Archive - Sep 2008

September 20th

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SP Joel Pineiro SP *Ted Lilly
6-6, 5.24, 71 K, 31 BB, 135.2 IP
15-9, 4.13, 175 K, 61 BB, 191.1 IP
       
SS #Cesar Izturis LF Alfonso Soriano
CF Ryan Ludwick SS Ryan Theriot
1B Albert Pujols 1B Derrek Lee
2B #Felipe Lopez 3B Aramis Ramirez
3B Troy Glaus CF *Jim Edmonds
RF *Adam Kennedy C Geovany Soto
LF Brian Barton 2B Mark DeRosa
P Joel Pineiro RF *Kosuke Fukudome
C Jason Larue P *Ted Lilly

 

It be clinching day...we hope. Lou gets nostalgic with the lineup by letting Fukudome start again and Ted Lilly tries to tie Dempster for the team lead in wins. He'll also need to watch his head in case LaRussa  tries to retaliate for Lilly's takedown of Yadier Molina last week.

Clinch! Clinch! Clinch!

The Cubs are at the point now where they can plan their starting rotation and begin to make bullpen choices and start thinking about final roster selections for the NLDS.

Here is how I think the Cubs should do it: 

September 19th

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SP Adam Wainwright SP Carlos Zambrano
9-3, 3.20, 84 K, 26 BB, 121 IP
14-5, 3.41, 127 K, 65 BB, 182.1 IP
       
CF *Skip Schumaker LF Alfonso Soriano
LF Ryan Ludwick SS Ryan Theriot
1B Albert Pujols 1B Derrek Lee
2B Felipe Lopez 3B Aramis Ramirez
3B Troy Glaus CF *Jim Edmonds
RF *Adam Kennedy RF Mark DeRosa
SS *Aaron Miles 2B *Mike Fontenot
P Adam Wainwright C Henry Blanco
C Jason Larue P #Carlos Zambrano

 

In his post-game press conference Thursday, a giggly Lou Piniella implied he was planning to go out last night to tie one on in celebration of the spectacular comeback victory. (I believe the exact quote was, "This is going to be a bad night for me.") It's a relief then, looking at today's lineup, to see Lou didn't stumble into the lockerroom still drunk and blindly pencil Koyie Hill into the leadoff spot as his second baseman or give a spot start to Michael Wuertz.

Geovany Soto gets the day off owing to irritation of a joint in his left hand. He is listed as day-to-day.

Our man Zambrano makes his first start since last Sunday's no-no at Milwaukee. I took a look at the last ten National Leaguers to throw complete game no-hitters before Zambrano to see how they fared in their very next outing.

September 18th

Brewers Give the Cubs a Game, Cubs Happily Accept

 

W - Wood (5-4), Rob G's childlike faith in spells, fairies and magical comebacks
L - Villanueva (4-7), Brewers' base-running coaches.

 

 

Things to Take from This Game

 

1. Harden reprises Marquis
Like Marquis the night before, Harden got into all sorts of trouble in the first before settling down.  The difference between the two starts being that Harden escaped with only one run allowed. Three very economical innings allowed him to get to the fifth, where Harden again struggled.  There he snuck out of a bases loaded jam with 115 pitches thrown, and just the one run from the first.  Velocity looked good, but Harden had no command on the fastball.  6 walks, 9 K's

 

2. DeRosa struggles at 2nd, Cubs struggle in 6th.
DeRosa had a throwing error in the first as he chose to try to turn a very tough DP instead of going to first.  The first run of the game scored on the play.  A bobbled grounder in the sixth helped spark a big inning for the Brewers, abetted by Samardzija's struggles to throw strikes.

 

3. Solo Scoring
Edmonds and Ramirez hit solo home runs, but that was the extent of the Cubs scoring.

 

4.  Crazy-ass rally.
The Brewers ran into two outs on the basepaths in the top of the ninth, squandering a chance to blow the game out.  Instead it's "just" 6-2.  Bottom of the ninth, two outs, and Ramirez squeaks a double just under Braun's glove. Edmonds and DeRosa single, scoring Ramirez.  Soto, who had made a nice block of the plate and nice throw in the top of the inning, takes the first pitch from Salomon Torres and hits a game-tying 3-run homer.

 

5. Lee wins it.
With runners on 2nd and 3rd in the bottom of the 12th, Lee singles up the middle to drive in the winning run.  The Brewers had 25 (yes, TWENTY FIVE) runners LOB to the Cubs' 11, plus the running gaffes.  The Cubs certainly had their issues between Harden's wildness and DeRosa's early-game defense, but overall the Brewers deserved to lose this.

 

The almost-there details, below.

 

Tags: 

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SP David Bush SP Rich Harden
9-10, 4.24, 103 K, 42 BB, 172 IP (NL)
5-1, 1.65, 78 K, 19 BB, 60 IP
       
CF Mike Cameron LF Alfonso Soriano
2B #Ray Durham SS Ryan Theriot
3B Ryan Braun 1B Derrek Lee
1B *Prince Fielder 3B Aramis Ramirez
SS J.J Hardy CF *Jim Edmonds
RF Corey Hart 2B Mark DeRosa
3B *Craig Counsell C Geovany Soto
C Jason Kendall RF *Kosuke Fukudome
P David Bush P *Rich Harden

 

I sat through last night's loss at Wrigley, which I could have done without. On the other hand, I may have the distinction of having seen Ben Sheets's last-ever appearance for the Milwaukee Brewers.

Today's starters, Bush and Harden, matched up during that fateful series in Milwaukee at the end of July. The Cubs won that game, 11-4, and Bush (1-7, 5.16 lifetime against the Cubs) allowed seven runs in 6 1/3 innings. Harden fanned nine and allowed just one run in his only career appearance against the Brewers. Overall, the Cubs have won 8 of the 10 games he has started since coming over from Oakland.

On the subject of magic numbers and division-clinching, Barry Rozner of the Daily Herald points out that if the Cubs clinch the NL Central on Friday, the clinching wouldn''t be official until the Brewers play at night in Cincinnati, long after the Cubs/Cardinals matinee is over. Same thing could happen on Saturday. In other words, there might be no in-Wrigley celebration for the players or the Cub faithful this weekend.

A few players we talked to Wednesday came up with some other ideas.

First of all, they're certain the team leaders, Ryan
Dempster and Kerry Wood, will organize a group outing to a restaurant
or bar where the club can watch in private, and, if necessary, douse
each other with cheap, sticky, smelly beverages that never fully leave
your clothes.

I wish Rozner's sources had been a little more specific about the possible site of this player party. I'm thinking I'll just camp out at the TGI Friday's I know of in Oak Brook and cross my fingers.

September 17th

Wait 'Till... The Weekend

 

W - DiFelice (1-0)
L - Marquis (10-9), drinking champagne on a thursday afternoon

 

Things to Take from This Game

 

1.  Horrid first four for Marquis
Marquis loaded the bases with a single and two walks, and Fielder cleared them with a double.  After that, Marquis settled down well enough, but the Cubs never overcame the deficit

 

2.  Short-Sheeted
Ben Sheets left after two innings due to tightness in his right forearm.  The Brewers emptied the bullpen, and they pitched very well.  Six relievers in six innings, no runs added on to the solo homer Ramirez hit off of Sheets.  The Cubs manage one run off of Torres in the ninth, but there never really was a sense of an imminent comeback.  Before the ninth, the Cubs had eeked out just four hits on the game.

 

3.  Who Cares, Our Magic Number Still is 4.

 

The rather uninspired details, below...

 

Tags: 

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SP Ben Sheets SP Jason Marquis
13-8, 2.97, 155 K, 45 BB, 194 IP
10-8, 4.36, 84 K, 60 BB, 154.2 IP
       
CF Mike Cameron LF Alfonso Soriano
2B #Ray Durham 2B *Mike Fontenot
3B Ryan Braun 1B Derrek Lee
1B *Prince Fielder 3B Aramis Ramirez
SS J.J Hardy CF *Jim Edmonds
RF Corey Hart RF Mark DeRosa
3B *Craig Counsell C Geovany Soto
C Jason Kendall SS Ryan Theriot
P Ben Sheets P *Jason Marquis

 

The Marlins took care of business for the Cubs, so it means a Cubs sweep will clinch the division. Tonight is the win they'll have to steal with Marquis on the mound against Ben Sheets. 

Out of the corner of my eye last night, the one corner that wasn't marveling at how grotesquely obese Prince Fielder has become, I noticed what was happening to a couple of our National League Central friends:

The Cardinals, who were officially eliminated from the division race last night, were continuing to get their brains beaten in (six straight losses, five straight road losses, and 10 road losses in their last 11 tries), and the Astros were continuing to not hit (a 5-1 loss at Florida, which means Houston has scored two runs in three games).

Most everyone agrees that the Cards overachieved all season long and that they haven't been viable contenders for quite a while. However, if LaRussa & Co. had any flickering hopes, the Cubs went a very long way toward snuffing them out with their series win in St. Louis last week.

As for the Astros...

Tags: 

- I like Lou. I think he does far more good than harm as baseball managers go. Yeah, he'll make some questionable decisions as all managers do, but he's been more right than wrong in his 2 years with the Cubs. Of course, no one ever notices the right decisions, they're just taken for granted as the way it's suppose to happen.

That all being said, STOP USING BOB "HOME RUN" HOWRY. Just knock it the fuck off. You're not turning him around, you're not gonna get him going before the playoffs. He's a lost cause and needs to be banished Scott Eyre style.

Lou says he's trying to figure out the middle innings and seems to not trust the youngsters. But how the hell do you trust a guy with a 5.43 ERA?

September 16th

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SP *C.C. Sabathia SP Ryan Dempster
(NL) 9-0, 1.59, 102 K, 21 BB, 102 IP
15-6, 3.02, 173 K, 74 BB, 190.2 IP
       
CF Mike Cameron LF Alfonso Soriano
2B #Ray Durham SS Ryan Theriot
3B Ryan Braun 1B Derrek Lee
1B *Prince Fielder 3B Aramis Ramirez
SS J.J Hardy C Geovany Soto
RF Corey Hart RF Mark DeRosa
3B *Craig Counsell CF Reed Johnson
C Jason Kendall 2B Ronny Cedeno
P *C.C. Sabathia P Ryan Dempster

 

The last homestand of the regular season and the Cubs will be looking to clinch a spot in the playoffs in front of their home fans and secure their second straight division crown. Dempster goes tonight hoping to take sole possession of the Cubs win lead over Ted Lilly, who tied him yesterday with 15 (Zambrano has 14).

New Brewers manager Dale Sveum leads the troops into Wrigley and will get to send Sabathia and Sheets in the first two games. That should make him look like a geniuis. Sabathia has started 13 games for the Brewers, all good enough to be considered quality starts. The Cubs though are 28-14 versus lefties this year and 14-5 at home. My, how times have changed for our Cubs.

As I mentioned earlier, if the Cubs sweep the Brewers, they'll need the Marlins to win at least one versus the Astros over the next  3 games to clinch. If they can take two out of three, that'll give them the weekend to finish the job before they have to head out on the road again.

Dan Fox offers a historical perspective on the Brewers' firing of Ned Yost while in the thick of the race for the post-season.

Turns out the 1932 Cubs were the first team to change managers mid-season (Rogers Hornsby out; Charlie Grimm in) and then go on to win the pennant. The 1938 Cubs repeated the maneuver (Grimm out; Gabby Hartnett in) and again, the result was a National League championship.

Cub-related names are all over this phenomenon:

September 15th

5 innings...goose egg in the you-know-what column for Lilly.

Words fail me...

At least I'll be around to watch this one.


ANSWER: No it isn't. Lilly makes it through six with a no-hitter, but then a kind error call on Ramirez before a soft single to right field by Mark Loretta. Cubs prevail though and knock their magic number down to six. If they sweep the Brewers AND the Astros lose at least one game to the Marlins they will clinch the division.

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SP *Ted Lilly SP Brian Moehler
14-9, 4.29, 166 K, 60 BB, 184.2 IP
11-6, 4.16, 76 K, 33 BB, 138.1 IP
       
LF Alfonso Soriano CF Reggie Abercrombie
2B *Mike Fontenot 2B Mark Loretta
1B Derrek Lee SS Miguel Tejada
3B Aramis Ramirez 1B #Lance Berkman
RF *Micah Hoffpauir RF Hunter Pence
C Geovany Soto 3B Jose Castillo
CF *Jim Edmonds LF *Darin Erstad
SS Ronny Cedeno C Humberto Quintero
P *Ted Lilly P Brian Moehler

 

This sure is a tough turn-around. It's like partying all night, hooking up with a few perfect 10 models and then having to drag your ass back to your job the next morning. Only your job is located in a city that smells either like fermenting yeast or a tannery depending on which way the wind blows (true story, that is how Milwaukee smells).

Cubs go for the sweep (I guess) with Ted "Knockout" Lilly on the mound. The only way to top last night's game is either a perfect game or a four homer game by one of our hitters. I expect nothing less.

September 14th

Well that was kind of awesome...except I walked out right before Derrek Lee's double in the third. So I'll have to relive the glory through those who were witness.

I found out about the no-hitter when I opened my email and one of our readers sent me the parachat screen grab from the end of the game.

[Updated 10:40 by ruz]: Whoooooooo!!!!!!! 

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SP Carlos Zambrano SP *Randy Wolf
13-5, 3.58, 117 K, 64 BB, 173.1 IP
10-11, 4.45, 146 K, 67 BB, 174 IP
       
LF Alfonso Soriano LF *Darin Erstad
SS Ryan Theriot CF *Michael Bourn
1B Derrek Lee SS Miguel Tejada
3B Aramis Ramirez 1B #Lance Berkman
C Geovany Soto 3B #Geoff Blum
RF Mark DeRosa RF Hunter Pence
CF Reed Johnson 2B *David Newhan
2B Ronny Cedeno C Humberto Quintero
P #Carlos Zambrano P *Randy Wolf

 

About 72 hours and one hurricane ago, the Cubs held on to beat the Cardinals, 3-2, and extend their NL Central lead over the Brewers to 5 1/2 games. As the Cubs and Astros take the field tonight at Miller Park, where they have been driven by Hurricane Ike, the Cubs' lead is 6 1/2, and the Brewers are desperately trying to hold off the Phillies and Astros for the Wild Card lead.

The Astros, who must surely have many other things on their minds right now besides baseball, have won six in a row and 14 of their last 15 to claw back into post-season contention. (They were 11 games behind the Brewers as recently as 8/27.) One of the highlights of the hot streak, and one of the lowlights of the Cubs season, was the three-game sweep the Astros pulled off at Wrigley, beginning on Labor Day. Randy Wolf, tonight's Houston starter, was the winning pitcher in the series finale, throwing a complete game shutout in one of the better efforts of his career.

Carlos Zambrano returns to action tonight, having been sent to the sidelines 12 days ago with shoulder tendinitis. Z's last start, against this same Houston club in that same nasty series at Wrigley Field, only lasted five innings before he asked to come out.

Funny pre-game note via Gordon Wittenmyer's Twitter feed:

Astros sticking it to Cubs by every means possible -- including forcing the less familiar, bigger, nicer home clubhouse on them. 

Rob G. Update: Apologies for the server crash or whatever it was this afternoon...should be fixed now.

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