Posted on 19 May 2011 by Lou
The Cubs rallied for a much-needed 7-5 win over the Marlins on Wednesday night in Miami. After falling behind 5-3 at the end of the 5th inning, the Cubs tied it up in the top of the 6th inning on pinch-hitter Reed Johnson’s 2-run bomb. The Cubs then took the lead for good in the 8th on Marlon Byrd’s solo shot to left field. The Cubs tacked on an insurance run on Jeff Baker’s fielder’s choice play later that inning.
Koyie Hill had a nice game at the plate – 3 for 3 with 3 runs scored. Kosuke Fukudome, Starlin Castro and Aramis Ramirez each had 2 hits on the night.
Ryan Dempster struggled through 5 innings – 5 ER on 8 hits and 2 walks. Jeff Samardzija earned his 3rd win of the season by pitching 2 scoreless innings. Sean Marshall notched his 9th hold of the 2011 campaign, and Carlos Marmol picked up his 9th save by pitching an inning and a third of scoreless ball.
Casey Coleman looks to help the Cubs sweep the quick 2-game series over the Marlins tonight in Miami. Then it’s off to Boston for a 3-game set against the Red Sox at historic Fenway Park.
Posted on 09 May 2011 by Lou
The Cubs got some great pitching over the weekend against the Reds, but only came away with 1 win against their Division Rivals. Not good… not good at all. It is the same old alarming trend as the Cubs continue to fail to come through with the clutch hit to break open a close game.
The Red Sox stopped their 3-game skid with 2 impressive wins over the Twins at Fenway Park.
In Saturday’s 3-2 win, Casey Coleman gave the Cubs every chance it needed to win. Coleman worked 6 solid innings, giving up 2 ER on 4 hits and 3 walks with 6 K’s. After Coleman allowed the 1st 2 batters to reach base in the 7th inning, Kerry Wood couldn’t limit the damage and allowed the Reds to score 2 runs on a fielder’s choice and single. That gave the Reds a 2-1 lead.
It came down to the 9th inning trailing 2-1 as Carlos Pena came through with the clutch home run to right field that tied the game at 1. After Blake DeWitt’s single, it looked like the game was over as Jeff Baker’s double to deep center field would have easily scored DeWitt from 1st. But the ball bounced over the well and was ruled a ground rule double since the center fielder Daniel Stubbs never made contact with the ball before it left the field of play. That put the pressure on Kosuke Fukudome with runners on 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs. But Fukudome lived up to the challenge, stroking a no-doubt, line drive single up the middle to score DeWitt with the winning run. Marcos Mateo picked up his 1st major league win by pitching a scoreless inning and a third.
On Mother’s Day on Sunday, Ryan Dempster made his second straight good start — 7 innings, 2 ER on 5 hits and no walks. But this time, he did not come away with the win, as the Cubs bats went silent against Johnny Cueto who was making his 1st start of the season. The Cubs managed just 6 hits and 2 walks during the game against Cueto and 4 Cubs relievers. Jeff Samardzija worked his 9th straight appearance in which he has not allowed a run. Carlos Marmol, who had not pitched since May 3rd against the Dodgers worked a scoreless 9th inning. Starlin Castro continues to struggle even after getting the day off on Saturday. Castro has only 2 hits in his last 25 at-bats, a streak spanning 5 games. His batting average has dropped 48 points down to .300 during that stretch.
The Cubs are now 15-18 on the season and they trail the Cards by 4 games in the NL Central race. The Cards come to town for 3 big games this week as the Cubs really have their backs up against the wall yet again.
Posted on 26 April 2011 by Lou
After taking a 3-0 lead in the 1st inning, Starlin Castro helped give it all back in the top of the 2nd inning with 3 costly errors. That set the tone for a major momentum swing as the Rockies rallied for the 5-3 win over the Cubs on a cool, wet night at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs jumped out to the 3-0 lead on a 2-run HR by Darwin Barney and a sacrifice fly by Alfonso Soriano in the bottom of the 1st inning.
But Castro’s 1st error allowed Troy Tulowitzki to reach 1st base to lead off the 2nd inning. After a strikeout and a single, Castro’s next error on a groundball that popped out of his glove, allowed Tulowitzki to score with the Rockies 1st run. Then with runners on 1st and 2nd, Castro fielded Chris Iannetta’s groundball cleanly, but then air-mailed the throw over Barney’s head at 2nd base into the right field bullpens which allowed both runners to score. Just like that, the game was tied at 3.
The Cubs had their chances. They got 8 hits and 4 walks off of Rockies’ starter Esmil Rogers in 5 1/3 innings, but were only able to score the 3 1st inning runs against him. 3 Rockies relievers then held the Cubs scoreless for the final 11 outs of the game to preserve the Rockies win.
Matt Garza had to deal with the 3 Castro errors and then his own error on a throw to 1st base in the 5th inning that allowed the game-winning run to score. Garza worked 6 innings, allowing just 1 earned run on 3 hits and 1 walk with 7 K’s. He lowered his WHIP to 1.47 and his ERA to 4.11, but he is still searching for his 1st Cubs win. He’ll have 1 more chance to pick up that 1st win in the month of May when he takes on the DBacks in Arizona on Saturday – the last day of the month.
There were a few bright spots – Kosuke Fukudome hit lead-off and went 5 for 5 with 1 run scored. He is now hitting .478!
Jeff Samardzija had another solid appearance. He pitched 2 scoreless innings in the 7th and 8th to keep the game within reach. He allowed just 1 hit and struck out 2 and has now made 5 straight appearances without allowing a run to score – streak spanning 8 1/3 innings. Not too shabby.
Casey Coleman looks to rebound from an awful start last Wednesday as he takes on the Rockies tonight at Wrigley Field.
Posted on 20 April 2011 by Lou
With rain due to pound the Chicago area Tuesday during the day and night, the Cubs called Tuesday night’s contest and scheduled a day-night double-header for Wednesday afternoon and night at Wrigley Field. The Padres are not scheduled to visit Wrigley again this season, and with the Padres scheduled to host the Phillies Thursday night back in San Diego, MLB decided to try to pull-off the day-night doubleheader on Wednesday.
With the 1st game now moving into the 11th inning, when the 2nd game will even start is up in the air. Matt Garza had his 1st good start of the 2011 MLB schedule – 6 scoreless innings, 6 hits and 3 walks with 9 K’s. Despite walking the bases loaded with 1 out in the 6th inning, Garza was able to get out of the jam by inducing an inning-ending double play by Brad Hawpe. The Padres left the bases loaded in the top of the 7th inning without scoring a run and it looked like the Cubs would put away the Padres in another 1-0 affair with Carlos Marmol closing out the game in the 9th. But Marmol issued a 1-out walk to Cameron Maybin who came around to score the game-tying run on Jason Bartlett’s sacrifice fly.
Garza scored the Cubs lone run in the 3rd inning. After a Geovany Soto double, Garza attempted to bunt him over to the 3rd, but he made a poor bunt and Soto was thrown out at 3rd base. Garza advanced to 2nd base when Bartlett dropped what should have been an inning-ending double play ball. After another fielder’s choice by Darwin Barney, Marlon Byrd’s 2-out RBI single plated Garza from 3rd base with the unearned run.
We’re now in the bottom of the 11th inning with the scored still tied at 1. Wait – there is an update – Reed Johnson just hit a walk-off home run into the left field bleachers to lead off the 11th inning as the Cubs win 2-1. Despite 2 hits and 3 walks allowed in just 2 innings pitched, Jeff Samardzija stayed tough and didn’t allow any runs to pick up his first win of 2011. Go Cubs Go!!!
Posted on 13 April 2011 by Lou
Bret Myers was finally rewarded for another good start as the Astros raced out to an early 5-0 lead and never looked back. Michael Bourn and Angel Sanchez each reached on bunt singles to start the game, making starter-turned reliever-turned starter James Russell look like he had never practiced fielding a bunt before. Each player came around to score later that inning. Bourn also had 2 stolen bases, while the top 3 Astros in the lineup – Bourn, Sanchez and Hunter Pence – went a combined 9 for 15, with 7 RBI’s and 7 runs scored. Ouch.
Russell ended up lasting just 1 2/3 innings in his spot start for Andrew Cashner. He gave up 4 ER on 7 hits and given the outing, the Cubs should really try to figure out a way to use just 4 starters for as long as possible when they can with some off days coming up. Jeff Samardzija wasn’t all that much better – 2 ER on 3 hits in 3 innings of work. His season ERA is 7.50 and his season WHIP is 2.17. Since Samardzija doesn’t have any options, he is going to either have to get better in a hurry or the Cubs may be forced to outright release him. And John Grabow continued to pitch poorly as he recovers from a 2010 injury. Grabow gave up 3 ER on 5 hits in the 8th inning and now has a 2.31 WHIP and 8.31 ERA.
The Cubs did manage to have 11 hits, but scored just 2 runs, one on a solo home run by Tyler Colvin. Marlon Byrd is on fire after a slow start. He had 3 more hits and has a .391 batting average. Starlin Castro had 2 more hits and is hitting .367. If only someone else in the lineup besides the first 3 batters would start hitting, maybe the Cubs could put together some sustained rallies.
Carlos Zambrano and Wandy Rodriguez square off in the rubber game of the series tonight in Houston…
Posted on 30 March 2011 by Lou
Ouch – what is going on with Matt Garza. Garza allowed 7 ER on 11 hits and 2 walks in just 3 innings of the Cubs 15-8 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Garza’s finished the spring with a woeful 1-4 record and a whopping 10.38 ERA. While no one is openly saying that they are worried about Garza’s pitching this season, you can’t help but be concerned that he doesn’t have his head on straight this spring. Did the trade from the Rays mess with his mind a little? Is Garza hurt? Has he just not gotten into a groove yet? Who knows at this point, but I am really looking forward to his first start at Wrigley Field on Sunday to see if he has his act together against the Pirates.
More pitching woes surfaced in the loss as Jeff Samardzija struggled mightily with his control. Samardzija only pitched 1 inning, but he gave up 2 ER on 2 hits and 3 walks. Not good.
On a positive note, Sean Marshall and Kerry Wood each tossed scoreless innings in the loss.
It was the final spring game for the Cubs who finished with a 14-19 record…
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 12 February 2011 by Lou
Now that his role has been defined, Jeff Samardzija is ready to shine during the 2011 MLB schedule. The Cubs have officially informed Samardzija that he is not going to be considered for either the 4th or 5th spot in the starting rotation this spring. The Cubs have continually waffled on where they saw Samardzija fitting into the team’s pitching staff since he was called up in mid-season in 2008. That indecision has probably cost Samardzija on his development as a pitcher, so now the Cubs are ready to commit to using Samardzija exclusively as a reliever in 2011. That should bode well for everyone involved.
Samardzija is out of options, so that means he either makes the Cubs opening day roster this spring or the Cubs have to release him to waivers once Spring Training ends. A team will certainly take a shot on Samardzija given the success he had in his first season in the pros when he appeared in 26 games during the middle of a pennant race and posted a nifty 2.28 ERA. He has struggled with his control a little bit since then, but at 26 years of age, he still has a ton of upside.
Samardzija is excited for the challenge and isn’t thinking about trying football in the future – “Obviously going back to football is always there in the back of your mind, but I’m not that kind of guy. I’m too locked into what I’m doing here with baseball. I would not be able to end how I’ve ended these last two years and say, ‘You know what, it’s been fun, and I’m going to go play football and for the rest of my life look back and see how I ended baseball on a sour note… I’ve got a lot of pride and when it comes to doing things I want to be good at things, I want to be great at things. Baseball is what I want to do, It’s almost become a nice little personal challenge here with what we’ve been through the last year or two. I really want to see how this thing ends up.”
I’m not the only one who feels like the Cubs messed up this situation by continually changing Samardzija from a starter to a reliever. ESPN Radio 1000’s Bruce Levine has been very vocal on how the Cubs should have defined Samardzija’s role more clearly and how not doing so probably stunted his growth a bit. Let’s hope the clarity this spring will mean good things for Samardzija out of the bullpen in 2011. The Cubs could use a solid option in the bullpen this season after dealing with way too many fresh faces in 2010. Good luck Jeff!
Posted on 11 November 2010 by Lou
Andrew Cashner was a pleasant surprise for the Cubs out of the bullpen during the 2010 MLB schedule. Cashner appeared in 53 games, going 2-6 with 16 holds and 1 blown save. He had a 4.80 ERA and a 1.56 WHIp, with 50 K’s and 30 walks in 54 1/3 innings. Cashner started off well, but hit the wall a little bit at the end of July and in early August. He gave up 6 ER in back-to-back appearances on July 27th and July 30th, and then had a stretch where he gave up 7 total ER in a stretch of 4 out of 5 appearances in the middle of August. But he rebounded after that – from August 23rd on (which coincided with the Mike Quade regime), Cashner worked in 18 games and gave up just a total of 3 ER in 19 1/3 innings pitched. He appeared to regain his confidence and he pitched with a sense of purpose in some stressful situations for Quade and the Cubs late in the season. Let’s hope he can keep it up and improve on the consistency during the off-season so that he is ready and able to lead a successful bullpen reformation during the 2011 MLB season.
Cashner recently had some interesting insight into pitching at the major league level and discussing how he plans to prepare for 2011: “I always thought I had good enough stuff to pitch here. The biggest surprise to me is all the material you can use here every day. The biggest thing I’ve learned is how much the hitters make adjustments. You can face a guy at the beginning of the season in the Minors and get him out, and then face him three months later and he’s still the same guy. The hitters here are constantly making adjustments. I see our guys doing it all the time — they’re always working on something. The outs are a little harder to get later in the game… I’ll take some time off this year. It’s been a really long year. I’m going to shut it down for three, four weeks. I have a trainer I work out with and I won’t see him until November 1. Then, I’ll start five days a week first of November. The throwing program usually doesn’t start until December.
Cashner will play a large role in how well the Cubs bullpen performs in 2011. There are a lot of talented, but young arms in their, so it’s imperative that they stay focused and come prepared to pitch in pressure situations each and every day. If guys like Cashner, Russell and Casey Coleman can continue to make a positive impact, it could be a sign of good things to come for the Cubs in 2011 and the very near future…
Posted on 27 September 2010 by Lou
The Cubs ended the 2010 home schedule on a down note with another loss to the Cardinals – 8-7 on Sunday at Wrigley Field.
Jeff Samardzija struggled mightily with his control – 7 walks in just 4 1/3 innings pitched. He also gave up 7 hits. That led to 8 runs for the Cards. Not good. Samardzija’s WHIP (2.12) and ERA (8.38) blew up with the awful start.
Blake DeWitt was the only Cubs player with more than 1 hit. He also scored 2 runs, as did Xavier Nady and Bobby Scales (who walked 3 times and had 1 hit).
The Cubs end the season with a 7-game road trip to San Diego and Houston. Carlos Zambrano takes the bump tonight against the Padres.