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Good signs from Wednesday night's 10-6 Cub victory at Arizona:

  • Alfonso Soriano returning to the lineup with an RBI and a double; Alfonso Soriano returning to the lineup, period
  • Mark DeRosa being able to leave his outfielder's glove in the locker room
  • Derrek Lee hitting his first home run in more than a month
  • Aramis Ramirez and Geovany Soto breaking their respective 0-for-forever hitless streaks
  • Kosuke Fukudome walking three times
  • Ted Lilly sliding into third base without breaking his leg or his neck
  • Carlos Marmol snapping off some nasty sliders and working a scoreless ninth inning (I choose to overlook the double, the base on balls, and the fact that on Thursday, Kerry Wood will be off to meet another hand specialist and probably get a new ointment prescription)
  • Ronny Cedeno striking out as a pinch hitter on a head-high pitch—the familiarity of it is comforting

Milwaukee acquired second baseman Ray Durham from the Giants on Sunday in exchange for Class A outfielder Darren Ford and Triple-A pitcher Steve Hammond. The two teams waited to officially announce the deal until after they had played one another Sunday afternoon at AT&T Park, per the request of Durham, who didn't want to make his Milwaukee debut versus his former mates.

"Personally it was out of respect for the guys in this locker room,"
Durham said, saying his goodbyes in the Giants' clubhouse. "It really
was a stipulation I asked for."

The 36-year-old Durham, hitting .293 AVG / .385 OBP / .414 SLG / 799 OPS could complement and/or replace 25-year-old Rickie Weeks, who is hitting just .218 in 79 games for the Brewers this season with an OPS+ of 82.

Closer to home, Paul Sullivan makes it sound like the Cubs are inching closer to putting Kerry Wood on the DL for the 12th time in his career, owing to ongoing problems with that blister on his right index finger. Sullivan quotes Lou Piniella as saying:

"We're coming to the point where we're going to have to come to a conclusion about what to do."

If the Cubs were to backdate the DL decision to July 12th, Wood would be eligible to get back on the field next Sunday, when the Cubs wrap up their four-game series against the Marlins at Wrigley Field. According to Sullivan, Carlos Marmol will get to wear the closer's hat so long as Wood is unable to pitch. Marmol pitched a perfect ninth to close out the Cubs' 9-0 shutout of Houston on Sunday.

 

Game Chat | Press Pass | BR Preview

SP Ryan Dempster SP Brandon Backe
  10-4, 3.25, 104 K, 350 BB, 124.2 IP
6-9, 4.76, 83 K, 50 BB, 111.2 IP
       
SS Ryan Theriot 2B #Kaz Matsui
RF *Kosuke Fukudome CF *Darin Erstad
1B Derrek Lee 1B #Lance Berkman
3B Aramis Ramirez LF Carlos Lee
CF *Jim Edmonds SS Miguel Tejada
LF Mark DeRosa 3B #Geoff Blum
C Geovany Soto RF Hunter Pence
2B *Mike Fontenot C J.R. Towles
P Ryan Dempster P Brandon Backe

 

The Cubs' NL Central lead is down to +2 over the Cardinals and +3 over the Brewers as the Lou Crew tries to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Astros.

Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Geovany Soto, and Kosuke Fukudome are a combined 3-for-32 (.094) in the series, and as a team, the Cubs have fanned 14 times and walked once.

Or, as Lou Piniella explained so elegantly after Saturday night's 4-1 fall, "We're not getting much hitting anywhere in the lineup."

Game Chat | Press Pass | BR Preview

SP Carlos Zambrano SP *Wandy Rodriguez
  10-3, 2.84, 78 K, 38 BB, 120.1 IP
4-3, 3.48, 65 K, 23 BB, 75 IP
       
SS Ryan Theriot 2B #Kaz Matsui
CF Reed Johnson CF *Darin Erstad
1B Derrek Lee 1B #Lance Berkman
3B Aramis Ramirez LF Carlos Lee
C Geovany Soto SS Miguel Tejada
LF Mark DeRosa 3B Hunter Pence
RF *Kosuke Fukudome RF Ty Wigginton
2B Ronny Cedeno C Brad Ausmus
P #Carlos Zambrano P #Wandy Rodriguez

 

The Cubs and Astros meet in the middle game of their three-game series at Minute Maid.

Kosuke Fukudome, who is just 7-for-46 (.152) since the first of July and is hitting just .254 AVG/ .351 SLG/ .377 OBP/ 728 OPS since his average was a season high .357 back in late April, 72 games ago, drops down to the seventh spot in the order against the lefty Rodriguez.

Otherwise, Jim Edmonds sits against the southpaw, Reed Johnson starts in center, and once again, we all get to pretend that Mark DeRosa can play the outfield.

Zambrano is making his third start since his visit to the DL. In the first two, against the Cards and Reds, he allowed just one run and five hits over 14 innings.

 

A look at the ten Cubs hits from the season so far that did the most to enhance the team's chances of winning, according to FanGraphs' Win Probability Added statistic.

#10.) May 11th, 7th inning v. Arizona, man on first, one out, Cubs trailing the Diamondbacks, 4-2. Facing former Cub Juan Cruz, Reed Johnson cracks a two-run homer to tie the game, which the home team will go on to win 6-4, after Daryle Ward delivers a two-run double one inning later. Johnson homer = WPA .321

#9.) May 2nd, 9th inning at St. Louis, man on second, one out, Cubs trail the Cardinals, 3-1. Jason Isringhausen is in for the Cards, trying to preserve a 3-1 St. Louis lead for starter Adam Wainwright, but Alfonso Soriano will have none of it, clobbering an Isringhausen pitch for a game-tying two-run shot. Chad Fox, who clearly has no sense of drama in addition to his physical challenges, winds up serving a game-winning two-run homer to Skip Schumacher in the 11th inning. Soriano homer = WPA .342

#8.) April 23rd, 10th inning at Colorado, men on first and second, two outs, Cubs and Rox are tied, 6-6. The Cubs get two men aboard for Ryan Theriot, who lines a single to right field that scores Mike Fontenot with the lead and eventual winning run, extending a Cubs winning streak to six games. Theriot single = WPA .351

The countdown continues after the jump.

From Wednesday's Tribune...

A new channel devoted to the Cubs is one of the enticing potential revenue-generating items that Tribune Co. is floating as part of its planned sale of the Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field and its 25 percent stake in Comcast SportsNet.

The story mentions some of the roadblocks that might prevent a New York Yankees/YES Network sort of channel from becoming a reality in Chicago, including the possibility that Tribune Company could box the team's new owner into continuing to air many games on Tribune-owned WGN. Still, one can certainly see why the concept might be attractive...

Game Chat | All-Star Game Web Page | BR Preview

SP Ben Sheets SP *Cliff Lee
  10-3, 2.85, 108 K, 28 BB, 123 IP
12-2, 2.31 ERA, 106 K, 20 BB, 124 IP
       
SS Hanley Ramirez (FLA) RF *Ichiro Suzuki (SEA)
2B *Chase Utley (PHI) SS Derek Jeter (NYY)
1B #Lance Berkman (HOU) CF *Josh Hamilton (TEX)
DH Albert Pujols (STL) 3B Alex Rodriguez (NYY)
3B #Chipper Jones (ATL) LF Manny Ramirez (BOS)
RF Matt Holliday (COL) DH #Milton Bradley (TEX)
LF Ryan Braun (MIL) 1B Kevin Youkilis (BOS)
CF *Kosuke Fukudome (CUBS) C *Joe Mauer (MIN)
C Geovany Soto (CUBS) 2B Dustin Pedroia (BOS)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ASG comes to The House That Enrique Wilson Built for the fourth and final time as the National League tries to win the damn thing for the first time since 1996. Our man Fukudome and young Geo bring up the bottom of the NL order.

Come gametime, join all the cool kids in Parachat. I hear they're just going to be hanging out, drinking beer, and shooting off fireworks.

Game Chat | Press Pass | BR Preview

SP Tm Lincecum SP Ryan Dempster
  10-2, 2.66, 126 K, 46 BB, 121.2 IP
10-3, 3.13 ERA, 98 K, 47 BB, 118 IP
       
LF *Fred Lewis SS Ryan Theriot
3B Jose Castillo 2B *Mike Fontenot
2B #Ray Durham 1B Derrek Lee
C Bengie Molina 3B Aramis Ramirez
CF Aaron Rowand RF Mark DeRosa
RF *John Bowker CF *Jim Edmonds
1B Rich Aurilia LF Reed Johnson
SS #Omar Vizquel C Henry Blanco
P Tim Lincecum P Ryan Dempster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A great pitching matchup between two All-Stars to end the pre-ASG schedule for 2008.

Lincecum has been everything the Giants hoped he would be; Dempster has been more than the Cubs could ever have hoped. Dempster remains undefeated this season at Wrigley (10-0, 2.58); Lincecum was undefeated on the road until losing to the Mets at Shea this past Tuesday. He's still a none-too-shabby 7-1, 2.23 away from AT&T Park.

When NASCAR's Robby Gordon runs at the Chicagoland Speedway this weekend, the hood of his car will bear the Web address, SaveOurName.com. The site is a collection point for signatures from Cub fans who want to send a "message to the (Cubs')
owners: Don’t sell the name. It’s wrong. It’s selfish. And we won’t
stand for it."

By "we," the site's operator presumably means tradition-loving Cubs fans...and everyone at Deerfield,Illinois-based Jim Beam Brands Co., who created the site as part of an ad campaign.

If the Cubs were just now getting around to installing lights, I imagine Chicagoans United for Baseball in the Sunshine would be underwritten by Coppertone.

Grassroots movements just ain't what they used to be.

 

 

Game Chat | Press Pass | BR Preview

SP Matt Cain SP Jason Marquis
  5-7, 4.30, 112 K, 50 BB, 119.1 IP
6-5, 4.78 ERA, 49 K, 37 BB, 92.1 IP
       
LF *Fred Lewis SS Ryan Theriot
2B #Ray Durham 2B *Mike Fontenot
RF #Randy Winn 1B Derrek Lee
C Bengie Molina 3B Aramis Ramirez
CF Aaron Rowand C Geovany Soto
1B *John Bowker LF *Daryle Ward
3B Rich Aurilia RF Mark DeRosa
SS #Omar Vizquel CF Reed Johnson
P Matt Cain P *Jason Marquis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Rich Harden Debut Eve, the Cubs have made a roster move as they open a three-game set against the Giants.

Michael Wuertz, who allowed four runs in an inning-and-one-third against the Reds on Thursday, was sent down to Iowa. Kevin Hart, 2-1, 3.35 for the I-Cubs with 48 K's against 15 BB and a BAA of just .205, gets the call-up.

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