Game 139 Thread / Astros @ Cubs (2 of 3)

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SP Brandon Backe SP Carlos Zambrano

9-12, 5.42, 122 K, 72 BB, 159.1 IP
13-5, 3.53, 114 K, 61 BB, 168.1 IP
CF *Michael Bourn LF Alfonso Soriano
LF Ty Wigginton 2B *Mike Fontenot
SS Miguel Tejada 1B Derrek Lee
1B #Lance Berkman 3B Aramis Ramirez
3B #Geoff Blum RF Mark DeRosa
RF Hunter Pence CF *Jim Edmonds
2B *David Newhan C Geovany Soto
C Humberto Quintero SS Ryan Theriot
P Brandon Backe P #Carlos Zambrano


While Cub fans are hoping that the team's bats will come back to life (no EBH's among the club's last 27 hits), the greater concern right now is with Carlos Zambrano.

All Cubdom would like to see that the two extra days of rest Zambrano got when his scheduled Sunday start was pushed back to this evening have proven beneficial to his "fatigued" "dead" tired arm. If nothing else, in the span of those two days, the calendar turned from August to September.

As mentioned here—and everywhere else—previously, in five starts this past month, Zambrano went 1-1, 7.42, allowing opponents to hit .284 with a cumulative 917 OPS. He was 0-4, 7.06 in August of 2007, and in his career, Zambrano has gone 12-16, 4.22 in August starts. His lifetime September numbers are better: 17-10, 3.48 in 32 starts. Of course, all that really matters right now is he does this September.

His opposite number tonight, Brandon Backe, was the victim of that eight-run third inning, not to mention a grand slam by Mark DeRosa and a three-run job by Alfonso Soriano, the last time he pitched at Wrigley, the first week in August.

Backe's team, however, comes into the game having won six games in a row and closed to within two games of the third-place Cardinals. Maybe the Astros' veteran catcher, growing wistful as he nears the end of his career, can distract his mates by infecting them with his wistfulness.

(Brad) Ausmus, like most Major Leaguers, considers the Windy City the best of all road destinations. Playing day games at a historic, festive ballpark such as Wrigley Field and having nights free to enjoy some of the "best restaurants in the world," by Ausmus' estimation, make trips to Chicago a pleasure for all.

"I'll miss Wrigley," Ausmus said. "There's nothing more fun than an 80-degree day in the middle of summer at Wrigley Field...When I'm done playing, I plan on making a trip and watching a couple of games from the bleachers," Ausmus said... "That is something I definitely will do."


Fuku getting benched versus a righty...Godenot time.

Good Z... Good Z... Good Z... everyone repeat it with me...

$20 for the rest of the season or $8 per day.

I do not claim to be a stat-head. I am amazed and impressed at the levels of analysis I find on this site. I am very grateful for the expertise.

That said, what are the two best averages in the line-up doing in the #8 and #9 holes? That is absurd.

That is all for now.

Theriot has been slumping a bit...but I think as evidence yesterday, Lou doesn't like leading off with 4/5 righties. Without any power, nowhere else really for Theriot to go if he isn't going to be in the 2 spot.

I'd flip Soto and Edmonds, but that would leave 4 righties in a row in the middle of the order.

Who knows. If Z pitches well and Soriano and Lee do what they are capable of, the rest is largely irrelevant.

I'm still baffled by Lou's insistence on using Howry when the game is close. Seriously. This is killing me.

Howry just Uggla'd the entire game away.

Yeah, Howry looked like he had it back for a few games there, but back to the same old crap now. But we basically have 3 guys in the bullpen we trust, and they can't pitch everyday or from the 5th or 6th inning on.

Any scoop on why Z came out? Or Howry is still on an MLB roster?

Classic cubbery today...

3 double plays with men on 3rd less than 1 out....maddening.

Howry better not be on the post season roster...

DLee -- you have got to be fucking kidding me.

Guy walks 2 in a row to load the bases, including walking Fontenot on 4 pithces, throws ball 1 to DLee, and the DP machine swings at the next pitch -- inning over.

If you are going to swing in that situation, it has GOT to be a pitch you can drive in the air.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

He guessed fastbvall, got fastball, but it was way too loo.
I think I would have been less frustrated watching the RNC, and that's saying a lot for a hardcore Democrat like me.

Correction-- the pitcher had walked 3 in a row before DP Lee's stupid AB.

Any report on Z?

He left after five innings and 86 pitches.

"He told our pitching coach that he wasn't feeling good," manager Lou Piniella said.

Zambrano will see the team doctor Wednesday.

that don't sound good...

At least the Brewers lost...

This is a frustrating game to watch. We're missing so many opportunities.

i think it is time for a hoffpauer sighting


Many thanks to Bob Howry and DP Lee for the Cubs 4th straight home loss.

The Astros found 2 of our weak links and exploited them.

- absolutely disgusting game.
- "#1" starter can't go past 5.
- 3 guys on 3rd 1 out...0 sac flies.
- 2 guys failing at sac bunts in extras.
- 2 on, 0 out top of the order up, can't move a guy over.
- Aram making 3 errors in 4 innings.

This reminds me of how we felt during the Marlins series last September...Brewers giving the Cubs chances to put it away, and Cubs just playing bad fundamental baseball.

The other day the media reported he felt "fine." Maybe he was saying "five."

speaking of that hoffpauer sighting
lets hope its tomorrow at first base
for derrick (sucks) lee

Hope Dempster feels like pitching a complete game tomorrow.

What an absurd game to lose -- better win a lot on the road over the next few weeks.

Len said he still has no word on Z. But anyone understand why Wood was in there for 2 innings and 40 pitches? I understand he has not had much work lately, but why 2 innings? The rosters have expanded, use Lieber or someone less valuable.

Why is Wood in for 2 innings? Because it's a tie game in extra innings in an important September game at home.

Wild guess here...Cubs will stumble into the playoffs again, then get swept. Phils and 'Stros are the first decent teams we have played in a far, looks like we'll be 2-4 at home.

Not good.

Anyone remember the White Sox epic August/September collapse in 2005? What did they do in the playoffs? Oh yeah, won the World Series.

Let's not get our panties in a bunch here. The Cubs were playing awesome, now they're playing like crap. Maybe by the time October rolls around they'll be back to awesome. The playoffs are a crap shoot, and I like our chances as much as anyone else's.

Agree with the overall theme, and I vividely recall the White Sox near collapse, but I don't recall their #1 pitcher going down in Septemeber with an arm issue.

Fortunately for us, Z is our #3 pitcher, realistically.

Harden and Dempster have both consistently put up better numbers than Zambrano this year. Is he capable of being more dominant than Dempster and more durable than Harden? Yes. But until he proves he can do that consistently, he's only labeled our "Ace" because of his fragile ego.

Still can't believe the idiotic AB by DP Lee in the 8th.

Simply amazing.

Lou should be a hoot in the media session.

Wow... a lot of people are freaked out by a four game losing streak, 3 of which were started by pitchers who won't be starting in the playoffs.

Step away from the ledge...

Given the very small margin for error in a 5-game NLDS series, having your reputed #1 starter in a month-long funk, a 1B with no power who seems to make bad decisions at the plate with men on base, and a RF whose best offensive weapon is a walk -- well, I think a little stroll on the ledge is warranted.

Hopefully, we will play the Pirates or Reds in the playoffs.


This is a team that has scored the most runs in the league, and allowed the fewest.

This is a team that has a winning record against every team in the NL other than the Phillies.

This is a team that has the best record in the NL by a healthy margin.

All teams have losing streaks.

Let me say it again - the Cubs have lost 4 games in a row, three of which were started by pitchers who will not start in the playoffs.


Umm... check your facts there, bigl...
6-8 against the Astros...
3-3 against the Nats...
Not exactly the cream of the crop....

My bad... I meant didn't have losing records, but that was before this week's series against the Astros.

Certainly no big deal. I agree with what you're saying, though. I think the cubs' offense is going to be just fine. I am worried about Z, and wondering when Lou is gonna get the message about Howry, and stop using him, like he was so quick to do with Eyre earlier this season. If Z turns out to be okay, and Howry gets stapled to the bench, I think the Cubs look pretty good overall...

Best they get it out of their system in September.

Was that an attempt at optimism?? Losing on the road in Sepember is one thing, but we just lost our Home Field Mojo.

Awful game.

went down one for the division at least.

Using Bob Howry in a tie game though was the "what the fuck" moment of the game. Good lord.

Derrek Lee hit that ball on the screws, Blum made a nice pick, decent turn and a great scoop by Berkman. Sigh.
The strikeout 2 innings later were some nice pitches on the outside corner by the lefty Wright.

Bob Howry though. Please die.

Welcome to Chicago, Kevin Hart!

I would guess we've just seen the last of Howry pitching in meaningful situations for the Chicago Cubs.

does anyone think that a.guzman is a possibility
to be on the first round playoff roster?

how about hoffpauer wouldthe rulesallow that?

God is that depressing to wake up to.

When BL says 'three against starters who won't be starting in the playoffs', who does he mean? Last year we went with a three man rotation and it cost us.

When BL says 'three against starters who won't be starting in the playoffs', who does he mean?

Who does he mean? Marshall, Marquis, and Lilly will not be starting, at least in the first series and barring any injuries (Z?).

Last year we went with a three man rotation and it cost us.

Yea... I really wish the Cubs would have started their 4th starter in one of those three games. Going with a three man rotation did not cost the Cubs. LouPa willing to pull Z early MAY have cost the Cubs.

And why did Pinhead pull Zambrano early?

Because he may be hurt.

And yes, if Z is hurt, that is a problem.

But that is a much bigger issue than the Cubs losing four games in a row.

No, I meant in the playoff game. He pulled him early so he could be ready for a game 4 that never happened, and the bullpen quickly blew the lead. Even if Z gets healthey, the drop-off between him and Lilly is small enough that there's no point in going with a three man rotation this year.

Huge start for Dempster, in what I think will be a preview of what we can expect him doing in post-season pressure. With the way the other guys have struggled their last starts, if Dempster could through a CG 10K shutout (heh), he'd move in a tie for 2nd in Wins, and move up to 5th in K's, plus he would get a press boost for being the Cubs 'stopper'.

That being said, I'll take a 11-10 victory, if it means we get off this losing streak.

Look on the bright side:

The Cubs have won 7 of their last 11 games.
That's a .636 winning percentage!

I was pretty discouraged while watching last night, even ranting at Lou for what I perceived to be at least one questionable decision (bunting with DeRosa in the 9th after the ARam walk). I also found myself thinking: if you are the best team in the NL by a good margin and David F. Newhan is running you ragged, it's gut-check time.

I realize, though, that the Astros are just doing their play-the-2nd-half-like-it-matters thing (every damn year with these jerks!), and that Tejada in particular seems to have contracted Carlos Lee Syndrome, manifesting itself in clutch RBIs, satanic pirouettes at 2B, and the apparent belief that he must destroy all things Cub all by himself.

So -- four losses, two to a very good team, two to a hot/lucky go-nowhere team. Shake it off, have some coffee, and NO MORE DPs THANK YOU.

Agree with the above point -- this will be a good test of them under pressure.

Anxious home crowd and media (and TCR posters), bad news all over the pitching staff (Z, Harden, Gaudin), depleted bullpen after the last 2 days, numerous missed opportunities from the 8th inning on against mediocre pitchers last night, Howry still on the roster, etc.

OK Demp -- show us it's real.

It's not so much the 4 straight losses -- it's more that it's September, and we have potential health issues with 3 key pitchers (Z, Hardin and Gaudin) -- acually, Z and Harden are more than "key".

DP Lee is who he is -- good fielder, decent average, low power hitter who may have the DP thing in his head. (I know it's in mine). 2005 was a fluke year.

Maybe Gooz will save us all.

Just read the Sun-Times -- nice to see DLee and Howry step up and shoulder the blame for a lousy night. No excuses. Well done.

First home series loss since June.

Cubs are doomed.

On a happier note, I was doing some media stuff at the game yesterday, and I'd just like to report (for you locals):

Paula Faris - even hotter in person than on TV and incredibly nice

Kerry Sayers - better looking in person, bordering on extremely attractive

Megan Mawicke - ibid

Anyone care to speculate about Z's "not feeling good" arm at this point? Sounds like a possible recurrence of his shoulder issues? Gah, hope to hell not.

As the saying goes --

The 86th win is always the toughest. Cubs never got past 85 last year, including the playoffs.

"...but I don't recall their #1 pitcher going down in Septemeber with an arm issue."

Good point - and I don't think the entire team had any injuries of significance the entire season. As a contrast to this season, where it looks likes Danks has a dead arm as well.

Bah. It looks like Brandon Webb has a dead arm too.

On the plus side -- Geo Soto!

Not only that, but Soto was filthy last night.

And Angel Guzman looked good too.

Z is seeing the doctor today anything other than that and who knows.

And my god we got posters running around like a chicken with their heads cut off.

Recognize this....we are 85-54, 31 games over .500 with a playoff spot almost locked up. We are not like past Cubs teams struggling to be .500ish and hoping the rest of the league plays to our level of crap so we can back into the playoffs.

This is a good team. An outstanding team. Don't forget that.

Right on! This team is still the best team in the NL. The only way we can avoid seeing the headless chickens is for the team to go 162-0. Get real, people! This is a down. We're going on an up next.

After today, Cubs play 16 of last 22 on the road, with ther last 19 against winning teams, including trips to problem areas like Houston, NY and St. Louis, where our history has not been good. Last 7 in NY and MIL.

"...almost locked up" Not quite yet.

Agree that this is a good team, but one that got fat in August on a heavy home schedule and 15 games against the Pirates, Braves, Reds and Nats.

The chickens arent so much worried about the 4-game home losing streak as we are about what lies ahead....

Yes, "almost locked up" is a fair phrase to use. Hell, I would say "it is all but locked up". The Cubs are up 10 with 23 games to play to make the playoffs. I don't even think the Cubs can blow that one. I am more worried about some of these injuries popping up. Go Cubs!

Actually, they are 9 up.

Woof -- lots of fate-tempting going on.

Nice to see some level reactions mixed in with the Chicken Little stuff.

Here's some optimism for everyone-

runners on the corners, 1 out in the top of the first already

Go mets.

1-0 Mets....Prince sitting today for whatever reason.

grand slam Ryan Church, 5-0.

HR Brian Schneider, 6-0.

Mets are winning 6-0

Recent comments

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  • I think with Hammels and Hendricks struggles the 2nd half we forget how dominate of 1st halves they had and how many games they won us as the offense was struggling. We also forget they are back of the rotation guys and we can't be expecting ace quality there.

  • Maybe it's just Werth & Ross I'm noticing. Weird.

  • CRAIG: Jose Albertos is not chunky like Fernando. He's built more like Dylan Cease. Exact same body type. And his delivery is free & easy. He's definitely not a "max effort" guy.   

  • Hendricks after 50 MLB starts: 17-11, 3.45 ERA, 1.12 WHIP. Not bad for a #5 starter. He may be a 6-inning max guy, but, if he can keep those stats up, I will gladly take it.

    Speaking of WHIP -- last year, he was tied for 11th in the NL. Tied with Hammel.
    Last year's NL rank in WHIP: Arrietta 2nd, Lester 9th, Haren 10th, Hammel T11th, Hendricks T11th. Wow.

  • I went to a Nats game in DC two years ago while looking at colleges with my son -- it's a fun park, worth a visit if you are in the area.

    I also saw the "slowness" thing -- particularly Werth, who would mosey out of RF about 5 seconds before the inning started.


  • It's Dusty's fault. It'll be the end of them.

  • Speaking of how teams "look", my take on the Nats- It's really weird, but the pace of the entire team seems slow. Slow walking to the plate, slow on the mound, even on some routine groundouts, it looked as if there wasn't a ton of hustle. Don't get me wrong, when the ball is hit to their outfielders, they get after the ball, I'm really referring to non-critical action- they mosey around. It's kind of odd. Maybe that "calm power" is part of the Nats ethos, idk.

  • My favorite moment of Hendricks' performance last night was the last strikeout he rung up- the cajones it took to throw a high, 86MPH fastball to Zimmerman on a 0-2 count. And he swung the bat like it was a 96MPH heater. I literally laughed out loud.

  • In listening to Maddon's post-game, he is interested in how these other teams "look" to him. He is assessing for today...and tomorrow. I love this guy.

    One observation from last night: Joe Ross is incredibly slow. 20-30 seconds between pitches at times. Hendrix had a nice, peppy rhythm which is great to see.

    I know there are plenty of purists here which I applaud, but the game just will not sustain itself unless change of pace rules come into play. Pitch clock, improve the shit-ass reviews, mound visits (there is a clock for this), batter time outs, etc.

  • Thanks, Phil. Albertos at 17, and having gotten a good signing bonus ($1.5, even though as Mexican prospect I think his team gets half of that?), throwing in the 90's and showing some command of a curveball sounds pretty interesting, even if that control is only for a dozen-pitch sample.

    What kind of a frame does he have? Is he on the stocky and short-ish side (I'm recalling Fernando Valenzuela!), or somewhat taller? A lot of 17-year olds have projection, "when he fills out" projection. Would that apply at all for Albertos?

  • A-Team

  • Ha

  • I definitely hang around here looking to reply to your comments as noticed by my nearly year long absence.

    there's a fine line between posting something relevant, useful or at least humorous versus posting something irrelevant, useless or unfunny...actually it's rather quite a thick line and easy to see for most people not named crunch.

  • I certainly am digging the RISP machine Zobrist version.

  • Cubs are taking advantage of bad D by their opponents -- did it a few times in PIT and the Nats botched 2-out rundown leads to 3 Cub runs in the 8th. Which were nice to have.

    I hope Kyle had fun at the dance party -- he was terrific.