On their regular sports page Thursday, the Wall Street Journal takes a look at some of baseball's arguably "bad ideas." Included is the strategy of having the pitcher bat eighth, which a certain St. Louis Cardinals manager routinely did the past couple years but this year has said he will do more sporadically.
This afternoon at Wrigley, when Rich Harden goes up against former teammate Jason Marquis, Geo Soto will make his first start since last Tuesday in Houston, and while Lou Piniella says Aramis Ramirez's back is getting better, he adds "one more day [of rest] won't do any harm."
As for Milton Bradley, Paul Sullivan reports:
Bradley is still projected back by the weekend,
though Piniella said Bradley told him he's feeling better, "though he
still feels (the groin strain) somewhat."
On the anniversary of Jackie Robinson's Major League debut 62 years ago, Bradley is also the subject of a long piece by Gordon Wittenmyer about the sad history of race-baiting by Cubs fans.
Notes following a successful home opener and heading into a well-deserved off day for the 5-2 Cubs:
-- It was just last September 15th, the day after Carlos Zambrano no-hit the Astros at Miller Park, when Ted Lilly held Houston hitless until the seventh inning before Mark Loretta stroked a clean, line-drive single tp recprd the Astros' only hit of the night.
That evening, Lilly, Jeff Samardzija (remember him?), Carlos Marmol, and Bobby Howry combined for the one-hit victory.
In this afternoon's home opener against the Rockies, Lilly was followed to the mound by Angel Guzman (1/3 IP), Aaron Heilman (1 IP), and Kevin Gregg (1 IP). It's the fourth time in Cub history that at least four pitchers have pooled their efforts to throw a one-hitter.
-- This afternoon's patchwork lineup, necessitated by Milton Bradley's sore groin, Aramis Ramirez's achy back, and Geovany Soto's bum shoulder, accepted nine walks by Colorado pitchers. That's 19 BBs in the last two games and five runs scored on bases-loaded walks.
Of course, scoring on a bases-loaded walk is no way to strike terror into the hearts of the rest of the National League, but on a day as cold and hitter-unfriendly as today was, it's not a bad way to go.
Update: First pitch now set for 2pm.
Highlights, lowlights and other observations from the Cubs' 8-5 win over the Brewers Sunday night in Milwaukee, a victory that leaves the Cubs at 4-2 as they return home for the Wrigley Field opener on Monday afternoon.
"We've Seen This Movie Before" Moment of the Night:
In his first at-bat since beating the Brewers with a dramatic, ninth-inning home run on Saturday, Alfonso Soriano crushed Jeff Suppan's first pitch of the game over the centerfield wall, his fourth HR in the young season.
Play of the Night:
Reed Johnson's leaping catch to rob Prince Fielder of what would have been a game-tying grand slam in the bottom of the fifth. Instead Fielder wound up with a sac fly and a reason to tip his helmet to Reed Johnson.
All I'm going to say about this victory is, Alfonso Soriano reminded us why it's worth having a left fielder who can't actually field, Kosuke Fukudome continues his drive to be christened "Mr. April," and Carlos Marmol, who is officially NOT the Cubs closer, made our opponents' best hitters look helpless in a way that the guy who is our closer never, ever could.
Cubs (2-1; 1st in NL Central) vs. Brewers (1-2; 4th in NL Central) at Miller Park
First meeting in 2009. Cubs won 9 of 16 games between the teams in 2008.
Rich Harden (0-0) vs. Braden Looper (0-0)
Carlos Zambrano (1-0, 1.50) vs. David Bush (0-0, 18.00)
Ryan Dempster (0-0, 3.00) vs. Jeff Suppan (0-1, 13.50)
From coverage of this afternoon's Cubs/Brewers game, Milwaukee's home opener, in Friday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Update: Paul Sullivan reports in the Tribune that Soto underwent an MRI today and has "minor inflammation in the biceps area." He will not be going on the DL.
Soto is likely to sit out the Friday and Saturday games in Milwaukee and "possibly all three depending on how he feels this weekend." Aaron Miles will be the designated emergency catcher behind Koyie Hill while Soto recovers.
W - Ted Lilly (1-0)
L - Brian Moehler (0-1)
In the spirit of Passover, we begin tonight's recap by asking, why is this night different from all other nights?
Tonight the Cubs sent nine men to the plate in each of the first two innings, building a lead so large, it allowed Ted Lilly to throw his own personal game of Home Run Derby and still win his first game of the season.
Details after the jump.
When we played the Reds with Chapman, I always thought of it as an eight-inning game. So now other teams have eight innings to try to get a lead against the Cubs. Should be a challenge, assuming three or four Cubs ever start hitting again.
I don't really try to get to know and like these players personally. I'm rooting for laundry, for the most part. Exceptions might be when a player makes trouble in the clubhouse or in the dugout. (Zambrano and Bradley come to mind. Also Papelbon.) But I don't think Chapman is one of those jerks.
Unfortunately, a pretty good summary. It looks like next year Heyward will be getting yet another batting stance adjustment.
The recent good news has been Baez. I'm afraid about the next league adjustment on him, though, which is probably right around the corner.
Bryant I don't worry about too much. Just not seeing the ball well right now. He'll turn it around. Russell's been good with men in scoring position all year and he's 22ish. He'll be fine but next year is likely to be his breakout year.
If Travis' back-to-back-to-back walks cost Hendricks the ERA title, that would really suck.
Edit: "A lifeless loss to a lousy Sox team."
This place is a real downer after a loss to the Sox.
I expect they will go 5-9 games above .500 the rest of the year. 96-98 wins will win the Division.
They should have one more 2-3 week hot streak in them.
However, several players are just "average" for the last month: Zobrist, Ross, Russell, Ceasar. Montero is terrible, plus he cannot throw anyone out. -WAR. Heyward is abysmal at the plate, but a plus in the OF. Still with RISP he has been terrible. KB has not been driving in runs as of late. But Apparently the team is still above average with RISP according to S Sahadev.
I came to that realization tonight. I kept expecting them to play better, but now I realize they aren't going to. They are a .500 team now.
- They have one reliable starting pitcher. Jake's magic is gone, and it doesn't look like it's coming back. Lester has been lousy recently. Lackey's ERA goes up every time he pitches.
- Heyward has been dead weight all year. I can't remember a single series where he was a significant offensive contributor. Not one. Great defense, but but if he were hitting .270 with 10 HR and played average defense, the Cubs would be better off.
new rule...no one's allowed to throw k.bryant a changeup
Team is .500 since early May and is playing like a .500 team. Lack of offense seems to be putting a lot of pressure on the pitchers...and they aren't handling it terribly well.
.500 the rest of the way still may win the division though.
...i hate espn.
nothing like settling into a cubs game to get a few minutes cutaway for an ortiz AB in the 6th inning of the det/bos game.
oh, at least they're doing split screen now...i guess.
I'm liking this rookie Nathan.
Richard DFA'd. Meh...
Throwbacks with fashionable cutouts would be a nice touch.
The next 2 games are nationally televised. I think we dominate tonight, hitting 3 HRs off Shields. Great night for KB to end HR drought facing HR prone pitcher in one of the most hitter friendly parks in the league.
If the ball didn't deflect off the pitcher's mound, the game wouldn't have ended. Montgomery did miss his location though, but if that same contact was made and went in any of direction, good chance of ground out if it doesn't get through.
If it was 1 night later, Chapman would be out there and we probably would be going to extras.
Also, If KB wasn't robbed of a HR, perhaps we would have won. We will never know. Nice play by Melky though.
The comparison isn't Chapman replacing Rondon. It's Chapman replacing Richard (hopefully) in the pen. Chapman's better.