The boom-or-bust Cubs were a bust Sunday night on ESPN, continuing their pattern of inconsistent play. The Cubs did the right thing by sending Rich Hill to the minor leagues, now Lou has to sack up and make some other tweaks, just like he did last season. First off, Jason Marquis has got to go. He is terrible. Usually he is good for a few months before going into a tailspin. This year, he is just like Rich Hill. You have no idea what you are going to get. Most of the time, it is just bad. Marquis went 5.1 innings, giving up five runs on seven hits and five walks. That’s twelve base runners in 5.1 innings of work. He would have given up more runs if not for a spectacular play by Derek Lee to rob Chris Duncan with the bases loaded and two outs with a diving backhanded catch. The bases were loaded because Marquis walked three batters in the first inning. That’s twice in this series with the Cardinals that Cubs starting pitchers loaded the bases without giving up a hit. I wonder if that’s ever happened in a series before? The Cubs got a 2-0 lead in the top of the second after Geovany Soto doubled and Mike Fontenot walked. Reed Johnson hit an RBI double, scoring Soto and moving Fontenot to third. Soriano flied out to get a sac fly. But then Marquis gave it right back to the Cardinals, After getting Yadir Molina to ground out, Marquis gave up four straight singles to Todd Wellmeyer, Ceasar Izturis, Skip Schumaker, and Adam Kennedy to tie the game at 2. It would have been worse if Pujols didn’t ground into a double play.
Then, in the bottom of the fourth and the game tied at two, Marquis screwed up big time. He got the first batter, Wellemeyer, to ground out. He gave up a single to Ceasar Izturis, who is batting .231, but got Schumaker to ground out, moving Iztuis to second. With two outs and Adam Kennedy at the plate and Albert Pujos in the on deck circle, he friggin’ walks Kennedy on five pitches. Predictably, Pujols hit a double, giving the Cards a 4-2 lead.
The Chicago offense again had opportunities but couldn’t get clutch hits. The lineup was
really hurt by the absence of Aramis Ramirez, who is still nusing a sore wrist after getting pegged by Wainwright the other night. Soriano continued to be a drain at the lead off spot, going 1-4 with 2 strikeouts. The ESPN commentators mentioned how Soriano was not catching up to the fastball. Derek Lee had an even more frustrating night, going 0-5, popping out with the bases loaded in the top of the seventh. Fukudome couldn’t get a hit and left plenty of men on base. Mark DeRosa was 0-4, leaving five men on base. During the Cubs struggles the last few weeks, DeRosa’s average has been dropping like a rock. Right now he is at .267/
Crawly’s Managerial Advise to Lou
Now I know that Lou is 14th on the alltime wins list, and Crawly has never even managed a 16 inch softball team, but I feel I must give some advise to Lou. So I will address him directly;
Now Lou, I know you are smart and will make the right decisions like you did so often in 2007. I am here to give you some advise to improve the 2008 Cubs.
Number 1- Don’t allow players to determine if they need minor league rehabs assignments. Send them down and don’t bring them up until they can catch up to a fastball. Soriano is doing much more harm then good right now. I have no doubt that Soriano is best served as a leadoff man,but the rust of not playing for a few weeks is really showing. If it continues, look for Soriano to get booed mercilessly during the upcoming ten game homestand. Soriano’s .254 on-base percentage as a leadoff man was the worst among everyday NL leadoff men entering Sunday. Corey Patterson’s .259 was second-worst to Soriano.
Number 2-Get Ronnie Cedeno and Mike Fontenot more at bats. Rotate Cedeno between short and second and give Fontenot more playing time over DeRosa
Number 3-No more Hill, no more Marquis. Please, I can’t stomach it anymore and by reading your lips when those guys are on the mound, neither can you. I know Hill has good stuff, but he can’t handle it in the big leagues. I know that the reason Marquis was put in the starting rotation to begin with was so that he could have his usual hot start and then you could trade him before he started his second half failures, but it didn’t work. Marquis is stinking up the first half now too. Leave Lieber in the rotation and give Sean Gallagher a chance to start.
Number 4- Sean Marshall should continue to be the primary left handed specialist. He has done a good job and is definately better then Scott Eyre, who should be returning soon. And please, no more Chad Fox call ups
Number 5- No more DeRosa batting sixth. It is obvious that Soto should be batting higher. He has a great eye, has real power, and is driving in a ton of RBI’s. He needs to be behind Fukudome. With Fukudome’s high on base percentage, this will give Soto a chance to drive in more runs.
Thanks for listening Lou
The Cubs now go to Cincy for a three game losing streak. The Reds are hurting, suffering a five game losing streak and 3-7 in their last ten games. They fired their GM, are talking about trading Dunn and Griffey, and Baker is already coming up with lame excuses. They are in last place in the NL central. If we can’t take this series, we are in bigger trouble than we thought.
Monday: 6:10 p.m., WCIU
RH Ryan Dempster (4-0, 3.16) vs. RH Johnny Cueto (1-3, 5.40)
Tuesday: 6:10 p.m., CSN.
RH Carlos Zambrano (4-1, 2.11) vs. RH Aaron Harang (1-4, 2.98)
Wednesday: 11:35 a.m., CSN.
RH Jon Lieber (2-1, 1.86) vs. RH Edinson Volquez (4-1, 1.27)
Let’s try to get on track and put the knock out blow on the Reds
Wow, 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
Dunn. 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.
Derek 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.
Adam 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.
The 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
faced. 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
face 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.
Well, the streak was bound to end sooner or later. The Cubs had five wins in a row going into tonight’s game against the Phillies, and they got the fireworks started early, but it wasn’t enough to get it done. Carlos Zambrano struggled in the first game of the series against the Phillies and the defense didn’t help much either. As Pat Hughes put it tonight, the Cubs either hit all or nothing against Phillies starter and big A-hole Brett Myers. The Cubs only had five hits off of Myers, but three of them were solo home runs by Lee, Ramirez, and Soriano. The only other player to have a hit for the Cubs was Mark DeRosa.
After getting two outs in the first inning, Myers gave up back to back jacks to Lee and Ramirez in the first inning to give the Cubs a 2-0 lead. The good news for Cubs fans is that Lee has has now equaled his home run totals for both April and May 2007 (four) — and it’s only his 10th game of the season. But as we’ve seen so many times before, the bats went cold. Myers threw breaking ball after breaking ball, After the first, the Cubs only had one hit, an infield single by DeRosa, until the sixth inning. It was the same old Cubs, hacking away instead of waiting for a good pitch to hit.
Meanwhile, Zambrano was able to keep the Phillies hitters down for a few innings, but he wasn’t locating his fastball. He started having his Carlos meltdown in the fourth inning. He started out falling behind Chase Utley, who eventually singled, He then got Ryan Howard to ground to Lee, who threw to second, but Utley slid hard and Theriot couldn’t put anything on the throw to Zambrano and Howard was safe. The next batter, Pat Burrell, hit a ball that still hasn’t landed, tying the game up at 2-2. In the fifth inning, Z got two quick outs, then gave up a walk to the lead off hitter, Shane Victorino. The next batter, Greg Dobbs, doubled to left-center. Kosuke Fukudome, playing center, made a back-handed catch on the run, but Soriano bumped him and knocked the ball out of his glove, allowing Victorino to score. Lou came out to argue that Fukudome had taken a few steps, and that it should have been called an out.
“That’s what the umpire said — it wasn’t a full transfer,” Piniella said . “He bumped into Soriano, and the ball dropped out of his glove.”
“I did catch the ball,” Fukudome said, “but as I ran past Soriano, the tip of the glove hit — maybe Soriano’s leg, maybe his torso — and the ball popped out of my glove. It was nothing but my fault that I didn’t hold on to it. The ball did come into my glove. I thought I made the catch.”
The funniest(or saddest) part was Soriano’s response.
“I don’t know where it hit me,” Soriano said. “I was more scared because I saw him running to catch the ball, and I wanted to tell him to get out of the way. He didn’t see me.”
Technically, the play should have been made by Soriano, who misplayed the ball. Fukudome made an amazing play to get to the ball. Had Soriano moved out of the way, the Cubs may have gotten out of the inning without any further damage.
Soriano did make it up to the team, leading off the sixth with a solo home run, tying the game at three. Unfortunately, Z couldn’t put them away. Z fell behind Ryan Howard 2-0, who then hit double to left center. Burrell then hit a double that got past Daryl Ward scoring Howard with the go-ahead run. This caused Z to start jumping around like a moron. One of these days, one of his teammates is really going to kick the crap out of him for that (Barrett tried that once!)
“What can I say?” Ward said. “I’m doing the best I can. It’s been three weeks since I’ve been in right field. It’s tough getting good jumps after not being out there that long. There’s not really any excuses. I gave it my best effort. It was over my head. If it was side to side, I think I had a good chance of catching it. Once I got there, it was over my head, and I tried to get it in as quick as possible.”
You really can’t blame Ward. After Soriano tied the game at three, I though that Ward should have been taken out of the game to upgrade defensively. I understand Lou wanting to get Ward some at bats, but you have a tie game and you need to play good defense. That was Lou’s fault for leaving him in. Carlos Ruiz hit a single,scoring Burrell and that put the game out of reach. Brad Lidge saved it for the Phillies.
The Cubs really needed Z to pitch a great game, and he didn’t. Now the Cubs have to face lefty Cole Hamels on Satuday and have struggling starter Ted Lilly going. Hamels was 2-0 last year with a 1.80 ERA and is 2-1 in his career against the Cubs. Let’s try to get another streak started. We only have to win one more game to make this a winning road trip.
My god, I have never been so disgusted after a Cubs victory in my life. After seeing my first Cubbie victory on Sunday, I was leaping for joy as the Cubs offense came to life against Pirates starter Tom Gorzelanny. Gorzelanny is a lefty, which the Cubs struggled against last year, but they had no problems with that today. The Cubs busted open the game in the third as Aramis Ramirez and Geovany Soto each drove in two runs and Gorzelanny walked three and committed a run-scoring throwing error during a six-run third. That was it for Gorzelanny, who threw strikes on only 36 of his 70 pitches. In from the bullpen came Phil Dumatrait, who was greeted by a bases clearing double by Ronnie Cedeno. By the time the third inning was over, the Cubs were up 7-0 and it looked like the Cubs were going to win their first blowout game of the season. But no. That would be too easy. That would just be fun and enjoyable. Instead, the whole team fell apart and allowed the Pirates to come back.
Starter Ted Lilly had his second bad outing, getting spotted a seven run lead and getting pulled in the fourth. In the fourth Lilly gave up a single and two walks to load the bases. Lilly almost got out of the jam, but Luis Rivas hit an infield single that Cedeno tried to make a play on, and he threw it into the stands, allowing two runs to score. The next batter, pinch hitter Carlos Gomez, hit an infield single to third, which Ramirez threw away, leading to another two runs to score. Then, with Gomez on third, Lilly gives up a triple to Nate McLouth. That was all for Lilly. Kevin Hart came in and got the third out of the inning.
“I almost felt like that, at that point, I was trying to force the ball in there and going a little too fast,” Lilly said
Hart pitched an easy fifth inning, and Aramis drove in another run to give the Cubs an 8-5 lead. Cubs fans were breathing easy again…..But Wait!!! All of suddent, Cubs relievers could not find the strike zone. Hart came back out in the sixth inning, and walked the first two batters, the seventh and eighth hitters in the Pirates’ lineup, and was pulled from the game. Into the game came lefty and former Crawly’s Cub Kingdom favorite Carmen Pignatiello. Carmen could not hit the side of a barn. He came in and walked pinch hitter Nyjer Morgan, then he walkedthe next batter, McClouth, to force in a run. That was it for Pignatiello. In comes Bob Howry, who had looked awful all season and was recently told he would be moved out of setup duty unitl he sharpened up. Howry inherited the bases loaded and no outs, yet he only gave up one run on a sacrifice fly. Unfortunately, Geo Soto had a passed ball and the Pirates cut the Cubs lead to 8-7. It could have been a lot worse and Howry definately saved the day.
But wait!! There’s more awful baseball. With the Cubs up 8-7, Michael Wuertz comes into the game. He gives up a double, but with two outs, he gets Morgan to ground the ball to second
base, but Mark DeRosa boots the ball, allowing the run to score. Even though the run was unearned, Wuertz was charged with a blown save. That was the thrid error of the day by the infield and it nearly cost the Cubs the game. Now the Cubs decided to blow every opportunity to win the game. Fukudome led off the top of the 9th with a single. After DeRosa strikes out, Fukudome steals second. With Kosuke on second and one out, the Cubs couldn’t drive him home. Then in the tenth, with runners on second and third and one out, the Cubs had Lee and Ramirez coming up. Neither of them could get a hit. In the top of the eleventh, Fukudome led off with a single, but was again stranded. Luckily for the Cubs, Jon Lieber was able to work out of a ninth inning jam and pitched three solid innings for the Cubs.
The Cubs were finally able to win the game when the last man left in the Pirates bullpen, Rule 5 pick Evan Meek walked five Cubs batters, threw two wild pitches, and gave up a sac fly, allowing the Cubs to score two runs. Carlos Marmol picked up the save. In the end, the Cubs couldn’t win the game, they had to wait for Pittsburgh to lose it. By the time the game was over, the Cubs were charged with three errors, Cubs batters walked eight hitters, and Cubs hitters stranded 15 baserunners. Probably one of the worst wins in Cubs history. Yet somehow the Cubs did win, gained some ground in the division, won their first road game, knocked a left handed pitcher around, and picked up their first road win. As manager Lou Pinella put it
“I’d rather win ugly than lose pretty,”
The Cubs get Tuesday off before facing off with the Pirates again on Wednesday. Ryan Dempser will take on another lefty, Zach Duke. Let’s get four in a row, and let’s learn to play some defense.
Box Scores for 4-7
|Hart, K, P||1||0||0||0||0||1||1||.000|
|a-Flied out for Howry in the 7th. b-Reached on error for Johnson in the 10th.
1-Ran for Ward in the 10th.
|Howry (H, 2)||1.0||0||0||0||1||0||0||12.27|
|Wuertz (BS, 1)||2.0||1||1||0||0||1||0||0.00|
|Lieber (W, 1-1)||3.0||2||0||0||2||2||0||0.00|
|Marmol (S, 1)||1.0||1||0||0||0||1||0||1.50|
Any other day and I would have thought of a clever title about Derek Lee, after he went 4-4 with a home run, but again, the man of the hour is Kosuke Fukudome. After losing the first game of the series to Chris Sampson, the Cubs had to face the always dangerous Roy Oswalt. The sun was shining, the wind was blowing, and the offense came to life. Oswalt really struggled today, giving up 5 runs on six hits and one walk. Oswalt did not strike out a single Cub batter today. On the flip side, Jason Marquis was awful. He gave up five runs on eight hits, but only walked one. It could have been a lot worse as Jason was able to get himself out of a lot of jams by inducing some key double play balls. Marquis allowe the leadoff hitter to score in four of the six innings he started.
The Cubs were quickly down 2-0 when the Cubs finally got on the board in the bottom of the second. With one out, Geovany Soto hit a triple, but Ryan Theriot hit a fly ball to shallow center for the second out. Luckily, Marquis helped his own cause with an RBI double, making it 2-1. In the bottom of the third, Derek Lee hit a home run to tie up the ballgame, but Marquis gave up a lead off home run to Carlos Lee to start the fourth, putting the Astros back ahead 3-2. In the top of the sixth, Marquis gave up two more runs, and was pulled from the game. With Carlos Lee on first and only one out, reliever Kevin Hart struck out the next two batters he faced, shifting momentum back to the Cubs.
The Cubs responded in the bottom of the inning when Derek Lee hit a double. Ramirez flied out and that brought Fukudome to the plate. Noticing the corner outfielders were playing back, Fukudome hit a bunt single that moved Lee to third. With runners at first and third, Oswalt threw a pitch and catcher Brad Aus smus missed it, allowing Lee to score and cutting the Milwaukee lead to 5-3. Unfortunately Fukudome was stranded at second. With two outs in the top of the seventh, Hart got the first two Astros out, but then gave up a triple to Michael Bourn. This could have been another game changing moment, but Hart got the next batter, Hunter Pence, to fly out. After a stirring rendition of the seventh inning stretch by Ron Santo, the Cubs finally got a sustained rally going. Oswalt started the inning walking Ryan Theriot. Then, his LSU buddy Mike Fontenot hit for Hart, and reached on an infield single. With runners at first and second and no outs, Soriano grounded out to third, moving the runners to
second and third. Reed Johnson, playing center today, grounded out to short, scoring Theriot and moving Fontenot to third. With two outs and the tying run at third, D-Lee drove in Fontenot on a single, tying the game and knocking Oswalt out. Oscar Villareal came into the game and walked Aramis Ramirez. With runners at first and second and the left handed hitting Fukudome up, Houston manager Cecil Cooper went with lefty Wesley Wright. With 40,000 fans chanting “***-U-Dome, the Japanese hitter worked the count to 3-2 before hitting a double into left field, giving the Cubs a two run lead.
“I was going to swing at the first pitch, but I didn’t see a pitch I liked, so it just happened to be that way,” Fukudome said of the 3-2 count.
The best part of the game was after the Fukudome double, Cooper came back out to change pitchers and Kosuke’s teammates were all cheering him from the dugout. He smiled and pointed at them.
“He’s been our spark,” said Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee. “He’s been there every day for us. The crowd’s feeding off it and we’re feeding off it. He’s great for us right now.”
Of course with the Cubs, it’s never that simple. Bob Howry came in and gave up two runs on three hits. Just like last season, he look horrible. Luckily Marmol was able to come in, strand the tying run at first, and bail out Howry. The Cubs were still up one run.
“One thing we need to do is get Howry going,” Piniella said. “Get him some more work and get him sharp. He’s a big part of the bullpen.”
Right now, I think that’s the last thing we need to do. Howry is an important part of this bullpen, but we can’t let him blow leads anymore. If the Astros would have tied it or taken the lead, it might have had a huge affect on this team. Howry’s velocity is down, and he usually doesn’t get it up there until the second half. I don’t know how much longer we can take this. Reed Johnson was able to drive in an insurance run in the bottom half of the eighth, and Kerry Wood came in and retired the Astros 1-2-3.
This was just a huge win for the Cubs. Now they have a chance to win the series with our ace, Carlos Zambrano, squares off against Brandon Backe. The Cubs should be able to keep the offense pressure on and hopefully we will get some more confidence going. I will be at the game, so hopefully I can see my first Cubbie victory of 08!
|Hart, K, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
a-Singled for Hart, K in the 7th.
|Hart, K (W, 1-0)||1.2||1||0||0||0||2||0||0.00|
|Howry (H, 1)||0.1||3||2||2||0||0||0||16.88|
|Marmol (H, 1)||0.2||0||0||0||0||0||0||2.25|
|Wood (S, 2)||1.0||0||0||0||0||0||0||9.00|