After 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.”
It 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
came 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.
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.
“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.
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|
I have heard a lot of people wondering what Cubs fans are complaining about. They say that it is only the first week of the season, not to worry, get off the ledge, blah, blah, blah. So for all the people that don’t understand why Cubs fans complain even though the first week isn’t over yet, let me explain.
It’s not the fact that we lose games, it’s how we lose them. Take today’s game for example. The Cubs lost 4-3. No big deal right? Except when you look a bit closer. The Cubs outhit the Astros 9-5. What does that mean? No clutch hitting, especially when your big money players can’t hit the ball. D-Lee is hitting .222, the same with Theriot. Aramis Ramirez is hitting .154. Alfonso “Mr. Leadoff” is batting a robust .059. Not only that, but the Cubs did not draw a single walk today. In one of the biggest understatements of the year, Lou Pinella said
“We’re not the most patient-hitting team in the world , let’s be honest. You have to pitch well and not make any mistakes if you only score two runs. We have to start scoring more runs.”
And that’s another thing that drives Cubs fans nuts. Who was this stud that baffeled the Cubs and their 118 million dollar roster. A scrub named Chris Sampson who retired 13 of the first 14 batters and did not allow a runner past first until the sixth inning. He threw just 71 pitches and allowed six hits, struck out one and did not walk a batter in 6 2/3 innings. This is the same guy who had a 9.17 ERA in spring training.
Meanwhile, Rich Hill did decent, but is still giving up walks. In six innings work, Hill gave up only four hits, which is good, but he walked three batters and hit another. That’s four extra bases that were given up. Hill struck out the first two batters in the fourth before walking Mark Loretta. He then gave up a home run to J.R. Towels to put the Cubs behind 2-0. I can understand giving up home runs to Carlos Lee or Lance Berkman, but Towels?? Now the Cubs did comeback in the bottom of the seventh. Ramirez and Fukudome hit back to back singles, and moved to second and third on a ground out by DeRosa. Geovany Soto was able to hit a two out single to drive them in, tying the game.
Then, comes the hearbreak. In the top of the eighth, with Jon Lieber on the mound, Lance Berkman hits a ball straight to DeRosa, who kicks it.
I just botched it, period,” DeRosa said. “I overcharged a baseball I probably shouldn’t have. I probably should’ve stayed back and realized who was running. Dealing with a new infield — no excuses, though. That’s a normal hop and a play I should make nine times out of 10.”
Then, after getting Cubs killer Carlos Lee to pop out, Miguel Tejada hits a ball of the wall on the third base side that Alfonso Soriano terribly misplayed, allowing Berkman to score and Tejada to move to third. He would later score on a sac fly.
“It took a very quick bounce,” Soriano said. “I didn’t think it would bounce that way. Now, I’m ready for the next one,”
Oh goody. DeRosa hits a homer in the ninth, but go figure, a solo home run. Cubs lose 4-3 and fall to 1-3 on the year. Now, instead of beating a mediocre pitcher in Sampson, they have to face Houston stud Roy Oswalt. That ought to really help those quiet bats.
Lately, it seems like Lou is getting mrore angry with the media. He seems to be upset that reporters are questioning his choices for the lineup.
Now look Lou, didn’t you manage the Yankees. And you get irritated when some reporters ask you questions about the lineup? Let me give you a clue Lou. It’s because it’s obvious to anyone with half a baseball IQ that this lineup has some better options. We know Soriano hits best in leadoff, but Theriot hitting behind him? Come on. Here is a line up that I created that would work much better, and still spread the left handed bats out.
How’s that look? With Fukudome hitting the way he is, batting average of .500, on base percentage of .625, and slugging percentage of .917, you have to get him out of the fifth spot. Soto has been making solid contact, then move Pie up so he is not hitting in front of the pitcher. Makes sense to me, but what do I know. Good luck with Oswalt
|Hill, R, P||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||.000|
a-Doubled for Hill, R in the 6th. b-Batted for Lieber in the 8th. c-Grounded out for Cedeno in the 8th.
Cubs Win! Cubs Win! Holy Cow!! After Wednesday’s horrible loss, it felt like the Cubs wouldn ‘t win a game all year. They did get the win today and prevented Milwaukee from sweeping the Cubbies. If you told me that it would be Ryan Dempster who would silence the mighty Milwaukee bats, I would have laughed at you, but sure enough, he did.
It looked like the Cubs were picking up where they left off on Wednesday, when Dempster walked Ricky Weeks to start the game. He advanced to third on Tony Gwynn Jr.’s double. Prince Fielder then flew out to right, and Kosuke Fukudome fired
home, trying to one-hop the ball to catcher Geovany Soto. The ball went a little towards the third base line and Weeks collided full-force with Soto, knocking the catcher over. Dempster tried to recover the ball and flip it to Soto as Gwyn Jr was coming home, but the ball sailed over his head. Cubs were down 2-0 in the first. Fukdome was charged with an error, but I don’t know why. Maybe something about that hit woke the Cubs up, because they finally began to look alive.
The Cubs finally got some breaks go their way. In the second Ramierz walked, then reached third when Fukudome doubled, thanks in part to the bad defense of left fielder Ryan Braun. Mark DeRosa then hit a ball that took a bad-hop at third, scoring Ramirez. Soto hit a sac fly to tie the ball game up. Boy, they moved Braun to left so he wouldn’t hurt them defensively, but now he may haunt them at third. There were a lot of other balls that Braun misplayed today.
The Cubs finally were able to turn the momentum in the bottom of the fourth. Milwaukee starting pitcher Dave Bush started out the inning by walking Fukudome. Fukuidome stole second on a horrible two bouncer by Kendall (four different Cubs were able to steal bases on Kendall). Bush then hit DeRosa and then walked Soto to load the bases. Felix Pie was up, but struck out on three high fast balls. Doh! Then Dempster tried to bunt with two strikes, but struck out. Doh! It looked bad. The Cubs had the bases loaded and no outs, and now the runners hadn’t move and Bush was one out away of getting off the ropes. But Alfonso Soriano, now back in the leadoff spot, actually drew a bases loaded walk. No, that is not a typo. Soriano actually was able to draw a walk. Fukudome crossed the plate and the Cubs had their first lead of 2008 and wouldn’t give it up the rest of the game. It would have been a lot nice to have cleared the bases on a hit, but at that point the Cubs needed to get at least one in. I think if Bush would have gotten out of that inning, the momentum would have shifted towards Milwaukee, and we might have been looking at a sweep.
After struggling in the first, Dempster cranked it up. He retired 18 of the last 21 hitters he
faced. Only four of his 18 outs were on balls hit to the outfield; the rest were on grounders and strikeouts. How clutch was Dempster. In a game the Cubs needed to avoid the sweep, he slammed the door on a great offensive team. Marmol pitched two innings, giving up one run on two hits and a walk. Kerry Wood got the first save of his career and the Cubs were in the win column.
So the Cubs got their first win, Soriano got his first hit of the season, as did Aramis Ramriez, a home run. Dempster got his first win as a starter in a Cubs uniform, and Kerry Wood got his first careet save. Now come the Houston Astros. Rich Hill will make his first start of the season against Chris Sampson. Hill really struggled this spring, so I wonder how long the leash is for him. Houston can’t pitch,but they can still rake the ball. The Astros have scored 12 runs in four games, but they have given up 15 runs and are 1-3. On Saturday, Jason Marquis facesRoy Oswalt(gulp), and on Sunday, Zambrano will face Wandy Rodriguez. Zambrano was recently told to eat more bannanas and not drink coffee or red bull. You mean to tell me no one has ever told Z to cut down on the caffine!!!!????
Box Score for 4/3
|Dempster (W, 1-0)||6.0||3||2||1||2||5||0||1.50|
|Wood (S, 1)||1.0||1||0||0||0||2||0||13.50|