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.
Lester didn't have much movement there in inning one. Doubt the long break between starts helped him. Rizzo popping out way too often the last 6 weeks. 22 pitches for Lackey through 2.
For Quintin to be in the team (should they get past the Cards) maybe a pitcher gets the axe.
if the cubs make it past STL (and molina behind the plate) it'll be interesting to see if they find a home for q.berry on the roster as a running substitution tool.
RHP Jason Hammel replaces OF Quintin Berry on the Active Roster, as the Cubs go from 10 pitchers in the Wild Card game to 11 pitchers in the NLDS.
the story checks out.
also, i agree.
So all this business about Maddon being an old Cards fan and Arrieta being in Matt Carpenter's wedding... I have really strong feelings about this stuff. I'm not sure if I really enjoy it or really despise it, but I feel strongly about it...
Today's Loss puts new meaning into their national anthem: O Canada
LaTroy does what he's always done best, blow games on the line. Still breaking management hearts at age 42.
I'm sure Fox is thrilled with the ratings potential of a Rangers + Astros ALCS. Ha.
LaTroy is going to LaTroy
I am remarkably calm about today's game. Not that I am expecting to win, but that I have no expectations at all either way.
If the Cubs game goes to 14 innings, I will no longer be calm.
TEX/TOR in the 14th inning, btw...fun stuff.
Yay! KB at 3B!
Molina in the Cards lineup.
Fowler (CF), Schwarber (RF!), Bryant (3B), Rizzo (1B), Castro (2B), Coughlan (LF), Russell (SS), Ross (C), Lester (P)