Tag Archive | "Kosuke Fukudome"

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Zambrano – Cain Duel to a Draw @ Wrigley Field — Cubs 0, Giants 1 — 9/21/10 Wrigley Field

Posted on 22 September 2010 by Lou

Carlos Zambrano and Matt Cain lived up to the hype in Tuesday night’s 1-0 win by the Giants at Wrigley Field.  Each Pitcher tossed 6 scoreless innings and left with the game tied at 0.  The lone run came through on 23-year old Buster Posey’s solo home run in the 8th inning.

Carlos Zambrano looked good again although his control was a bit of an issue.  He needed 116 pitches to get through the 6 innings because he walked 5 batters.  In contrast, Cain needed just 82 pitches  (2 hits and 1 walk).  Zambrano only gave up 3 hits and he lowered his ERA to 3.56.  He has now made 9 straight starts without a loss since rejoining the starting rotation in early August and he is slowly proving that he can pitch consistently at the major league level once again.

Andrew Cashner had put together a nice little stretch of 6 straight appearances without giving up a run, but he served up Posey’s game winning shot in the 8th inning last night.  In the process, he suffered his 6th loss of the season.  Cashner still has a bloated WHIP and ERA, but he has pretty good stuff.  The just-turned 24-year old is getting some amazing experience this season, so look for him to improve in 2011 as he learns and develops this off-season.

Blake DeWitt and Kosuke Fukudome got the only 2 Cubs hits in the 1-0 loss.  Starlin Castro reached base twice – a a walk and a hit by pitch.  The Giants bullpen was downright nasty after Cain left.  3 relievers set down the final 9 Cubs hitters in a row with 2 K’s.  Not good.  DeWitt’s batting average has plummeted to .257; Castro’s to .305 and Marlon Byrd’s to .294.  Speaking of Byrd, how cool was it when he signed autographs on top of the Cubs dugout during the rain delay before the game started – check out the photo below?!

By the way, Posey is a total stud for the Giants.  Since being called up on May 29th, Posey has hit .324 (with a .373 on-base percentage with 26 walks and 53 strikeouts), with 15 HR’s, 62 RBI’s and 52 runs scored.  On a team that lacks any offensive prowess, Posey fits in perfectly as the club’s clean-up hitter.

Game 2 of the series features Randy Wells against Jonathan Sanchez.

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Should Ricketts Leave Managerial Choice up to Hendry? Cubs to Host Mets in Labor Day Weekend Series – 9/3/10 Wrigley Field

Posted on 03 September 2010 by Lou

Tom Ricketts has made it very clear that GM Jim Hendry is in charge of the managerial search that will ultimately lead to the hiring of a new Cubs Manager for the 2011 MLB schedule.  Now I know that this is typically the General Manager’s job, but in the current situation,  I question whether it is the right move.  You may think this is a dumb question, but my real concerns lie with Hendry as Cubs GM and not Lou Pinella or Mike Quade as manager.  As a new owner, this is the perfect chance for Tom Ricketts to look at everyone’s performance in the organization, and that should include Hendry.  Based on Rickett’s comments though, it is clear that Ricketts has confidence in Hendry’s abilities (despite putting together a 57-win team with the highest payroll in the National League and 3rd highest payroll in all of baseball).  I am worried that Ricketts has simply assumed that Hendry is a capable GM and that there doesn’t need to be a change in that role.  I respectfully beg to differ.  Especially from a financial guy like Ricketts, it boggles my mind why he thinks that mortgaging the future of the team for the next 2-4 years with bad long-term deals constitutes a good job.

For a very long time, I have made the case that the team that Hendry has put together is not capable of being a playoff contender.  I have written numerous posts on why Hendry has not lived up to the high expectations of the Cubs General Manager.  Over the last 3-4 years, Hendry has been responsible for way to many bad deals for me to trust his judgment anymore.  It all started with the Alfonso Soriano deal back at the beginning of 2007.  Inking a “31-year old” to an 8-year deal at roughly $18 million per year over the life of the deal should have been a sign that Hendry was getting desperate.  Sure Soriano was the best free agent out there at the time and sure Hendry wanted to blow Soriano and his agents away with a “huge offer you can’t refuse”, but this was a bit much.  Hendry followed that up with a $48 million deal for a 30-year Japanese outfielder who had never played in the major leagues and then a $30 million deal for Milton Bradley because the Cubs were too “right-handed” in 2008.  The team won an NL-best 97 games in 2008 – do you think they would have won more games if they had a left-handed hitting right fielder instead of Mark DeRosa?  Following the 2009 season, with new ownership in place, Hendry’s hands were tied.  I’ll give him credit for finally moving Milton Bradley although it took a while.  Carlos Silva even turned in a solid season, but then again, when his value was highest around the All-Star Break, Hendry failed to move Silva to a team that needed starting pitching.  Even if it meant eating some one the $10 million to him in 2011, Hendry should have made that move.  He didn’t and Silva had a bad 2nd half and has since been on the disabled list with a heart issue.  During the off-season, Hendry also put a lot of energy into signing Matt Capps as a veteran right-handed reliever in the bullpen.  But when the Nationals told Capps that he would be their closer, he jumped at the chance and left Hendry grasping at straws.  Because of that gaffe (keeping his eggs all in one basket and hoping), Hendry’s Cubs team started the season with 4 rookies in the bullpen.  And with typical injury issues and typical rookie inconsistencies, this was a recipe for disaster.  Hendry always seems to be several steps behind these days, and when you’re trying desperately not to lose 90 games this season, you can’t even afford to be 1 step behind.

So while my concerns clearly don’t seem to be concerns of Tom Ricketts, I really hope he decides to take a closer look at Hendry’s job performance this off-season.  And I really hope that Ricketts plays a large role in the hiring of the new Cubs manager.  And while the new skipper won’t (can’t with the current roster assembled by Hendry) lead the Cubs to a World Series title in 2011, the new skipper will get to lay the groundwork for what kind of team he expects to lead for the next 5-10 years.  So it is a big decision.

Today, Randy Wells will take on R.A. Dickey and the Mets at Wrigley Field.  Wells is just 6-12 on the season with a 4.50 ERA.  He did pitch 6 great innings against the Reds in Cincinnati last Saturday for his 1st win since July 23rd, so he is looking to build off of that good outing and finish strong in 2010.

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“Bad” Win for Cubs Over Pirates – Can We Trust Carlos Marmol? – Cubs 5, Pirates 3 – 9/1/10 Wrigley Field

Posted on 02 September 2010 by Lou

If ever there was a “bad” win for a 57-win team, this was it.  I hate to criticize any Cubs win, but if you look more closely at the stats, there is a lot of concern even from the good players.

The biggest question is Carlos Marmol – Marmol entered the game with runners on 1st and 2nd base and 2 outs in the top of the 8th inning with the Cubs leading 5-2.  Sean Marshall – who bailed out Andrew Cashner with a strikeout with a runner in scoring position in the 7th inning – struck out 2 batters in the inning but also allowed 2 runners on with a walk and an error (I’ll get to the error later).  Marmol promptly walked the 1st two batters that he faced to force in a run which cut the Cubs lead to 5-3.  Sure Marmol got the next batter out with a strikeout, but by then the damage was already done.  Marmol walked another batter in the 9th inning as well, giving him 3 walks in an inning and a third in his outing.  Marmol seems to have resorted to his old habits of walking way to many batters in his outings.  In his 5 appearances from August 15th through August 24th, he walked at least 1 batter in each outing.  He issued 3 walks in a blown save showing against the Braves as all 3 runners scored.  Luckily he got out of yesterday’s innings despite the walks, but how much can we rely upon Marmol in the future.  After starting the season with a respectable strikeout to walk ratio, those walk numbers are slowly creeping up again.  In 2010, he has now walked 45 batters while striking out 113.  In 2009 he walked a career-high 65 batters, so depending on how the rest of this month goes, he could come close to that number again (let’s hope not).  Keep in mind, he walked only 35 batters in 2007 and just 41 in 2008.  He’s already eclipsed those numbers this year and we still have 30 games to go.  Batters have only a .167 batting average against Marmol in 2010 (with a career batting average against of .179), so someone needs to get through to him that he cannot keep giving up free passes in his outings.  While it is widely accepted that closers are typically “wild”, I would disagree with this.  Take the top 4 saves leaders in the majors this season, and you’ll see that they have impeccable control – Rays’ Rafael Soriano – 11 walks; Giants’ Brian Wilson – 22 walks; Padres’ Heath Bell – 22 walks; and Royals’  Joakim Soria – 14 walks.  Only 1 closer has more than 30 walks during the course of the season – Francisco Cordero of the Reds with 35.  After that, the next highest is 29 walks by the Tigers’ Jose Valverde.  Somehow, pitching coaches have worked with these closers to limit their walks.  So if the Cubs do intend to continue to rely upon Marmol to be the team’s closer of the future, maybe it’s time for Larry Rothschild to go the way of Lou Pinella following the 2010 MLB season.  He has been Marmol’s pitching coach for his entire career at the major league level and he hasn’t figured out what Marmol needs to do to be more efficient on the mound.  Hopefully the new manager’s new pitching coach will be able to do that in 2011.

I’ve also been a little disappointed with Sean Marshall’s outings of late.  Now I know he was SO good early on that you can’t expect that every time out, but he seems to have lost his focus of late.  It’s hard when you are playing on one of the worst teams in baseball with one of the worst fielding team’s behind you as well, but the walks are killing me.  Since August 4th, Marshall has issued a walk in 7 of his 14 outings (8 total walks).  If you go back to the entire month of July, he issued a walk in only 3 of his 16 appearances (4 total walks). He issued 5 walks in all of June, 7 walks in all of May and only 1 walk in the month of April.  I’m not sure if he is just not as sharp because of the grueling season or because it is frustrating to go out there each day and know that you are probably going to lose, but I hope this does not carry over into the 2011 MLB season.

Well enough of the negative.  Thomas Diamond relieved Tom Gorzelanny after he was hit with a line drive in the 3rd inning.  He gave up 2 ER on 2 hits and a walk in 1 2/3 innings, but it was good enough to pick up his 1st major league win.

Kosuke Fukudome continued his hot hitting.  He had 3 more hits with an RBI and 2 runs scored.  He increased his batting average to .281 and has looked more confident at the plate once again.  I’m not sure why he always has a “summertime swoon” (maybe Chicago baseball is too hot for him), but if he keeps this up, it could help the team to move him in the off-season even if they have to eat some of his salary.  Unlike the Carlos Zambrano situation where I would NOT want to eat his salary in order to move him, I wouldn’t mind doing that to get rid of Fukudome.  He has had 3 years to prove himself and it just doesn’t add up at the major league level.  Plus, moving Fukudome would free up Tyler Colvin to play right field on a daily basis so that the club can scrap the 1st base experiment.

Starlin Castro had 2 hits and 2 runs scored and is now tied for 3rd place in the National League batting crown with a .317 batting average.

The Cubs welcome the New York Mets – another underachieving, frustrated team – to the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field this Labor Day Weekend.  Randy Wells will face off against knuckle-baller R.A. Dickey in Friday afternoon’s opener.

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Not What the Doctor Ordered for Cubs in Cincy – Cubs 3, Reds 2 – Saturday 8/28/10 & Cubs 5, Reds 7 – Sunday 8/29/10

Posted on 30 August 2010 by Lou

I hate to admit this, but the Cubs actually played better than I thought they would against the Reds in Cincinnati this weekend.  They were going up against 3 pitchers that have given them fits in the past — Johnny Cueto, Bronson Arroyo and Travis Wood.  Plus, they were coming off of a 3-game losing streak, the perfect time for the Cubs to go into a nose dive and perform miserably against a good Reds team.  While Friday night’s 7-1 loss was entirely expected, I was surprised that the Cubs stayed in both games over the weekend, splitting the Saturday and Sunday contests.

There really weren’t too many highlights, but here’s a quick re-cap:

Cubs 3, Reds 2 Saturday night –

Randy Wells continues to be an enigma in 2010.  Sometime he looks great like he did on Saturday night and other times he looks lost out there as his 6-12 record indicates.  He limited the Reds to just 6 hits and 2 walks over 6 innings.  He gave up a Joey Votto home run and an RBI single in the 6th inning, but otherwise limited the Reds scoring chances throughout his outing.  Bronson Arroyo limited the Cubs offense to just 6 hits in 7 innings, but he made 2 costly mistakes.  He served up Xavier Nady’s solo homer in the 2nd inning and then Kosuke Fukudome’s game-winning 2-run homer in the 5th inning.

One other pitching positive – the bullpen preserved the 3-2 lead handed to them by Wells.  James Russell worked a scoreless 7th inning while striking out the side.  Andrew Cashner worked a perfect 8th as did Carlos Marmol in the 9th inning as he picked up his 24th save.  We know what we have in Marmol, but once again, Cashner and Russell could potentially be good pitchers at the major league level for years to come.  It’s just a matter of getting these kids and building their confidence by getting them in games in the right situations.  Let’s hope Manager Mike Quade can continue to do that the rest of the year with these young pitchers so that they have the right mental attitude heading into the 2011 MLB schedule.

Cubs 5, Reds 7 Sunday afternoon –  The Cubs squandered a great number of chances against Wood and Arthur Rhodes.  The Cubs got 10 hits and 4 walks off of Wood, but only scored 3 times.  You have to do better than that.  A couple of typical bad Cubs moments — bases loaded in the 1st inning and only 1 out and the Cubs don’t score; Jeff Baker makes the 3rd out at 3rd base in the 2nd inning on Starlin Castro’s RBI single; & 2nd and 3rd and 1 out in the 5th inning and they only push across 1 run on a ground out.  Kosuke Fukduome went from here to goat in just 1 short innings-time.  He hit a game-tying 2-run home run off of Arthur Rhodes in the top of the 8th inning.  Then in the bottom half of the inning, his fielding error in right field allowed Chad Heisey to score all the way from 1st base on Ramon Hernandez’s single.   That was the difference in the game.  Jeff Baker, Starlin Castro, Marlon Byrd, Xavier Nady and Geovany Soto each had 2 hits in the loss.

Casey Coleman was back to his mediocre self after a really nice outing against the Nationals.  He gave up 4 ER on 8 hits in 6 innings.  But more importantly, he did not walk a batter.  That is always a good sign for a young pitcher.

Now it is time for the Cubs to battle their 2010 nemesis in a 3-game set this week at Wrigley Field.  The Pittsburgh Pirates come to town with their mouths watering for blood.  Despite an overall record of 43-87 — the worst record in the entire major leagues, the Pirates have beaten the Cubs 9 out of 12 times this season — ouch!  Look out Carlos Zambrano – you better bring your A-game tonight at the Friendly Confines.

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Will Tom Gorzelanny Make the 2010 Starting Rotation? – Cubs 5, Padres 9 – 8/16/10

Posted on 17 August 2010 by Lou

I can’t remember a time when there will be so many question marks heading into the 2010 off-season for the Chicago Cubs.  Who will end up managing the club in 2011?  Who will make up the Cubs starting rotation beyond Ryan Dempster and Randy Wells?  What will the outfield look like?  Who will man 1st base after so many strong years from Derrek Lee?  Besides Carlos Marmol closing out games, who else will be in the Cubs bullpen?  It is going to be a free-for-all this off-season and in spring training – let’s hope there is a lot to look forward to in February of 2011…

Tom Gorzelanny got a chance to start on a regular basis for the Cubs once Carlos Zambrano self-destructed both out of the rotation and then off the team in the 1st half of the season.  Gorzelanny has been good and bad this season.  He had several good starts early in the season, but always seemed to be on the losing end of games because he didn’t get the necessary run support.  For example, in his 1st 6 starts, he allowed more than 2 earned runs only once, but had a 1-4 record with 1 no decision.  He won the 1st 4 starts of the month of July, not allowing more than 3 earned runs in any of his starts.  He even bumped his record over the .500 mark at 6-5.  But since that 6-5 win over the Cards at Wrigley Field on July 24th, Gorzelanny has struggled.  Has he hit a wall?  In 25 2/3 innigs pitched against the Rockies, Reds, Giants and Padres, Gorzelanny has given up 17 ER on 30 hits (3 home runs) and 10 walks. With the latest poor outings, his WHIP Has soared to 1.46 while his ERA is now close to the 4.00 mark at 3.85.

Gorzelanny matched Kevin Correja pitch for pitch last night through 4 innings, but then his hits and walks caught up with him.  He gave up single runs in the 5th and 6th innings and then got into serious trouble when the Padres tacked on 3 runs to increase their lead to 5-0.  He ended up yielding 5 ER on 9 hits and 3 walks in his 6 1/3 innings pitched.  Gorzelanny has mainly been a pleasant surprise for the Cubs and he has been an innings0-eater when called upon, but he is nothing more than a 4-5 starter at this point.  And given how the Cubs really don’t have an “ace” – please try to ignore the “ace dollar figures” that GM Jim Hendry has handed over to Zambrano and Dempster on a silver platter for non-ace-like numbers – the Cubs really need more out of a 4-5 starter than Gorzelanny has to offer.  Maybe Gorzelanny can be used as trade bait this off-season, or maybe if the Cubs can sign or pull of a deal for a legitimate top of the line starter, then maybe the Cubs can settle on Gorzelanny in the 5-spot in 2011.  But right now, unless Gorzelanny shows me that he still has some gas in the tank during his last 8 starts of the season, I think the Cubs will consider all possibilities ahead of Gorzelanny for a spot in the starting rotation.

As for the rest of the game, there were some good things and bad things.

Kosuke Fukudome kept up his hot hitting – 3 more hits including a 2-run double in the 7th inning that cut the Padres lead to 5-2.  Gotta love the way he is hitting of late.  It could help Hendry make a waiver deal for him over the next 6 weeks or a trade this off-season.  Blake DeWitt had 2 hits including a 2-run home run in the bottom of the 8th inning.  He has been as steady as they come since coming off from the Dodgers in a trading deadline move.

On the bad side, Andrew Cashner continued his struggled by allowing 2 ER on 3 hits in the 8th inning.  Ditto for James Russell who also gave up 2 ER on 2 hits and a walk in the 9th inning.  Both of these guys have shown signs of having what it takes to pitch in the major leagues, but right now they are just way too inconsistent to be reliable.  Let’s hope that trends the other way over the next year or so.

Randy Wells looks to right his “sophomore slump” of a season against former Cubs draftee Jon Garland at Wrigley Field tonight.  Wells is 0-3 in his last 4 starts, pitching past the 5th inning only once in the process…

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Cubs Top Lincecum – You Betcha?! Hey Lou (or Alan) – “It’s Time to Rest Marshall & Marmol!” – Cubs 8, Giants 6 – 8/10/10

Posted on 11 August 2010 by Lou

Pitcher’s duel between Ryan Dempster & Tim Lincecum?  Not a chance as each team racks up 14 hits as Cubs win 8-6.  It was a rare impressive offensive attack for the Cubs as Tyler Colvin, Starlin Castro, Aramis Ramirez and Kosuke Fukudome led the way.

Although Colvin has struggled recently, you have to like what he brings to the table every day.  And Starlin continues to shine night in and night out.  Take the 1st inning for example — Colvin led off with a single and stole 2nd base.  Castro drove him in with a single and then stole 2nd base too to get into scoring position.  Ramirez then drove him in with a single and then scored on Fukudome’s home run.  Now I know it doesn’t happen like that too often, but you had to like 4 runs on 4 hits and still only 1 out in the 1st inning.

Colvin and Castro also came through in the 4th inning for the Cubs.  Colvin earned a 2-out walk with the bases loaded and then Castro came through with the clutch 2-out single that plated Koyie Hill and Ryan Dempster to extend the Cubs lead to 6-2.

Ramirez ended up with the best night – 3 hits, and RBI and a run scored.

And Mike Fontenot came through with a clutch 2-run pinch-hit double in the 8th inning that gave the Cubs a much-needed 8-4 lead (see below).

Dempster pitched “OK”.  The Giants are not the best hitting team, so when you’re staked to a 4-0 1st inning lead against a pitcher like Tim Lincecum, you cannot give back lone runs in the 1st 2 innings of the game.  Sure one of the runs was unearned, but Dempster has to be better.  He gave a light-hitting Giants lineup way too many chances to score with 8 hits and 2 walks over 6 2/3 innings.  He gave way to Andrew Cashner in the 7th inning after he gave up a single and a walk with 2 outs.  Cashner gave up Buster Posey’s 2-out double which cut the Cubs lead to 6-4, but he buckled down to strike out Pat Burrell to end the threat.

Sean Marshall struggled again with a walk and a hit in the 8th inning, but he kept the Giants off the scoreboard.

And Carlos Marmol gave up 2 runs on 4 hits in a non-save situation in the 9th inning.

Marshall and Marmol have been so good all season long, but they have made way too many appearances because the rest of the bullpen was so bad.  Marshall has made 59 appearances – 6-3 record, 1.11 WHIP, 2.45 ERA, 69 K’s and 19 walks.  In all of 2009, Marshall appeared in just 55 games (with 9 starts).  Marmol has appeared in 52 games – 2-2 record, 1.24 WHIP, 2.75 ERA, 96 K’s and 34 walks.  Marmol appeared in 79 games in 2009 and 82 games in 2008, but there is NO reason to throw him that many times in 2010.  Lou or Alan – whoever is managing the club day in and day out – please rest Marshall and Marmol!

Tom Gorzelanny battles Barry Zito in Game 2 of the series.  It should be another good picther’s duel, right?!

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Breaking News — Ted Lilly Begs GM Jim Hendry to Trade Him – Cubs 3, Astros 4, 12 INN – 7/21/10

Posted on 22 July 2010 by Lou

It’s been confirmed – Ted Lilly got down on his knees and begged GM Jim Hendry to trade him, even if it was a trade to pitch in the minor leagues or Japan.  Well, I’m not sure if that is even allowed – and now that I think about it a little more, I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be allowed given the power of Baseball’s Players Union – but Lilly must be kicking himself for being stuck on this atrocious Cubs team.  The Cubs wasted another great Lilly start — 7 1/3 innings pitched,7 hits 1 walk and 6 K’s.  His only mistake was a solo home run to Pedro Feliz to lead off the 8th inning that knotted the game at 1 and potentially cost him a win.  Lilly has a 1.12 WHIP and a 3.88 ERA, yet he has a 3-8 record and he hasn’t won since June 29th.

Meanwhile, the Cubs offense was simply a wreck.  The had plenty of chances – racking up 12 hits and 7 walks – but scoring only 1 run through the game’s 1st 11 innings.  Lilly even scored that lone run way back in the 5th inning after he singled and scored on Starlin Castro’s RBI double.  But after that, it was one frustrating moment after another.  Let’s take a quick look:

The Cubs had a runner on base in each of the 1st 2 innings, but never scored.

In the 4th inning, the Cubs wasted a 2 on, 2 out chance when Koyie Hill struck out to end the threat.

After scoring the lone run in the 5th inning, the Cubs failed to get a runner on base in the 6th and 7th innings.  Then came the heartbreak.

In the 8th inning, after the Astros had tied the game at 1, Marlon Byrd stranded Aramis Ramirez on 2nd base with 2 outs.

In the 9th inning, the Cubs wasted a 1st and 3rd 1-out opportunity.  Alfonso Soriano pinch-hit and popped out to shallow center field (not deep enough to score Kosuke Fukudome from 3rd base).  Tyler Colvin then struck out to end the threat.

In the 10th inning, Starlin Castro led off with a double and after Derrek Lee lined out, the Cubs loaded the bases with walks to Aramis Ramirez and Marlon Byrd.  But Fukudome struck out and Geovany Soto pinch-hit for Hill but flew out to left field to end the threat.

In the 11th inning, Ryan Theriot led off with a bunt single and moved to 2nd on Mike Fontenot’s sacrifice.  Colvin walked, but Starlin Castro and Derrek Lee each flew out to end the threat.

After the Astros pushed across 3 2-out runs in the top of the 12th inning, the Cubs almost rallied back to tie the game with 2 outs.  Soto’s 2-run home run cut the lead to 4-3, and then Theriot singled and Jeff Baker walked to set up another scoring chance.  But Colvin lined out to right field to end the game.

WOW – talk about a team NEVER getting the clutch hit.

Gotta mention Sean Marshall, Carlos Marmol and Andrew Cashner again – these guys combined for 2 2/3 scoreless innings to keep giving the Cubs chances to win.  Too bad the offense couldn’t come through.

The Cubs welcome the red-hot Cardinals this weekend at Wrigley Field – this could be really ugly.  The only good thing going for the Cubs is that they won’t have to face Adam Wainright or Jaime Garcia – 2 of their best starting pitchers…

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Cubs End Streak – Win Opening Game of Series for 1st Time Since May 25th?! Cubs 9, Diamondbacks 4 – 7/5/10

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…

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Cubs Beat A’s 3-2; First Series Win Since May 27th?!

Posted on 17 June 2010 by Lou

WOW – it’s hard to believe it has been 21 days since the Cubs have won a series.  But that’s just what happened today, as the Cubs rallied for a 3-2 win over the A’s at Wrigley Field today.  The Cubs took the series win for the 1st time since they took 2 of 3 from the Los Angeles Dodgers at Wrigley Field from May 25th through May 27th.  In between those 2 series wins, the Cubs had dropped 2 of 3 games to each of the Cardinals, Pirates, Astros, Brewers and White Sox.  Despite their poor play, the Cubs are shockingly only 6.5 games behind the Cincinnati Reds for 1st place in the NL Central.  The Cubs still have 10 games left against the Reds (7 at home at the Friendly Confines) and 12 games against the Cards (6 at home at the Friendly Confines), so as bad as they have played, they still have a chance to make things right for Cubs fans across the country.

Today’s unlikely hero was Kosuke Fukudome.  Fukudome had been sitting on the bench a lot during his annual June swoon, but he entered the game today as a pinch hitter in the 8th inning and started a 1-out rally with the Cubs trailing 2-1.  He moved to 2nd on Marlon Byrd’s single, to 3rd base on Derrek Lee’s walk and then scored the tying run on Xavier Nady’s sacrifice fly to right field.  Then in the 9th inning, after Jerry Blevins walked the bases loaded with only 1 out, Fukudome got another chance to be the hero.  His seeing-eye base hit through the right side of the drawn-in infield plated Geovany Soto with the winning run.

Key Move of the Game – Manager Lou Pinella brought in Carlos Marmol with a runner on 3rd base and only 1 out with the game tied at 2 in the top of the 9th inning.  Although Marmol walked Cliff Pennington, he got Gabe Gross to foul out to Starlin Castro and then got Rajai Davis to ground out to end the threat.

Randy Wells looked much better in today’s game after some recent struggles (5 or more ER allowed in 3 of his last 4 outings).  Wells pitched seven great innings, giving up just 2 ER on 7 hits and 1 walk.  He also struck out 6 A’s batters and seemed to gain confidence as the game wore on.

In Wednesday night’s win, Ryan Dempster was solid on the mound.  Although Dempster gave up 8 hits and 2 walks in 6 2/3 innings, he was in control all game long and always seemed to work out of jams.  He struck out 7 batters and evened his record at 5-5 with another quality start.  Sean Marshall and Carlos worked the final 2 1/3 innings to preserve the Cubs 6-2 win.

At the plate, Derrek Lee and Xavier Nady each had 2 hits for the Cubs.  Starlin Castro and Alfonso Soriano each had a hit and 2 RBI’s, so it was a total team effort.

Let’s hope the Cubs can keep the winning vibe going at Wrigley Field against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim over the weekend.

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Lilly Shines, Marmol Fails in 3-2 9th Inning Loss to Brewers in Milwaukee

Posted on 09 June 2010 by Lou

It wasn’t meant to be for Ted Lilly.  Although he didn’t take the loss, he didn’t get the win either.  Lilly tossed 8 innings of 1-run ball, scattering 4 hits and zero walks with 8 K’s in the process.  His lone mistake – a solo home run to Corey Hart that tied the game at 1 in the bottom of the 8th inning.  The Cubs rallied to take the lead in the 9th inning on an Alfonso Soriano groundout, putting Lilly in position to earn the W and break his 5-game skid.  But then Carlos Marmol blew his 3rd save of the year.  A hits batsman followed by an intentional walk to Prince Fielder set up former Cubs Casey McGahee’s 2-run game-winning walk-off single that gave the Brewers the 3-2 win.

Lilly was the tough-luck recipient once again of poor offensive production from the Cubs hitters.  Despite 8 hits and 3 walks, the Cubs managed just lone runs in the 8th and 9th innings.  Not good.  Kosuke Fukudome, Tyler Colvin and Starling Castro each had 2 hits in the loss.  But it was Lilly’s stat line that stands out the most – he has a 1.09 WHIP and 3.28 ERA, but is only 1-5 on the season.  Let’s hope Lilly stays focused – pretty soon he will get the run support and that should mean several wins for Lilly and the Cubs.

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