Cubs Bullpen Does Not Contribute to Crushing Defeat This Time
It took 11 innings, but the Cubs walk away with their first road victory in almost a month.
Why the Cubs Won: Another good outing from the starting staff, which are 5th in the league in ERA (not sure if that is before or including tonight's game). Ignoring that the Braves are closer to the bottom than the top in NL offense and were missing their best hitter, Lilly shut the Braves out through 5 on one hit before giving up a run in the 6th. It could have been worse if not for a defensive gem by Ryan Theriot snagging a shot by Matt Diaz to his right, spinning clockwise on his knees and throwing a strike to Andres Blanco for the force out. Lilly then gave up an unearned run in the 7th thanks to his own throwing error and Chipper Jones before calling it a night. We know he could have pitched a complete game shutout if he wanted to, but he figured the bullpen needed a pick-me up from last night and gave them a chance to redeem themselves.
Marmol cruised through his inning in the 8th, Guzman pitched 2 scoreless innings (0.91 WHIP and 2.49 ERA so far) and Gregg did not throw a meatball to Jeff Francouer tonight and the Cubs end up on the right side of the a one-run game.
On offense, Derrek Lee went 2 for 3 with 2 walks and has his OPS almost up to .800 and ended up scoring the winning run. One of those walks was on a questionable check swing that would have been a strike 'em out, throw-em out double play but the Cubs caught a break. Mike Fontenot then lined a double to the base of the wall in deep center for the Cubs only two runs off Derrek Lowe.
The Cubs wasted a few opportunities until the 11th when Lee led off with a walk. Fontenot was allowed to hit away and flied to left and Lee was able to tag from first base as left fielder Matt Diaz's momentum carried him into foul territory...nice to see good baserunning for once. Reed Johnson singled just past a diving Chipper leaving runners on the corners and Micah Hoffpauir in to pinch hit as the last bat on the bench. Bobby Cox went with lefty and after going to 2-2 on Hoffpauir, the Hoff took a slider low and away and just poked into left field over Chipper Jones to score Lee and the winning run...a real nice piece of hitting.
Speaking of our pen: Reader jacos relays this brief interaction with ex-Cub Michael Wuertz at last night's A's/White Sox game:
Went to Sox game tonight against Oakland.
I went down to bullpen bar before game and sat by RF fence as A's took batting practice.
Wuertz was shagging and a ball came over by the fence.
I said "Michael, Cubs could have used you last night."
He stopped and leaned against the fence, smiled and shrugged his shoulders.
I said "you wouldn't have thrown a cock high fastball to Francour." He laughed.
And then I said "How's Oakland treating you?"
He said "They are letting me pitch here."
I said good luck and he waved and went back to shagging.
Cubs go for the series win tomorrow as Carlos Zambrano returns from his suspension.
You lollygag the ball around the infield. You lollygag your way down to first. You lollygag in and out of the dugout. You know what that makes you? Larry!
Its too bad Warren didnt get to pitch. He would have saved us.
Whoa -- that Contreras play in the 8th looked too much like a "Schwarber" -- nearly crashed into the wall going full speed, with Heyward doing the same.
New rule: if you are a catcher playing LF, and find yourself sprinting after a fly ball in the gap -- stop, let the CF go after it and get ready to play it off the wall.
Cubs have no spark and no life. Pretty boring to watch these days.
I thought trips to Miami were supposed to be fun. This one sucked.
The bottom half of the bullpen now turns close games into blowout losses. Not good.
Once Fowler went to the DL, the team went into the tank. Wonder if he'll get any love this offseason? Probably not.
6IP, 2ER. The last one scored because of another botched Zobrist DP turn.
And now, a bad throw by KB. Sloppy.
What is it with Hammel always starting well and sucking after a couple months?
Ahhh...sad. Lke a few of you here, I saw him play during the '69-'71 seasons. He was the "hot Zobrist" for the club in August/September of '69 while everyone else was fizzling out...
I predict: "They will play hard and if they give the same effort every day, they'll win a lot of games."
OK, boys -- find a way to win today.
There's some BA is missing too, here's all signing bonus BA doesn't have some:
-6 Hockin $241,000 (slot price), 7 Cruz $75,000 (saved $110,00), 8 Ridlings $120,000 (saved $53,800), 9 Robinson $30,000 (saved $132,300), so far the Cubs have saved an extra $297,100
Zobrist (2B), Hayward (CF), Bryant (3B), Rizzo, Contreras (LF), Montero, Russell, Coghlan (RF), Hammel
Also -- despite losing 6 of their last 10, the Cubs picked up a game on both STL and PIT during that period. Weird, given that they swept PIT and were swept by STL.
Also, I'd like to know if there are numbers to back up my suspicion that there are a lot more fast starts than late June romps. This seems like a time where everybody not named Willson Contreras is looking a little tired and/or banged up a bit.
For once, the Cubs got off to a fast start. Seems like I've been waiting for that for 50 years.Everybody is really gunning for this team, too. It's their playoffs.
He reminds me of a little of a young guy currently on the Cubs' DL, who is also tank-like in appearance.