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|
Well, 0-2 isn’t what Lou had in mind when the season started. Not only did we lose game 2 but we embarassed ourselves. I am never one to boo the Cubs, but really, they should give the fans who were at the game today there money back. How bad was today? The MVP of the game was Jason “Frickin” Kendall reaching base five straight times and driving in two. Are you kidding me? How bad was today? The Brewers had 14 hits with six different players driving in runs? How bad was today? How about the two errors the Cubs had, one by Ramirez the other by Soto? How bad was the game? Everyone of our pitchers were crushed. Ted Lilly gave up four runs and five hits in 4 2/3 innings, including the first pitch he threw, a homer to Ricky Weeks.
“He didn’t have a good fastball, he really didn’t,” Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. “That pitch was missing. It wasn’t his best stuff. Milwaukee’s a good hitting team.”
Out of the bullpen, Kevin Hart gave up gave up one hit and two walks and one run (not including an inherited run he let score in 1.1 innings. Michael Wuertz didn’t give up any runs, but gave up three hits. Carmen Pignatiello gave up one run on two hits in 2/3 of an inning. Then Howry came in again today and gave up two runs on three hits in 1.1 innings. How bad was the game? Jason Kendall has a stolen base, then reached third when Geovany Soto threw the ball in ceterfield.
“We didn’t play well today,” Pinella said. “We gave them three or four runs when we didn’t execute. We overthrew the cutoff man from center field; first-base ground ball, the throw wasn’t good, and the pitcher missed the bag. We threw a ball into center field. When you’re not scoring too many runs, you can’t do those things.”
How bad was the game? Aramis Ramriez got caught trying to steal during a hit in run in which Fukudome struck out. If you recall from last season, Kendall has the worst throwing arm in baseball. How bad was the game? It only took two games this season for Lou to start changing things. Lou announced that Soriano would be put back in the leadoff spot again. Soriano was 0-4 with one strike out and left 4 men on base. He was 0-5 on Monday. Pinella angrily said after the game;
“Soriano is running better. We’ll put him in the leadoff hole, where he’s more comfortable, and let him hit there.”
I’ve batted leadoff all my career,” Soriano said. “I feel comfortable batting leadoff. It’s my first time batting second this year. But I’m seeing the same pitches. It’s not a big deal for me. I’m the same guy, batting leadoff, batting second, I’m the same guy.”
Maybe he’ll stop pouting and start hitting.
After the game, Lilly said;
“Believe me, we came out with the intentions of going 2-0. We were unable to do that, but you’d like to get off to a good start. Like you saw last year, we weren’t able to do that, and we were able to continue to battle through the season, and we got ourselves in position to win the pennant.”
Now, there are two schools of thought to the first two games of the season. Let’s go over them both.
#1-Hit the Panic Button
After all the hoopla of 2007, the 100 year anniversery in 2008, the Fukudome signing, etc, Cubs fans and Lou were expecting this team to come roaring out of the gate. Instead, they fell flat on their faces. The Cubs said the 2007 left a bad taste in their mouths, but what about the Brewers? Leading the division for most of the season, then watching the Cubs pass by them disgusted the Brewers and their fans. There lineup look filthy, with nearly every player able to jack one out at any time. They got Braun out of third, where he was a huge defensive liability, and moved Bill Hall back to third, an upgrade defensively. All of this and they are missing their new centerfielder, Mike Cameron, who has to sit out the first 25 games for testing postitve for a banned substance. Cameron had an amazing spring. How would these games have gone if he was in the lineup. Just like last April, our bullpen is terrible, we are making base running mistakes, defense is shoddy, and we are not getting clutch hits. The Cubs were 8 1/2 games back before they were able to come back and win the division. Can lightning strike twice?
#2-Sprint, not a Marathon
The second school of thought is that the season is a sprint, now a marathon. Fans have been waiting so long for baseball, that every game seems like a playoff game. Remember, a great baseball team will still lose 65-70 games. The Cubs have pitching depth and a great lineup and they just need to get it together. The Cubs have the resources to make moves in the middle of the season, and Lou and his coaching staff know their players better.
What school of thought do all of you subscribe to?
Match up for tomorrow-Ryan Dempster vs Dave Bush. Up to Dempter to prevent the sweep. Does that change your vote either way?