Posted on 18 April 2011 by Lou
It was a lost weekend for the Chicago Cubs against the Rockies at Coors Field in Denver Colorado. The Rockies shut out the Cubs on Friday 5-0 and then after Casey Coleman’s great start and a 8-3 win on Saturday, the Cubs couldn’t get the win on Sunday to take the series from the NL’s best team.
On Saturday, Casey Coleman worked into the 6th inning holding one of the best hitting teams in baseball to just 1 ER on 4 hits and 3 walks. He picked up his 1st win of 2011.
Coleman got plenty of help from his teammates to get the win. Starlin Castro led the way with 4 hits including a home run and a double. He drove in 3 and scored 1 run. Darwin Barney had 2 hits an RBI and a run scored, while Carlos Pena had 2 hits and a run scored. Alfonso Soriano also had a big day with 3 hits including a home run and 2 RBI’s.
On Sunday, however, Ryan Dempster dug his squad into an early hole by giving up 4 runs in the 1st inning. He ended up giving up 5 ER on 7 hits and 2 walks and left with the game tied at 5. Jeff Samardzija kept the game close with 2 scoreless innings of relief in his best outing of the season. But it was Marcos Mateo who had a rare bad outing (he had made 5 consecutive scoreless appearances heading into the game) when allowed a 4-run 8th inning rally to the Rockies that gave the home team a win. Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney kept up their hotting. Castro had 3 more hits with an RBI and a run scored and is now hitting .418 on the season. Barney had 2 hits and a run scored and is hitting .333. The 1-2 combination of Castro and Barney at the top of lineup has given the Cubs offense a much-needed spark early in the season. Let’s hope they can keep it up.
The Cubs fell to 7-8 on the season, but still only trail the 1st place Cincinnati Reds by 2 games in the NL Central. Carlos Zambrano goes for his 3rd straight win of the season (and 12th win overall dating back to last season) as the Cubs square off against the San Diego Padres tonight at Wrigley Field.
Posted on 12 April 2011 by Lou
The Cubs wins never seem to be pretty this year, but with this club, any win is a good win. Ryan Dempster was dominant for 6 innings (1 ER on just 3 hits), but once he got over the 100-pitch count, he seemed to lose a little zip and control on his pitches. The Astros rallied with an inside the park home run by Bill Hall and a 2-run home run by Angel Sanchez in the bottom of the 7th inning off of Dempster to cut the Cubs lead to 5-4. John Grabow made it interesting by allowing the first two batters he faced to reach base with a walk and a hit with 1 out. But Grabow was able to preserve the 1-run lead by inducing a flyout and groundout to end the threat. It didn’t get any easier in the 8th as Sean Marshall allowed 2 runners with 2 outs, but Closer Carlos Marmol ended the threat by striking out Sanchez to end the inning. And Marmol had some issues of his own in the 9th (a 2-out walk and single to put the go-ahead runs on base), but he was able to strike out Joe Inglett to pick up his 4th save of the season and get the Cubs back to .500 at 5-5. It was Dempster’s first win of the season.
Starlin Castro was the Cubs hitting star. As the leadoff hitter, Castro had 3 hits and scored 3 runs to pace the Cubs out to an early 5-0 lead. Darwin Barney also looked good in the 2-hole, going 2 for 3 with 2 walks, 2 runs scored and an RBI. Marlon Byrd had 2 hits and 2 RBI’s, while Alfonso Soriano came through with a clutch — yes I said the word clutch — 2-out, 2-run double in the 1st inning to give the Cubs a 2-0 lead.
James Russell gets his 1st start of the season replacing Andrew Cashner in the starting lineup. Russell squares off against Bret Myers who has been almost unhittable in his 1st 2 games against the Reds and Phillies. Myers has allowed just 3 ER and 9 hits in those 2 games, although he did not receive a decision in either start. Let’s see if the Cubs can inch back over.500 with a win…
Posted on 11 April 2011 by Lou
After a Friday night win, the Cubs had high hopes for a weekend series win over the Brewers at Miller Park.
But it wasn’t meant to be. Matt Garza struggled for a 2nd straight start in Saturday’s 6-0 loss and Kerry Wood couldn’t hold the Cubs 5-4 lead with 2 outs in the 8th inning as the Cubs ended up losing 6-5.
Now it’s off to Houston to take on the Astros as Ryan Dempster looks to pick up his 1st win of the 2011 MLB schedule.
Posted on 07 April 2011 by Lou
It was not a good day for the Cubs as Ryan Dempster fell to 0-2 as the Cubs lost to the DBacks 6-4. Dempster gave up 5 runs (4 earned) on 10 hits over 7 innings pitched. It was the most hits he had allowed in a game since 2008. Dempster did strike out 8 DBacks hitters, but his ERA rose to 6.59 and his WHIP rose to 1.46. Not good for your “ace” of the staff.
Aramis Ramirez hit his 1st home run of the season and has gotten off to a hot start – .333 batting average. Alfonso Soriano hit his 3rd home run of the season, but they have all been solo shots and he is only hitting .273. After a very slow start, Marlion Byrd had 2 hits in the loss and is now up over .300. And Kosuke Fukudome had 2 hits and is hitting .357. Now we just need the rest of the team to start swinging a good bat.
As for the other losses, they came off the field. Randy Wells woke up with a strained forearm the day after his Monday start, but an MRI showed no structural damage. Wells with not pick up a baseball for 2 weeks and should be able to pitch fairly soon after that assuming no further pain develops. Wells was the Cubs most consistent pitcher all spring and he followed that up with a great first start – only 1 ER allowed over 6 innings pitched in the Cubs 4-1 win on Monday.
Andrew Cashner was having a similar great 1st start on Tuesday when he developed shoulder soreness in his throwing shoulder. An MRI revealed that he has a mild strain of the back of the rotator cuff of his right arm. Cashner will not do anything for two weeks too, but look for the Cubs to be even more careful with Cashner. He has a powerful arm and is seen as a top major league starter for years to come.
Casey Coleman was called up from Triple-A Iowa and will start against the Brewers in Milwaukee on Sunday. James Russell – who has pitched out of the bullpen thus far this season – could end up starting for the Cubs against the Astros in Houston next week. We’ll keep you posted as soon as the Cubs decide exactly what to do with the 5th starter…
Posted on 04 April 2011 by Lou
It was the same old story for the Cubs during their opening weekend series loss to the Pirates at Wrigley Field. By dropping 2 of 3 to the Pirates, the Cubs already fell 2 games behind the Cincinnati Reds (who swept the Milwaukee Brewers) for 1st place in the NL Central.
Friday Opener – Cubs 3, Pirates 6. Ryan Dempster took the loss as he gave up a grand slam to Neil Walker in the 5th inning and a 2-run home run to Andrew McCutchen in the 7th inning on his 114th pitch of the game. A lack of clutch timely hitting hurt the Cubs as it did oh so often in 2010. It became the theme for the weekend. With the bases loaded and only 1 out in the 3rd inning, Carlos Pena grounded out in a fielder’s choice and the Cubs were held to 1 run instead of having a big inning. In the bottom of the 7th, with 2 on and only 1 out, Marlon Byrd and Aramis Ramirez flew out to end the scoring chance. The same exact thing happened in the 9th inning with 1 out. This time Byrd struck out and Ramirez grounded out to end the game. Not good.
Saturday #2 – Cubs 5, Pirates 3. Although the Cubs rallied to win the game, the Cubs wasted 2 runners in each of the 5th and 6th innings without scoring any runs. Kudos to the Cubs hitters for taking advantage of Lyle Overbay’s error in the 8th inning that permitted the Cubs to score 3 unearned runs and win the game. Blake DeWitt proved his worth as a pinch hitter by delivering the game-winning 2-run double. Big Z kept the Cubs in the game by allowing just 3 ER in 6 good innings of work and he didn’t let the lack of run support get him down. Kerry Wood, Sean Marshall and Carlos Marmol all looked sharp in their 1st 2011 game action. Each reliever tossed a scoreless inning of relief without allowing a single hit. Wood had 2 K’s, Marshall had 1 K and Marmol struck out the side in the 9th inning for his 1st save of the season.
Sunday #3 – Cubs 4, Pirates 4. The Cubs came back from 2-0 and 3-2 deficits to take a 4-3 lead on Alfonso Soriano’s solo home run in the 6th inning. However, a leadoff walk by Carlos Marmol in the 9th inning came to haunt him. Pedro Alvarez’s 2-run single gave the Pirates the 5-4 win. Matt Garza was not good. Although Garza worked out of trouble well, he allowed way too many base runners – 12 hits?! You gotta love the 12 K’s though. Once again, the game should not have been that close as the Cubs blew numerous opportunities to have a big inning. The Cubs got runners on in each of the 1st 2 innings but never scored. In the 4th inning, Carlos Pena tied the game at 2 with a 2-run double with nobody out. But with 2nd and third and nobody out, Geovany Soto and Alfonso Soriano could not push another run across with weak flyouts. Then the Pirates smartly walked Tyler Colvin to get the easy Matt Garza out to end the inning without any further damage. This was completely unacceptable and you just knew it would come back to haunt them at the time. Soto failed to come through in the 5th inning with 2 on and 2 out as he grounded out to end the inning. Then again in the 9th inning down by 1, the Cubs blew a great chance to win the game or at least send it into extra innings. With 1st and 2nd and only 1 out, Byrd grounded into the game-ending double play. Not good.
All in all, the pitching was pretty good, especially the bullpen (ignoring Marmol’s blown save on Sunday). Then again, the Cubs continue to show that they have trouble pushing across runs and winning close games. Manager Mike Quade needs to nip this in the bud before the trend grows too strong…
Posted on 01 April 2011 by Lou
Ryan Dempster and the Cubs host Kevin Correja and the Pirates on Opening Day today at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field. Ryan Dempster will be making his 1st opening day start as a Cubs player since joining the team several years ago. He’s honored to be able to make that opening day start and he says his squad is ready to show that they are going to win, and win often, in 2011 – “I’ve picked us and that’s all that matters. We’ve picked ourselves to go out and win ballgames and do well. I saw that CC Sabathia yesterday picked his team to win it all. Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do? I think is we listened to the experts as kids, a lot of us wouldn’t be in the big leagues. I know there are some really great teams on paper, but it’s about wins and losses.”
The Cubs opening day lineup looks like this:
Kosuke Fukudome RF; Starlin Castro SS; Marlon Byrd CF; Aramis Ramirez 3B; Carlos Pena 1B; Geovany Soto C; Alfonso Soriano LF; Darwin Barney 2B; and Dempster.
Let’s go Cubs! A win on opening day and maybe even a series sweep over the Pirates this weekend would be a great way to kick off the 2011 MLB schedule…
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 02 March 2011 by Lou
The Cubs finally got their 1st spring win, defeating the defending World Series Champion San Francisco Giants 3-2 on Tuesday. There were some positives and some negatives as there often are this early in the spring.
Ryan Dempster looked sharp in his 1st spring start. Dempster notched 3 K’s in 3 innings of work. He gave up 1 ER on 2 hits and a walk.
Todd Wellemeyer worked 2 scoreless innings and picked up the win in relief. He gave up 1 hit and notched 2 strikeouts.
Casey Coleman, Jeff Stevens and Esmailin Cardidad tossed scoreless innings to preserve the win.
The Cubs bats were silent against Tim Lincecum – the Giants ace threw 3 perfect innings wityh 2 K’s in his 1st spring start.
However, the top of the Cubs lineup propelled the club to victory in the top of the 6th inning. Kosuke Fukudome and Starlin Castro started the inning off with singles to set the table for the middle of the lineup. Marlon Byrd tied the game at 1 with an RBI single and then Aramis Ramirez had the game-winning hit with a 2-run double to give the Cubs a 3-1 lead.
One more negative – the Cubs committed 3 more errors and now have 9 errors in just 3 games – what the hell is going on with this club?
The pitching by the regulars has been mostly good so far (except for Matt Garza and Kerry Wood), so that is a good sign. But the bats are just not there yet and the fielding has been downright atrocious. This has gotta be very frustrating for Manager Mike Quade…
Posted on 23 February 2011 by Lou
Maybe this is a good sign. As we reported the other day, Carlos Zambrano really is OK with Manager Mike Quade naming Ryan Dempster his opening day starter, breaking a 6-year streak held by Big Z. Quade brought Dempster, Zambrano and newly acquired Matt Garza into his office to share the news and to explain his rationale for setting up the rotation the way he did for his 3 “aces”. It was a sign of respect from Quade that he considers all 3 starters to be top-of-the-line starters in his re-vamped rotation. Zambrano was disappointed with the decision, but he appears to have taken it in stride: “Nothing lasts forever. I wanted to be the Opening Days starter for all my years with the Cubs, but they chose Dempster for Opening Day. And it’s OK with me… He’s been pitching better than I have the past two years. He deserves it.”
WOW – could we really be seeing the new Carlos Zambrano. If he truly has his head on straight – and like I said before, I won’t believe it until he lasts a WHOLE season without incident – he could be primed and ready for a big 2011. If he can regain the form that made him one of the best starters in the National League, the Cubs could end up surprising some teams with nice trio of Demspter, Big Z and Garza. Let’s hope this trend continues…
Posted on 21 February 2011 by Lou
WOW — guess we’ll find out very quickly whether or not Carlos Zambrano has truly put his “anger issues” behind him. Manager Mike Quade has named Ryan Dempster his opening day starter on Friday April 1st against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Zambrano – who had made 6 consecutive opening day starts for the Cubs – will be the No. 2 starter on Saturday and Matt Garza will be the 3rd starter on Sunday to close out the series against the Pirates. Dempster was honored to be named the opening day starter, especially since it would take place at home at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field in front of the home crowd – “It’s going to be exciting. It’s going to be more nerves of anxiousness than nerves of being nervous… He [Zambrano] said he was happy for me, and that I deserved it. That’s somebody that I look up to, someone who goes out and competes as hard as anybody I’ve been around. So it meant a lot to hear something like that from him.”
Quade said he was looking ahead when he decided to go with Zambrano #2. The Cubs open the road part of the schedule on Friday April 8th in Milwaukee. By pitching Zambrano on Saturday or Sunday in the opening home series, that lines up Zambrano to make a start against the Brewers at Miller Park. Zambrano has had a TON of success pitching in Milwaukee, even throwing a no-hitter there against the Houston Astros back in 2009.
Interesting move by Quade. This guy definitely is out to show that he is running the team and that he is going to make his own decisions. It would have been easy to tab Big Z with the opening day start, especially the way that he closed out his 2010 season by going 8-0 in his final 11 starts. But Zambrano has to show he is out to perform at a high level again in 2011. It’s very similar to when Quade sent stud shortstop Starlin Castro a message late last season when Quade felt like Castro wasn’t giving his all and keeping his head in the game at all times. Quade benched Castro for 2 games and made it clear that everyone is responsible and accountable on the field, even superstars. Quade seems to have the respect and confidence of his players and staff, so it will be interesting to see how the team responds right from the get-go during the 2011 MLB schedule…