Posted on 15 April 2012 by Lou
It was a lost weekend for the Cubs in St. Louis, especially after Jeff Samardzija pitched the Cubs to the opening win of the series on Friday. Game 1 went smoothly for the Cubs. Ian Stewart gave the Cubs an early lead with his 3-run homer in the 1st inning. Bryan LaHair’s 1st career grand slam opened that lead up to 8-0 in the 3rd inning. Sure, Samardzija made it interesting with his 5-run 5th inning, but the bullpen shut down the Cards offense the rest of the way. Rafael Dolis worked 2 scoreless innings allowing just 1 hit. James Russell and Kerry got 3 outs in the 8th inning to set it up for closer Carlos Marmol in a non-save situation in the 9th. Marmol pitched a perfect 9th with 2 K’s and just like that, the Cubs had their 1st winning streak of 2012.
But the rest of the weekend was awful. The bats went quiet against Lance Lynn in a 5-1 loss on Saturday and against Jake Westbrook in a 10-3 drubbing on Sunday. On Saturday and Sunday, the Cubs offense combined for just 4 runs on 12 total hits. And on Saturday, Chris Volstad pitched 6 innings, but a 4-run 4th inning (due in part to 2 Starlin Castro errors) doomed him and the Cubs. Volstad only gave up 6 hits and didn’t walk a batter, but Cubs pitchers are going to have to be better than that night in and night out. On Sunday, Paul Maholm had his 2nd straight awful start giving up 6 ER on 6 hits in just 4 innings of work. A veteran used to pitching to NL central ball clubs has now racked up a 1.88 WHIP and 13.50 ERA in 2 starts. Ouch…
The Cubs now travel to Miami to take on Ozzie Guillen, Carlos Zambrano and the new-look Marlins in a much-anticipated series. I can’t wait…
Posted on 12 April 2012 by Lou
Matt Garza was dominant in the Cubs 8-0 win over the Brewers today at Wrigley Field. Garza should have even had a complete game shutout if he hadn’t thrown the ball into the stands on Aoki’s come-backer with 2 outs in the 9th inning. That was his 119th pitch and Manager Dale Sveum decided it was time to pull the righty. Garza ended up going 8 2/3 innings, scattering 3 hits and 2 walks while striking out 9. The Cubs have had some great starting pitching efforts so far this season from Ryan Dempster, Garza and Jeff Samardzija. Now if they could just get some consistent hitting, they might be able to string some wins together here.
The big inning for the Cubs came in the 3rd when they rocked Zach Greinke for 6 hits in 7 batters scoring 6 runs. Steve Clevenger had 2 doubles, a single and scored 2 runs. David DeJesus, Starlin Castro and Ian Stewart each had 2 hits. Castro and Alfonso Soriano each had 2 RBI’s.
The 2-5 start was not exactly what the Cubs wanted, but it is what it is, and now they need to get off to a better start on the road with games against the Cardinals in St. Louis and the Marlins in Miami…
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 09 April 2012 by Lou
The Cubs rode Jeff Samardzija 8 2/3 innings to get their 1st win of the 2012 MLB campaign. Samardzija was one of the Cubs top pitchers all spring and he carried that over into the 2012 regular season. He should have gotten the complete game 4-1 win if not for Starlin Castro’s 9th inning error with 2 outs. Manager Dale Sveum then kept Samardzija in the game, but he served up Adam LaRoche’s 2-run home run which cut the Cubs lead to 4-3. That prompted Sveum to tab Cubs closer Carlos Marmol to close out the game.
Marmol suffered the loss in Thursday’s opener and gave up 2 more earned runs in Saturday’s loss to the Nats, but someone had to get the Cubs out of the jam. Despite walking Jayson Werth to put the tying run on base, Marmol induced former Cub Xavier Nady to pop out to Ian Stewart right in front of the Cubs dugout. That gave the Cubs their 1st 2012 win and Samardzija of what looks to be one of many wins this season.
Samardzija struck out 8 in his outing and most importantly, he did not walk a batter. He scattered 4 hits and gave up just 1 ER.
Satrlin Catrso had 2 hits, 2 runs and 2 RBI. Bryan LaHair – in his 1st start of the season – also had 2 hits. Alfonso Soriano drove in 2 runs with a single and a sacrifice fly.
It has been a rough opening weekend series for the Cubs who could have been 0-3, 2-1 or 3-0. Instead they are sitting at 1-2 in last place in the NL Central. What else is new?!
Posted on 07 April 2012 by Lou
Matt Garza has been sharp in his 2012 MLB debut. He had worked 3 scoreless innings allowing just 1 hit and the Cubs leading 1-0. But a lead-off walk in the top of the 4th cost him. Although Garza retired the next two batters, an Adam LaRoche 2-out home run off the right field foul pole gave the Nationals a 2-1 lead over the Cubs.
The Cubs have 4 hits and 2 walks off of Nats’ lefty Gio Gonzalez, but have just 1 run to show for it. Joe Mather drew a 1-out walk in the 1st inning and moved over to 3rd base on a perfectly executed hit-and-run with Starlin Castro. Mather then came around to score on a Gonzalez wild pitch. But that is all the Cubs have mustered against the tough lefty.
Jeff Samardzija makes his 1st start of 2012 on Easter Sunday. He and the Cubs will square off against Jordan Zimmerman in the series finale.
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 01 April 2012 by Lou
The Cubs ruined Angels’ ace Jeff Weaver’s spring finale with an 8-1 on April Fool’s Day. The Cubs touched up Weaver for 3 ER on 8 hits and 2 walks in 6 innings. The big blow came on Darwin Barney’s RBI triple in the 6th inning when the Cubs took a 3-0 lead over Weaver and the Angels. The Cubs then blew the game open with Jeff Baker’s 3-run jack off of Jason Isringhausen as part of a 5-run 8th inning. The Cubs racked up 13 hits – their most of the spring – including 2 hits apiece for David DeJesus and Starlin Castro.
Minor League lefty Chris Rusin continued a nice spring by throwing 5 1/3 scoreless innings against a potent Angels offense. He gave up only 2 hits and most importantly, he did not walk a batter.
The only negative was that the Cubs fielders committed 3 infield errors – Ian Stewart, Castro and Blake DeWitt. While the pitchers bailed out the fielders in this game, the Cubs defensive players are going to have to be a lot more careful once regular season action starts later this week if they expect to stay in the NL Central hunt in 2012…
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 19 March 2012 by Lou
Travis Wood has had 2 bad starts this spring, so he got just what he needed in his 3rd start today. The Cubs scored 7 runs in the 1st inning to stake Wood to a nice 7-0 lead. All he had to do was come out and throw strikes and get outs. Well it didn’t work out that way, and his poor spring performance has all but assured Jeff Samardzija and Chris Volstad of the final 2 spots in the Cubs starting rotation heading into 2012. Sure Randy Wells has pitched well too, but he has been given the opportunity as a starter already and he really hasn’t taken advantage of it. It’s time for Samardzija to be given the chance to go out there and prove that he is a legitimate MLB starter. And with how dominant Volstad has been so far this spring, there’s almost no way to justify not making him your 4th or 5th starter.
But back to Wood – he gave back 2 runs in the bottom of the 1st on a Ichiro HR. In the 2nd, after giving up a run-scoring single to Chone Figgins, Wood threw a wild pitch that allowed Figgins to score to cut the lead to 7-4. In the bottom of the 3rd, he gave up a 2-run jack to Jesus Montero and then a game-tying solo HR to Kyle Seager. All 3 homers served up by Wood were the 1st homers for each player this spring. Not good. That was all Manager Dale Sveum needed to see in the 3rd as he yanked Wood after just 2+ innings – 7 runs, all earned on 7 hits and 2 walks. WOW! That Travis Wood for Sean Marshall deal is sure looking like a big mistake now. Let’s hope a year at Triple-A will help get Wood back on track.
Gotta love the Cubs bats today. They didn’t hit one HR in that 7-run 1st inning and all 7 runs were ER. A Starlin Castro double, an Alfonso Soriano sac fly, a Jeff Baker single, a 2-run single by Joe Mather, a David DeJesus single and then a Darwin Barney double. Can’t complain about solid hitting like that.
Posted on 08 March 2012 by Lou
Jeff Samardzija is making a strong case to be named a starter for the Cubs during the 2012 campaign. Manager Dale Sveum predicted that the Kansas City Royals would not be able to hit Samardzija in Wednesday’s cactus league came, and his prediction almost came true. Samardzija bearly broke a sweat, tossing 3 scoreless innings with 3 K’s. The only hit allowed was a cheap blooper by Chris Getz in the 2nd inning. Samardzija needed just 35 pitches. Many baseball people around the country named Samardzija the most improved pitcher during the course of the 2011 MLB season. Samardzija has been on a “mission” this winter, vowing to do whatever it takes to make the Cubs starting rotation in 2012. So far so good for the big righty. He consistently through his fastball in the mid 90’s and he already has great control on his slider and changeup. That is a lethal combo. Look for Samardzija to continue to put pressure on Dale Sveum and the Cubs front office who might be reluctant to move Samardzija out of the bullpen where he was so effective last year.
Cubs hitters also played well – 6 runs on 15 hits – including 2 hits apiece for Starlin Castro, Reed Johnson and Bryan LaHair.