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Soriano, Lilly Lead Cubs Over Astros

In Houston, Ted Lilly straightened himself out after a ragged beginning—four-pitch leadoff walk to Kaz Matsui, gopher ball to Miguel Tejada; Miggy's first home run in 116 at-bats this season—as the Cubs beat the Astros, 8-5, to sweep the two-game series at Minute Maid Park.

The Cubs have now won six of seven and have climbed to four games above .500 for the second time this year, heading into a weekend series in Milwaukee.

Marshall Draws Giants Ace as Cubs Go for Fifth Straight Win

Pitchers: Tim Lincecum (2-1, 3.16) vs. Sean Marshall (0-1, 3.32).

Lincecum opened the season with two rough starts, resulting in a no-decision and a loss. In his last three outings, however, he has gone 3-0, 1.57, with 33 strikeouts and 4 walks and a .193 BA Against. He dazzled the Cubs in a game last July at Wrigley, becoming the first pitcher to beat Ryan Dempster last season in The Friendly Confines.

Marshall pitched well enough to beat the Marlins last week, though the bullpen failed him in the only game the Cubs have lost thus far on this brief homestand.

Here is the Cubs batting order...

Gathright, cf
Miles, ss
Fukudome, rf
Lee, 1b
Hoffpauir, lf
Fontenot, 3b
Scales, 2b
Hill, c
Marshall, p

...and per Chris DeLuca of the Sun-Times, here is the manager's explanation of the fact that Babe Theriot, Soriano, Ramirez, Soto, and Bradley are all sitting:

Dempster Wins, Theriot Continues to Embarrass Bigger, Stronger Teammates

With Aramis Ramirez back in the starting lineup, the Cubs won their fourth in a row, defeating the Giants, 4-2, on Monday night at Wrigley. The Cubs will have a chance to finish a 5-1 homestand when the teams meet Tuesday afternoon.

Why the Cubs won: Ryan Dempster, coming off his first loss and poorest start of the young season last week in Phoenix, earned his second victory with his best start of 2009. Dempster kept the Giants off the board until the sixth inning and allowed just 5 hits and 2 walks over seven.

The End of the Impotence: Theriot's Homerless Streak is Broken

Ryan Theriot's grand slam on Friday put the Cubs ahead to stay, as did his first-inning home run on Saturday.

Friday's blast ended a string of 620 at-bats and 157 games in which Theriot had failed to homer. In terms of GP, Theriot's homerless string was the 15th longest among Cub non-pitchers since 1954.

The list of 15 follows:

Cubs' Worst Game in, Oh, About 48 Hours: D-Backs 7, Cubs 2

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.

Tags: 

Cueto Quiets Cubs: Reds Win at Wrigley, 3-0

Righthander Johnny Cueto dominated Cub hitters Wednesday night, and a strong outing by Ted Lilly (7 IP, 5 H, 0 BB, just 1 unearned run allowed) was wasted as Cincinnati ended the Cubs' three-game winning streak.

Why the Cubs lost: No O—the offense produced no runs and four hits against Cueto in his seven innings. Overall, the Cub bats delivered six measly singles, two each by Soriano and Lee, and one apiece from Fukudome and Ramirez. In both the first inning and the fourth, they managed to put two runners aboard, but failed to capitalize. In total, Cub hitters only had four opportunities to hit with men in scoring position.

Biting My Blue-Pinstriped Tongue

I encountered a number of Cardinals fans heading for Chicago Union Station during this evening's rush hour. I thought about making a smart remark or two in their direction, but I held back.

It's the middle of April, there are two games left in this series, and they're still in first place.

Besides, those Saint Louis-bound fans were going to be dealing with Amtrak for the next five and a half hours.

A person should only be subjected to so much grief in a single day.

Cubs Bullpen is No Relief in Thursday's Loss

Like the Cub hitters who failed to come through in the clutch, the Cub bullpen left its fingerprints all over Thursday's loss to the Cardinals.

From the Cubs.com game story:

The bullpen...is not in sync. Aaron Heilman, who came on in relief
of starter Sean Marshall, served up Greene's homer on his third pitch.
Rookie David Patton (0-1) took the loss, giving up Yadier Molina's
tie-breaking RBI single in the seventh. Albert Pujols was intentionally
walked, but the other two Cardinals who were walked both scored.

"All we can do is preach," Piniella said. "That's all we can do is say what's good for the individual."

Heilman says there's only one thing they can do.

"Pitch better," Heilman said. "There's no other way to get
around it. There's no real magic formula that you can say, 'Do this,
this and this' and everything's going to click. Sometimes it takes
days, sometimes it takes weeks, sometimes it takes longer to figure
out. We have to keep going out there, be aggressive and keep pitching,
and things will fall into place."

Game by game, here is how the Cub bullpen has fared so far in 2009.

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  • CHILDERS: RHSP Dylan Cease and LHSP Bryan Hudson are probably the top two SP prospects in the organization right now. 

    LHSP Jose Paulino has electric stuff (91-94 MPH fastball with sinking action and a mid-80's slider), but he also has trouble commanding it.  

    RHP Jose Albertos (2015 IFA - Mexico - $1.5M bonus) just turned 17, and his fastbball already sits at 95-96. He also throws a curve and a change-up, and is fairly advanced for a kid his age.   

    Arizona Phil 26 sec ago view
  • AZBOBBOP: Most of 2016 draft picks will get assigned to either Eugene or AZL Cubs, but the Opening Day Eugune roster will probably be almost 100% from the Extended Spring Training squad roster (pending the arrival of draft picks).

    I think I can probably tell you which pitchers and players at EXST are in contention for roster slots at Eugene and which are in contention for slots with the AZL Cubs - AS THINGS STAND RIGHT NOW - (listed alphabetically):  

    * bats or throws left 
    # bats both

    Arizona Phil 18 min 17 sec ago view
  • Eloy Jimenez atop the leader board for minor-league home runs in the Cub system, with seven. Tied with Balaguert and Vogelbach, two 24-year-olds. Jimenez won't be 20 until late November. Leads the Midwest League in SLG and OPS. Maybe he'll get promoted to the Myrtle Beach squad that visits Woodbridge, VA, in June or Frederick, MD, in August.

    Watched two Pelican games at Frederick the other week. Was most impressed by Stinnett and Happ. Happ may swing harder than Javier Baez, though more compactly. (Also got to see Brockmeyer hit a bomb.)

    VirginiaPhil 40 min 4 sec ago view
  • E-MAN: Jose Paniagua isn't a string-bean, but I wouldn't say he necessarily bulked-up during the 2015-16 off-season  either, He led the DSL Cubs in HR and doubles in 2014, and he showed XBH power when he arrived in Mesa last year, leading the AZL Cubs in HR, doubles, and RBI in 2015. It's just that he has taken his HR power to a new level this year.

    Paniagua displayed plus-HR power in Cactus League Minor League Spring Training games in March, and that got him a slot on the South Bend Opening Day roster. But he was sent to EXST after only six MWL games.  

    Arizona Phil 46 min 17 sec ago view
  • Rob Richardson 1 hour 15 min ago view
  • Martinez is one of my least favorite pitchers in baseball. I'd love to see a game like yesterday's against him.

    Send Soler down!

    Old and Blue 2 hours 9 min ago view
  • Awesome thanks AZ

    Old and Blue 2 hours 11 min ago view
  • Great report, Phil! This organization has so many hitters to be excited about.

    John Beasley 3 hours 1 min ago view
  • Ben Zobrist is very enjoyable to watch!!!!!!

    Hagsag 5 hours 49 min ago view
  • given that he seems to only be throwing low 90s these days rather than the 93-96mph he used to throw, along with his wildness issues this year, he may end up passing through.

    i dunno if something is wrong with him physically or his past shoulder issues has rendered him what he currently is, but he's been throwing a lot of sliders he can't control well and his fastball isn't as sharp. even when his slider wasn't working in a game he was still throwing a lot of them.

    crunch 7 hours 1 min ago view
  • Any scuttlebutt on where Neil Ramirez gets traded?

    He seems better than some of the relievers on competitive teams. He ought to bring more than the waiver fee.

    My guess? Toronto.

    tim815 7 hours 25 min ago view
  • PHIL: It seems as if Paniagua has always played 1B with the Cubs. At 6'2 and 180#, what is his frame like? String bean? Have you seen him bulk up? Where do you project him? Thanks.

    The E-Man 7 hours 30 min ago view
  • Phil, what's your thoughts on which position players are going to Eugene and who is staying in AZL?

    azbobbop 11 hours 30 min ago view
  • Ahhh...way to bring me down BB.

    Still - a win tomorrow will be an acheivement regardless.

    The E-Man 12 hours 18 min ago view
  • Don't mean to spoil your mood, but with tonight's win the are 3-5 on the trip with one to play.

    While I'm bringing the room down -- Richard comes in to pitch the 9th with a 12-1 lead...and can't finish the game. Woof.

    billybucks 12 hours 51 min ago view
  • jacos 12 hours 51 min ago view