After losing a heartbreaker the night before, the Cubs won in decisive fashion were able to avoid their first three game losing streak of the season. With Saturday’s win , the Cubs have matched the highest April win total in franchise history with No. 16 — and there are three more games remaining. The team also won 16 in April 1969. Lou said before the seasson started that he wanted to get the Cubs off to a hot starts, especially since their are very few home games in September. The Cubs still hold a 1 1/2 game lead over second place St. Louis and have a chance to make this a winning road trip with a win over the Nationals tomorrow.
Friday Night Heartbreak
It was a game that we have gotten used to the Cubs winning, but in the end, backup catcher Wil Nieves’ hit a two-run, walk-off home run off Bob Howry for the win. It was Neves’ first career home run. The Cubs could not get a clutch hit, leaving ten men on base, including an eighth inning one out bases loadedsituation. The loss took away from an incredible Reed Johnson catch that is being called one of the best catches ever. Ryan Dempster also pitched well, giving up only two earned runs in seven innings. Dempster went deep into the game and other than a bad first inning, really should have gotten his fourth win.
Stopper Comes Through
The Cubs needed a good pitching performance to end a two game lossing streak, and he had another great outing. This is by far the best Z has pitched in April. Zambrano threw seven
shutout innings, allowing five hits and striking out five. He did walk four batters, but was able to get himself out of trouble every time. The last three Cubs starters, Marquis, Dempster, and Zambrano all went seven innings, a relief for a bullpen that was definately taxed. The Cubs were sparked by tablesetters Reed Johnson and Ryan Theriot. WIth Washington’s Matt Chico on the mound, Johson, Theriot, and Lee were 6-6 in their first three at bats. Johnson and Theriot led off the game with back to back singles, followed by a Lee single to score the first run of the game. Aramis popped out, but Fukudome walked to load the bases. DeRosa hit a single to score Theriot and Lee, making it a 3-0 ballgame. In the top of the third and one out, Johnson singled and reached third on a Theriot single. Both runners scored on Derek Lee’s double, and after just three innings, the Cubs led 5-0. They may have scored more, but Derek Lee was caught stealing third base while Ramirez was up. More on that later. Aramis would later hit a two run double to give the Cubs a 7-0 lead. Michael Wuertz looked a little better and Jon Lieber closed the game.
I know that Lou wants the Cubs to be more aggressive, especially when it comes to stealing third. The only trouble is that the Cubs have gotten caught twice trying to steal third in the past two games. It didn’t really cost them on Saturday, but it did on Friday. With one out, Reed Johson was hit by a pitch. He scored on a Ryan Theriot double, cutting the Nationals lead in half, 2-1. With Derek Lee up to bat, Theriot was caught trying to steal third. Lee would walk and Ramirez would reach on an infield single. Who knows what may have happened if Theriot wasn’t thrown out? Theriot was later thrown out at second on a strike’em out throw’em out. Pinella still feels it was the right move.
“A lot of good things are happening that are not noticed by the casual fan,” Piniella said of his strategy. “One, pitchers are slide-stepping against us a lot more. Two, infielders are holding runners on, which are creating more holes, and catchers are calling more fastballs, and those are all advantages.
“You don’t want to see a baserunner thrown out with your [Nos.] 3, 4 hitters coming up.”
Theriot ran on a changeup, which was a good pitch to run on.
“You take a risk,” Piniella said. “With certain release points and also reports on how the catcher is throwing, certain times dictate you run and the percentages are in our favor. Unless you stumble, fall, or get a real bad jump, you’ve got an 85-percent chance of making it. When you do it, it works great. We’re creating opportunities and forcing teams to adjust to our style of play. Nothing’s going to work 100 percent, but if everything works 80 percent in your favor, you have to take advantage of those things.”
Fair enough. The one thing that Bob Brenly mentioned after Theriot was caught Friday and Lee on Saturday is that the runners are not getting good secondary leads and they need to be moving towards second as the pitcher is winding up instead of flat footed. I am sure Lou and his staff will adress this soon.
Cubs Need Lilly To Come Up Big
The Cubs would love nothing more than to win tomorrow, take the series, make this a winning road trip, and get some momentum going into a big three game set at home against Milwaukee. Lilly will start for the Cubs while John Lannan will go for the Nationals. Like Odalis Perez, the Nats’ starter on Friday, Lannan has pitched well but his record doesn’t indicate this because of Washington’s lackluster bats. Lilly had a good outing last time and looks to build on that start. Let’s hope the Cubs can continue to make franchise history on this road trip, winning it’s seventeenth game in April.
What 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
pitch. 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
better? 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
stupid 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!!