Archive - May 2006

May 9th

GAME THIRTY-TWO IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (14-17, 5th, 6.5 GB) AT SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS (15-17, 4th, 4.5 GB) Telephone Company Park, 7:15 PM CDT Weather: 56 degrees, clear, Wind Out to RF @ 20 mph TV: WGN, DirecTV 745 Radio: WGN, XM 189
Jason Schmidt, RHP 2-2, 3.77 ERA, 43 IP 33 K, 18 BB, 4 HRRich Hill, LHP 0-1, 11.25 ERA, 4 IP 1 K, 2 BB, 2 HR
*Juan Pierre, CF Ronny Cedeno, SS *Todd Walker, 1B Aramis Ramirez, 3B Michael Barrett, C *Jacque Jones, RF Matt Murton, LF #Neifi Perez, 2B *Rich Hill, P*Randy Winn, RF #Omar Vizquel, SS *Lance Niekro, 1B *Satan, LF Pedro Feliz, 3B *Steve Finley, CF Mike Matheny, C #Jose Vizcaino, 2B Jason Schmidt, P

Cubs vs. Schmidt: Neifi Perez: 6-20 300/391/450 1 HR, 3 BB, 2 K Michael Barrett: 4-20 200/200/350 1 HR, 0 BB, 2 K Aramis Ramirez: 5-18 278/350/611 1 HR, 3 2B, 1 BB, 1 K Juan Pierre: 5-17 294/333/412 1BB, 3 K John Mabry: 1-16 063/063/063 0 BB, 8 K Todd Walker: 4-14 286/412/286 3 BB, 1 K &nbsp&nbsp&nbspGiants vs. Hill:

The rematch we've all been waiting for, who could forget the epic duel between Hill and Schmidt last year on July 25th. In his first major league start, Hill labored through 5 innings, but held the Giants to merely two runs while striking out five. The veteran Schmidt though was up to the task, hurling seven strong innings, his only blemish - a Michael Barrett dinger. The Cubs offense persisted though, scratching a run off of Boo-Bird Hawkins in the eight, and then finally pushing through in the ninth off Tyler Walker. Cedeno leads off with a single, was moved over on a sacrifice bunt by Hairston, a sharp single to right by Todd Walker advanced Cedeno to third and that was followed up by the easiest decision ever made in baseball, an intentional walk to Derrek Lee. That set the stage for the one and only Jeromy Burnitz, who promptly flied out to centerfield, deep enough for the young Cedeno to scamper home with the winning run. 3-2, Cubs Win, Cubs Win!!!! Why did I write just write in such great detail about a meaningless game last July? Because it's a lot more exciting than the drivel the Cubs have produced over the last week or so. One other quick note from the game last year, Omar Vizquel stole 3 bases in the game, 2 off the Hill/Barrett combo that we'll see tonight. With Randy Winn now on the team, Hill's inability to hold runners and Barrett's well-known throwing deficiencies, I expect a track meet out there. Of course we stole five bases off Piazza over the weekend and scored one run off a Ramirez home run, so it probably won't matter much. The Cubs seven game losing streak though will take a backseat (at least on a national level) to the Barry Bonds pursuit of Babe's home run total. A mere two home runs from becoming the second greatest home run hitter of all-time, it will be up to the Cubs pitching staff to try and stave off the celebration until a later date. With Alou out at least 2 weeks (and likely more), I don't see any good reason to pitch to Mr. Bonds with anybody on base. Normally I abhor the "Walk Bonds" approach, because telling your pitchers that you don't think they're good enough to get Bonds out isn't the way to inspire future confidence when they do need to get a good hitter out. But in this case, I'd rather not watch that buffoon celebrate while I'm trying to watch the game. He may possibly be the greatest baseball player ever and I could care less, chemically enhanced or not, he's a jerk, a creep, and I hope he never even sniffs Aaron's record. If I was a major league pitcher, if I ever reached a three ball count on him, I'd just throw at his armguard every single time. Heck with George Mitchell's steroid witchhunt, go find out how much his home run rate went up once he started setting up half an inch off the plate with 2 feet of body armor covering his "tender" elbow. (On a sidenote, he is a free agent next year, man we could use a bat like that, Any takers? Anyone?........kidding) The Cubs are in desperate need of some offense, some defense, some kind of spark, a bench-clearing brawl, who knows. I suggest drilling Bonds each time, see what happens. Win a freakin' game!!!

In last week's Week Ahead, I said:
Hi Carlos! How are you? Have you remembered that you are very good yet?
And:
As of today the Cubs' next three opponents are a combined 28-47 (.373). With or without Wood, Prior, and Lee, these are games the Cubs need to win.
If you're scoring at home (or even if you're alone), that would be one yes and one no, which is a .500 percentage, which is something the Cubs are now three games away from. Bleah. San Francisco Giants Know Your Enemy: McCovey Chronicles, El Lefty Malo, Only Baseball Matters Tuesday, 9:15: Rich Hill vs. Jason Schmidt Wednesday, 9:15: Carlos Zambrano vs. Matt Cain Thursday, 2:35: Sean Marshall vs. Jamey Wright It looks like the Cubs will get a second chance to be party to a slugger passing Babe Ruth, as Barry Bonds sits on 713 home runs with the Cubs on their way to the Phone Booth in The City by the Bay. Did you know that legendary San Francisco newspaper columnist Herb Caen used to refer to San Francisco as "Baghdad by the Bay"? I'm sure it was a compliment when he said it, but I doubt any city wants to be compared to Baghdad right now. This oughtta be a barn-burner of a series. Rank in the NL in key offensive categories: Runs: Giants 11th, Cubs 16th Home Runs: Giants 11th, Cubs 15th Average: Giants 9th, Cubs 14th OBP: Giants 11th, Cubs 15th Slugging: Giants 13th, Cubs 15th Of course, the Padres rank below the Giants in all those categories and they just waxed the Cubs for four straight. On the bright side, the Cubs scored 6 runs over the last two games, as many as they had scored in the previous eight. Bleah. San Diego Padres Know Your Enemy: Ducksnorts, Gaslamp Ball Friday, 1:20: Woody Williams vs. Angel Guzman Saturday, 1:20: Greg Maddux vs. Chris Young Sunday, 1:20: Rich Hill vs. Clay Hensley Padres.com has a TBA scheduled for Friday, with Williams pushed back to Saturday -- not sure why. Also, Dusty has not officially named Angel Guzman as the starter for that game. It doesn't seem like there's any chance that the Cubs will activate Kerry Wood, though, so the only other option seems to be bringing Glendon Rusch back to the rotation. Of course, Dusty says that will "probably not" happen, but what are the other alternatives? Bringing back Jerome Williams? Bleah. If the Cubs really don't want Guzman in the rotation for another start, how about calling up Les Walrond for one start? He's a minor-league journeyman (29 years old, 8 major league innings) who is off to a 4-1, 2.12 start at Iowa. He's not a long-term solution, but it might be nice to reward him for what he's done over the ifrst month. He's not on the 40-man, so they would need to make room for him, but do they really need to keep Mike Restovich on the 40-man roster? Bleah. [UPDATE:] As mentioned in the comments, Restovich was outrighted to Iowa because he is out of options. So, he's off the 40-man and there is a spot open.

May 8th

GAME THIRTY-ONE IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (14-16, 5th, 6 GB) AT SAN DIEGO PADRES (16-15, 3rd, 2.5 GB) Puppy Park, 9:05 PM CDT Weather: Lovely TV: CSN, DirecTV 738 Radio: WGN, XM 188
Chris Young, RHP 2-2, 3.53 ERA, 35.2 IP 30 K, 14 BB, 6 HRGreg Maddux, RHP 5-1, 2.35 ERA, 38.1 IP 29 K, 6 BB, 2 HR
*Juan Pierre, CF Ronnie Cedeno, SS *Todd Walker, 1B Michael Barrett, C Aramis Ramirez, 3B Matt Murton, LF *Jacque Jones, RF Jerry Hairston Jr., 2B Greg Maddux, P*Dave Roberts, LF Mike Cameron, CF *Brian Giles, RF Mike Piazza, C Josh Barfield, 2B Vinny Castilla, 3B Khalil Greene, SS *Adrian Gonzalez, 1B Chris Young, P

Cubs vs. Young: Jacque Jones: 0-8 2 K &nbsp&nbsp&nbspPadres vs. Maddux: Mike Piazza: 16-63 254/266/460 4 HR, 1 BB, 9 K Vinny Castilla: 13-43 302/333/581 3 HR, 1 BB, 8 K Brian Giles: 9-25 360/448/600 1 HR, 4 BB, 5 K

Maddux back to the mound and hopefully he'll fare better than his last outing as he got a bit torched by the D'Backs. The Cubs are in desperate need of something exceptional, either an other-wordly pitching performance, some crazy 4 for 4 day by an unlikely hero, or Dusty getting himself thrown out, something to spark this lifeless team. Get a win Cubbies!!! UPDATE: Mike Restovich is off the cubs.com 25-man roster and shows up on the Iowa Cubs roster, so I assume he's the unlucky soul. By my count, the Cubs have 6 players who can play second base, but only five who you could expect to hit a home run. I love this game!

The Cubs will add INF Ryan Theriot to the roster today. For the life of me, I can't find out who they're sending down although you'd assume it's between Mike Restovich or Freddie Bynum. Both would have to clear waivers, but somehow I doubt that would be a problem. If it is Bynum, you have to really question his acquisition. Hindsight being 20/20 and all and I could really care less about John Koronka, but why give up a pitcher with options left for a guy who doesn't seem to do anything better than a guy we already had. Theriot doesn't have Bynum's speed, but since scrapping switch-hitting, he's been hitting the ball much better and he's always been considered a superior defender. A matter of fact, in his draft class he was considered the second best defensive shortstop behind the A's Bobby Crosby. I don't think it would be impossible for a guy with superior defensive skills to be able to pick up the outfield spots if needed, which is about the only thing that Bynum seemed to have an edge on. Go figure. Some other quick notes: -For those displeased with Mr. Hendry, Jay Mariotti's got your back. - I have a heavy man-crush on Bruce Miles. Speak it, brother! He also came up with the nickname, "The Riot" for today's newest Cub Ryan Theriot, which just rules. - Under no circumstances whatsoever are hitters hitting in the low 200's allowed to watch their home runs. I'm looking at you Aramis. I'm amazed someone hasn't drilled him yet for gawking. In the grass is always greener compartment, if the Cubs pulled a miracle trade of getting Miguel Cabrera and dumping Aramis (in separate deals of course), I would not shed a single tear. - If you haven't read this already, former Cub 1st round pick Matt Clanton was released over the off-season and had some choice words to say about Jim Hendry and the organization. According to Clanton, Jim Hendry once said this to him:
ëThis [organization] is not a democracy. It is a dictatorship. You shut the f--k up.í
No truth to the rumor that Hendry then made him drop and give him 20 in the mud right afterwards.

Here is the updated roster status of players in the Cubs organization who are on the 40-man roster, and players on outright assignment who are either eligible to be six-year minor league free-agents after 2006 season or who are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft after 2006 season.

May 7th

GAME THIRTY IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (14-15, 5th, 5.0 GB) AT SAN DIEGO PADRES (15-15, 3rd, 2.5 GB) Petco Park, 3:05 PM CDT Weather: Probably 72 and sunny, the bastards TV: CSN Chicago, DirecTV 740 Radio: WGN, XM 188
Woody Williams, RHP 2-1, 3.06 ERA, 32 1/3 IP 21 K, 11 BB, 4 HRAngel Guzman, RHP 0-1, 5.91 ERA, 10 2/3 IP 12 K, 7 BB, 2 HR
*Juan Pierre, CF Ronny Cedeno, SS *Todd Walker, 1B Michael Barrett, C Aramis Ramirez, 3B Matt Murton, LF *Jacque Jones, RF Jerry Hairston, 2B Angel Guzman, P*Dave Roberts, LF Josh Barfield, 2B *Brian Giles, RF #Mark Bellhorn, 3B Rob Bowen, C Khalil Greene, SS *Adrian Gonzalez, 1B Ben Johnson, CF Woody Williams, P

Cubs vs. Williams: Juan Pierre: 12-25, 480/500/680, 1 BB Neifi Perez: 15-43, 349/364/488, 1 HR, 1 BB, 2 K Todd Walker: 11-49, 224/345/347, 1 HR, 9 BB, 8 K Aramis Ramirez: 9-35, 257/297/371, 1 HR, 2 BB, 5 K

I am fully commandoed. Let's get some runs. Also: LANSING LUGNUTS (19-10, 2nd, 0.5 GB) AT PEORIA CHIEFS (16-13, 2nd, 1.0 GB) O'Brien Field, 6:30 PM CDT Weather: Warmish, breezy TV: None Radio:WOAM AM 1350 Internet:milb.com
Billy Carnline, RHP 3-0, 0.32, 28 IP 31 K, 1 BB, 1 HRKerry Wood, RHP 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0 IP 0 K, 0 BB, 0 HR
Go Chiefs! But first, look at those stats for Lansing's pitcher. Pretty impressive.

May 6th

GAME 29 Death Letter
PADRES 2 CUBS 1
Recap | Box Score | Play-by-play | Game Chart | Photos
W: Scott Cassidy (3-0) L: Bob Howry (2-1)
Tonight Cedeno and Murton were back in the line-up and acting as the speed guys, and it still didn't help. Neither did Jones' golden sombrero from the clean-up spot. Sean Marshall sees another fine outing wasted as the Cubs slip below .500 for the first time this season. Updating the unhappy totals: * One run in the last three games (again) * Two runs in the last five games: first time since June 15-20, 1968 * Four runs in the last six games: first time since June 16-22, 1968 * Six runs in the last eight games: first time ever (since 1901)
GAME TWENTY-NINE IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (14-14, 5th, 5.0 GB) AT SAN DIEGO PADRES (14-15, 3rd, 2.5 GB) Petco Park, 9:05 PM CDT Weather: It's always nice in America's Finest City TV: WGN Radio: WGN, XM 188
Jake Peavy, RHP 2-3, 4.58 ERA, 39 1/3 IP 28 K, 8 BB, 4 HRSean Marshall, LHP 2-0, 3.45 ERA, 28 2/3 IP 20 K, 8 BB, 3 HR
*Juan Pierre, CF Ronny Cedeno, SS *Todd Walker, 1B *Jacque Jones, RF Aramis Ramirez, 3B Matt Murton, LF Michael Barrett, C Jerry Hairston Jr., 2B *Sean Marshall, PEric Young, LF Mike Cameron, CF *Brian Giles, RF Mike Piazza, C #Mark Bellhorn, 1B Khalil Greene, SS Vinny Castilla, 3B Josh Barfield, 2B Jake Peavy, P

Cubs vs. Peavy: Juan Pierre: 2-15, 133/188/200, 1 BB, 2 K

Let's get some runs.

Those of you who get upset when I or someone else at TCR calls for Dusty Baker to go, you might want to look away, because that's exactly what I'm going to do. Let's start by stating some obvious facts. Dusty Baker hasn't scored only five runs in the last seven games. Dusty Baker hasn't left 30 men on base over the last three days. Dusty Baker didn't go 0-for-5, ground into a double play, and make two errors last night. What he did do is take a struggling team and make it more difficult, rather than easier, to win a baseball game.

May 5th

GAME TWENTY-EIGHT IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (14-13, 5th, 4 GB) AT SAN DIEGO PADRES (13-15, 4th, 2.5 GB) Puppy Park, 9:05 PM CDT Weather: 65 degrees, cloudy TV: CLTV, DirecTV 745 Radio: WGN, XM 189
Chan Ho Park, RHP 1-1, 5.34 ERA, 30.1 IP 24 K, 6 BB, 2 HRCarlos Zambrano, RHP 0-2, 5.35 ERA, 33.2 IP 38 K, 25 BB, 4 HR
*Juan Pierre, CF *Freddie Bynum, LF *Todd Walker, 1B Aramis Ramirez, 3B Michael Barrett, C *Jacque Jones, RF Jerry Hairston Jr., 2B #Neifi Perez, SS #Carlos Zambrano, P*Dave Roberts, LF Mike Cameron, CF *Brian Giles, RF #Mark Bellhorn, 1B Khalil Greene, SS Vinny Castilla, 3B Josh Barfield, 2B #Josh Bard, C Chan-Ho Park, P

Cubs vs. Park: Neifi Perez: 14-41 341/391/439 4 BB, 7 K, 4 2B &nbsp&nbsp&nbsp John Mabry: 5-24 208/345/250 8 K Juan Pierre: 12-22 545/583/727 Todd Walker: 5-13 385/467/462 Aramis Ramirez: 4-13 308/308/385 Michael Barrett: 4-13 308/400/385 Jacque Jones: 3-12 250/357/583 Padres vs. Zambrano: Geoff Blum: 5-19 263/300/316 1 BB, 6 K Vinny Castilla: 7-15 467/529/533 2 BB, 1 K

I promise to never make fun of another team's lineup after the historic futility that the Cubs have managed to reap upon us the last 6 or so games. It's been ugly, almost as ugly as the bulk of Z's starts this year. Here's Zambrano's numbers extrapolated for a full 33 starts so far: 0-11, 5.35 ERA, 185 IP, 33 HR, 137 BB, 209 K It's seems pretty obvious what his problem has been so far and from the games I've watched it appears Z is attempting to strike out every single batter. Go back to serving up groundball after groundball Z, cause this team is in desperate need of a dominant starting pitching performance, especially one where we don't give up any runs early in the game. The Padres offense is pretty sad too, not quite as sad as ours so far, and certainly not as sad as the lineup Dusty decided to pencil in today, but pretty darn close. Normally seeing Chan Ho Park in the rotation would be a welcome sight, but Park's peripheral numbers are actually pretty good and I'm not sure our offense would fare to well if the Padres decided to resurrect Eric Show from the grave. Score some runs...somehow!!!

GAME 27 REVIEW
DIAMONDBACKS 6 CUBS 0
Recap | Box Score | Play-by-play | Game Chart | Photos
W: Jose Cruz (1-0) L: Rich Hill (0-1)
The Cubs probably couldn't wait to get out of the desert and head over to America's Finest City. They've scored a total of five runs in their last six games, a level of offensive futility the Cubs have achieved only eight times in the last 105 years. Truly, this is historic -- the last time it happened was in 1992, and you have to go back to 1968 (The Year Of The Pitcher) for a more anemic offensive display. The good news? Hmmm...Mark Prior appears to be over his food poisioning and back on track, Todd Walker is getting on base, Michael Barrett and Ronny Cedeno are still hitting well, and Glendon Rusch didn't stink up the joint in his first bullpen appearance. Other than that, well, criticism without offering solutions is just bitching, and I'm too jet-lagged to be much more coherent than that.

May 4th

GAME TWENTY-SEVEN IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (14-12, 5th, 4 GB) AT ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS (15-13, 2nd, 1 GB) Chase Field, 8:40 PM CDT Weather: Still Hot!!! TV: WCIU Radio: WGN, XM 188
Juan Cruz, RHP 0-0, 2.65 ERA, 17 IP 17 K, 10 BB, 2 HRRich Hill, LHP (2006 AAA) 1-0. 1.44 ERA, 25 IP 33 K, 7 BB, 1 HR
*Juan Pierre, CF Ronny Cedeno, SS Aramis Ramirez, 3B *Todd Walker, 1B Matt Murton, LF *Jacque Jones, RF *Freddie Bynum, 2B Henry Blanco, C *Rich Hill, PEric Byrnes, CF #Orlando Hudson, 2B *Chad Tracy, 3B Conor Jackson, 1B *Shawn Green, RF Damion Easley, SS #Johnny Estrada, C Andy Green, LF Juan Cruz, P

It'll be a battle for Hill to win over some fans after his disappointing debut last season. "One-pitch" Hill did little to impress as he relied almost exclusively on that 12-6 curveball and straight as can be fastball. He's always had a changeup and cutter, but aparently didn't feel confident enough in them to use them against major league hitters. Things have supposedly changed and he's got a slider in the repertoire as well now and hopefully remains his focused self as he did at the end of spring training and his first month in AAA ball. Personally, I hope Hill has found the way cause the potential of two dominating lefties in our rotation is quite tasty, plus I feel he's gotten a bit of a bum wrap around here as if it's impossible for him to adjust or improve upon his game from his less than stellar debut last year. Hell look at John Koronka, the guy finds a slider to go with his fastball/changeup and he's suddenly mowing down major league batters. On the mound for the D-Backs is ex-Cub Juan Cruz who gets his second start of the season. I'm guessing he's going to be pretty amped up to face his old team and it would be wise for the Cubs to take a few and let the guy get himself into some trouble. Of course that doesn't jive with our offensive game plan of swing early, swing often. The Cubs need to find some offense and find it quick. When things go wrong on the northside, there seems to be an automatic reflex of blame Dusty, but not a manager in baseball is going get runs out of a team who has 3 positions unable to top the new Mendoza line of a 300 OBP and their cleanup hitter not even slugging 400. Dusty can juggle it all you want, these guys just aren't producing right now and it's up to this offense to start hitting. I do like the small switch of Walker behind Ramirez as hopefully Ramirez will actually see some pitches near the strike zone. Of course, that small change is probably negated by having Blanco and Bynum in the lineup. Speaking of lineups, that's an interesting one that Bob Melvin is putting out there today. Andy Green? Is Davanon hurt or something? And Hudson batting second? The guy is hitting 220/277/336 from the right side for his career. I was always curious as to why a hitter who is just horrible from one side of the plate, just doesn't scrap switch-hitting. Of course Hudson does have a 281/343/438 line as a righty this year (in 32 Ab's) versus a 194/280/239 line as a lefty(67 AB's) but I'll guess that those numbers trend towards his career line by the time the year is up. Let's get a win Cubbies and GO HILL!!!

About a month into the season, I thought it would be fun to take a look at some stats, meaningless as they are. The Cubs are 4th in Team Defensive Efficiency The Cubs are 10th in Team ERA, the relievers are 7th, but 6th in Total Runs Allowed. The Cubs are 2nd to last in Total Runs Scored and are only 2 runs above the Marlins despite playing one more game then them. The Cubs are 2nd to last in Team Slugging, only the Padres trail. The Cubs are 3rd to last in Team OBP, only the Padres & Pirates trail. Cubs as a team versus lefties: 192/273/279 Cubs as a team versus righties: 284/337/441 Individually by position, I'll use GPA (Gross Production Average), a better measure than OPS as it weighs on-base percentage as 1.8 times more important than slugging percentage, divides the whole thing by four to make it look like a batting average and adjusts for ballpark factors. Michael Barrett: .298 (about 6th among those catchers who play regularly) Ronny Cedeno: .278 (4th, well ahead of the struggling Rafael Furcal) Aramis Ramirez: .243 (9th ahead of only Vinny Castilla, David Bell & Pedro Feliz) Matt Murton: .275 (9th) Juan Pierre: .213 (2nd to last only ahead of Chris Duffy) Jacque Jones: .248 (11th if he qualified, ahead of Jose Guillen, Jeromy Burnitz, Juan Encarnacion and Jeff Franceour) Todd Walker: .312 (2nd if he was a second baseman, 6th for 1st baseman) As for starting pitching (25 IP cutoff): Greg Maddux is 5th in PRC (Pitching Runs Created), 6th in ERA, 4th in VORP Carlos Zambrano is 50th in VORP Sean Marshall is 24th in VORP And the relievers: Ryan Dempster is tied for 7th in saves, 6th in BP.com's WXLR (Reliever Expected Wins Added) Bobby Howry is 21st in WXLR

May 3rd

GAME TWENTY-SIX IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (14-11, 4th, 4 GB) AT ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS (14-13, 2nd, 1 GB) Chase Field, 8:40 PM CDT Weather: Damn Hot!!! TV: CSN, DirecTV 746 Radio: WGN, XM 188
Miguel Batista, RHP 2-1, 6.33 ERA, 27 IP 24 K, 11 BB, 2 HRGreg Maddux, RHP 5-0. 1.35 ERA, 33.1 IP 24 K, 6 BB, 1 HR
*Juan Pierre, CF Ronny Cedeno, SS *Todd Walker, 1B Aramis Ramirez, 3B Matt Murton, LF Michael Barrett, C *Jacque Jones, RF #Neifi Perez, 2B Greg Maddux, PCraig Counsell, SS Eric Byrnes, CF *Chad Tracy, 3B *Luis Gonzalez, LF Conor Jackson, 1B *Shawn Green, RF #Johnny Estrada, C #Orlando Hudson, 2B Miguel Batista, P

Cubs vs. Batista Neifi Perez: 9-21, 429/500/619, 3 BB Juan Pierre: 4-16, 250/368/250, 3 BB, 1 K Aramis Ramirez: 1-11 091/231/091, 2BB, 0 KD'Backs vs. Maddux Luis Gonzalez: 31-98, 316/362/673, 10 HR, 7 BB, 10 K Craig Counsell: 11-45 244/261/289, 1 XBH Shawn Green: 12-28, 429/529/857, 3 HR, 6 BB, 7 K

Maddog Maddux to the mound tonight and he'll have to face-off against some fellas who've gotten the better of him through the years. Luis Gonzalez and Shawn Green haven't been fooled too often by Maddux and we'll see how The Master handles those two tonight. Nice of Bob Melvin to put Conor Jackson between them whom I assume Maddux will go after if he ever gets in trouble. Neifi appears to have taken the role of Maddux's personal second basemen and he's actually had some good at-bats versus Batista throughout his career, so more than a justifiable start for Rubby's brother. We'll see if Maddux can continue the golden touch he had in April and if the Cubs bats can find some runs. GO CUBS!!!

May 2nd

GAME 25 REVIEW
PIRATES 8 CUBS 0
Recap | Box Score | Play-by-play | Game Chart | Photos
W: Zach Duke (2-2) L: Angel Guzman (0-1)
Greg Maddux was named April Pitcher of the Month, that's cool. Plus he pitches tomorrow versus the Diamondbacks. And that's about all the good news we have for today. Angel Guzman looked the part of a rookie once again, occassionally brilliant, occassionally wild, giving up 2 runs in the first in a sequence of events that looked like this if you were scoring at home: HBP, K (swinging), 2B (RBI Sanchez), BB, FC-3, WP (Run Scored), BB, GO-3. He then gave up a 2-run homer to a guy hitting worse than Jacque Jones. And then with the game still possibly within reach in the 6th, Guzman put a couple runners on before yielding to Roberto Novoa who promptly booted a tapper that would have ended the inning without a run crossing the plate, instead four did and that was more than enough for Cubs nemesis Zach Duke. For the 2nd time in this young season, Duke made Cubs hitters look like he was throwing ping-pong balls out there, only allowing 5 hits and one walk for his first career shutout. Congratulations kid and let me be the first to say that I hope we miss you the next time our two teams battle. Off to Arizona where the players can hook up with the spring training groupies they met in March. I kid, actually they can say hello to half the team that is rehabbing.

GAME 24 REVIEW
CUBS 2, PIRATES 1 W: Bob Howry (2-0) L: John Grabow (0-1) S: Ryan Dempster (7) Wrapup | Box Score
Sounds like it was a nail-biter last night, as the stoppable force (the Cubs' offense) came up against the moveable object (the Pirates). Our boys in blue (well, actually, white with blue stripes) prevailed, with some timely hitting from Matt Murton overcoming some bad baserunning by Jacque "It's A Dumb Decision" Jones. Sean Marshall was very efficient -- it looks like's he's learning how to pitch at the big league level and it's a good thing, considering he's currently the Cubs' #2 starter. Of course, I didn't get to see it, because of the arcane MLB blackout rules. In case you're wondering, yes, I am going to mention this every time it comes up, which means every time the Cubs and Pirates play each other. In case you didn't read my post the lat time I wrote about this (and I don't blame you), I live in an area where Pirates games are blacked out under MLB rules, as are Phillies, Orioles, and Nationals games. That means none of those teams' games are available to me on DirecTV Extra Innings. The Phillies, Orioles, and Nationals have a number of games broadcast either over the air or on the local Fox or Comcast sports channel, and I get those games. But, because I am outside of the Pittsburgh area as far as DirecTV is concerned, I cannot get Fox Sports Pennsylvania (or whatever it's called), which broadcasts Pirates games. So, there is no way for me to watch a Pirates games. Now obviously that's not that big of a deal, except for the 15 TIMES A YEAR the Pirates play the Cubs. It's a stupid, arcane set of rules that MLB and DirecTV need to work together to change.

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