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National League Division Series Game 2: Cubs 4, Diamondbacks 8

0-for-Arizona

Box Score, Play by Play, Photos

W - Davis, getting the heck out of Arizona. L - Lilly, 8 hours of sleep. Series stands 2-0 Diamondbacks Things to Take from This Game 1. Body Snatchers Davis pitched like Lilly, and Lilly pitched like Davis. Lilly didn't have command of anything, was continually battling back from behind in the count, while Davis was getting ahead (with some help from the Cubs batters) and racking up a lot of strikeouts. Just pretty clear, pretty early, which pitcher was going to have the easier time of it. 2. Trading Homers in the 2nd Soto gave the Cubs a 2-0 lead on a home run, but Chris Young came back with a bomb of a 3-run home run in the bottom half of the inning. Byrnes also tripled in a run that inning. 3. Augie Ojeda vs. the World. Ojeda is threatening to outhit Soriano, Lee and Ramirez combined. Two more hits, including an RBI single that also took Eyre out of the game with an owwie finger. 4. Need Coffee. I think this game must have set some sort of record for 3-2 counts. Wood finally came in and threw strikes, gets some quick outs. Dempster also pitched a quick inning. But wow, other than that, lots of long at bats and base-runners all night. Not much to analyze with this game. Lilly got hit hard, and while the Cubs had a runner on base every inning, the hitters repeatedly failed to convert them into sustained rallies. But it's a best of five series, not a best of 3, and we have at least one more game to enjoy. The time-for-bed details, below.

National League Division Series Game 1: Cubs 1, Diamondbacks 3

What Ifs Box Score, Play-by-Play, Photos W- Webb, well-played playoff baseball, second-guessers L- Marmol, dreams of 9th inning heroics. S - Valverde Series stands at 1-0 D-backs Things to Take from This Game 1. As Good as Advertised Webb and Zambrano were both pleasures to watch in this game. While each one gave up some baserunners, they also both managed to pitch out of modest, recurring trouble with ease. Z, remarkably, had better control than Webb, walking just one to Webb's three. 2. Plenty of chances to Second Guess There are at least three big points in the game where managerial decisions stood out. First, the decision to have Z. swing away with a runner on second and zero out in the fifth. Had he successfully bunted the runner over, Soriano's fly ball to center would have created a run. Second, the decision not to take down Theriot for a pinch-hitter (Ward, I would hope) with the bases loaded in the sixth. Theriot hit a chopper for an infield hit and RBI, who knows what Ward would have done. The most important decision, however, was 3. Pulling Z after 85 pitches Other than a mammoth HR to Drew, Z looked like he was having an easy time dispatching with the D-backs, but he got pulled after 6 innings, with 85 pitches, a walk, a run, and eight K's to his name. The rationale, which certainly is reasonable, being that Z needs to come back on three days rest, you have Marmol available in the bullpen, and Z has had a recent of history of cramps and here we are on a hot Arizona evening. Problem is, however, that.... 4. Marmol Struggles Marmol didn't have control of his breaking stuff, and when he got behind to Reynolds, had to come in with a low fastball, and Reynolds hit it out to left to break the 1-1 tie. He continued to struggle, eventually giving up a sacrifice fly to Conor Jackson. (A fly that featured the strongest throw from Jacque Jones that we've seen in two years.) The D-backs score 2 runs in the inning after Z. leaves, for a 3-1 lead. Lyon and Valverde hold the lead in the 8th and 9th, although Lyon gave up a couple of warning-track shots to Ramirez and Floyd, and Valverde walked Ward to bring Soriano up as the tying run. Soriano finished the game, and an 0-5 night, with a 6-4 forceout. Your we-need-to-win-three-out-of-four details, below.

Game 160: Cubs 6, Reds 0: Cubs Clinch Division

 

CUBS WIN

 

 

DIVISION

 

Box Score, Play by Play, Photos

W- Zambrano (18-13), Cubs Fans Everywhere. Setting up your rotation for the playoffs. L- Arroyo (9-15), for one night, at least, talk of Cubs' history. Magic Number - 0 (Brewers Lose 6-3.) Things to Take from This Game 1. Cubs Clinch the Right Way
We're playing baseball in October, folks. Check out this picture, courtesty of our own "Brick." It's too large to really be done justice inside of a Word Press column.
2. Resting Easy, Early
Soriano led off the game with another solo Home Run. Theriot added a sacrifice fly in the second, and Zambrano looked to be in command of his pitches and his emotions early.
3. Power Game
Besides Soriano, Lee hit a two-run homer in the fifth, and Jones had a blast of an opposite-field, two-run double in the eighth. Really, from the second inning on, you just felt that we had this game in hand. But it was good to see the Cubs keep pouring it on.
4. Great pitching.
Z had no troubles at all with the Reds injury-riddled lineup, and neither did Howry or Dempster. Not a lot of strikeouts tonight (just 5), but really few serious rallies or even hard-hit balls.
your 4 years in waiting details, below.

Game 159 Recap: Cubs 4, Marlins 6

Flushed by the Fish

Box Score, Play by Play, Photos

W - Olsen (10-15) L - Trachsel (7-11), ridiculously high left-field scoreboards that convert homers into doubles. My efforts to will the Cubs to victory by wishful thinking. S- Gregg (31) Magic Number - 2 (Brewers have LOST 9-5) Things to Take from This Game 1. Weak Starts Olsen and Trachsel had quite similar performances - they couldn't finish off hitters with two strikes, struggled early, found something resembling "grooves" for a couple of innings before running into trouble again, and getting run from the game early. Trachsel's splitter actually got a lot of swings and misses, but nothing else was working. 2. Attempted Comeback The Cubs got a big lift in the sixth when Cabrera threw away what should have been an inning ending double play. It led to three runs. 3. Great relief work by Wood, Marlins Kerry Wood inherited a bases loaded, no outs jam from Eyre in the sixth. A strikeout and 5-3 double play later, and we were out of it with no runs scored. He hit 97 on the gun, and looked totally locked in. Provided a big lift to the dugout, but we couldn't translate it into any success against the Marlins bullpen. Pinto in particular looked very vulnerable, coming with two outs after Ramirez had doubled high off the left-field wall. He walked the first two batters faced to load the bases, but then struck out Jones. Dempster pitched a shakey eighth, giving up an insurance run. 4. Middling Infielders Derosa and Theriot went 0-9 with a run scored and ten (TEN!) combined left on base. We left a combined 19 on base - the Marlins left 16. No matter what happens tonight, we're going into game 160 in first place. The still-worrisome details, below.

Game 157 Recap: Cubs 2, Marlins 4

It Ain't Easy.

Box Score, Play by Play, Photos

W- Willis (10-15), losing quickly, "getting 'em tomorrow." L- Lilly (15-8), wide outside corners, getting ejected for talking to a teammate, the fight against high blood pressure, hypertension, and generalized anxiety disorders. S- Tankersley (1), the last threads of hope for Brewers fans. Cubs Magic Number: 4 
  • Brewers Magic Number: 8
  • Combined Games Left: 10
Things to Take from This Game 1. How did we let this guy beat us? Willis pitched 8 strong innings, and struck Soriano out three times swinging at mid-80s fastballs over the plate. Both pitchers were helped by a generous strike zone, but I still don't quite get how Willis dispatched with us so quickly, inning after inning. Only a long Monroe HR in the 8th kept us from being shutout 2. Some bloops and blasts in the 2nd Lilly didn't look too bad himself, with the big curve seeming to be his best pitch tonight, at sharp-but-not-dominant. He gave up a couple of weak bloopers to Willis and Ramirez, and a couple of shots to Uggla and Hermida, resulting in four runs in the second. Wuertz and Hart both looked quite strong in relief 3. Lack of Right-handed Pop off the Bench With an entirely right-handed lineup in against Willis, our first two hitters off the bench were Cedeno and Kendall. In the 9th, with Murton due to face right-handed Lee Gardner with two outs and representing the tying run, Piniella went to Floyd, which in turn brought in left-handed pitcher Tankersley. Floyd acquitted himself well against the lefty, but his lineout to deep left-center ended the game. 4. Loose Lips In the 9th, Derosa exchanged words with the home plate ump after a strike three call on a pitch that appeared to be well off the outside corner. The same pitch was called a strike on Ramirez, who later in the at bat flew out. On the way back to the dugout, he passed along some thought or another to Murton, within ear-shot of the umpire. Gets ejected. We'll have to hear the full story on this, later... Your not-yet-panicking details, below. (And the moment I type that, Bill Hall hits a three-run HR to make it a 7-1 Brewers lead. Nuts...)

From the TCR E-mailbag

It's time once again to check the email inbox, and answer questions submitted by you, the loyal readers of TCR.
Dear Transmission, I am a former child star who is trying to regain a normal life. At a very young age, I was thrust into the limelight for all to gawk at this gangly, slightly awkward, annoyingly precocious kid. Not unlike Wil Wheaton. Like so many, I quickly flamed out from over-exposure. I ran through a series of talent-managers, each of whom made very questionable decisions on when and how to cast me. I burned out, and have spent the last several years in therapy and seeing one doc after another. I'm back in the business now, and have landed a modest but recurring role back on TV, with room for my character's role to grow. Yet I can't help but feel that the joke is on me, that my appearances are treated as something as a novelty act. Do I have any chance of regaining my early glory and being treated as a serious performer again, or am I doomed to halcyon recollections of glory years long past?

Kid Wonderful

Dear KW,

Game 156 Recap: Cubs 8, Pirates 0

Fall Blowout Special

Box Score, Play by Play, Photos

W- Zambrano (17-13), getting your playoff tickets early, exchanging temporary-farewell gifts between players and fans, streaking into the playoffs. L- Gorzelanny (14-9), pessimism. Magic Number - 4 (Brewers lost today.) Things to Take from This Game 1. A fitting end to the regular-season at Wrigley A beautiful day, Cubs chasing down a division title, and a dominant performance by the Cubs pitchers and offense. The grounds crew does a fine job with the Stretch, and the fans are cheering every moment. Let's do it again in October 2. Dominant Performance by the Ace Zambrano had his A+ stuff going today. The fastball wasn't just alive, Z also spotted it very well throughout the game. The only concern is that after running hard on a double and then scoring on a single in the sixth, Z left the game after trying to go out for his warmup pitches in the 7th. Initial report is cramps. Wood pitched two even more dominating innings to follow him up, with impecable command of both the fastball and the sharp, biting slider. 3. Ronny Cedeno, playoff-chasing Hero. Filling in for Theriot, Cedeno had a couple of scratch hits, one for an RBI, and then a real lined shot of a two-run HR to put the game away at 8-0. 4. Lee stays hot. Two hits, three RBIs, including a two-run HR that barely gets out to right-center. He also pulled a double down the line, seems to be hitting the ball with power to all fields, now. 5. One of two things is going to happen. With six games to play and a magic number of 4, either the Cubs are going to the playoffs on the strength of a terrific September, or they're going to give us a new line in our history of epic tragedies. I'm banking on the former. Your rapid response, no-one-has-left-Wrigley-at-the-publishing-of-this-recap details, below

Game 155 Recap: Cubs 9, Pirates 5

Big Day for the Big 3

Box Score, Play by Play, Photos

W-Hill (10-8), Keeping pressure on the Brewers, Home Runs, pennant-chase baseball on beautiful september days. L- Duke (3-8), Sam Fuld's noggin and shoulder. Magic Number - 6 (with Brewers loss factored in) Things to Take from This Game 1. The Big 3 Soriano had two HR, including his first opposite-field blast at Wrigley, a double, and 5 RBI. Lee went 4-5 with a HR, Ramirez had a two-run HR. All three have been on huge hot-streaks at the moment when it matters the very most. Theriot also had 3 hits and scored twice. 2. The Other Big 3 (+1) Hill got pulled after 5 effective innings and 73 pitches, with only a series of scratch hits in the second leading to 3 unfortunate runs. Marmol, Eyre, Howry and Dempster then closed out the game. A bit odd that all four pitched in a game that was 7-3 when Hill left. Marmol looked sharp, Howry and Dempster got hit around a bit, Eyre got saved on a spectacular play by... 3. Sam Fuld Fuld made a terrific play to turn a run-scoring extra-base hit with one-out in the seventh, into an inning-ending double-play that revved up the fans. Nyjer Morgan stroked one to the right-center wall. Fuld ran back, lept into the vines, crashing hard against them, to catch the drive. A strong throw to Lee doubled-up the runner, and kept us out of a potentially big Pirate inning. Fans just loved it. The closing in on the division details, below.

Game 151 Recap: Cubs 7, Reds 6

Game of the Year?

Box Score, Play by Play, Photos

W- Ohman (2-4), five-person infields, on-field celebrations, not backing in to a playoff spot, staying until the end L- Weathers (2-6), Protests, bad calls, leaving early Magic Number - 12 Things to Take from This Game 1. An Incredible Finish. If the Cubs don't make the playoffs, no one will remember this game. If the Cubs do, this will be one of those games people point to as proof of a "magical" season. Having squandered a few opportunities, suffering through bad calls and a mammoth HR that died instead at the top of the ivy, the Cubs rallied for three in the ninth off of Weathers, to win 7-6. Highlights were a Theriot leadoff walk, a Lee single, a Ramirez triple nearly robbed by a diving Hopper, and a Derosa infield single to win it. The dugout emptied onto the field, and the fans screamed along to Go, Cubs, Go!. 2. Another 5-hit game for Derosa. And two of the hits were huge - a home run to follow Floyd's two-run HR in the third, and then the game-winning single in the 9th. 3. Umps calls hurt Cubs. Reds Protest. The umps missed at least three calls that got under the Cubs skin - an unbelievably generous "neighborhood" call at 2nd base on a GIDP attempt where Phillips wasn't within three feet of the bag, a check swing strike on Soriano, and a safe call at first for Dunn, who was out by 4 inches or so. Yet it's the Reds who played the game under protest, on the grounds that Piniella first brought Soto and Eyre into the game, then (and we're talking a matter of a few seconds, here) informed the umpires that it was a double switch. A very strict interpretation of the rules might indicate that this didn't constitute "Immediate" notification, and that when Soto then came to bat, he was batting out of order. Can't imagine that this is anything even remotely worth worrying about. 4. Hill and Co. Hill looked really good early on. He was getting a ton of swinging strike threes on an unusually crisp fastball tonight. Ran into a bit of trouble, seemed to have a brief tweak of the leg, and couldn't get out of the fifth inning. But he struck out 7 and walked 1. Eyre, Hart and Ohman pitched 3.1 innings of scoreless ball - much like the B-team position players giving us a lift yesterday, the B-team relievers gave a huge assist, today. The thrilling, still-in-sole-possesion-of-first-place details, below. (And a recap of a parachat that might be one for the time capsule. Or the incinerator, I suppose.)

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  • I'm with you, Rob. You pretty much summed up how I feel about it.

    JoePepitone 8 min 20 sec ago view
  • Been quite the roller-coaster the past two days -- both games, plus the Chapman kerfuffel. How about a couple of nice, comfortable wins before facing Sale? Cubs should definitely wear throwbacks for that game.

    billybucks 1 hour 3 min ago view
  • The Cubs are stronger defensively than most of the teams they play. In order to capitalize on that, they have to a) put the ball in play and b) run the bases aggressively.

    That said, Cabrera has a strong, accurate arm, as witnessed by his 97 outfield assists over 12 seasons--mostly left field but also a lot of center. Bryant is rarely thrown out, but I guess you have to know who's throwing the ball.

    VirginiaPhil 1 hour 57 min ago view
  • On the other hand, Pries won his first start for Iowa, only giving up two HRs in the process. This trade has got some legs yet!

    Eric S 11 hours 5 min ago view
  • KB now with 0 RBI in his last 10 games and 1 in his last 15, despite having 19 hits in his last 15 games and raising his batting average from .278 to .286 over that span.

    Maybe have Zobrist hit 2 and KB hit 4?

    Also -- no HR in the last 15 games -- time for a bunch. Starting tomorrow.

    billybucks 11 hours 21 min ago view
  • Down a run. Fowler on first. Nobody out. KB singles to left, Fowler makes it to third, perfect throw from Cabrera nails KB trying to stretch for 2nd.

    So, instead of 1st & 3rd and no out, you have 3rd with one out. It was a perfect throw, but why take the chance with 3-4-5 hitters coming up?

    billybucks 11 hours 35 min ago view
  • Must be a Cub thing - our lefties can;t get lefties out.

    billybucks 11 hours 36 min ago view
  • Splitting hairs, but Jake's pitch was poor execution, while KB's play was a poor decision (and the 2nd time he got thrown out trying to stretch in the game). Poor execution happens. Poor decisions are preventable. Speaking of poor decisions -- Baez's steal of 3rd made absolutely no sense.

    billybucks 11 hours 37 min ago view
  • Didn't Jake cost them the game with a pitch to Frazier?

    The E-Man 11 hours 50 min ago view
  • Missed the play w/Bryant. What happened?

    The E-Man 11 hours 51 min ago view
  • Not a good decision by Bryant in the 9th. That may have cost them the game.

    billybucks 11 hours 55 min ago view
  • Can we un-do the Montgomery deal? Please?

    billybucks 11 hours 56 min ago view
  • THAT WAS TURRIBLE.

    crunch 11 hours 59 min ago view
  • Who is this Arrieta guy? Can I get the old one back please?

    The E-Man 13 hours 7 min ago view
  • Well, this is, once again, the whole season for the Sox.

    billybucks 13 hours 11 min ago view
  • ...and the Bryant RBI jinx continues in the 3rd....crap.

    billybucks 14 hours 44 min ago view