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Carlos Zambrano turns 24 today. So here's a birthday wish to our favorite web-surfing, muttering, gesticulating, switch-hitting, complete game-throwing, goateed behemoth of a perpetual-Cy Young Award contender. We Love Ya, Z. For some birthday reminiscences, how about these.... Remember when we wondered who would be better, Zambrano or Cruz? Remember the first time we discovered Z was a switch-hitter? Remember Z retiring Barry Bonds in an especially tense series in 2003, Z getting all excited, and Barry sulking about it? Here's a question: what should we get Z for his birthday? (photo from http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/mlb/photo/photogallery/2003_2nd_half_moments)
CUBS 2 DODGERS 1
Recap | Box Score | Play-by-play | Game Chart
W: Michael Wuertz (4-2) L: Yhency Brazoban (2-1) SV: Ryan Dempster (6)
Looks like I'm stuck doing the Game Review. My First One. I don't like doing them. So this will be the stripped-down version. Things to know about this game: 1. There was a very bad "Batter's Interference" call against the Cubs. In the seventh inning, with Corey running, Dubois struck out, and the catcher, recent call-up Mike Rose, pulled a Reggie Miller and drew the contact with Dubois on the throw down to second. Ed Rapuano called interference on Dubois, and thus Corey is out at second when he had stolen the base, cleanly. It was good to see Dusty get up and argue a call. 2. Zambrano was nearly unhittable. One hit, in fact, over eight innings. 3. With a runner on first and nobody out in the ninth, tie game, Gagne on the mound, Dusty asked Burnitz to bunt. Burnitz has one sacrifice bunt since 1999. He bunted hard to the third-baseman, forcing the runner at second base. Let me quote to you from the delightful children's story and excellent allegory, The Little Prince:
"If I ordered a general to fly from one flower to another like a butterfly, or to write a tragic drama, or to change himself into a sea bird, and if the general did not carry out the order that he had received, which one of us would be in the wrong?" the king demanded. "The general, or myself?" "You," said the little prince firmly. "Exactly. One must require from each one the duty which each one can perform," the king went on. "Accepted authority rests first of all on reason. If you ordered your people to go and throw themselves into the sea, they would rise up in revolution. I have the right to require obedience because my orders are reasonable."
Bob Brenley came dangerously close to questioning Baker's decision, using The Little Prince-style logic. We'll see if Baker is allowed on the plane back to Chicago. 4. With runners on second and third, two outs in the ninth, facing Gagne, Dubois ropes one down the left field line, just foul, before striking out to end the inning. Interesting that Baker let Dubois hit, with the Proven Veteran Left-handed Bat Off The Bench, Hollandsworth, left sitting on the bench. Personally, I would have let Dubois hit, too. 5. Ed Rapuano had a terrible, inconsistent strike zone. 6. NEIFI!!! with the go-ahead single in the tenth, run scores when the left-fielder boots the ball. 7. A shout-out to all the people in Parachat, who were going strong at a Dusty Baker's dozen, in an extra-inning game that started at 7 pm on the West Coast. I'll put on the coffee, in the morning. 8. Dempster hit Antonio Perez in the batting helmet with a Curveball to start out the bottom of the tenth with a run one lead. Perez wasn't pleased, but nothing happened, and he stayed in the game. 9. Dempster recovers to get a sacrifice bunt, pop-up, and 6-3. Game over, one-hitter. And so the Cubs, for all the drama and disasters and disabled-list trips, finish May on a five game winning-streak, and two games over the .500 mark.
GAME 48 PREVIEW COLORADO ROCKIES (14-33) at CHICAGO CUBS (23-24) Wrigley Field, 1.20pm CT, TV: CSN
SP Sergio Mitre SP *Jeff Francis
SS Clint Barmes 2B Jerry Hairston
2B Luis Gonzalez SS #Neifi Perez
1B *Todd Helton 1B Derrek Lee
CF Preston Wilson 3B Aramis Ramirez
RF *Brad Hawpe LF Jason Dubois
LF Matt Holliday RF *Jeromy Burnitz
3B #Desi Relaford CF *Corey Patterson
C JD Closser C Michael Barrett
Pitcher's spot Pitcher's spot
Jeff Francis has strange splits this year...
IPHHRBBKERA
Coors Field24.222210142.92
Everywhere else27.034317196.67
He's young though, and he'll learn. Hopefully he'll only start learning tomorrow though. A note for the readers of the Cub Reporter Thank you for your patience while our comments have been closed. The disturbances we've suffered are all the work of two individuals. Please be assured that we are working hard and making great progress towards the day when they will no longer bother any of us. In the meantime, we are going to re-open the comments in today's two posts, albeit with a few conditions - you must flood them with positive, constructive comments, you must ignore their disruptive posts (have faith that one of TCR staff will be along shortly to delete any), you must be on the lookout for those using fake names, including the names of TCR staff and regular posters, and, most importantly, you must show them, once and for all, that two bad apples won't ruin things for you. This is your community, now go out and claim it! Yours, The Cub Reporter Staff
Unfortunately, we here at TCR have had to close the comments indefinately. Please be assured that we, the team of the writers, are working towards resolving the problems that certain and specific individuals are causing, have been causing and intend to cause in the future through flagrant abuse of the right we give everyone here to freely express their views on what we write, on the Cubs, and on baseball as a whole. We freely acknowledge that this creates considerable inconvenience for the vast majority here who use the comments responsibly, and we apologise profusely for that. However, we believe that taking this short-term action is necessary in order to ensure that order is restored, and we hope that that will not take too long. We'll endeavour to keep you informed of the situation, again we apologise, and we hope that you'll continue reading. Thank you. __
ASTROS 5 CUBS 1
Recap | Box Score | Play-by-play | Game Chart
W: Brandon Backe (4-3) L: Greg Maddux (2-3)
ROCKIES 5 CUBS 2
Recap | Box Score | Play-by-play | Game Chart
W: Jason Jennings (2-6) L: Carlos Zambrano (3-3)
Mark Prior, Carlos Zambrano, Greg Maddux, Glendon Rusch and Sergio Mitre looks to be the rotation for the time being. That five, responsible for all but two of the twenty-one starts since the off-day on May 2nd, have combined for a 3.11 ERA over that time. And yet, in those nineteen games, the Cubs are just 9-10. The biggest reason for that is an offence which doesn't seem too interested in scoring any freaking runs. The result is quality starts from Carlos Zambrano such as yesterday's go wasted as Jason Jennings improves to 2-6 and lowers his ERA to less than eleventy billion. Short of the Cubs being afforded a fourth out in their half of the inning, it's not immediately obvious whether there's an available solution to these run-scoring problems. Outside of Derrek Lee and Jerry Hairston, the Cubs have no-one with more than a handful of at-bats with an on-base percentage above .321. Making outs at that kind of a rate ends big innings before they've even begun. A walk here and a walk there though keep frames alive longer, and that leads to more opportunities for hitters to drive runners home. Sadly, Michael Barrett, Jason Dubois, Corey Patterson, Jeromy Burnitz and Neifi Perez, five out of eight hitters in the lineup, have drawn just 34 walks between them all year long. Even more sadly, I wouldn't bet upon any of them, besides Burnitz, to walk at a significantly better rate from here on out. That's the real problem. The other real problem has been Aramis Ramirez. Unless he's injured though, it's unfathomable that he's not going to improve dramatically. His low average is related not so much to strikeouts or a lack of home runs but to nothing going his way on balls in play, as was the case earlier in the season for the now red-hot (but not walking) Michael Barrett. Average aside, there's not been too much wrong with Ramirez. He's striking out only fractionally more than he did last year, his walk rate is at its highest in his career and the power certainly hasn't disappeared. His return to form will definately help things, to an extent. Also potentially helpful will be the return of Todd Walker. The second baseman's bat is definately an asset. However, the same applies to Hairston's, who as I mentioned above, by virtue of getting hit by a ridiculous number of pitches, is only one of two in the lineup presently getting on-base at a good enough rate. The Cubs cannot afford to lose that. What they could and should instead do, I now think, is shift Jerry to left-field, full time, batting him lead-off ahead of Walker. Burnitz and Dubois can then sort right-field out between themselves until one of them exhibits a tool besides power. Corey Patterson meanwhile can hit sixth until the end of the time, and Ben Grieve can get on the first flight from Iowa. Besides Hollandsworth, he represented the only bench bat capable of actually hitting a lick while (you guessed it!) not continually acting as another step towards the end of the inning. Demoting him was as stupid a move as the Cubs could possibly have made. Well, besides batting Neifi Perez lead-off the next day. He's hit just .224/.256/.306 in May. Don't vote Neifi!
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