Archive - Apr 2009

April 30th

In short:

The Bulls game was great.

The Blackhawks game became compelling.

And the Cubs game...made me glad the Bulls and Blackhawks games were on.

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The Cubs open a four game set versus the suddenly popular Florida Marlins who are riding a two game win streak and are first in the NL East. They are  just 3-7 over their last 10 though and are fifth in the NL in runs scored (Cubs are 9th) and 10th in runs allowed (Cubs are 8th), so maybe the Cubs bats can start waking up.

Wittenmyer tweets that Aramis Ramirez will avoid the disabled list for at least another day and the lineup for tonight will be: Soriano, Riot, Fukudome, Lee, Bradley, Fontenot, Hill, Miles and Marshall. Also, be sure to check the left sidebar under Quick Links for Wrigley Webcams to see if the game will happen or just below that for a weather update.

April 29th

The Cubs drop the finale in Phoenix and the series, finishing the roadtrip at 2-4. Hey, they won 2 games.

Why the Cubs Lost: Ryan Dempster came out of the gate rolling breaking pitches up in the hitters' eyes while generally missing the plate. He did settle down for the most part after the first inning, besides a Chad Tracy home run in the third, but the Cubs offensive funk didn't need the degree of difficulty to start the game. It looked like Dempster was done after six and allowing four earned runs, but a Mike Fontenot double play to end the top of the 7th sent him back out for the bottom of the inning. Dempster walked the leadoff batter on four straight and was promptly removed and had another run tacked on to his total. He ended the day with 97 pitches, 61 for strikes, 5 earned runs in 6 innngs pitched and a 5.10 ERA in April.

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Easy Win
W - Zambrano (2-1)
L -  Petit (0-2), Kryptonite, Mortals.

 

Things to Take from This Game

 

1.  Z. Pitches
Not so much a dominant game from Z as a comfortable game.  Zambrano walked two and K'd three, working one weakly hit ball after another.  Only in the seventh did the "scattering" of eight hits result in a serious rally, and by then the game was out of reach.

 

2.  Z. Hits
Zambrano had arguable the two hardest-hit balls of the night, with a lined shot of a double to very-deep right-center and an opposite-field home run, as well as a single. 

 

3.  Others Hit
Soriano had the first and biggest blow, a three-run homer in the third, followed by a Fontenot two-run shot in the fourth.  Koyie Hill continued his good start to the season, with three hits, and Bradley looked good with a couple of lined singles and a walk.  Soriano in particular looked locked in, just barely missing a leadoff homerun and patiently letting Petit pitch around him for a walk in another at-bat.

 

The never-in-doubt details, below.
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April 28th

Ryan Keedy had three hits including two RBI doubles, but the Giants edged the Cubs 4-3 in an eight-inning Extended Spring Training game on Fitch Park Field #3 this morning. Meanwhile, another squad of Cubs blanked a second squad of Giants 11-0 in a seven-inning game on Field #2, as Larry Suarez and Carlos Rojas threw lights-out shutout ball over the seven innings. (The Giants brought their entire EXST squad to Mesa today--which is unusual--so there were enough players for two games).

I could have tried to watch & score both games simultaneously, but I opted to score only the game on Field #3, so here is the abridged box score (Cubs players only) from that game:

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Ordinarily I have little to say while the I-Cubs are on the road. My commentary usually takes the form of eyewitness accounts. But one big club is wandering the desert [both literally and otherwise] which means a long day's journey into gametime and another big club is in Nashville laying waste to PCL pitching staffs. I thought we might kill some time with a closer look at the latter.

After last night's two-homer game Jake Fox has a pile of stats like the stack of chips in front of the big winner at a poker game.

In 18 games he's hit 11 trotters and knocked in 29 runs! 19 of his league-leading 31 hits have been for extra bases. He's batting .443 with an OPS of 1.549. He already has amassed 73 total bases, just over four per game! True, he's fanned 20 times against only eight walks, but he's also played errorlessly so far at 1B.

For the sake of some perspective it might be useful to note that Big Jake's competition at the top of some of the PCL's hitting categories is none other than Matt Murton. Murton's off to a .411 start with Colorado Springs but 20 of his 30 hits have been singles. His OPS is 1.133 but he has, get this, swiped five bases without being caught. Fox is 1-1 in that category, he being more of a distance runner than a sprinter.

Last year Micah Hoffpauir totaled 100 RBI in just 70 games with Iowa. Will Fox be here long enough to find out if he can equal or surpass that remarkable rate of run production?

IN OTHER NEWS:

Jason Waddell, the bullpen lefty, is pure no more. He gave up his first three runs of the season and took the loss in Saturday's road trip opener...Is Jose Ascanio being stretched out or just exiled? Last year's sometimes I-Cub closer has had four starts and leads the league with a somewhat misleading ERA of 0.54. But his innings pitched have been four, four, four and two thirds and four. The corresponding pitch counts were 55, 54, 74 and 68. Are they extending him to be a long reliever? Mission accomplished...Bobby Scales has played 3B in all three games since Aramis Ramirez was hurt on Saturday afternoon in St. Louis...MW

April 27th

The Cubs dropped their fourth game in five as Arizona's Dan Haren pitched a complete game, three-hitter to beat Ted Lilly, who just pitched like hell.

Why the Cubs lost: Aside from Alfonso Soriano's leadoff home run, Mike Fontenot's eighth-inning solo shot, and Lilly's third-inning single, the Cubs could do nothing against Haren.

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The Cubs open a three game set in Phoenix tonight against a team battling their own set of injuries. For the D'Backs, it's Brandon Webb and Stephen Drew on the disabled list, although Tom Gordon should be activated for the series. So far on the season, the Snakes have scored the second least amount of runs while allowing the fifth most. I guess no better time to play them short-handed.

The Cubs go in with a two-man bench with Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez and Milton Bradley all sitting, and its unclear if any of them can even pinch-hit. The lineup, according to a Wittenmyer tweet, is Soriano, Theriot, Fukudome, Reed Johnson (yep, batting cleanup), Hoffpauir, Soto, Fontenot, Miles and Lilly. They'll try to scratch some runs against Dan Haren and his 1.38 ERA.

In good news, Carlos Marmol's bullpen session today went fine and should be available tomorrow. Aramis, Milton and possibly Lee could all be back before the end of the series Speaking of Lee, Bruce Levine wrote earlier today that Lee has been suffering from a bulging disc that results in upper-neck and lower-back pain...a result of a home plate collision sometime within the last 3 seasons. I can't recall the incident myself, so any Encyclopedia Brown's out there that can uncover when this happened, I'd like to know. Levine then wastes a few paragraphs explaining how Lee is a warrior for trying to play through the pain while Bradley sits through his groin issues. In the same paragraphs, he says how the neck and back injuries are basically contributing to Lee's poor performance. So Levine is basically advocating that Bradley play through the injuries to hurt the team. A grand plan indeed.....


On the top right sidebar, in the "Game Results" block, there's a link now for "Organizational Results". It'll take you to FirstInning.com and the boxscores from all the Cubs' affiliates from the night before.

In a close vote to decide the Official1 TCR Nickname for our Middle Infielders, we can now announce that with 100% of the 66 votes counted, the winner is....

April 26th

The Answer To Life, the Universe and Everything?

"That's a good question, really," - Lou Piniella on Milton Bradley not taking his 2-game suspension

A Massage from Chad?

"It feels real good."-  Angel Guzman(on his first win)

Cubs' Fans Have Been Waiting Even Longer for You
"Oh, finally, and the way that we won that game coming back from a
deficit of 4-1 is good for the team, and I think it's going to give us
a chance to start playing better baseball. Since 2006, waiting.
Finally. I've got the ball in my locker. I'm going to give it to my
mom." - Angel Guzman

It's Like Manny Being Manny, Just Not as Good

"Our bullpen situation is our bullpen situation." - Lou Piniella

Wes is Available

"[Saturday] was just ugly. They could've brought in anybody out of the stands to do what I did yesterday. It's one to forget about and move on."- Neal Cotts

Two more days of a lackluster offense and Alfonso Soriano is back in the leadoff spot...Soriano, Riot, Fukudome, Lee, Reed Johnson, Fontenot, Soto, Miles and Harden try to avoid the sweep today.

Way to stick with it, Lou.

"We said we'd try it and we did," Lou Piniella said of Soriano, who
struck out three times on Saturday. "We'll just put him in the leadoff
spot. That's where he feels comfortable, and that's where we'll leave
him."

Even Soriano seems confused if this Twitter quote is from him: "Soriano: ''Back again? My goodness, only 2 games?'' I think that's meant to be a quote from Soriano, although maybe it's just Wittenmyer's reaction to it.

On another note, please, please win this game.

April 25th

A short mention about an AP story I just read. Bohemian National Cemetery in the Chicago area has built a 32 foot red brick wall  made to eventually resemble centerfield at Wrigley once the ivy starts growing. With a stained-glass scoreboard to serve as "skyboxes" for some 288 potential eternal season ticket holders. There are some original seats and some of the old Wrigley outfield in front taken from the ballpark when they rebuilt the drainage system a year ago.

Here's the LINK if you want to sign up. The grand slam package goes for $4700, cremation is extra.

One more thing...The urns and plaques are already licensed by Major League Baseball, so they are still working it to be getting their "piece of flesh" from those who cheer for the Cubs in the life hereafter.

The Cubs drop the opener to the St. Louis Cardinals on a warm night in St. Looey. Before we get to the recap, it's a busy Saturday here at TCR, so be sure to check out the other stories on here today.

Mike Wellman's Recap from Iowa

Dr. Hecht Returns from China

Transmission Recaps Parachat Last Night

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An in-game thunderstorm preempted the traditional Friday night fireworks show and Jason Dubois [pronounced Doo-Bwah' in this organization] launched the finale with a game-winning three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth as the Iowa Cubs dropped the curtain on their first homestand of the season by stealing one from Albuquerque.

Jake Fox clubbed his league-leading eighth homer of the year and added two singles to again pace the I-Cub attack. Bobby Scales tripled,singled and scored twice to boost his average to .370. Both Scales and SS Andres Blanco are switch-hitting infielders batting over .300, but Scales has played some 3B and even a bit of 1B besides his usual post at 2B while Blanco has been strictly a shortstop early on. If an infielder is to be recalled today, Scales may have an edge based on versatility.

Chad Fox got the win last night despite yielding his first run of the year in half a dozen appearances. A quietly emerging story in the team's bullpen is RH Greg Reinhard. He's now thrown 11 scoreless innings while walking only three to go with 17 strikeouts. Jason Waddell remains unscored upon as the team's bullpen southpaw.

The team was to leave early this morning for Nashville where they start a four-game set tonight. Still unknown is whether or not they'd be dropping anyone off in St. Louis.

This was the first home opener I've missed in 30 years.

I'm way too baseball crazy. My wife loves to travel to exotic places so when she came up with plans for a trip to China for 3 weeks the only question was when. It was either September/October or April. There went my opening day streak. Opening day is for me a religious holiday. You know, opening day is guaranteed to freeze your butt off but it's the annual reintroduction to Wrigley Field. Brown vines withstanding, the scoreboard is such a beautiful sight after a long off-season. So when I decided to sacrifice the beginning of the 2009 season (at the expense of not sacrificing the end of the season) I knew I'd be able to follow the Cubs via all the mlb and internet technology options out there. 

Not so fast, grasshopper.

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