Archive - 2007

September 23rd

Fall Blowout Special

Box Score, Play by Play, Photos

W- Zambrano (17-13), getting your playoff tickets early, exchanging temporary-farewell gifts between players and fans, streaking into the playoffs. L- Gorzelanny (14-9), pessimism. Magic Number - 4 (Brewers lost today.) Things to Take from This Game 1. A fitting end to the regular-season at Wrigley A beautiful day, Cubs chasing down a division title, and a dominant performance by the Cubs pitchers and offense. The grounds crew does a fine job with the Stretch, and the fans are cheering every moment. Let's do it again in October 2. Dominant Performance by the Ace Zambrano had his A+ stuff going today. The fastball wasn't just alive, Z also spotted it very well throughout the game. The only concern is that after running hard on a double and then scoring on a single in the sixth, Z left the game after trying to go out for his warmup pitches in the 7th. Initial report is cramps. Wood pitched two even more dominating innings to follow him up, with impecable command of both the fastball and the sharp, biting slider. 3. Ronny Cedeno, playoff-chasing Hero. Filling in for Theriot, Cedeno had a couple of scratch hits, one for an RBI, and then a real lined shot of a two-run HR to put the game away at 8-0. 4. Lee stays hot. Two hits, three RBIs, including a two-run HR that barely gets out to right-center. He also pulled a double down the line, seems to be hitting the ball with power to all fields, now. 5. One of two things is going to happen. With six games to play and a magic number of 4, either the Cubs are going to the playoffs on the strength of a terrific September, or they're going to give us a new line in our history of epic tragedies. I'm banking on the former. Your rapid response, no-one-has-left-Wrigley-at-the-publishing-of-this-recap details, below

Game Chat : BR Preview : Game Notes Tom Gorzelanny vs. Carlos Zambrano Lineups:
Morgan CF Soriano LF
Bautista 3B DeRosa 2B
Sanchez 2B Lee 1B
LaRoche 1B Ramirez 3B
Nady RF Murton RF
Bay LF Soto C
Paulino C Monroe CF
Izturis SS Cedeno SS
Gorzelanny P Zambrano P

If Eric Patterson had only known how much impact his tardiness would create in the 2007 playoff picture. When Corey's little brother was sent down to the AA Tennessee Smokies playoffs as the consequence of his reporting late to the ballpark, little did he realize he just might have Wally Pipped himself. In a quasi-punitive measure, Cubs GM Jim Hendry sent EPat out and recalled Sam Fuld.

September 22nd

Big Day for the Big 3

Box Score, Play by Play, Photos

W-Hill (10-8), Keeping pressure on the Brewers, Home Runs, pennant-chase baseball on beautiful september days. L- Duke (3-8), Sam Fuld's noggin and shoulder. Magic Number - 6 (with Brewers loss factored in) Things to Take from This Game 1. The Big 3 Soriano had two HR, including his first opposite-field blast at Wrigley, a double, and 5 RBI. Lee went 4-5 with a HR, Ramirez had a two-run HR. All three have been on huge hot-streaks at the moment when it matters the very most. Theriot also had 3 hits and scored twice. 2. The Other Big 3 (+1) Hill got pulled after 5 effective innings and 73 pitches, with only a series of scratch hits in the second leading to 3 unfortunate runs. Marmol, Eyre, Howry and Dempster then closed out the game. A bit odd that all four pitched in a game that was 7-3 when Hill left. Marmol looked sharp, Howry and Dempster got hit around a bit, Eyre got saved on a spectacular play by... 3. Sam Fuld Fuld made a terrific play to turn a run-scoring extra-base hit with one-out in the seventh, into an inning-ending double-play that revved up the fans. Nyjer Morgan stroked one to the right-center wall. Fuld ran back, lept into the vines, crashing hard against them, to catch the drive. A strong throw to Lee doubled-up the runner, and kept us out of a potentially big Pirate inning. Fans just loved it. The closing in on the division details, below.

Game Chat : BR Preview : Game Notes Zach Duke vs. Rich Hill Lineups:
Morgan CF Soriano LF
Bautista 3B DeRosa 2B
Sanchez 2B Lee 1B
Phelps 1B Ramirez 3B
Nady LF Murton RF
Paulino C Soto C
Pearce RF Monroe CF
Kata SS Theriot SS
Duke P Hill P
The magic number is 8, just like every other division leader in the NL - spooky. Happy to see Lou take my advice and keep the same lineup versus a lefty.

September 21st

While most Cubs fans were watching some stupid, meaningless, late-September game between the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates at Wrigley Field, the REAL fans were gathered at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa.

Game Chat : BR Preview : Game Notes Paul Maholm vs. Jason Marquis Lineups:
Morgan CF Soriano LF
McLouth LF DeRosa 2B
Sanchez 2B Lee 1B
LaRoche 1B Ramirez 3B
Nady RF Murton RF
Bautista 3B Soto C
Paulino C Monroe CF
Izturis SS Theriot SS
Maholm P Marquis P
Welcome, everyone, to Jeff Bennett Day at The Cub Reporter! In their 2007 annual, the Baseball Prospectus gang describes Pirates starter Paul Maholm as "a pitch-to-contact, ground-ball lefty." Sounds like Cub Kryptonite to me. The fact is, however, despite having lost to Maholm twice already this season, the Cubs have hit him hard--8 earned runs in 14 1/3 innings, including homers by Ramirez, Pagan, and a catcher who is now dead to us in a losing cause back on May 10th.

September 20th

Game Chat Brewers vs Braves tonight in a crucial game. If you need your fix, game chat is open.

With Cubs manager Lou Piniella announcing that Rich Hill, Carlos Zambrano, and Ted Lilly will pitch the final three games of the regular season at Cincinnati (with Jason Marquis to pitch the Game #163 tie-breaker at Wrigley Field, if necessary), and with Pirates manager Jim Tracy announcing last night that Cub-killer Zach Duke will make his first start since June 28th on Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field, the pitching match-ups for the Cubs final nine games now look like this (all still subject to change): PIT at CUBS FRI - Paul Maholm vs Jason Marquis SAT - Zach Duke vs Rich Hill SUN - Tom Gorzelanny vs Carlos Zambrano MON - OFF CUBS at FLA TUE - Ted Lilly vs Dontrelle Willis WED - Jason Marquis vs Sergio Mitre (or Scott Olsen) THU - Steve Trachsel (or Sean Marshall) vs Scott Olsen (or Byung Hyun Kim) NOTE: The Marlins are skipping Mitre's turn this weekend versus the Mets and are talking about removing Mitre from the rotation for the rest of the season, and if that happens, Willis-Olsen-Kim would be the the likely starters for the Marlins versus the Cubs next week. CUBS at CIN FRI - Rich Hill vs Bronson Arroyo SAT - Carlos Zambrano vs Aaron Harang SUN - Ted Lilly vs Tom Shearn NOTE: Lilly would be held back for first game of NLDS if Cubs have clinched by SUN. MIL at CUBS (if necessary) MON - TBD vs Jason Marquis If the Cubs win the N. L. Central (and based on the current N. L. standings)... NLDS schedule: WED 10/3 - Game #1 - CUBS at AZ THU 10/4 - Game #2 - CUBS at AZ FRI 10/5 - OFF SAT 10/6 - Game #3 - AZ at CUBS SUN 10/7 - Game #4 - AZ at CUBS (if necessary) MON 10/8 - OFF TUE 10/9 - Game #5 - CUBS at AZ (if necessary)

September 19th

Game Chat : BR Preview : Game Notes Tom Shearn vs. Ted Lilly Lineups:
N. Hopper CF A. Soriano LF
J. Keppinger SS R. Theriot SS
K. Griffey RF D. Lee 1B
B. Phillips 2B C. Floyd RF
A. Dunn LF A. Ramirez 3B
E. Encarnacion 3B M. DeRosa 2B
J. Votto 1B J. Jones CF
D. Ross C G. Soto C
T. Shearn P T. Lilly P
Time for the Cubbies to take a big bite out of that .00027 winning-percentage-point lead the Brewers have built in the National League Central. Lilly takes the mound on three days' rest following a well-pitched ND against the Cardinals. The lefty is 1-1 against the Reds this season, but in 18 IP, Lilly has allowed a mere 11 hits, striking out 24 and walking just 4. As for the Reds starter... When Rick Ankiel was implicated in baseball's ongoing HGH mess and went from being MLB's Feel-Good Story of 2007 to just another suspect, 30-year-old righthander Tom Shearn shot to the top of the Feel-Good list. In case you haven't heard them, the facts are these:

September 18th

Game Chat : BR Preview : Game Notes Aaron Harang vs. Carlos Zambrano Lineups:
N. Hopper CF A. Soriano LF
J. Keppinger SS R. Theriot SS
K. Griffey RF D. Lee 1B
B. Phillips 2B A. Ramirez 3B
A. Dunn LF M. Murton RF
E. Encarnacion 3B M. DeRosa 2B
J. Votto 1B J. Jones CF
J. Valentin C J. Kendall C
A. Harang P C. Zambrano P
These two staff aces hooked up in Wrigley about five weeks ago. The Cubs hit Harang relatively hard, scoring five runs in seven innings. The Reds hit Zambrano harder: 13 hits (11 singles!) and six runs, also in seven innings. The two bullpens were unscored upon and the Reds won the game 6-5. (This was also the game in which Zambrano, remarkably, failed to strike out a single hitter.) Tonight's game marks the first phase of the Cubs' Great Three-Day Rest Experiment involving Zambrano and Wednesday night's starter, Ted Lilly. As previously mentioned on this page, Zambrano has never started a Major League game on just three days' rest. That being the case, last night probably wasn't the ideal night for our bullpen to pitch 4 1/3 innings, though our big guns--Marmol, Howry and Dempster--got the evening off. Perhaps Z can give the entire relief crew a bit of a break tonight.

Like many fans watching last night’s game, I imagine, I wondered why the Reds didn’t intentionally walk Mark DeRosa in the bottom of the ninth, thus creating a possible force at home and avoiding DeRosa, who had nine consecutive hits against the Reds. Here is Cincinnati manager Pete Mackanin’s answer, as reported by Toni Ginnetti in Tuesday’s Sun-Times:
''I don't like to load the bases because it puts pressure on the pitcher to make a perfect pitch all the time,'' (Mackanin) said.
How about the manager's decision to bring Norris Hopper in from center field as a fifth infielder—was that a smart ploy?

September 17th

Game of the Year?

Box Score, Play by Play, Photos

W- Ohman (2-4), five-person infields, on-field celebrations, not backing in to a playoff spot, staying until the end L- Weathers (2-6), Protests, bad calls, leaving early Magic Number - 12 Things to Take from This Game 1. An Incredible Finish. If the Cubs don't make the playoffs, no one will remember this game. If the Cubs do, this will be one of those games people point to as proof of a "magical" season. Having squandered a few opportunities, suffering through bad calls and a mammoth HR that died instead at the top of the ivy, the Cubs rallied for three in the ninth off of Weathers, to win 7-6. Highlights were a Theriot leadoff walk, a Lee single, a Ramirez triple nearly robbed by a diving Hopper, and a Derosa infield single to win it. The dugout emptied onto the field, and the fans screamed along to Go, Cubs, Go!. 2. Another 5-hit game for Derosa. And two of the hits were huge - a home run to follow Floyd's two-run HR in the third, and then the game-winning single in the 9th. 3. Umps calls hurt Cubs. Reds Protest. The umps missed at least three calls that got under the Cubs skin - an unbelievably generous "neighborhood" call at 2nd base on a GIDP attempt where Phillips wasn't within three feet of the bag, a check swing strike on Soriano, and a safe call at first for Dunn, who was out by 4 inches or so. Yet it's the Reds who played the game under protest, on the grounds that Piniella first brought Soto and Eyre into the game, then (and we're talking a matter of a few seconds, here) informed the umpires that it was a double switch. A very strict interpretation of the rules might indicate that this didn't constitute "Immediate" notification, and that when Soto then came to bat, he was batting out of order. Can't imagine that this is anything even remotely worth worrying about. 4. Hill and Co. Hill looked really good early on. He was getting a ton of swinging strike threes on an unusually crisp fastball tonight. Ran into a bit of trouble, seemed to have a brief tweak of the leg, and couldn't get out of the fifth inning. But he struck out 7 and walked 1. Eyre, Hart and Ohman pitched 3.1 innings of scoreless ball - much like the B-team position players giving us a lift yesterday, the B-team relievers gave a huge assist, today. The thrilling, still-in-sole-possesion-of-first-place details, below. (And a recap of a parachat that might be one for the time capsule. Or the incinerator, I suppose.)

Game Chat : BR Preview : Game Notes Bronson Arroyo vs. Rich Hill Lineups:
N. Hopper CF A. Soriano LF
J. Keppinger SS R. Theriot SS
K. Griffey RF D. Lee 1B
B. Phillips 2B A. Ramirez 3B
A. Dunn LF C. Floyd RF
E. Encarnacion 3B M. DeRosa 2B
J. Cantu 1B J. Jones CF
D. Ross C J. Kendall C
B. Arroyo P R. Hill P
The Reds lead the season series, 7-5, and have taken three of the four series between the teams, including both sets at Wrigley. Interestingly, the Cubs have outscored Cincinnati by a whopping 63-45 in the 12 games. Arroyo is 0-2 this season against the Cubs with one well-pitched no-decision (4 hits, 2 earned runs in 7 2/3 IP); Hill has a win and an ND against the Reds this year. The victory was a 7-0 whitewash back in April, against Arroyo. All in all, the skies may be getting sunnier for the Red Legs. The team has been playing well (37-30) since Pete Mackanin became manager, and since the last time the Cubs and Reds met, Cincy summoned first baseman Joey Votto to the big club. In Votto (.438 AVG and 1.264 OPS in 32 AB), Edwin Encarnacion, Norris Hopper, Jeff Keppinger, Brandon Phillips and minor league stud Jay Bruce, Cincinnati has an enviable combination of talent and youth: the six players listed have an average age a shade under 25. But that's future talk. As for now, the Cubs need to beat the Reds. If the Cubs can win two of three, the Reds will be officially eliminated from the NL Central race. Take that, Joe Morgan!

With two weeks left in the 2007 MLB season, the Cubs lead the Brewers by one game. The Cubs also trail the Padres by four games in the Wild Card standings, in case that becomes an issue later.

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