Posted on 19 April 2011 by Lou
Carlos Zambrano didn’t get the win, but he put the Cubs in a perfect position to win the game in 10th inning. Big Z tossed 8 scoreless innings, scattering just 3 hits during his outing while striking out 10. He allowed just 1 walk. He lowered his ERA from 6.11 to 4.21 and retired the last 13 batters that he faced. Sean Marshall retired 2 batters in the 9th inning before handing the ball off to closer Carlos Marmol with 1 on. Marmol recorded the final 4 outs of the game with 2 K’s and picked up the win when Tyler Colvin’s 2-out pinch-hit double scored Geovany Soto all the way from 1st base in the bottom of the 10th. After Kosuke Fukudome’s walk with 1 out in the 10th, Soto grounded into a fielder’s choice but kept the inning alive by not being doubled-up. He showed some speed on Colvin’s hit – one of the few times that you’ll see Soto score in that fashion.
The Cubs got back to .500 with the win at 8-8 and trail the Reds by just 1 game in the NL Central. The Cubs, Brewers, Cardinals and Pirates are all 8-8. James Russell goes for the Cubs tonight as he looks to rebound from a bad start last week in Houston when he didn’t even make it out of the 2nd inning.
Posted on 14 April 2011 by Lou
Carlos Zambrano pitched great for the game’s 1st 5 innings, but then ran out of gas in a 5-run 6th inning. Big Z allowed 5 runs in the frame and was finally removed after he issued a 2-out walk to J.R. Towles. Marcos Mateo came on to retire Jason Michaels which kept Zambrano in a position to win. Big Z gave up 5 ER on 7 hits and 3 walks, but moved to 2-0 despite a 6.11 ERA. Now Zambrano just needs to learn to put it together for a full 6-7 innings in his next few starts.
The bullpen was superb down the stretch. After Mateo, Sean Marshall, Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol each tossed scoreless innings to preserve the win for the Cubs. Marmol was the only one to allow and Astros hitter to reach base with a walk. Not what you want from your closer, but Marmol shut the door on the rally in a non-save situation.
The Cubs raced out to a 5-0 lead on Jeff Baker’s 2-run double and Alfonso Soriano’s 3-run HR in the 1st inning. Starlin Castro had 3 hits and a run scored. Darwin Barney had 2 hits, an RBI and a run scored. And Aramis Ramirez had 3 hits, an RBI and a run scored. The 9 runs scored and 14 hits were season highs for the Cubs. The Cubs hope to continue their winning ways as they travel northwest to take on the hottest team in baseball – the Colorado Rockies – at Coors Field in Denver…
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 09 April 2011 by Lou
Carlos Zambrano didn’t have his best stuff, but he tossed 6 effective innings and matched a career-high with his 9th win in a row (dating back to last season). Zambrano gave up 4 ER on 7 hits and 3 walks, with 5 K’s, but had a quick 1-2-3 6th inning to keep the lead at 6-4 after his 112th pitch of the game. It was clear that he still had enough gas left in the tank and despite his less-than-stellar outing, he kept his wits about him and focused on getting through 6 innings to hand the ball off to the Cubs promising bullpen.
And boy did they do a great job. Sean Marshall worked an 11-pitch 1-2-3 7th inning with 1 K – hold #2 on the season. Kerry Wood worked a 9-pitch 1-2-3 8th inning – hold #3 on the season. And while Carlos Marmol allowed 2 batters to reach base, he struck out 2 in the 9th inning to preserve the win and pick up his 3rd save. Manager Mike Quade has gotta be pleased with this formula and as long as these guys stay healthy (Wood especially), there’s no reason to think that the Cubs shouldn’t feel comfortable with a late-inning lead.
The Cubs offense also pounded out 12 hits and 7 runs, lead by Jeff baker’s 4-hit game. Baker hit a go-ahead 3-run HR in the 4th inning and the Cubs never looked back. He had 4 RBI’s and 2 runs scored and is just crushing left-handed pitching. Geovany Soto hit a 2-run HR that tied the game at 2 in the 4th inning, while Marlon Byrd and Alfonso Soriano each had 2 hits in the win.
Matt Garza takes the bump against Chris Narverson in Game 2 of the series at Miller Park tonight. Let’s see if they can make it 2 in a row…
Posted on 06 April 2011 by Lou
The Cubs gave Andrew Cashner a nice 4-1 lead in his major league starting debut and it looked as if he would cruise to a nice easy win over the Diamondbacks. But then disaster struck in the top of the 6th inning. After retiring the first batter that he faced, Cashner walked Willie Bloomquist and then had to be removed from the game with an apparent arm/back injury. Jeff Samardzija came on to strike out the next 2 batters to get out of the inning and preserve the 4-1 lead for Cashner and the Cubs.
However, the DBacks rallied for 3 runs against Samardzija, Marcos Mateo and James Russell, and just like that, the game was tied at 4 and Cashner was no longer eligible for the win after pitching so well.
Fortunately, the Cubs showed some fight and immediately re-rook the lead in the bottom of the 7th on a Marlon Byrd double and a Tyler Colvin bases loaded walk.
And the Cubs hung on for a 6-5 win as Russell got he W and Sean Marshall picked up the save with both Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol unavailable to pitch.
But the big news focused on Cashner and then Randy Wells. Both pitchers will be sidelined for at least 2 weeks with arm issues. Not good, not good at all…
Posted on 05 April 2011 by Lou
Randy Wells picked up right where he left off from spring training as he pitched a gem to lead the Cubs to a 4-1 over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field on Monday afternoon. Wells got the 1st win for any Cubs starter as he tossed 6 solid innings. After giving up a lead-off home run, Wells allowed no runs, 5 hits and 4 walks over the next 18 outs to earn the victory. He struck out 6 on the day. He was happy with the start despite the walks – “A little sloppy… You never want to be around the belt or mid-thighs. Try to attack the bottom of the zone and good things happen.”
The bullpen did the rest as Sean Marshall, Marcos Mateo and John Grabow each recorded an out in the 7th inning to preserve a 2-1 Cubs lead. After a Starlin Castro error allowed the tying run to reach base in the 8th inning, Kerry Wood worked out of a bases loaded, 1-out jam to keep the DBacks off the board. Carlos Marmol bounced back from a blown save on Sunday to pick up the save. It was Wood’s 2nd hold off the early season and Marmol’s 2nd save of the season as each pitcher pitched in 3 consecutive games. Marshall, Grabow, Wood and Marmol are all going to have to have above average years if the Cubs expect to make some noise in the NL Central race this season.
Timely hitting also helped the Cubs. Alfonso Soriano hit his 2nd home run in as many days to tie the game at 1 in the 3rd inning. Carlos Pena’s sacrifice fly in the 4th inning put the Cubs ahead for good. And Geovany Soto and Soriano gave the Cubs some insurance runs with run scoring hits in the bottom of the 8th inning.
The Cubs are back at .500 at 2-2…
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 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 26 March 2011 by Lou
Randy Wells officially earned a spot in the starting rotation with another solid start in the Cubs 6-3 win over the Mariners. Wells pitched 5 2/3 innings allowing just 3 ER on 5 hits and 3 walks. He also struck out 8. His spring ERA now sits at 2.10 and even though he didn’t earn the win, he continues to put the Cubs in great positions to win in each and every one of his starts. That’s really all you can expect for the #4 man in your rotation. If Wells continues these types of performances during the 2011 regular season, the Cubs could end up surprising a lot of teams this season.
Jeff Samardzija got wells out of trouble in the 6th inning and will be a fixture in the Cubs bullpen this season.
Sean Marshall also worked a scoreless inning to preserve the Cubs win.
And John Grabow got back into action with a scoreless inning. Grabow should be ready by the time camp breaks on Thursday.
The Cubs rallied from a 3-2 deficit with a 4-run 7th inning with some great at-bats. Tyler Colvin led off the inning with a walk. Josh Vitters doubled him over to 3rd and Blake DeWitt had an infield single to load the bases with 1 out. Starlin Castro came through with a clutch bases-clearing double that gave the Cubs a 5-3 lead. Timely hitting like that will go a long for the Cubs in 2011.
The Cubs have now won 3 in a row and seem to be getting back on track just in the nick of time for real action to start this coming week.
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…