Archive - Aug 2008

August 30th

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SP *Jamie Moyer SP *Sean Marshall

11-7, 3.81, 102 K, 50 BB, 160.2 IP
3-3, 3.52, 43 K, 13 BB, 46 IP
       
SS #Jimmy Rollins LF Alfonso Soriano
2B *Chase Utley CF Reed Johnson
LF Pat Burrell 1B Derrek Lee
1B *Ryan Howard 3B Aramis Ramirez
CF #Shane Victorino 2B Mark DeRosa
RF Jayson Werth C Geovany Soto
3B Pedo Feliz RF *Kosuke Fukudome
C Carlos Ruiz SS Ronny Cedeno
P *Jamie Moyer P *Sean Marshall

 

Carlos Zambrano was scheduled to start Sunday for the Cubs, but Z and his dead arm ("muscle fatigue in his triceps," according to the Cubs) are going to skip a turn. WSCR also reported this morning that Rich Harden, whose velocity was markedly down against the Phillies on Friday, will skip his next turn, meaning he won't pitch until sometime after the Houston series. Can I say it? Oy, oy, oy. (Nice to have an 11-game lead in the Wild Card race, however.)

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SP Brett Myers SP *Ted Lilly
       
SS #Jimmy Rollins LF Alfonso Soriano
2B *Chase Utley SS Ryan Theriot
LF Pat Burrell 1B Derrek Lee
1B *Ryan Howard 3B Aramis Ramirez
CF #Shane Victorino CF *Jim Edmonds
RF Jayson Werth 2B Mark DeRosa
3B Pedo Feliz RF *Kosuke Fukudome
C Chris Coste C Geovany Soto
P Brett Myers P *Ted Lilly

 

Angel Guzman (September '07 TJS) had what was likely his final rehab outing last night at Iowa, pitching the 8th & 9th in a GF non-save situation in an I-Cubs victory, throwing two shutout inings (31 pitches - 23 strikes). With his minor league rehab going well, I fully expect the Cubs to reactivate Guzman from the 60-day DL on Monday when the MLB active rosters expand to 40.

August 29th

With three days left in August, the Cubs have two legit contenders for player of the month honors in August. The only player of the month winner so far for the best team in baseball has been Geovany Soto's rookie of the month honor in April, although he's certainly a strong contender to win it again in August. His only real competition is the July winner, Ian Stewart who has a slight edge in OPS and both have 20 RBI's in August.

All the NL contenders after the jump...

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SP Joe Blanton SP Rich Harden
(NL) 1-0, 4.03, 27 K, 15 BB, 38 IP (NL) 4-1, 1.47, 70 K, 14 BB, 49 IP
       
SS #Jimmy Rollins LF Alfonso Soriano
CF #Shane Victorino SS Ryan Theriot
2B *Chase Utley 1B Derrek Lee
1B *Ryan Howard 3B Aramis Ramirez
LF Pat Burrell CF *Jim Edmonds
RF Jayson Werth 2B Mark DeRosa
3B *Greg Dobbs RF *Kosuke Fukudome
C Carlos Ruiz C Henry Blanco
P Joe Blanton P *Rich Harden

 

A few aftershocks from last night's game...the come from behind win was the 38th for the Cubs this season, second to the Yankees 39. It was their 19th win when trailing in the seventh inning or later, best in baseball ahead of their current foe - the Phightin Phils.

Today, ex-teammates do battle as Rich Harden and Joe Blanton take the mound. I'm sure a steak dinner at Morton's is on the table for the winner.

 

Some more game notes fun after the jump...

I think I'm taking the 2008 Cubs for granted. I headed to my car for my commute home last night just as the Phillies were scoring three runs in the sixth. And even with Cole Hamels carving up the lineup, I never thought we were out of it. I tuned into XM radio by that point and it had Pat and Ron going and Pat was carrying on that the Phils bullpen has been worked hard lately. If the Cubs could just work up  that pitch count up on Hamels. If he could go eight, the Phils would just go to Brad Lidge which probably wouldn't have done the Cubs much good considering he's a perfect 31 for 31 in save opportunities. The key was to get into the pen before that. After seven, Hamels was up to 108 pitches but due up third, and Charlie Manuel obliged by pinch hitting for him.

Boom. Mike Fontenot goes yard on Ryan Madson. As I heard Bob Brenly say on the replay, "ABH - Anybody but Hamels".

Next up, Soriano sounds like he just missed one for a double. After the Theriot single, Derrek Lee stepped up and I'm sure many the skeptical Cub fan were expecting the double play that he seems to be so prone to hitting to this year. But he already had two hits on the night and his one out sounded like a well-struck ball to the outfield. He's also managed a .923 OPS over the last 7 days. Chad Durbin left his control in the bullpen though and the bases were loaded for tonight's hero.

Whenever a Cub hits one deep, you can always tell with Pat if it's going out or not by the first or second word. He tries to put some excitement in any ball that looks like it has any chance but there's just this little extra inflection he puts in his voice when a ball is definitely going out. When Soriano hit his double, it wasn't there. When Fontenot and Ramirez hit there blasts, I could tell right away just by the subtle change in Pat's voice.

After missing on the first pitch to Ramirez and considering Durbin just walked Lee, I figured Ramirez would be taking. Instead I'm listening to Pat Hughes calling yet another Cubs comeback victory. 

Ramirez is certainly the game's hero, but let's be sure to give Kerry Wood his deserved praise. Working on his fourth straight game against the four best Phillies hitters was no small task. He had a bit of breathing room, but an outstanding outing by him as well to navigate the ninth inning for his 28th save.

The Win Probability chart after the jump...

August 28th

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SP *Cole Hamels SP Ryan Dempster
  11-8, 3.20, 162 K, 43 BB, 188.2 IP
15-5, 2.85, 153 K, 65 BB, 170.2 IP
       
SS #Jimmy Rollins LF Alfonso Soriano
2B *Chase Utley SS Ryan Theriot
LF Pat Burrell 1B Derrek Lee
1B *Ryan Howard 3B Aramis Ramirez
CF #Shane Victorino C Geovany Soto
RF Jayson Werth CF Reed Johnson
3B Pedro Feliz RF *Kosuke Fukudome
C Carlos Ruiz  2B Mark DeRosa
P *Cole Hamels P Ryan Dempster

 

The Cubs and Phillies play the first game in Major League history in which the umpires—or at least the crew chief—will have the option to summon an instant replay to assist a call. (The Rangers/Angels and Twins/A's games starting later Thursday will also be replay-enabled; umpires at all games will be onboard starting Friday.) The reviewable plays will be limited to potential home runs, i.e., fair or foul, over the fence or in play, fan interference or not.

Cubs manager Lou Piniella thinks it's all just a grand idea:

"This is not going to work. I shouldn't say it's not going to work, but this could turn into a little bit of a fiasco initially."

Anyhow, having beaten our boys twice (and nearly three times) in a three-game series in Philadelphia back in April, the Philles begin this four-game set as the only NL team with a lead in their season series against the Cubs.

Happy 65th Birthday Lou Piniella!

I put together some historical perspecitve on how solid or fragile things can be now that the 2008 Cubs are 83-50 (+33) and have the best record in baseball.

August 27th

Tentative rosters for the 2008 Arizona Fall League (AFL) were announced yesterday (they are incomplete and also subject to change), and six of the seven Cubs prospects who will be playing for the Mesa Solar Sox this fall have been named:

Quite a night for the Cubbies, who looked nothing like the team with the best record in baseball, other than the final result. Errors, defensive miscues, bad starting pitching, bad relief pitching and yet they overcame all that thanks to Craig Hansen's pitching and Geovany Soto's hitting. Soto had been on a steady decline since his monstrous April putting up OPS numbers of 1.048, .868, .747, .740 heading in August. But things have turned around for him and he's put up a 1.014 OPS with 20 RBI's matching his April RBI total with five games still to go this month. His seven RBI outburst yesterday tops his 6 RBI game in April versus the Brewers and is the second most RBI's for a Cubs catcher in a game trailing the likes of Barry Foote, George Mitterwald and Ed Bailey (since 1956).

If you happen to be wondering who had the most RBI's in a game for the Cubs since 1956 like I was, the answer is after the jump.

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SP Jason Marquis SP *Zach Duke
  8-7, 4.76, 71 K, 52 BB, 134.1 IP
4-12, 5.29, 72 K, 42 BB, 151.1 IP
       
LF Alfonso Soriano RF *Nyjer Morgan
SS Ryan Theriot SS Jack Wilson
1B Derrek Lee CF *Nate McLouth
3B Aramis Ramirez 1B *Adam LaRoche
CF Reed Johnson LF *Brandon Moss
RF Mark DeRosa 2B Freddy Sanchez
2B Ronny Cedeno 3B Andy LaRoche
C Henry Blanco C Raul Chavez
P *Jason Marquis P *Zach Duke

 

The Cubs go for the sweep, and once again I am reminded that I don't know how to add Rob's broom graphic to the game results box at the top of the right-hand column. I'll make you a deal, Jason Marquis: you win the game, and I'll work on the broom.

August 26th

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SP Carlos Zambrano SP Ian Snell
13-5, 3.29, 111 K, 57 BB, 164 IP
5-10, 5.60, 108 K, 74 BB, 133.1 IP
       
LF Alfonso Soriano LF *Nyjer Morgan
SS Ryan Theriot CF *Nate McLouth
1B Derrek Lee C #Ryan Doumit
3B Aramis Ramirez 1B *Adam LaRoche
CF *Jim Edmonds RF *Brandon Moss
2B Mark DeRosa 3B *Doug Mientkiewicz
RF *Kosuke Fukudome 2B Freddy Sanchez
C Geovany Soto SS Jack Wilson
P #Carlos Zambrano P Ian Snell

 

It's always nice when the league lets the Cubs use a designated hitter. Zambrano's .972 OPS is not only the best for tonight's starters, but would be second only to Milton Bradley among the regular DH's of the game. His hitting prowess has also helped the Cubs put up a .597 OPS out of the number nine spot in the order. That's good for 14th in baseball and better than the A's, Royals and Orioles have been able to manage (thanks to reader "nohit" for the tip). 

 The quest to the playoffs continues...

I started a thread regarding the Sun-Times article this morning stating that many of the Cubs September call-ups may be delayed as the Iowa Cubs clinched the playoffs. The I-Cubs will host the Oklahoma RedHawks (Texas Rangers AAA affiliate) starting Sept 3rd in a best of 5 game series. The debate over what value the AAA playoffs bring vs getting a September reward as a call-up for a contending team doesn't get my debating shoes polished but it's interesting to see how the Cubs brass is going to handle this issue.

From the Gordon Wittenmyer notes:

The Class AAA Iowa Cubs are back in the playoffs for the first time in four years, and one small ramification at the big-league level is that a few anticipated September roster additions might stay with Iowa through its playoff series.

The exceptions: Pitchers Jon Lieber (foot) and Angel Guzman (elbow) are expected to be activated from the DL when rosters expand, and lefty hitter Micah Hoffpauir, who's having a monster season, is expected to join the big club right away.

I suppose getting Lieber is an upgrade on last year where Hendry dropped AAA talent on the Orioles for a near worthless Steve Traschel. Angel Guzman just might be another solid compliment in our bullpen. Micah Hoffpauir, well there is a big fan club out there rooting for some September Hoff-Power.

The biggest addition might not get up here until after the AAA playoffs. This is when Koyie Hill gets the call-up to add 5 mph to the pitching staff's fastballs. That's "Serious" music to my ears.

 

August 25th

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SP *Ted Lilly SP Jeff Karstens
  12-7, 4.25, 148 K, 56 W, 161 IP 
2-2, 2.25, 11 K, 8 W, 28 IP
       
LF Alfonso Soriano CF *Nate McLouth
SS Ryan Theriot 2B Freddy Sanchez
1B Derrek Lee C  #Ryan Doumit
3B Aramis Ramirez 1B *Adam LaRoche
CF *Jim Edmonds RF  Jason Michaels
2B Mark DeRosa LF *Brandon Moss
RF *Kosuke Fukudome 3B Andy LaRoche
C Geovany Soto SS Jack Wilson
P *Ted Lilly P Jeff Karstens

 

The Cubs open a three-game set at PNC Park, concluding their 9-game stretch against the Reds, Nationals, and Pirates before they resume play against Major League opposition. (Yes, I'm tempting fate: Friday's smug game preview was just a preamble to an ugly 13-5 loss to the Nats, but 30 games over .500, I'm feeling smug all over again.)

Coming off a tough luck defeat in which he held the Reds hitless for the first 5 innings and wound up yielding just 2 hits in 7 IP, Lily has reduced his ERA to a season-low 4.25.The lefty has given the Cubs Quality Starts in 8 of his last 10 turns, and that defeat to Cincinnati was his first after five consecutive W's.

This will mark Lilly's fourth start of the year against the Bucs. He's 1-0, 5.63 in the three previous starts, with a butt-ugly 8.38 ERA in his two outings at PNC.

August 24th

Years before most of the English-speaking world was convinced it could do a passable Harry Caray impression, Jim Volkman was a regular on Chicago radio and had established himself as the master Harry mimic.

Well, Harry (Jim) is back now, at 1908worldchampions.com, where he recently started a game-by-game commentary on the Cubs season, with assistance from two other great voices from the Cubs past, who, like Caray, happen to be dead: Jack Brickhouse and Lou Boudreau.

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