From my longtime Cub-loving and Sox-hating friend, Dave.
From my longtime Cub-loving and Sox-hating friend, Dave.
Let the autopsy report on this ghastly series read: three games, two runs, 14 hits, three losses.
Lou Piniella made a lineup change on Thursday night, sliding Mike Fontenot from third base to the more familiar ground at second and starting the seldom-used Ryan Freel at third. The moves paid dividends...to the Cardinals:
For the second night in a row, the Cubs failed to support a deserving starting pitcher with any offense and they lost another low-scoring game to the Cardinals.
Joel Piniero, coming off three consecutive losses, recorded the Cardinals' first complete-game shutout of the season. He faced only 28 hitters, threw only 28 non-strikes (never reaching a three-ball count), only allowed one man into scoring position, and dispatched the Cubs in 125 minutes, the Cards' fastest game in almost three years.
Rookie Colby Rasmus, who had just two singles in 25 AB against lefthanded pitching this season, bashed a 2-run homer off of Ted Lilly.
It had been days since we'd heard a new reason why the Cubs-to-Ricketts deal still hasn't been closed, but then on Monday, Crain's Chicago Business ended the wait:
The Astros and Cubs meet in a 12:05 game at Wrigley following yesterday's washout.
The pitching matchup is a reset of what was scheduled Friday, with Roy Oswalt opposing Randy Wells. Oswalt (1-2) fell to the Cubs on Opening Night and didn't notch a win until his most recent and eighth start of the year, versus the Padres.
The Cubs claimed a rain-shortened victory Wednesday night, winning behind: Ted Lilly, who pitched into the seventh inning and improved to 5-2; Alfonso Soriano, who hit his 53rd career leadoff home run; Geovany Soto, who hit his first homer of the season after 96 plate appearances; and George Herman Theriot, who banged out two home runs and now has five in the month of May. (He had seven career homers in 380 games heading into this month.)
In the first inning, Harden gave up a leadoff double to Brian Giles and one out later, a two-run homer to Adrian Gonzalez. He limited the Pads to just two more hits and held them scoreless over the remainder of his six innings, at one point retiring 13 San Diego hitters consecutively.
Assuming Aramis Ramirez is out of the Cub lineup for exactly 8 weeks from this past Friday night, he'll be back for the July 4th game between the Cubs and Brewers at Wrigley Field, the third game of a four-game series.
In the interim, the Cubs will play 48 games, including all 15 of their interleague games against AL Central teams. Ramirez will also miss 20 games against NL Central opponents and the one and only visit by the Dodgers to Wrigley Field, which, owing to other, non-injury events, will now be completely Ramirez-free.
Here is what the next 8 weeks hold for the Cubs and their two leading division rivals:
2nd in defensive WAR, NL.
6th in NL in RBI
Go complain about something else, like, "they never play good against the good teams", or some other shit.
Addy really has trouble breaking through .250 BA -- after his hot streak got him to .251, he has gone 1-for-17.
Thank goodness for Jansen's 2 WP on Friday -- otherwise this would have been a sweep.
There seems to be a direct correlation with overconfidence in the Cubs offense against mediocre/young pitchers and really poor offense against mediocre/young pitchers. So, let's fear the Pirate pitchers!
Rizzo due for a power surge -- one HR in August so far. He truly does hit them in bunches.
Sometimes I'm not as supportive of Cahill as maybe I should be. There, I said it.
Rough 8th inning all around -- HBP, Cahill error, Javy's poor decision.
Oh well - given that the Cubs didn't look like they were going to score, it's better to lose in 9 innings, save the bullpen and get changed for the PJ trip home.
Baez still learning
heyward with his 3rd multi-hit game since the all-star break (all in august)...2nd in the past 3 games during his 7 game hitting streak.
he's gone from flirting with a sub-.300 ob% to nearing .310 ob% in 3 games (1 game was just a 1 for 1 pinch hit appearance). all 5 hits in the past 3 games have come in a row...neat.
stewart with 7Ks through 3ip...of course.
that 10-13 mph difference in his fastball/change is working today...and they're swinging at his crappy slider.
brock stewart...steven brault...fun times for the cubs hitters vs allegedly competitive teams...maybe.
Maddon would have started three lefties against the Dodgers, Montgomery, Zastryzny and Lester, except that he doesn't have the juice to do that. No manager does. Maddon has a boss, Epstein (and probably Hoyer, too), who gave him a starting rotation of five guys including Hammel. Maddon was asked yesterday about the starting group for next year and basically said, Not my call, that's why I drive away in my RV in the summer and occasionally check in, etc.
video of Maddon.
always nice that he actually tries to honestly answer questions. Does mention that he wanted to give Zastr? a chance in a meaningful spot rather than a mop-up role.
#Cubs Maddon: "I'm not going to make up an excuse for why I did what I did. It has nothing to do with lack of confidence" ... "It was the right thing to do today based on what I saw, what their lineup looked like and Rob Z.'s availability." #Cubs
Hammel not particularly understanding of getting pulled out...as he should. Be curious what Maddon had to say. All I can think of is is keeping arms fresh and maybe wanting to see if Zastr? is worth considering for the playoffs and how he'd do against the Dodgers.
Heyward, Russell, Baez, Bryant, Ross in particular...although Bryant's a bit hard to judge with all the positions.
Fowler and Rizzo in the top half of the NL for their positions as well (per fangraphs)...Zobrist right at the halfway cutoff for 2b in the NL.
I'm sure some luck is involved too, but the Cubs and Maddon knew what they were doing.