Category: Dailies

Rockies End Cubs Six Game Winning Streak

L_flag.gifWell, we weren’t going to win every single game, but it kind of felt like we would.  The Cubs saw their six game winning streak come to an end at the hands of Rockies’ sinkerballer Aaron Cook.  Those red hot bats finally cooled, that great defense had a costly error, and a real weakness of the team was exposed.  I am still happy with a split against Colorado.  Everytime you roll through that lineup, it is full of great hitters.  Helton, Holliday, Atkins, Hawpe, Tulowitzki.  Just scary, and the Cubs still won the first game and came close to winning the second game.  The Cubs just need to bounce back against the Nationals. 

Jason Marquis gave the Cubs a quality start, going seven innings, and giving up two runs on four hits and two walks with four strikeouts.  Unfortunately, one of those hits was a solo home
Marquis 4-24.jpgrun to Chris Iannetta in the seventh inning to pur the Rockies ahead 2-1 in the seventh.  Nice to see Marquis have a quality start. 

“I feel like I’m taking a step in the right direction,” Marquis said. “I’ve been working hard between starts to be as consistent as possible. I’m trying to be real aggressive in the strike zone and make good pitches.”

 On the flip side, Cook was able to cool off the hot Cubs’ bats.  Therior, Lee, Ramirez, Fukudome, and DeRosa all went hitless.  When your 2-6 hitters don’t get any hits, you aren’t going to win many games.  Yet, even with such a bad offense day, the Cubs were still very much in it and had a chnace to win the game.  Down 2-1 in the top of the eighth, the Cubs looked like they would pull off another miracle win.  Geovany Soto started out the eighth with a single and Ronnie Cedeno came in to pinch run.  Felix Pie, the only Cub with multiple hits on the day, hit a single up the middle to put runners at first and second.  Pinch hitter Daryl Ward drew a walk to load the bases with one out.  Mike Fontenot hit a groundball towards second base, but he hustled to first to break up the double play.  With the game tied and only one out and Derek Lee on deck, Ryan Theriot hit the ball right at first baseman Todd Helton, who doubled off Fontenot to end the inning.  Wednesday night, Theriot gets it past Helton for the game winning hit and he’s a hero. On Thursday it ended a potential big inning for the Cubs.

With the game tied in the bottom of the eighth, the Cubs big weakness so far was exposed. 
Hart 4-24.jpgThe Cubs starters, other than Zambrano, have struggled to get past the fifth inning.  Lilly, Hill, Dempster, and Marquis have only been going four or five innings, putting a lot of miles on the Cubs bullpen. Every one of the Cubs bullpen staff has pitched ten or mroe innings.  Not only that, but two of them are really struggling, Kevin Hart and Michael Wuertz.  Wuertz was second in the league in stranding inherited baserunners last season, behind his teammate Carlos Marmol.  This season, Wuertz has ptiched 10.1 innings , given up 12 hits, seven earned runs, and three home runs.  Hart came up late last season and looked impressive, making the playoff roster over Jason Marquis, but this season he has struggled.  Hart took the loss today, but it wasn’t entirely his fault.

In the bottom of the eight, Hart gave up a leadoff double to Holliday.  Atkins grounded out to short, moving Holliday to third.  Lou then had Hart intentionally walk Brad Hawpe to get to Troy Tulowitzki.  Hart did exactly what he was supposed to, get Tulowitzki to ground into an inning ending double play, but Theriot dropped the exchange from Theriot, allowing the go ahead run to score.  Ryan Spilborgh hit a two-out, RBI single gave the Rockies another run and giving the Rockies a 4-2 lead.  After the game, Theriot admitted to rushing the play;

“Yeah, you’re trying to rush it,” Theriot said. “If you don’t turn it, they score. So of course you’re trying to do it pretty quick. But the bottom line is you gotta catch the ball first and see what happens.”

 The 136 Million Dollar Question

Alfonso Soriano told reporters he won’t be going to the minors to rehab from his right calf injury he suffered on April 15th. 

”Last year I didn’t do a rehab [assignment after a quadriceps injury], and this year I won’t do a rehab,” said Soriano, who fared well in his first on-field batting practice since last week’s injury.”

In his absence, the Cubs are 8-2.  When he was leading off for the Cubs, they were 7-4. NOt a huge difference, but what the Cubs have enjoyed is Reed Johson’s presence at leadoff.  Johnson is an ideall leadoff hitter, taking pitches, able to bunt, and has a high on base percentage.  Johnson is hitting .311 with a .394 on base percentage.  He also has a team first philosophy.  When he is behind in the count, he chokes up on that bat and makes contact.  He really makes pitchers work and is a pesky out.  Soriano is an All Star, but people have always questioned if he should hit leadoff, especially since the leg injuries he
Soriano injured 4-15.jpg suffered last year. He swings at a lot of bad pitches and he is a very streaky hitter.  When he’s hot, he can carry the team on his back, but when he’s cold, he looks really bad.  So with Soriano coming off the DL on May 1st, what will happen to Johnson?  Will he platoon with Pie, or is that a bad idea since Pie seems to be hitting the ball al little better lately?  One thing that we know, Lou has to bat Soriano in the leadoff spot.  He mopes when he doesn’t bat lead off and then becomes an automatic out in the middle of the lineup.  Lou tried it earlier in the year and quickly pulled the plug on that experiment. Lou told reporters that as soon as Soriano is ready, he is back in the leadoff spot;

”We want to make sure that he can do all the things that a leadoff hitter needs to do,” Piniella said. ”We don’t want to take any chances here early in the year, bringing him back too soon, and all of a sudden we’ve got another problem on our hands. But, yeah, when he comes back, he’ll go to left field and lead off.”

You know Cubs fans aren’t going to tbe happy with this, but there is a reason that Lou is 14th on the all time list for winningest managers.  I know that somehow, someway, he will do the right thing.

New Streak

The Cubs need to get a new winning streak started on Friday when they head to the Capital to face the Washington Nationals.  Despite a new ballpark, the Nats haven’t been too impressive.  The Nats will throw three lefties against the Cubs.  That means Johnson will lead off for those three games.  Ryan Dempster takes on lefty Odalis Perez.  Dempster hasn’t lost a game and Perez hasn’t won a game.  Perez has pitched well and has been a victim of horrible run support and bad defense.  Zambrano will take on Matt Chico in the second game of the series and Lilly will square off against John Lannan for the finale.  Let’s get back to our winning ways!

Go Cubs! 

 

Cubs Get Win Number 10,000

W Flag.jpgLadies and gentleman, if I hadn’t seen it with my own two eyes, I wouldn’t have believed it.  I’m going to be honest with you, I really thought the Cubs were going to lose this game.  No one gets this lucky.  No one gets this many clutch hits.  Sooner or later the breaks stop going your way.  I wasn’t that disappointed, with the Cubs having won five in a row.  But wait!!!! The Cubs were having none of that, came back, and stole a game from the Rockies.  The Cubs won an unbelievable ballgame tonight, 7-6 in extra innings to become only the second team in MLB history to reach the 10,000 win milestone.  If this is one of my beautiful Cubs dreams, don’t wake me up! Let me sleep!!

I don’t even no where to start.  How about the Cubs hitting to triples, one from Fukudome and one from Lee?  How about Lee and Soto having four hit nights.  How about that homer by Soto in that second?  How about Rich Hill and the Cubs leading 3-0 in the bottom of the sixth before giving up five runs and going through four pitchers? 

Could you believe that the Cubs had the bases loaded in the top of the seventh with only one
Ramirez jacks it 4-23.jpgout and one runner already in, before DeRosa lined out and D-Lee was doubled off second?  That should have been the ballgame.  All momentum should have gone to the Rockies.  The Cubs should have just hung their heads and given up?  But no, this team has fight.  After Bob Howry set down Holliday, Atkins and Hawpe in order in the bottom of the eighth, the Cubs had one more chance to win it.  Derek Lee started off the inning with a single.  Then to the surprise of Len and Bob, every member of Cubs nation, and Derek Lee himself, Lou pulled him for a pinch runner, Felix Pie. No pinch runner was needed as Aramis jacked one to deep left center off of Manny Corpas, who blew a game the night before, to give the Cubs a 6-5 lead.

Kerry Wood came in to close it out, and looked phenomenal, getting Tulowitzky and Torreabla out on consecutive strikeouts.  But then Rockies manager Clint Hurdle put in long time Cubs nemisis Scott Podsednick into the game.  Podsednick killed the Cubs when he was a Brewer, killed the Cubs when he was with the White Sox, and now he was standing at home plate against Wood.  I knew he would score.  Podsednick singled and scored the tying run on a Spilborghs double.  Ok, now the Cubs really should have lose.  The closer comes in, blows the game after the Cubs took the lead in the ninth, and again Colorado has the momentum

Then, in the top of the tenth, Kip Wells took over for Corpas.  Soto singled to lead off the inning and was lifted for pinch runner Mike Fontenot. Cedeno bunted to move Fontenot into scoring postition.  Daryl Ward came in to pinch hit for Wood and was intentionally walked.  With one out, Reed Johnson worked the count, but popped out to short left field.  With two outs and his Canjun twin on second, RyanTheriot hit a single down the first base line, scoring Fontenot.  Just to make things interesting, Carlos Marmol had to pitch the 10th and face Todd Helton, Matt Holliday, and Garrett Atkins, with Mark DeRosa playing first base!!  No sweat for Marmol as he retired them in order and the Cubs win. 

This was an amazing game and I am just going to soak this up.  My brother was at the game and will email me photos soon.  Jason Marquis will take the hill tomorrow against the Rockies in a day game, 2:05 start.

Go Cubs! 

Cubs Win Game Number 9,999

W Flag.jpgThe Cubs don’t have to convince the Mets that they are for real, not after the Cubs put another beat down on them, this time 8-1.  The Mets have got to be thankful this was only a two game series.  The Cubs hit a combined 15 runs off the NY, while the Mets could only manage two meager runs.  Not only that, but the Cubs did it in front of a nation wide audience, and now the Cubs are beginning to open a lot of people’s eyes.  Lou is trying to keep Cubs fans from going too crazy;

“This is a long season,” Piniella said. “Let’s not get all crazy about this thing. Let’s just stay cautionary and let’s just keep playing good baseball, that’s all.”

 

Sorry Lou, but the Cubs haven’t started out this good since 1975. Heck, old Crawly still wasn’t even born yet!   Not only that, but the Cubs are playing great baseball.  Did you realize that the Cubs are in the top five of every important hitting category?  They are in the top five in average, runs, onbase percentage, slugging, on base plus slugging, and stolen bases.  Great defense, smart baserunning, high on base percentage, cluch hits, and hopefully the pitching is starting to come around. Ted Lilly finally got his first win of the season, and will hopefully
Lilly pitches 4-22.jpgpitch like the Lilly we saw last season.  Lilly went six innings, giving up only four hits and one run.  The real test in this game came in the fourth inning.  For whatever reason, Lilly has had trouble this season in the fourth inning, but today he overcame that.  The Cubs blew a bases loaded no outs oppotunity in the second, when Ronnie Cedeno struck out and Henry Blanco hit into a double play.  Then it was the Mets’ turn.  In the top of the fourth, Lilly had a no hitter going.  He got the first batter, Jose Reyes, to strike out.  Then, former Cubs Angel Pagan hit a double to break up the no no.  Lily walked the next two batters, David Wright and Carlos Beltran, to load them up with only one out.  Lilly kept his composure and was able to get Carlos Delgado and Dameon Easley to pop out, ending the threat.

The Cubs offense came roaring back in the bottom of the fourth.  After Ramriez flied out to start the inning, Fukudome hit a single to right.  Mark DeRosa hit a fly ball for the second out, but Ronnie Cedeno, fresh off the heroics from Monday nights game, hit a double, and Fukudome flew around the bases to score.  Is Fukudome not the most fun player to watch?  The Mets intentionally walked Henry Blanco to get to the pitcher, Ted Lilly.  With runners at first and second and two outs, Lilly hit a soft liner in between the pitcher and first base, and Delgado and pitcher Luis Figueroa thought the other would get it and Lilly was safe, loading the bases.  That’s when Reed Johnson singled, scoring Cedeno and Blanco and making it a 3-0 game.

Lilly was able to work out of another jam in the sixth.  After getting Wright to ground out, Lilly walked Beltran and gave up a single to Delgado.  Easley singled to the load the bases with one out.  Lou kept his faith in Lilly, and Ted got Brady Clark to ground out for the second out, but Beltra n scored, making it 3-1 with runners at first and second and two outs.  Lilly got Raul Casanove to ground out to end the inning. Bob Howry came in to relieve Lilly and worked a quick 1-2-3 inning in the seventh.  In the bottom of the inning, Aramis greeted Mets reliever Joe Smith with a single and tKoske followed that up with a double, putting runners at second and third with no outs.  DeRosa singled,scoring Ramirez and giving the Cubs a 4-1 lead.  The Cubs were able to load the bases, but couldn’t score anymore runs.

Cedeno curtain cull 4-22.jpgThen in the bottom of the eighth, it was time for more Ronnie Cedeno heroics.  With Jorge Sosa pitching, Felix Pie and Derek Lee hit back to back singles.  Aramis flied out, but Fukudome walked to load the bases.  It looked like the Cubs would miss another opportunity when DeRosa hit a ball to shortstop Jose Reyes for an easy double play ball to end the inning, but Reyes had a brainfart and threw the ball home for the foce out.  Insteasd of an inning ending double play, Ronnie Cedeno came to the plate and hit a grand slam, giving the Cubs an 8-1 lead, sealing the win for the Cubs.  Cedeno had a career high five RBI’s.

Playing the Hot Hand

It’s a good problem to have, but I wonder how Lou manages the lineup.  The team has played the last two days without Theriot, and the Cubs have really gotten on a role after the Soriano injury.  Since then, Reed Johnson has been incredible leading off and Cendeno look like an entirely different player.  Cedeno was 10-for-18 (.556) on the homestand with 10 RBIs, while  Johnson was 11-for-28 (.393) with four RBIs.  Johnson is the  prototypical lead off hitter the Cubs have been looking for since Kenny Lofton in 2003.  He works the count, takes pitches, and has had his fair share of cluch hits.  He seems to be full of hustle and has a high baseball IQ. 

“He’s a pesky hitter who works the count, puts the ball in play,” Piniella said. “Occasionally he’ll bunt for a base hit. He sets the tone.”

Reed Johnson 4-22.jpgThe Cubs actually lead the NL in on base percentage.  Kosuke Fukudome leads all Cubs regulars with a .442 OBP going into Monday’s game against the Mets, followed by Geovany Soto (.437), Mark DeRosa (.425), Derrek Lee (.419), Reed Johnson (.418) and Ryan Theriot (.408).  The Cubs are wearing down pitchers, getting men on base, and now those solo home runs are becoming 2 or 3 run homers.  Even grand slams.  With all these guys getting on base, they are putting more pressure on the pitchers and getting better pitches to hit.  Just to let you know, the last time the Cubs led the league in on base percentage-1945.

Now Pinella will have to face a bunch of questions when Soriano gets closer to being off the DL on May 1, one week from Tuesday.  Ryan Theriot, before the back spasms was also doing a great job.  So what does Lou do?  What would you do?  Nice to have these problems and nice to still be in first place.  Now the Cubs try to become the second team in MLB history to get 10,000 wins.  Let’s go get’ em in  Colorado. Rich Hill takes on Franklin Morales in game 1.   

 Go Cubs!

Cubs Prove They Are Ready For Prime Time

A lot of people are wondering if the Cubs are real or not.  A lot of doubters point to the fact that a lot of the Cubs victories have come against some bad teams.  But on Monday night, the Cubs faced the New York Mets, everyone’s pick to win the east after signing Santana, on ESPN.  It was a matchup between Carlos Zambrano and John Maine under the lights at Wrigley.  Man, if you saw it on a nice high def TV, Wrigley Field looked just gorgeous.  The crowd at Wrigley got to witness a great game, as it was a nail biter all the way until the seventh inning, when the Cubs busted it open to take the first game of the two game series 7-1.  It’s games like these that make you feel like this may be a magical season at Wrigley.

As expected, it started out as a pitchers dual.  Zambrano was really on tonight, Big Z gave up only five hits, walked two and struck out four over seven innings. The defense also came up big, turning four double plays.  The Cubs were able to get to Maine in the bottom of the fourth, when Derek Lee led off the inning with a single.  That’s when Aramis Ramirez hit a home run to tie the game.  Ramirez has now homered in cosecutive games and it looks like he’s heating up.  In the top of the sixth, Z ran into a little trouble.  Endy Chavez started out the inning with a double that just missed being a home run.  John Maine was up next, and bunted the ball right in front of home plate.  Soto tried to throw out the lead runner at third, but Chavez got a good jump and everyone was safe.  With runners at first and third, Jose Reyes hit into a double play, scoring Chavez and cutting the Cubs lead in half.  With the double play, it looked like the inning was done, but Luiis Castillo hit an infield single and David Wright drew a walk.  That brought up Carlos Beltran with the tying run at second.  Z go Beltran to fly out to left to end the threat.

Busting it Open

With the Cubs leading 2-1, Carlos Marmol took the mound in the eighth inning.  He made quick work of the Mets, getting them out in order. Marmol made veteran pinch hitter Marlon Byrd look goofy on a knee buckling breaking ball.  With Kerry Wood warming up in the bullpen, the Cubs were looking to add some insurance runs.  The inning started out well, with Derek Lee reaching on an error by the shortstop Jose Reyes.  Relief pitcher Aaron Heilman hit Aramis, putting runners at first and second.  Then the place went nuts, chanting Fukudome’s name, and he didn’t disappoint. Fukudome fought off pitch after pitch before slapping a single to left field to load the bases with no outs.  But then it started to happen.  Mark DeRosa had a horrible at bat, striking out for the first out.  Than Geovany Soto popped out for the second out.  It looked like the typical Cubs, loading up the bases and then letting the pitcher off the hook, swinging momentum back to the opposing team.  Not only that, but Ronnie Cedeno, who was a late game addition after Theriot couldn’t play with back spasms, was up to bat.  Cedeno was 0-3 at that point, reaching base on an error by David Wright.  Down quickly in the count, it looked like the Cubs would spoil the opportunity, but then Cedeno hit a ball up the middle to drive in Lee and Ramirez and give the Cubs a 4-1 lead.  After that, Heilman was pulled and Jorge Sosa came into the game.  Lou brought in Pie to pinch hit for Marmol, and Pie jacked one to right, giving the Cubs a 7-1 lead.  Pie’s reaction was priceless.  Wood put ’em away 1-2-3 and the Cubs put on a dazzling display of ptching, defense, and timely hitting.

Is this team for real?  I don’t know.  I keep staring at stats and can’t believe how well the Cubs are doing offensively, especially when it comes to seeing pitches and taking walks.  The soft underbelly of most teams is middle relieff.  Have the pitcher throw a high number of pitches, get him out of the game  by the fifth or sixth inning, and go to town on the stiffs that most teams have in their bullpen.  I just though that Monday nights win against the Mets had one of those magical feelings at Wrigley, the kind that really get Cubs fans excited and make the doubters take notice. After struggling so bad in April last season, this is the kind of start Lou was looking for.  The Cubs play game two of the series at 1:20 tomorrow, with Ted Lilly taking on Nelson Figueroa.  Lilly wants to contribute in the worst possible way, and how nice would it be to see Ted get his first W tommorrow.  Let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope that Ted can finally get it going.

Go Cubs! 

 

Cubs Sweep The Buccos

IMG_1751.JPGWhat a glorious day!  What a glorious weekend.  Crawly Senior and I had the pleasure of wattching the Cubs pound Pittsburgh 13-3 on Sunday, completing their second straight sweep of the Buccos.  Not only that, but St. Louis got crushed and Eric Gagne blew a save for Milwaukee, putting the Cubs in first place!!!  Hey Hey!!  The Cubs offense is just clicking on all cylanders, as the Cubs hit 29 runs in the weekend series with the Pirates.  The starting pitching is still not where it needs to be, but I am sure enjoying this April a ton more than I did last season.  Listening to sports talk radio, I heard people wondering if this team is real or not, claiming that they are just beating teams with losing records.  Look, the Cubs didn’t make their schedule and not only that, they are winning the games they are supposed to, something that hasn’t happened over the last few years.  All I am saying is that I am happy that the Cubs are in first place. 

There are many things that excite me about this team.  I love the 1-2 punch of Reed Johnson and Ryan Theriot.  In the bottom of the fourth inning in Sunday’s game, Johnson was hit by a
Lee Homers 4-19.jpgpitch.  Theriot was up next, showed bunt, but the pitcher threw two pitches out of the strike zone.  With a 2-0 count, Johnson was running, Threriot hit the ball to the right side of the infield, and Johnson scored from first with Theriot advancing to second when Nady’s throw to home plate was late.  The Cubs are also a more patient team and that is allowing them to score more runs.  Do you realize the Cubs are second in MLB in runs scored, third in hits, fourth in total bases, have the fifth highest in average, second in on base percentage, and second in on base plug slugging percentage?   How about the Cubs being fourth in the amount of walks drawn?  Still feel like that clogs the bases Dusty?  The Cubs are also seventh in stolen bases.  Lou Pinella and hitting coach Gerald Perry have turn this team from a bunch of hackers into a disciplined hitting team.   

Do I think all is well in the world of the Cubs?  No.  Are starters are struggling to get past the fifth. Are bullpen is again giving up too many walks.  Questions remain on where to bat Soriano when he comes back from his injury.  Will our left handed starters begin pitching
Wood closes 4-10.jpgbetter?  Is Kerry Wood going to stay healthy?  These are all areas of concern for the Cubs,
but at the end of the day, there is only one stat in baseball that matters most: Wins, and right now,  the Cubs keep racking them up.  Now, the real test comes for the Cubs.  Starting Monday, the Cubs have a two game series with the Mets, then fly to Colorado for another two game series.  They travel to Washington for three (that one shouldn’t be difficult), then they play three with Milwaukee at home, travel to St Louis for three, Cincy for three, and then come back to Wrigley to fave the hottest team in baseball in the Diamondbacks and one of the toughest pitching staffs in San Diego, who will play in a four game series.  The Cubs then have three more games at Wrigley, than go to Houston and Pittsburgh.  When the dust clears on May 22, I believe this will really tell if the Cubs are for real or not.  If they can stay close to the top of the division after this schedule, I like our chances. 

Us Against The World

So, apparently Cubs fans are the most hated, obnoxious, and racist fans in baseball.  All week, Cubs fans have heard how horrible they are from all sides.From old man  Marty Brennaman’s crabby rant, to ironically the most hated and obnoxious columnist in Chicago, to jealous Brewer’s bloggers ,  people have been taking shots at us from all sides.  That’s fine that we’re the target of all their jealousy and rage.  Real Cubs fans know that there are no better fans in baseball.  Are there idiot Cubs fans?  Absolutely.  Are there obnoxious Cubs fans?  Of course.  Are there racist Cubs fans?  Unfortunately.  Just like their are idiotic, obnoxious, racist fans in every ballpark in every city in the United States.  Are there no drunk stupid fans in Milwaukee? OOOOhh, of course not. Everybody goes to Brewers games in suit and ties and keeps score.  In fact, they don’t even sell beer at Miller Park.  And there is absolutely nooooooo racist fans in Cincinnati.  Everyone knows that Cincinnati is the most tolerant city in the US.  So to all those haters out there, keep hatin’. Cubs fans piss people off because we will go anywhere to cheer our team on, including other teams’ ballparks.  Then we really get them mad when our cheers are louder than the cheers from the home team.  They hate us because we have fun, we love our ballpark, and we love our team.  Do we do
IMG_1270.JPGstupid thing?  Yeah.  Are we going to do stupid things in the future?  For certain. But we’re going to keep doing what we’ve always done; root, root, root for the Cubbies!   And most importantly, we will follow this team anywhere in the world, and if you don’t like it, learn to deal with it.

We are everywhere!!

Go Cubs! 

Cubs are Back to their Winning Ways

W Flag.jpgAfter the Cubs suffered a bit of a let down on Thursday, they came right back to beat Ian Snell and the Pittsburgh Pirates 3-2.  Rich Hill got the first win for a lefty starter this season and the Cubs were able to do just enough to get past Ian Snell.  Hill, who confidence was in the dumps, was able to give the Cubs five innings, giving up one run on three hits and three walks with four strikeouts. 

“It was a start in the right direction for him,” Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. “Like I told him, he needs to build on this now. He went out there and threw the ball. There were a couple rough spots, but it was a vast improvement. He threw the ball well today and let it go.”


Hill 4-18.jpgIt was another stomach turner for the Cubs. Hill walked the first batter he faced, Nate McLouth, on four straight pitches.  Luckily he was able to calm down.  The offense also struggled in the beginning of the game.  The Cubs had runners in scoring postition in the first, second, and third innings and failed to score a run. The worst of these blown opportunities was in the bottom of the third.  The Cubs were down 1-0 and had one out in the third when Ryan Theriot hit a triple.  With D-Lee and A-Ram coming to the plate, it looked like the Cubs would be able to tie it, but Lee grounded out to the pitcher and Aramis flied out to right.  It looked like it was going to be one of those days.  But Fukudome led off the fourth inning with a triple.  Mark DeRosa singled, tying the game, and then Geovany Soto hit a double, putting runners at second and third with no outs.  Boy, when Soto is out of the lineup, it really hurts the Cubs.  Reed Johnson hit an infield single, scoring DeRosa and giving the Cubs the lead.  For the second day in a row, there was a mix up with the signals, and Rich Hill grounded  into a fielders choice instead of bunting, but Eric Patterson hit a ground ball to short, allowing Soto to score and give the Cubs a 3-1 lead.  That insurance run would be the difference in the game.

After Hill was pulled in the fifth, it was up to the bullpen to preserrve the win.  Jon Lieber and Sean Marshall combined to work the sixth inning, giving up no runs.  Then Carlos Marmol
Wood closes 4-18.jpgcame out to pitch the sixth and struck out the side.  Then, Lou had him go back out in the eighth, and Marmol ran into some trouble. McLouth led off the inning with a solo home run, making it a one run game.  He got the next two batters, Luis Rivas and Freddy Sanchez out, but then walked Jason Bay and gave up a single to Xavier Nady.  With the winning run at second and two outs, Marmol got Adam LaRoche to strike out swinging.  Kerry Wood came out and pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to get a new winning streak started.  Let’ see if the Cubs can beat Tom Gorzelanny for the second time this season.  The Cubs will be sending Jason Marquis to the mound.

Lou News

Two bits of Lou news that I thought was worth noting.  First off, Lou will have Reed Johnson bat lead off.  Good to see Lou is reading Crawly’s Cub Kingdom!!  With Fontenot, Theriot, and Patterson not doing much at lead off, it will be nice to see if Johnson can set the table for the big boys. Johnson has six hits the last two games and is hitting .375 for the season.

Lou also stepped to the plate for Cubs fans after senile old fart Marty Brennaman ripped Cubs fans for being “the most obnoxious fans” for throwing a bunch of balls on the field after Dunn hit a homer the other day.   Pinella told reporters

“Marty’s a Cincinnati guy, obviously he’s rooting for the Reds.  But I don’t think our fans are obnoxious. They get into the ballgame, they enjoy coming out to a ballgame and that’s why they draw here the way they do. It’s a fun environment and they get into it.

“As far as winning the division — hey, I like Marty Brennaman, I really do, I was over there for three years — but he has nothing to do with the Cubs winning or losing, I can tell you that,” Piniella said.

Brennaman.jpgPut that in your Depends and smoke it old man.  Mark DeRosa also weighed in on Brennaman’s comments, and either knowingly or unknowingly hit the nail on the head.

“I don’t want to get into a war of words with him,” Chicago’s Mark DeRosa said. “I respect how he handles his profession, but I didn’t agree with what he said. I think he could’ve used different wording.

“They’re very passionate people and passionate fans,” DeRosa said. “You’re torn in situations like that [when they threw balls back] — you get a chuckle out of it, and at the same time, it wastes 10 minutes of your life. I don’t think he needed to go that far with the comments. Obviously, he has some deep-seated hatred for Chicago.”

There are probably tons of reasons that Brennaman has deep seated hatred towards Chicago.  He probably is still bitter his son Thom (nice spelling Marty) was not being moved quicker up the ladder at WGN and that Harry Caray was pushing to get his grandon Chip into the booth.  Marty was always jealous of Harry and his popularity. 

Let’s go for two in a row tomorrow.

Go Cubs! 

Missed Chance

L_flag.gifUggh Just when the Cubs were looking great, they take a step back.  Look, I know its hard to sweep any major league team, and I know that you can’t win’em all.  It’s just the way we lost this game that was irritating.  It was just a bunch of bad baseball, and Ted Lilly is not making Cubs fans any less nervous.  After being a hero the other night, Mike Fontenot also stunk it up.  Even the coaching was a mess.  All in all, a pretty crummy day.

All though the box score show that Lilly had a bad game, six hits, five runs, and three walks in six innings, he at least looked better than he did in last Saturday’s loss to the Phillies.  The walks really hurt him and Joey Votto really hurt him.  Like last Saturday, Lilly was cruising
Lilly 4-17.jpgthrough the first three innings, giving up only one walk and one hit.  And like last Saturday, the fourth inning killed him.  He got Griffey to strikeout to lead off the inning, but then walked Adam Dunn, gave up a single to Jeff Keppinger, and then walked Edwin Encarnacion to load the bases.  Votto than doubled, clearing the bases.  With the Cubs still in the game down only 3-1, Lilly got Keppinger to ground out to lead off the sixth.  Encarnacion doubled, and than Votto hit a home run to give the Red a 5-1 lead.  The scary thing is that it doesn’t seem like Lilly has his velocity where it needs to be.  He’s not going to get to many major league hitters out with an 86 mile per hour fastball out.

It’s baffling,” he said. “My confidence is still there, for the most part. Obviously I’m not as confident as if I were 4-0, but I still feel good about what I’m capable of doing. I’m just losing patience as far as wanting to give us a solid outing and a chance to win. I certainly owe that to my teammates.”

Not like the offense was much better.  After getting so many clutch hits the last few days, the Cubs fell short on Thursday.  The Cubs went 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position. Fontenot, Fukudome, and Henry Blanco all struggled today and left way too many men on
Aramis 4-17.jpgbase.  Fontenot went 0-5, leaving seven men on base.  Fukudome went 0-4, leaving 4 men on base.  Blanco was 1-4, leaving seven men on base.  Theriot and Lee were’nt much better, both going 1-5.  It was the first time the Cubs saw Reds pitcher Edison Volquez, but they also didn’t hit the Reds’ bullpen either.  There were tons of missed opportunities to blow the game open and shift momentum.  The Cubs had the bases loaded and only one out in the bottom of the second, when Henry Blanco struck out.  Lilly was up next and drew a walk, giving the Cubs a 1-0 lead.  Fontenot grounded out to end the inning.  In the third inning, Theriot singled to lead off the inning, but that vanished when Volquez struck out Lee and Theriot was caught stealing.  In the fourth inning, DeRosa walked and Reed Johnson singled, putting runner at first and second with no outs. For some reason, Henry Blanco, batting in front of the pitcher Lilly, struck out attempting to bunt.

I don’t know what happened there,” Piniella said. “We never had the bunt sign on the whole at-bat. I thought Henry might be trying to leg out a bunt single or something. I don’t know exactly what happened. Obviously it was just a mix-up in signs.”

“We miscommunicated on the first pitch,”Third base coach Mike Quade said. “Because of our series of signs, that messed up the rest of the entire at-bat. Whether the bunt was on, the bunt wasn’t on. Whether we were playing hit-and-run, we weren’t playing hit-and-run. Henry is one of the most reliable guys on this club. He doesn’t miss signs. He gets everything. He has executed the hit-and-run, the squeeze, all of that.”

With the Cubs only down 5-2 in the bottom of the sixth, Fukudome grounded out.  DeRosa singled and Johnson doubled, putting runners at second and third with one out. Blanco reached on an infield single, making it 5-3, but Johnson couldn’t advance to third.  With runners still at first and second and only one out, pinch hitter Daryl Ward flied out and Fontenot grounded out to end the threat. 

Then, in the top of the seventh, the defense fell apart. Jon Lieber came in and Norris Hopper to ground out to Theriot, but Ryan booted the ball and Hopper reached on the error.  Then, Ryan Freel bunted to move Hopper to second, but with Lieber and Lee playing the bunt, Fontenot forgot to cover first and everyone was safe.  With the wind blowing to right center, Ken Griffey Jr hit home run number 596, making it 8-2 and ending any chances for the sweep.

Fontenot has been struggling since being moved to the leadoff spot after Soriano’s injury, going 2-for-15.  I wonder if it wouldn’t be better if Reed Johnson hit lead off and Theriot or Fukudome hitting second.  I guess there is no need to panic since it was only one game.  What is making me panic is that Rich Hill will be making the next start for the Cubs as they open the next series against the Pirates and Ian Snell, who is having a terriffic season so far. You know the Pirates want to kick some Cubbie butt after we swept them at home.  We missed Snell last time too. 

Brennaman Blows

Brennaman.jpgMarty Brennaman went off on Cubs fans after the ball throwing incident Wednesday night.  After Adam Dunn hit a homer, people started throwing balls onto the field.  I wasn’t happy that Cubs fans did it, but Brennaman took it a step too far.   Brennaman said ;

“This is the kind of thing that makes you want to see this Cubs team lose.  Among all baseball fans….far and away the most obnoxious fans in baseball in this league are those that follow this team right here.

That is so typical of Chicago Cubs fans (throwing the balls onto the field)

You simply root against them.  I’ve said all winter, they talk about this team winning the division and my comment is they won’t win because at the end of the day, they are still the Chicago Cubs and they will figure out a way to screw this whole thing up.”

Screw you Brennaman and the high horse you rode in on.  You are now considered an enemy of Cubs fans everywhere.  I agree with you that it was stupid of those fans to throw the balls on the field, but you had no right to blast all Cubs fans.  This is not over old man. I look forward to the next Cubs Reds game I go to so I can heckle you in the booth.  Your cranky old *** is not welcomed at Wrigley anymore and remember, Cubs fans have a long memory.  Maybe if the Reds knew how to draw fans, you might realize that there are always a few bad apples in the bunch . Cubs fans in general, are smart, caring, and loyal fans.You sound just as idiotic as your smug, idiotic buddy Joe Morgan.  This isn’t over Brennaman, not by a long shot.

Go Cubs!

 

Old Fashioned Pounding

 
W Flag.jpgWow, I was not expecting that!  One day after beating Cub killer Aaron Harang and losing left fielder Alfonso Soriano for two weeks, I was worried that there would be a little let down.  But no way was there a let down as the Cubs put a beat down on the Reds.  It was fun to finally watch a game that doesn’t make you pull out your hair and give you heartburn. 

It all started in the bottom of the first after Mike Fontenot grounded out to first to start out the game. After that first out, the next five Cubs all got on base.  Theriot doubled, Lee hit a single, and Aramis drew a walk.  With the base loaded and one out, Fukudome worked it to a 3-2 count and hit a ball down the third base line that was just foul and shattered his bat.  So what does he do next?  He hits a double down the first base line to clear the bases.  Bob Brenly put it best when he said  “How do you defend against that guy?”  Good question Bob.  DeRosa hit a double, scoring Fukudome and the Cubs had a 4-0 lead.

After getting Brandon Phillips to strike out in the top of the second, Zambrano walked Adam

Z pitches 4-16.jpgDunn.  Then Edwin Encarnacion hit a single to put runners at first and second.  The next batter, Joey Votto, hit what looked like an easy pop fly, but DeRosa, who started out the game playing left field, saw the wind take the ball over his head and bounce into the bleachers for a ground rule double.  The score was now 4-1 with runners at second and third and only one out.  All eyes were on Zambrano, to see if he would melt down, but the Cubs luckily got a little lucky.  Javier Valentin grounded out to Zambrano, who caught Encarnacion in a run down off third for the second out.  Then Josh Fogg looked like he had a basehit up the middle, but the ball hit the mound, popped up, and landed in Theriot’s glove.  Theriot tossed it to Lee and the threat was over.  Zambrano had smooth sailing from there. 

Lee homers 4-16.jpgDerek Lee started off the third with a homer to center.  That was Lee’s sixth homer of the season.  That equals his home run total for the entire first half of last season.  I just find that amazing.  After that, the next three batters reached base, Aramis walking, Fukudome hitting a single, and DeRosa walking, before Geovany Soto hit a two run double.  That was it for Fogg, gone without retiring a batter in the third.  With DeRosa at third and Soto at second, Reed Johnson hit a sac fly.  Then Zambrano helped his own cause by hitting an rbi single to score Soto.  Fontenot eventualy scored on a nice play and by the end of the inning, the Cubs were up 10-1.

At that point, iit was no longer a game, just a party at Wrigley.  Zambrano gave up two runs on eight hits over seven innings for the win. He also had three hits, including a double and an RBI, and had hits from both sides of the plate.  Reds starter Josh Fogg was charged with nine earned runs and seven hits over just two-plus innings.  Major a-hole Kent Merker, the guy who got in some altercations with Steve Stone, gave up a double to Z, threw a wild pitch, and gave up a run on a Fontenot single. Wednesday’s loss was the fifth in a row for Cincy, and the Cubs are 7-3 in their last ten games.  After St. Louis beat Milwaukee again, the Cubs are now in sole possession of second place in the NL Central. 

Slight Negative

balls on field.jpgAdam Dunn finally snapped out of his slump, hitting a monster home run onto Sheffield.  As usual, someone threw the ball back onto the field, and then 20 more balls littered the field.  I have talked about some of the negative behavior I have witnessed at Wrigley over the last few years.  I don’t know why people do stuff like this.  Don’t say alcohol.  I have been drunk at thousands of Cubs games and have never thrown anything onto the field of play.  It just makes Cubs fans look bad.  After hearing how stupid the Phillies fans sounded booing their home team constantly last weekend, I would hope that Cubs fans would learn a thing or two.  I really wish these people who are acting like idiots would go do it  somewhere else. 

Keep it Rolling

Winning these first two games were huge for the Cubs.  Now Ted Lilly, who has struggled this season, has no pressure to win this game. If he pitches well, great.  If not, we still won the series.  He can focus on improving his game and contributing to the team.  How nice would it be to sweep Dusty and his Reds out of town.

Go Cubs! 

Welcome Back Dusty

W Flag.jpgThe Cubs bats greeted Dusty Baker and his slumping Reds by breaking out their whooping sticks.  Even before the first pitch, Cubs fans were nervous.  Aaron Harang, who always pitches well against the Cubs, was on the mound and we had our number 3 starter, Ryan Dempster going.  Then, in the first inning, Alfonso Soriano does his little hop to catch a fly ball and injures his calf.  He had to have Ryan Theriot on the field.  Soriano never gets injured his whole career, then he comes to the Cubs and has three leg injuries in less than a year and a half.  136 million dollars down the toilet. Mike Fontenot came in to lead off the game and Mark DeRosa moved from second to left. 

 Things got worst in the top of the second when Dempster walked the first two guys he
DeRosa hr 4-15.jpgfaced.  With no outs and runners at first and second, Edwin Encarnacion hit a ball to left to drive in Brandon Phillips.  With runners still at first and second, Dempster got Joy Votto to strike out, Paul Bako to fly out, and Harang to ground out.  The Cubs were able to strike back in the bottom of the second when Fukudome led off the inning with a single.  Mark DeRosa, who always kills the Reds, crushed a home run to left center to give the Cubs a 3-2 lead.  The good times didn’t last though, as Jeff Keppinger singled and Ken Griffey Jr hit his 595th home run, putting the Reds back ahead 4-3.  Luckily, Dempster was able to stay out of trouble for a while.

In the bottom of the fifth, Dempster hit a fly ball to center for the first out.  Mike Fontenot then hit a double and his canjun twin, Ryan Theriot, walked.  Wow, how nice is it to have table setters.  Ask Derek Lee, as he crushed a hanging slider to give the Cubs a 6-4 lead.  After the home run, Theriot and Fontenot, all 5’10 of them, waited for Derek Lee at home plate.  Lee looked like Willy Wonka and Theriot and Fontenot looked like oompa loompas.  The great thing is that this is Lee’s fifth home run.  Lee didn’t have five home runs until June 1st last year.  He already has that in two weeks.  The combination of Lee, Theriot and Fontenot also was key in the top of the seventh, this time for their defense. 

In the top of the seventh, Dempster was starting to run out of gas. Bako started out the inning with a single, then pinch hitter Scott Hatteberg drew a walk, putting runners at first and second with no outs. That was all for Dempster, who managed to scatter five hits and walked five over six-plus innings, striking out three. Out of the bullpen came Carlos Marmol to
Lee fontenot theriot 4-15.jpgface former Cub Corey Patterson.  With runners at first and second, Pattesron bunted hard back to Marmol, who made an ill advised throw to second.  Everyone was safe and the base were loaded with nobody out, going into the heart of the Reds order.  The next batter, Jeff Keppinger, hit a ball that should have gone to centerfield to tie the game, but Mighty Mike Fontenot made an amazing diving stab, and flipped the ball from his glove to Theriot.  They only got one out, and the Reds scored on the fielder’s choice to make it 5-4, but that play changed the momentum of the inning.  Marmol got the next batter, Griffey Jr, to ground into a 3-6-3 double play, Lee to Theriot, back to Lee.  It was amazing and the crowd went nuts. The Cubs never looked back, with Ramirez, DeRosa, and Theriot all driving in runs.  Theriot hit a two run homer.  Michael Wuertz struggled again out of the pen, but Wood closed it out for a 9-5 win.

Look, I’m not stupid.  Even though Soriano is struggling, the Cubs are still a better team when he’s healthy, but his injury may show the importance of DeRosa and the need to upgrade at second base.  DeRosa filled in nicely for Soriano, and played left field well.  He is perfect to have when someone gets injured or needs a day off.  With Fontenot at second, the Cubs were a much better defensive team.  If DeRosa was at second in the top of the seventh, he doesn’t come close to that ball Keppinger hits, two runs score, and there would still be no outs.  You need to be tight defensively up the middle, and that’s what Fontenot brings.  He also has a great swing and would be a nice number two hitter.  Now Fontenot started out hot when Aramis went down last season and DeRosa moved to thrid.  He then cooled off.  No one know how long Soriano is out, but it will be interesting to see if Fontenot can cut it offensively in the big leagues.  He is also another left handed bat.

Tonight also proves why Marmol should not be the closer.  Lou loves to use Marmol when the game is on the line.  He was the best when it came to stranding inherited runners last season, and he is keeping runners from scoing this season.  Without Marmol, it doesn’t matter who your closer is because you won’t have the lead in many games.  Marmol puts out a lot of fires for Lou and there is no one else who could fill that role.

Beside Wuertz’s poor outing, the other negative of this game was Felix Pie.  He was bad.  Read bad.  Not even close.  On a day when every single batter got a hit, including pinch hitter Reed Johnson and Ryan Dempster, Pie was 0-4.  Not only that, it was an ugly 0-4, with three strike outs and four men left on base.  I wonder if Corey Patterson looked into the hometeam dugout and saw himself when he was a young ballplayer.  I hope they can fix Felix’ swing, or Pie may end up like Patterson, a journeyman centerfielder.

Hopefully the Cubs can take the second game of the series.  On paper, it looks like we have the advantage,with Zambrano going against Josh Fogg.  Fogg has never impressed me, so let’s see how the Cubs’ lineup looks tomorrow.  Let’s hope the bats keep cooking and the Cubs keep winning.

Go Cubs!