Posted on 15 May 2012 by Lou
This is going to be the story for the 2012 Cubs – they play good, just not good enough to win consistently. The surprising fact that they are playing so many close games this season makes it tough to swallow when they do lose close ones. But at least they are battling and at least the players seem to have some renewed fight in them under the new Theo, Jed and Dale regime.
The Cubs dropped the series finale to the Cards 7-6 in the bottom of the 9th. After staking Paul Maholm to a 3-0 lead in the 1st, Maholm slowly gave it back with 2 runs in the 1st, 1 run in the 2nd and 1 more run in the 5th. The Cubs fought back with a game-tying Bryan LaHair homer in the 6th (his 10th of the season) and a go-ahead pinch-hit RBI single in the 7th by Reed Johnson that drove in Darwin Barney who had doubled. But the bullpen ran into trouble after that.
Kerry Wood issued 2 walks in the 7th inning and he allowed the game-tying single to Allen Craig. James Russell served up Matt Carpenter’s go-ahead homer in the 8th that gave the Cards a short-lived 6-5 lead. After the Cubs answered in the top of the 9th with Alfonso Soriano’s 1st home run of the season – yes, you read that correctly – his 1ST HOME RUN! – that tied the game at 6, it was Rafael Dolis’ turn to allow the Cards to win. He served up the game-winning single to Yadier Molina with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th.
Sure, you can question Dale Sveum’s decision not to walk RBI machine Molina to face Carpenter, but the Cubs had plenty of chances to win this one, and they just didn’t get it done.
Monday night’s win was equally as frustrating, but at least they pulled that one out. The Cubs finally gave Ryan Dempster some run support with 4 runs in the 5th inning to give the Cubs a 4-0 lead. But he gave it right back in the 6th with a 4-run inning. This time, Shawn Camp and Dolis got the job done with 3 scoreless innings. And Soriano came through with a big game-winning single in the 8th inning. They fought back and won, and it shows that they can compete, but you just wish they had won some of these earlier games in the season.
With a win today, the Cubs could have pulled within 4 games of the Cards for 1st place in the NL Central! But it wasn’t meant to be. They’re now 15-21 and 6 games back. Even if just 3 of those games go the other way this season, they would be 18-18 and would likely be talked about as one of the biggest surprises of 2012…
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 20 April 2012 by Lou
The losses keep piling up for skipper Dale Sveum and his mediocre ball club. The Reds handed the Cubs a 9-4 loss today at Wrigley Field in a brutally cold, annoying contest. I’m not sure how I missed this, especially after a lot of positives built up during a “successful” spring training. But this team is bad and it is going to take a LONG time for Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and staff to build it back up.
Chris Volstad dropped to 0-2 after giving up 6 runs (5 earned) on 7 hits and 2 walks in his 5 innings of work. His 1.38 WHIP and 6.19 ERA needs to improve. The Cubs position players didn’t help much – they committed 3 errors in the field and managed just 5 hits. The Reds committed 2 errors themselves leading to 3 unearned runs on the day. Not good when only 1 of your 4 runs scored was a legit run. The star of the day was clean-up hitter Bryan LaHair who had 2 doubles on the day.
The Cubs also got some bad news off the field. They placed Kerry Wood on the 15-day with shoulder tiredness. And Ryan Dempster has a sore right quadriceps muscles which he had examined in Chicago today. If he can’t go on Sunday against the Reds, Randy Wells will make the spot start for the Cubs in the series finale against the Reds.
The Cubs are now on a 6-game losing streak. Their 3-11 record is the worst in baseball and they trail the NL Central leading St. Louis Cardinals by 6.5 games already…
Posted on 11 April 2012 by Lou
Ouch – this series against the Brewers at Wrigley has been downright awful. Not sure why I thought this team as constructed would be able to compete on a daily basis, but it is very clear that Theo & Co. have a LOT of work to do over the next few years. It is going to be a LONG stretch of poor play on the north side for Cubs fans. We’ve already endured the miserable 2010 and 2011 MLB seasons and it doesn’t look like anything is going to all that much better in 2012 or 2013.
The Cubs dropped the series opener to the Brewers on Monday night 7-5. Chris Volstad had a ho-hum start for the Cubs – 5 innings, 3 ER on 5 hits and 2 walks with 6 K’s. Shawn Camp was bad in his 2 innings of work – he allowed the Brewers to increase their lead with 3 more ER on 5 hits. His ERA balooned to 8.10 and his WHIP rose over 2 at 2.10. Not good.
The Cubs rallied in the 9th to cut the lead to 7-5 and had the bases loaded with 2 outs for their best hitter – Starlin Castro. But John Axford got Castro on 3 straight pitches, and just like that, the game was over.
In game 2, Paul Maholm gave the Brew Crew a nice 5-run cushion in the 1st inning and just like that the game was over. Maholm lasted just 4 innings in his dismal 1st start as a Cub – 6 ER on 6 hits, 2 walks and 2 HBP. Not good. David DeJesus and Alfonso Soriano are the only 2 Cubs hitters batting consistently. Each player had 2 hits and Soriano had 2 RBI’s.
In Game 3, Ryan Dempster pitched his heart out for a 2nd second start, but it wasn’t meant to be … again. Dempster protected a 1-0 lead all the way into the 7th inning before he served up a 2-run jack to back-up catcher George Kottaras with 2 outs in the inning. That would be enough for the Brewers to rack up a 3rd straight win over the Cubs as Yovani Gallardo overmatched the Cubs through 7 innings. Game, set match.
Kudos to Dempster, however. He scattered 5 hits and 3 walks over 6 2/3 innings pitched and is sporting a nasty 0.91 WHIP and 1.88 ERA despite his 0-1 record.
Matt Garza tries to keep the Cubs from being swept by the Brewers on Thursday afternoon at the Friendly Confines…
Posted on 05 April 2012 by Lou
For a while it looked like the Cubs might actually win on opening day, but it wasn’t meant to be as the Cubs ‘pen blew a great outing from Ryan Dempster. Dempster worked 7 2/3 innings, giving up just 2 hits and 3 walks while striking out 10 Nationals hitters. Dempster got out of 2 early jams (2nd and 3rd with only 1 out in the 1st inning; bases loaded and only 1 out in the 3rd inning) to keep the game scoreless against Nats ace Stephen Strasburg. The Cubs eventually took the lead in the 4th inning on a timely 2-out single by Marlon Byrd which gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead. Dempster worked all the way into the 8th and had 2 outs with a runner on base when Manager Dale Sveum made his move. Sure it is only Game 1 and sure Dempster had racked up 108 pitches, but leave the guy out there. Sveum brought in Kerry Wood – who had a limited spring due to injury – to try to get the final out of the inning. But Wood walked 3 straight batters to force in the tying run. Not good.
Then Sveum called on Carlos Marmol in the 9th with the game tied 1-1. After he got 2 quick outs, Marmol gave up a double to Chad Tracy and a game-winning single to Ian Desmond and just like that the Cubs has lost 2-1. Hey, I guess at least Marmol threw strikes and didn’t walk a batter, right?
The Cubs did make it interesting in the 9th when Ian Stewart “tripled” to right field when Jayson Werth lost the ball in the sun in that dreaded corner-outpost area. Joe Mather pinch-ran for Stewart and Mather was quickly gunned down at the plate in a bang-bang play on Jeff Baker’s grounder to 3rd.
I have a feeling we’re going to see a LOT of games like this. Cubs starters keep the Cubs in the game with a lot of 3-2, 2-1 scores. Cubs offense doesn’t produce enough run-support. Cubs bullpen blows game. Cubs lose. I wish I could be more optimistic, but this team just has way too many holes and with no dead-on power-hitter who can serve as an equalizer with a big home run with runners on base, the Cubs will have one of the poorest offenses in 2012. Who knows, maybe we’ll see Anthony Rizzo and Brett Jackson a lot sooner than President Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer have led on. Only time will tell…
Posted on 04 April 2012 by Lou
The Cubs finished up spring ball with a nice little 5-3 win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday. Travis Wood made his best spring start, going 6 innings and allowing just 1 ER on 6 hits. He walked only one batter all day and the lone run came on Andy Gonzalez’ solo home run in the 2nd inning. This bodes well for Wood who is going to need to fine-tune his pitching this season at Triple-A Iowa.
The Cubs got off to a fast start with a 2-run HR in the 1st inning from Starlin Castro. The Cubs added 2 more runs in the 2nd inning on a Joe Mather double and a Darwin Barney single.
The real action begins at Wrigley Field on Thursday when the Cubs take on Stephen Strasburg and the Washington Nationals. Ryan Dempster makes his 2nd straight opening day start for the Cubs.
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 21 March 2012 by Lou
The Cubs impressed in split squad games and Carlos Marmol is going to be just fine.
Even though the Cubs lost to the Rangers 6-2, it wasn’t all bad. Ryan Dempster worked 6 innings of 2 run ball. He scattered 4 hits – one of which was a 2-run jack in the 2nd inning – and 2 walks with 3 K’s. Dempster appears to be on track to make his 2nd consecutive opening day start at Wrigley Field when the Cubs battle Stephen Strasburg and the Washington Nationals on April 5th at the Friendly Confines.
Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo each had 2 hits for the Cubs.
Carlos Marmol left the game after retiring only 2 batters in the 7th inning due to cramps in his hand. He has experienced cramping during spring training and he does not think it will be a problem. An MRI today confirmed no damage to his neck or upper shoulder area and he will get a few days off and be re-evaluated later this week. But it is great news that it appears that Marmol avoided any serious injury.
And although the A’s rallied to tie the Cubs in the 9th inning, Rodrigo Lopez worked an efficient 5 innings – just 1 ER on 3 hits and 1 walk with 4 K’s. Lopez will not gain a spot in the starting rotation, but he could prove useful as a nice veteran arm in the bullpen in 2012. After struggling all spring, Tony Campana went 4 for 5 and scored a run.
The Cubs get a much-needed day off today.
Posted on 16 March 2012 by Lou
Thursday was a bad day for the Cubs, as each split squad suffered a bad loss, with players getting injured.
The D’Backs roughed up Ryan Dempster in a 12-2 drubbing. Dempster surrendered 3 ER on 8 hits in just 3 2/3 innings of work. He did have 3 K’s though.
The Rockies also handed the Cubs a 7-5 loss. Rodrigo Lopez gave up 2 ER on 6 hits in his 3 innings of work.
Darwin Barney was a late scratch with a leg injury. Ian Stewart had a similar issue. And Blake DeWitt was hit with a pitch on his hand and it is unknown how severe the injury is.
Wow – what a dousy. Let’s hope the weekend produces better results for the Cubbies…