1st time since they beat the Dodgers at Wrigley Field back on May 25th. What an unbelievable stat. The Cubs invaded Arizona and came out firing with a big 9-4 win after losing 14-3 to the Reds less than 24 hours before. Cubs pitching gave up 8 home runs to the Reds, including 4 alone in an 8-run 7th inning.
Kosuke Fukudome got the Cubs off to a good start with a lead off home run. The Cubs added 3 more runs in the 2nd inning on Starlin Castro’s 2-run triple and Geovany Soto’s RBI double. Soto finished the day with 3 hits, RBI’s and 2 runs scored – by far one of his best days as a Cubs in 2010. Fukudome had 2 hits, 2 walks and 2 runs scored. Alfonso Soriano also added a 2-run home run in the 9th inning – his team-leading 14th of the season. Soriano also leads the team with 41 RBI’s.
Tom Gorzelanny was not great, but he pitched the minimum 5 innings to earn his 3rd win of the season. He gave up 5 hits and issued 6 walks in his short outing, but kept the D’Backs away form the big inning – they would score only single runs off of Gorzelanny in the 3rd, 4th and 5th innings. Although Andrew Cashner struggled in relief of Gorzelanny (1 ER on 2 walks and 1 hit in a third of an inning), the rest of the bullpen did great. James Russell, Justin Berg, Sean Marshall and Carlos Marmol closed the door by pitching 3 1/3 scoreless innings the rest of the way. Berg struck out 2 D’Backs hitters, while Marshall and Marmol each struck out 3!
But more importantly, the Cubs finally got that monkey off their back by winning the opnening game of the series. Will that lead to a series win – their first since they took 2 of 3 from the Oakland A’s from June 15th through the 17th at Wrigley? Carlos Silva can make that happen with a good outing tonight. Stay tuned…
Posted on 10 June 2010 by Lou
It was mostly bad for the Cubs in Milwaukee this week. The Cubs dropped 2 of 3 to the Brewers and now trail the 1st place Cincinnati Reds by 7.5 games in the NL Central race.
The Cubs defeated the Brewers 9-4 on Wednesday night for their only win of the series. Carlos Zambrano struggled through 5 innings but picked up his 2nd win of the season. He gave up 3 ER on 2 hits and 5 walks. He almost imploded in the 4th inning when he issued a walk on a call that he thought was a strike that the home plate umpire called a ball. He promptly walked the next batter and served up a 2-run double to the Brewers pitcher Randy Wolf that tied the game at 3. Miraculously, Big Z actually got out of the jam and pitched a scoreless 5th inning to become eligible for the win.
The Cubs bats broke out against Wolf with 9 runs and 12 hits, including 5 home runs. Marlon Byrd hit 2 home runs and drove in 3 runs. Geovany Soto also had 2 home runs and 3 RBI’s. Derrek Lee struck a 2-run shot as well. Jeff Baker had 3 hits, 2 runs scored and 1 RBI.
The celebration didn’t last long, as the Cubs looked out of sorts in a 5-4 10-inning loss to the Brewers on Thursday afternoon. Ryan Dempster pitched his shortest outing of the season – 5 1/3 innings pitched, 3 runs (2 earned) on 5 hits and 5 walks. Not one of his better showings. The defense didn’t help the Cubs pitchers at all. 3 of the Brewers 5 runs were unearned. Leading 4-3 with 2 outs in the 5th inning, Starling Castro committed his 8th error in 31 games allowing Jim Edmonds to reach 2nd base when his throw bounced into the Brewers dugout (would Derrek Lee have caught the low throw – probably?). Xavier Nady is no Derrek Lee. Edmonds would eventually come around to score when Tom Gorzelanny and Jeff Stevens proceeded to walk the next 3 batters. The winning run also scored on an error. Bob Howry walked Carlos Gomez to lead off the 10th inning. Gomez stole 2nd base as Craig Counsell executed a sacrifice bunt. When Gomez raced to 3rd base, Nady attempted to throw out Gomez at 3rd base, but he made a poor throw that skipped into the stands, and just like that the Brewers had won 5-4. The Brewers 3rd run was also unearned – set up by a Chad Tracy error.
The bats were pretty quiet after the 5 home runs clubbed in Wednesday night’s win. Nady did hit a 2-run home run that gave the Cubs a brief 4-3 lead.
Next up – the crosstown classic against the White Sox at Wrigley Field. Jake Peavy v. Randy Wells could get pretty ugly in a hurry with the way both pitchers have fared of late.
Posted on 20 May 2010 by Lou
A week ago, the Chicago Cubs had committed at least 1 error in 7 straight games. Since last Friday’s loss against the Pirates at Wrigley Field, however, the Cubs have committed just 1 total error in those 7 games. That is a major improvement for a club that has already committed 32 errors on the season – good for a .979 fielding percentage.
The one glaring problem, Starlin Castro is 2nd on the team in errors with 5, just 1 behind 3rd baseman Aramis Ramirez. Castro was supposed to provide stellar defense for the middle of the Cubs defense, but so far, it has been a bit suspect. Sure 3 of those errors came in his 1st game in front of the home town fans at Wrigley Field, but we need him to remember about the routine plays and not just the spectacular ones. Hopefully as he gets more comfortable in his new surroundings at the major league level we’ll see more consistency in his defense.
Kudos to Ryan Theriot who hasn’t skipped a beat despite moving over to 2nd base to make room for Castro at shortstop. Theriot has just 3 errors in 153 chances good for a .980 fielding percentage.
Derrek Lee is having another solid year – just 1 error in 335 chances, good for a .997 fielding percentage.
Lastly, let’s hear it for catchers Geovany Soto and Koyie Hill – not one single error during the 1st 42 games of the season – pretty damn impressive.
Posted on 05 May 2010 by Lou
It was another frustrating road loss for the Cubs as the bats went dead and the pitching wasn’t “perfect” enough to win the close 3-2 ball game against the Pirates.
Ryan Dempster lost 3-2 for the 2nd start in a row. He pitched well again, but a 1st inning home run to Andy LaRoche and a 6th inning 2-run home run to Ryan Church ended up being just enough for the Pirates to pick up the W. Dempster ended up pitching 7 innings of 3-run, giving up 8 hits and 1 walk with 7 strike outs. He lowered his WHIP to 1.03 and his ERA to 2.95, but he has just 2 wins on the season, mainly because of poor run support.
Against Paul Malholm, the Cubs managed 8 hits and 3 walks in 6 innings. But the lack of clutch hitting meant that the Cubs would only score twice – on solo home runs from Alfonso Soriano and Geovany Soto. Other than that, it was the same old story – getting guys in scoring position with 1 out or no outs, and not coming away with any runs at all. Even plating one run in those situations would mean a tie ball game and extra innings, but it seems like the Cubs go into these funks where no one comes through with the clutch hit.
Ted Lilly looks to bounce back tonight against the Pirates after a rough 2nd start to his 2010 season. He served up 7 ER to the DBacks last Thursday at Wrigley Field.
Posted on 25 April 2010 by Lou
WOW – what a turn of events. The Cubs were reeling after dropping 5 of 7 games to the lowly Astros and Mets. But they didn’t give up and completed an impressive 3-game weekend sweep over the Brewers at Miller Park with a 12-2 rout on Sunday. The Cubs scored 12 runs and belted out 18 hits, including home runs by Kosuke Fukudome, Derrek Lee, Tyler Colvin and Geovany Soto. Fukudome and Colvin each had 3 hits apiece, while Ryan Theriot had 5 hits and 3 RBI’s and now has his average up to .329 after a slow start to the season. Theriot was even briefly demoted form the lead-off spot during the series against the Mets in New York.
Randy Weels did a great job on the mound – 7 innings, 2 ER on 7 hits and no walks, with 6 K’s. Another great start from the dependable Wells.
The Cubs next face the resurgent Nationals in a 3-game set this week at Wrigley Field. This isn’t your old Nats team, however, as the Nats have already won 11 games this season – 2 more than the Cubs. Let’s keep the good times rolling on Monday night with Carlos Silva on the bump…
Posted on 22 January 2010 by Lou
Geovany Soto has dropped 40 pounds so far this off-season and has become a new man. Manager Lou Pinella and the Cubs instructed Soto to lose “some weight” this off-season, but when they saw him at this past weekend’s Cubs Convention, they were shocked out how quickly and how much weight Soto really dropped. Soto took it to heart. He adjusted his diet (mainly chicken, fish and vegetables) and worked out with a personal trainer in Puerto Rico. The results are astounding and Soto is feeling like he is ready to go even though it’s only January.
Soto had this to say about the “new” Soto: “It’s weird, I feel like a 12-year-old. I have a lot of energy, I’m wired all say… I’m active all day. I used to be sluggish, I’d want to take a nap. Now, I feel great. I want to push myself in the best position to help the club. The better I feel, if I’m agile back there, it will give me the best opportunity to not get hurt. I want to be there for my teammates… I’m not thinking about me, I’m thinking about us as a team.”
2009 was clearly a disappointing season for Soto. In 2008, Soto was named the National League Rookie of the Year and he was the NL’s starting catcher in the All-Star Game. Soto hit .285 with a .364 on-base percentage and he had 86 RBI’s, 23 HR’s and 35 doubles. In 2009, Soto battled injuries and a World Baseball Classic positive drug testing, and his poor numbers showed that he was not in the best shape. Soto played in just 102 games (down from 141 the year before), hitting a paltry .218 with a .321 on-base percentage. Soto hit only 11 home runs and drove in 47 runs. Not good.
It’s great to see that Soto took some responsibility for his lack of discipline in 2009. Some players would have continued to lay blame elsewhere, but it’s clear that Soto realized that he let his teammates down and that he wanted to make amends. Koyie Hill will still serve as the Cubs backup behind the plate, but it looks like Soto should be able to return to his 2008 form. The Cubs need him big time. If he can take a little pressure off of Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez and newcomer Marlon Byrd with improved offensive output, the lineup could be formidable from top to bottom again. The Wrigley Field faithful and Cubs fans across the country will also be thrilled with the improved play and dedication from their starting catcher. Go Cubs!