Posted on 11 May 2012 by Lou
It is a night of returns for the Cubs in the 1st game of a 3-game weekend set against the Brewers at Miller Park in Milwaukee. Matt Garza who skipped his last scheduled start because of a nasty flu bug penetrating the Cubs clubhouse will square off against Randy Wolf in the series opener. Garza is 2-1 on the season with a nasty 0.89 WHIP and solid 2.67 ERA. Garza loves facing the Brew Crew – he has a career 1.90 ERA against the club and in his last outing against the Brewers back on April 12th at Wrigley Field, he fell just 1 out shy of a complete game shutout as the Cubs won 8-0.
Dale Sveum spent the last 6 seasons on the Brewers coaching staff and is looking forward to his return – this time as the Cubs manager – “Yeah, I have a lot of memories there and a lot of friends, but when the games start, you don’t think about anything like that. You just think about winning the game and managing the baseball game.”
The Cubs and Brewers are both tied for last place in the NL Central – 13-18 – 7 games back of the 1st place St. Louis Cardinals. Let’s hope the Cubs can take at least 2 out of 3 this weekend with the starters they have going – Garza, Dempster and Samardzija…
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 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 24 April 2012 by Lou
Just what the doctor ordered – Joe Mather’s 2-out 2-run single gave the Cubs a much-needed 3-2 win over Jason Motte and the Cardinals on Monday night at Wrigley Field. Trailing the Cards 2-1, Motte walked both Bryan LaHair and Geovany Soto with 1 out. Steve Clevenger’s groundout to 1st base moved the runners over into scoring position with 2 outs. Then it was time for Joe Mather to be the hero with his sharp groundball single up the middle. Just like that, the Cubs had an improbable come-from-behind 3-2 win over the defending world champs.
Could this be the catalyst that the Cubs need to show that their really not as bad as their 5-12 record? Only time will tell.
Jaime Garcia shut the Cubs offense down for much of the night – 1 ER on 6 hits and 1 walk in 6+ innings.
Matt Garza did the same in his 7 innings of work – 2 ER on only 4 hits and 3 walks. He struck out 5, but did not factor in the decision. James Russell recorded just 1 out in the 8th inning and he walked 2 batters. Rafael Dolis came in and shut the Cards offense out for the final 5 outs of the game. He picked up his 1st major league win.
Jeff Samardzija can help the Cubs get their 1st series win and 1st winning streak of the season if he can pitch effectively tonight at Wrigley. He’ll go up against Adam Wainwright again – the Cubs pasted Wainwright for 8 ER (2 homers) in a 9-5 win over the Cards on April 13th. Let’s hope they can do the same tonight…
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 09 April 2012 by Lou
The Cubs rode Jeff Samardzija 8 2/3 innings to get their 1st win of the 2012 MLB campaign. Samardzija was one of the Cubs top pitchers all spring and he carried that over into the 2012 regular season. He should have gotten the complete game 4-1 win if not for Starlin Castro’s 9th inning error with 2 outs. Manager Dale Sveum then kept Samardzija in the game, but he served up Adam LaRoche’s 2-run home run which cut the Cubs lead to 4-3. That prompted Sveum to tab Cubs closer Carlos Marmol to close out the game.
Marmol suffered the loss in Thursday’s opener and gave up 2 more earned runs in Saturday’s loss to the Nats, but someone had to get the Cubs out of the jam. Despite walking Jayson Werth to put the tying run on base, Marmol induced former Cub Xavier Nady to pop out to Ian Stewart right in front of the Cubs dugout. That gave the Cubs their 1st 2012 win and Samardzija of what looks to be one of many wins this season.
Samardzija struck out 8 in his outing and most importantly, he did not walk a batter. He scattered 4 hits and gave up just 1 ER.
Satrlin Catrso had 2 hits, 2 runs and 2 RBI. Bryan LaHair – in his 1st start of the season – also had 2 hits. Alfonso Soriano drove in 2 runs with a single and a sacrifice fly.
It has been a rough opening weekend series for the Cubs who could have been 0-3, 2-1 or 3-0. Instead they are sitting at 1-2 in last place in the NL Central. What else is new?!
Posted on 29 March 2012 by Lou
Jeff Samardzija locked up the 3rd spot in the Cubs starting rotation with his 6 scoreless innings against the Cleveland Indians in the Cubs 2-0 win on Wednesday. He scattered 3 hits and just 1 walk while striking out 5. He has had good outings this spring, but that was by far his best performance to date. The pressure was on, as Samardzija knew he had to bounce back from his last outing when the Rockies rocked the big righty for 7 ER. He answered the call and it looks like all the hard work that he put in this off-season – he showed up in Arizona back in November – really paid off.
Manager Dale Sveum had this to say about picking Samardzija – “I’s say it convinced me more than anything. He did a good job yesterday, especially because they had seven or eight left-handers in their lineup, which is always a test against a right-handed pitcher. He kept them off-balance, got weak popups. That shows he was controlling bat speed and doing a good job of it.”
Samardzija was thrilled and relieved: “We just kind of said thanks to each other, for me personally to get the opportunity to do it and they were happy I didn’t take it for granted and just show up and go through the motions. It felt good… You don’t know how many opportunities you’re going to get to start. I really wanted to give this a full head of steam and have a full shot.”
This is a great move. I like the idea of 2 veterans at the front of the rotation – Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza. Then you can throw Samardzija out there against other teams’ # 3’s and he is going to surprise a lot of people. Then you have a Chris Volstad who has had a good spring and may have favorable match-ups against some weaker starters. And then you might see Paul Maholm really take advantage of being in the #5 spot in the rotation. That will give him a little extra time with an extended spring to get up to full game strength, and he has been around the block once or twice. This rotation is going to surprise some people – you heard it hear 1st!
The Cubs also optioned Randy Wells back down to Triple-A Iowa…
Posted on 23 March 2012 by Lou
Matt Garza worked 5 strong innings in the Cubs 11-4 win over the Texas Rangers on Thursday. He scattered 2 hits and 3 walks during his outing and all 3 runs that the Rangers scored in the 4th inning were unearned due to erros by Darwin Barney and Bryan LaHair. He struck out 3 batters and tried to make it tough on Manager Dale Sveum who was about to name his opening day starter.
But at the end of the day, it was Ryan Dempster who gets the opening day nod for the 2nd consecutive season. Dempster will square off against Nats’ phenom Stephen Strasburg on Thursday April 5th at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field. Sveum also named Paul Malholm his 5th starter and reserved the right to name his 3rd and 4th starters until later next week. Jeff Samardzija, Chris Volstad, Randy Wells and Rodrigo Lopez are fighting for the final 2 spots in the starting rotation. We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear anything on that front…
Posted on 19 March 2012 by Lou
Travis Wood has had 2 bad starts this spring, so he got just what he needed in his 3rd start today. The Cubs scored 7 runs in the 1st inning to stake Wood to a nice 7-0 lead. All he had to do was come out and throw strikes and get outs. Well it didn’t work out that way, and his poor spring performance has all but assured Jeff Samardzija and Chris Volstad of the final 2 spots in the Cubs starting rotation heading into 2012. Sure Randy Wells has pitched well too, but he has been given the opportunity as a starter already and he really hasn’t taken advantage of it. It’s time for Samardzija to be given the chance to go out there and prove that he is a legitimate MLB starter. And with how dominant Volstad has been so far this spring, there’s almost no way to justify not making him your 4th or 5th starter.
But back to Wood – he gave back 2 runs in the bottom of the 1st on a Ichiro HR. In the 2nd, after giving up a run-scoring single to Chone Figgins, Wood threw a wild pitch that allowed Figgins to score to cut the lead to 7-4. In the bottom of the 3rd, he gave up a 2-run jack to Jesus Montero and then a game-tying solo HR to Kyle Seager. All 3 homers served up by Wood were the 1st homers for each player this spring. Not good. That was all Manager Dale Sveum needed to see in the 3rd as he yanked Wood after just 2+ innings – 7 runs, all earned on 7 hits and 2 walks. WOW! That Travis Wood for Sean Marshall deal is sure looking like a big mistake now. Let’s hope a year at Triple-A will help get Wood back on track.
Gotta love the Cubs bats today. They didn’t hit one HR in that 7-run 1st inning and all 7 runs were ER. A Starlin Castro double, an Alfonso Soriano sac fly, a Jeff Baker single, a 2-run single by Joe Mather, a David DeJesus single and then a Darwin Barney double. Can’t complain about solid hitting like that.
Posted on 08 March 2012 by Lou
Jeff Samardzija is making a strong case to be named a starter for the Cubs during the 2012 campaign. Manager Dale Sveum predicted that the Kansas City Royals would not be able to hit Samardzija in Wednesday’s cactus league came, and his prediction almost came true. Samardzija bearly broke a sweat, tossing 3 scoreless innings with 3 K’s. The only hit allowed was a cheap blooper by Chris Getz in the 2nd inning. Samardzija needed just 35 pitches. Many baseball people around the country named Samardzija the most improved pitcher during the course of the 2011 MLB season. Samardzija has been on a “mission” this winter, vowing to do whatever it takes to make the Cubs starting rotation in 2012. So far so good for the big righty. He consistently through his fastball in the mid 90’s and he already has great control on his slider and changeup. That is a lethal combo. Look for Samardzija to continue to put pressure on Dale Sveum and the Cubs front office who might be reluctant to move Samardzija out of the bullpen where he was so effective last year.
Cubs hitters also played well – 6 runs on 15 hits – including 2 hits apiece for Starlin Castro, Reed Johnson and Bryan LaHair.