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MARLINS 7 CUBS 5 W: Ricky Nolasco (1-0) L: Scott Williamson (2-1) SV: Joe Borowski (3) Recap | Box Score | Play-by-play | Game Chart| Photos
Top of the 8th, bases loaded, one out, Baker calls for Howry and double-switches with the guy who made the last out, Jacque Jones(pretty good defender) with John Mabry(not so good defender). The next hitter hits a flyball toward the right foul line which Mabry appeared to lose in the sun (not wearing any sunglasses) and the ball drops in for a double, 2 runs score and another run scores on the ensuing sac fly. Howry then does NOT come out for the ninth inning, which you would think would be the point of the double-switch, since you could have just pinch-hit Mabry for Howry if Howry wasn't going to pitch the ninth. In betwen, the Cubs score 2 runs in the bottom of the eight (thanks to Fish-Killer Matt Murton's 2 out, 2 RBI single) that would have given them the lead. This is how manager's can lose games for teams. Should Mabry have caught the ball? Absolutely. Should Williamson not have loaded the bases? You bet. Was there any reason to double switch at that point? Not a single one; at least not a good one. A stinging loss as the rest of the NL Central wins (again), sans Houston who plays the Dodgers tonight (and Pittsburgh but they don't really count). Angel Guzman looked the part of his first major league start. Occasionally wild, often filthy, squeezed a bit by the umpire, but good enough to last 5 innings with only 3 runs against. 2 of those runs off a Josh Willingham homer that was hit off a curveball well below the zone that Willingham just lifted into left field and the wind helped out a bit. A solid, if not spectacular debut by Guzman. Personally, I thought it looked a little better than Marshall's debut although the level of competition paled in comparision. No way to go into an off-day, thanks Dusty!!!
GAME TWENTY IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] FLORIDA MARLINS (5-13, 7.0 GB, 5th) AT CHICAGO CUBS (12-7, 1.5 GB, 4th) WRIGLEY FIELD, 1:20 CDT Weather: 56 degrees, Sunny, Wind Blowing Out to CF @ 8 mph TV: WGN, DirecTV 745 Radio: WGN, XM 185
Angel Guzman, RHP (2006 AAA)1-2, 6.61 ERA, 16.1 IP &nbsp&nbsp&nbsp 23 K, 3 BB, 4 HRScott Olsen, LHP 1-1, 1.50 ERA, 12 IP 7 K, 8 BB, 0 HR
Hanley Ramirez, SS #Alfredo Amezaga, CF Miguel Cabrera, 3B Josh Willingham, LF *Mike Jacobs, 1B Dan Uggla, 2B Chris Aguila, RF Matt Treanor, C &nbsp&nbsp * Scott Olsen, P*Juan Pierre, CF Ronny Cedeno, SS *Todd Walker, 1B Aramis Ramirez, 3B Matt Murton, LF Jerry Hairston Jr., 2B *Jacque Jones, RF Henry Blanco, C Angel Guzman, P

It's the much anticipated major league debut of uber-prospect Angel Guzman, who's struggled through a variety of injuries throughout his storied minor league career. His ERA doesn't look pretty from Iowa but that K rate and K/BB rate sure do. If he continutes that sparkling control along with lofty strikeout rates, it's going to make for some tough decisions when Blue Cross & Blue Shield (Jay Mariotti's line, not mine) are ready to return. He won't have quite as friendly weather conditions as Marshall did yesterday, but he still has the same pitcher friendly Marlins lineup. A word of advice kid, pitch around Miguel Cabrera if anyone is on. Jacque Jones makes another start versus a lefty, third straight in the series. Discuss. Of course, according to Dusty, you have to fail in front of his eyes first. If only we had some sort of record, maybe a shorthand that would recap the history of a players accomplishments and setbacks throughout his career, if we only had the technology. GO CUBS and good luck Guzman!!!
CUBS 3 MARLINS 1 W: Sean Marshall (2-0) L: Dontrelle Willis (1-1) SV: Ryan Dempster (6) Recap | Box Score | Play-by-play | Game Chart| Photos
Apparently Dontrelle had some crazy streak of never losing in April in his career. That was before he met the his lefty match, the one, the only, THE Sean Marshall. An efficient 7 inning, 96 pitch outing (AAA lineup notwithstanding) and Marshall comes away with his 2nd victory of the season while Willis's streak ends. I only listened to the game on XM radio, but I'm guessing the chilly weather and the fierce wind blowing in helped suppress the score. The Cubs adapted to the weather well though, executing "small ball" to perfection. After an Aramis Ramirez walk, #5 hitter Michael Barrett sacrificed Ramirez over and "Marlin-killer" Matt Murton brought him in with a single. In the 7th, the Cubs added 2 more runs after a Barrett double (in which he jammed a finger sliding into second, luckily he was scheduled for a day off tomorrow), another RBI hit by Murton (this time a double), a sac bunt by Jacque Jones (at least he can do something against lefties) and the most exciting play in baseball, a suicide squeeze dropped down by Jerry Hairston, that was good enough to not only score Murton from third but Hairston was safe at first(later to be picked off by Willis). Howry gave up his 2nd run of the season in a rocky 8th inning, which included having to face Miguel Cabrera representing the go-ahead run. Dempster though shut the door in the 9th with a 1-2-3 inning and his numbers so far this season are a Gagne-like: 10 K, 3 BB, 0 HR, 11 IP, 1.64 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, .154 BAA. Another shining example of how spring training numbers don't mean a thing. A bona fide winning streak now at three games, with the major league debut of Angel Guzman tomorrow in the sunshine. A sweep would be quite nice against these guys.
GAME NINETEEN IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] FLORIDA MARLINS (5-12, -6.0 GB, 5th) AT CHICAGO CUBS (11-7, - 1.5 GB, 4th) WRIGLEY FIELD, 7:05 CDT Weather: 43 degrees, Overcast, Wind Blowing In From CF @ 16 mph TV: CSN Chicago, DirecTV 739 Radio: WGN, XM 185
Sean Marshall, LHP 1-0, 6.28 ERA, 14.1 IP 8 K, 5 BB, 3 HRDontrelle Willis, LHP 1-0, 2.92 ERA, 24.2 IP 15 K, 9 BB, 0 HR
Hanley Ramirez, SS Dan Uggla, 2B Miguel Cabrera, 3B Josh Willingham, LF Wes Helms, 1B Miguel Olivo, C Chris Aguila, RF Reggie Abercrombie, CF &nbsp&nbsp * Dontrelle Willis, P*Juan Pierre, CF Ronny Cedeno, SS *Todd Walker, 1B Aramis Ramirez, 3B Michael Barrett, C Matt Murton, LF *Jacque Jones, RF Jerry Hairston Jr., 2B * Sean Marshall, P

The D-Train rolls back into Wrigley for the fifth time. Want to impress your friends with small sample size goodness? Drop this one on them before gametime: Willis is 2-0 at Wrigley with a 1.01 ERA. In 27 2/3 innings, he's struck out 23 and hasn't given up a home run. Meanwhile, our young lefty (only seven months younger than Willis, actually) is being positively babied by Dusty Baker, a manager with a reputation for over-extending his young starters (when he actually plays them). And I'm not trying to re-open either the pitch-count argument or the Dusty-doesn't-play-kids argument, because I'm actually trying to draw attention to something he's doing that I agree with. Marshall has been extended in each of his starts, from 65 pitches to 79 to 86 in his last start. I expect him in the mid-90s tonight -- now he just needs to figure out how to make those pitches stretch over more than five innings. Is it too early for scoreboard watching? The Astros start their second fifth starter, Fernando Nieve, against Brad Penny & the Dodgers, while the Cardinals offer up Jeff Suppan to the Pirates and the Reds (how are they six games over .500?) try to suggest that Dave Williams is a major league starting pitcher. Good luck with that.
CUBS 6 MARLINS 3 W: David Aardsma (1-0) L: Josh Johnson (1-2) SV: Ryan Dempster (5) Recap | Box Score | Play-by-play | Game Chart| Photos
So much for stability from our boy Z, just as crazy as ever, accentuated by his Bo Jackson-like breaking of a bat over his knee after striking out. In the end, he kept us in the game long enough for Josh Johnson and some suspect defense to give the Cubs the victory. Another one of those not so pretty victories, but they all count the same. Ronny two-bounced a throw to home on a double in the corner that should have had Miguel Cabrera. Then, after making a nice scoop on a bad throw by Neifi at second base, unnecessarily rushed a throw to first that pulled Walker off the bag. No harm on that one though as Z got out of the inning. Walker butchered a pop fly in the infield and Barrett then 2 hopped a throw to second base on a stolen base attempt that should have erased Walker's miscue. Once again, no harm done though. It all led up to the bottom of the eight which started off with a double by Juan Pierre and then 2 walks to Cedeno and Walker, who had been robbed by 3 fine defensive gems up to that point. Ramirez hit a high chopper to Cabrera at third base who inexplicably threw home in an attempt to nail Pierre with the all important first run for the Cubs, despite the Marlins being up 3-0. Should have went for the sure out, Mr. Cabrera. Murton had another excellent at-bat, going with a pitch up and away to right center to tie the game and then Jacque Jones finished the comeback with an opposite field 3-run shot. The chic pick for next Cubs manager Joe Girardi just left poor Josh Johnson out there to suffer, despite obviously having no control over his pitches (like the 8 BB's in 8 IP wasn't enough of a sign). Cubs go for 3 in a row tomorrow with Sean Marshall on the mound. Let's see if he can survive past inning 5 this time.
GAME EIGHTTEEN IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] FLORIDA MARLINS (5-11, -6.0 GB, 5th) AT CHICAGO CUBS (10-7, -2.5 GB, 4th) WRIGLEY FIELD, 6:05 CDT Weather: Clear, 68 degrees, Right to Left @ 5mph TV: ESPN, WCIU Radio: WGN, XM 185
Carlos Zambrano, RHP 0-1, 3.97 ERA, 22.2 IP 21 K, 17 BB, 4 HRJason Vargas, LHP 1-1, 7.20 ERA, 15.0 IP 9 K, 13 BB, 4 HR
Hanley Ramirez, SS Dan Uggla, 2B Miguel Cabrera, 3B Josh Willingham, LF *Mike Jacobs, 1B Chris Aguila, RF Reggie Abercrombie, CF Matt Treanor, C * Jason Vargas, P*Juan Pierre, CF Ronny Cedeno, SS *Todd Walker, 1B Aramis Ramirez, 3B Michael Barrett, C Matt Murton, LF *Jacque Jones, RF #Neifi Perez, 2B # Carlos Zambrano, P

Marlins vs. Zambrano Miguel Cabrera: 2-15, 133/235/333, 1 HR, 4 KCubs vs. Vargas

Big Z goes in search for his first victory and some stability. With the current M.A.S.H. unit the Cubs are putting out there, it would be nice if we could rely on something beyond Greg Maddux. Z needs to find his All-Star form immediately and the rebuilding Marlins are prime bait. You can't put much stock in April games but winning 2 out of 3 at the very least seems essential against a team likely to be the worst in the NL when it's all said and done. I have nothing good to say about the lineup. I suppose with 3 straight lefties in the series, Jones and Neifi were bound to get starts. GO CUBS!!!
No recap on last night's game; instead let's take a moment to remind ourselves how lucky we are to be seeing Greg Maddux's late-career resurgence. An ERA of 0.99 is just silly, and wonderful. Coming up this week, the Cubs start an 8-game homestand with the Marlins and the Brewers. Most of last week's irrational exuberance left when Derrek Lee did, but those who believe in team character should expect the next few weeks to show us What This Team Is Made Of. Florida Marlins Know Your Enemy: Fishstripes, Maverickball (minors) Monday: Jason Vargas vs. Carlos Zambrano Tuesday: Dontrelle Willis vs. Sean Marshall Wednesday: Scott Olsen vs. Undecided I've seen Undecided pitch some pretty good games, and some pretty bad ones. Right now the candidates for Wednesday seem to be Angel Guzman and Rich Hill, and I'm in the Guzman camp mostly because I already know what Rich Hill can do and it isn't that impressive. Guzman might be more of the same, or he might not be, but we don't know and that's more interesting. The Cubs will face three lefties in this series, which is both unusual and potentially troubling. Dusty had Todd Walker in the lineup against Mark Mulder, but I have to assume we'll see the debut of the Mike Restovich experience at some point in this series. If it has to happen, let's hope it happens when Marshall, who is more of a flyball pitcher, is on the mound. Milwaukee Brewers Know Your Enemy: Al's Ramblings, Brewers Bar Friday: Dave Bush vs. Glendon Rusch Saturday: Doug Davis vs. Greg Maddux Sunday: Chris Capuano vs. Carlos Zambrano Looks like the Cubs will miss Ben Sheets this go-around, which is good. The Brewers are an exciting young team, which means they're likely to have more weekends like this last one, where they beat the Reds 11-0 on Saturday and then lost by the same score on Sunday. At least it's always interesting. With Kerry Wood's setback last week (he cut a simulated game short of Thursday due to "pain under his right arm"), I'm resigning myself to Rusch staying in the rotation a bit longer. Wade Miller was transferred to the 60-day DL, which means he can't come back until June 1st -- I do wonder why the Cubs chose to push him to the 60 instead of Mark Prior, who is theoretically after Miller on the comeback trail?
GAME SEVENTEEN IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (9-7, 4th, -2.5) AT ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (11-6, 2nd, -1.0) Busch Stadium, 1:15 PM CDT Weather: TV: WGN Radio: WGN, XM 187
Jason Marquis, RHP 3-0, 2.79 ERA, 19.1 IP 12 K, 4 BB, 1 HRGreg Maddux, RHP 3-0. 1.33 ERA, 20.1 IP 14 K, 4 BB, 1 HR
*Juan Pierre, CF Ronny Cedeno, SS *Todd Walker, 2B Aramis Ramirez, 3B Michael Barrett, C *Jacque Jones, RF Matt Murton, LF #Neifi Perez, 2B Greg Maddux, PDavid Eckstein, SS Juan Encarnacion, RF Albert Pujols, 1B Scott Rolen, 3B *Jim Edmonds, CF *John Rodriguez, LF Yadier Molina, C #Aaron Miles, 2B *Jason Marquis, P

Cubs vs. Marquis Michael Barrett: 7-15, 467/529/800, 2 BB Juan Pierre: 3-15, 200/294/2002 BB,1 KCardinals vs. Maddux Albert Pujols: 10-27, 370/357/741, 3 HR, 3 K David Eckstein: 6-14, 429/429/571 Juan Encarnacion: 10-29, 345/387/483, 1HR, 1 BB Jim Edmonds: 7-28, 250/250/536, 2 HR, 5 K Scott Rolen: 15-58, 259/343/431, 2 HR, 7 BB, 10 K

This is the marquee (heh heh) pitching matchup of the day, as two of the five 3-0 NL pitchers hook up (there are also two 4-0 pitchers). Both of these guys are being extremely stingy in the earlygoing -- each of them has walked as many batters as Glendon Rusch did last night. Maddux is holding opponents to a 149/197/239 batting line, and Marquis' offensive numbers (200/200/300) are almost as good as the numbers of the batters who have faced him (214/257/314). In fact, Tony LaRussa has used Marquis as a pinch-hitter, which says as much about St. Louis' bench as it does about Marquis' batting prowess. It would be easy for the Cubs to justify a sweep at the hands of the Cardinals in the first series of the post-Lee era. I'm not going to talk about team character and junk like that -- even without Lee the Cubs have enough talent to win games -- but instead will simply say that a win today would be awfully nice, and right now there's no one besides Maddux I'd rather have on the hill. GO CUBS!!!
CUBS 1 CARDS 4 W: Sidney Ponson (2-0) L: Glendon Rusch (1-3) S: Jason Isringhausen (5) Recap | Box Score | Play-by-play | Game Chart
I have a challenge for Dusty Baker, any other member of Cubs management, God, Deep Blue, or any other reader. Explain to me the strategic merit of the double-switches that occurred in the fifth and sixth innings. For those of you who missed it: With the game tied at one, the Cards loaded the bases in the bottom of the fifth with two outs. Pujols is coming up. Dusty Baker brings in Scott Williamson. The pitcher's spot is five batters away in our lineup (Ramirez ended the previous inning.) Baker brings in Neifi Perez to replace Walker at second base, and flips the batting order. Williamson, instead of being due up fifth (the ninth spot in the order) is due up eighth (Walker's spot, the third in the order.) Williamson gives up a base hit to Pujols, giving the cards a 3-1 lead, before getting the third out. The Cubs go three up, three down, in the top of the sixth. Williamson struggles in the bottom of the sixth, getting one out, giving up one run, with a rally continuing. So Baker replaces Williamson with Scott Eyre. He also replaces Matt Murton with Freddy Bynum. Bynum is now hitting third (replacing Williamson, who replaced Walker) while Eyre is hitting seventh (replacing Murton). With the double switch, Eyre goes from being five spots away from hitting, to being nine spots away. Eyre gets the last two outs. When the Cubs bat, they get set down, 1-2-3, again. So again, the spot in the order that the pitcher was double switched out of never came to bat. Murton and Walker are now out of the game that we are losing by three runs- Walker with four offensive half-innings left in the game, Murton with three left to go. In Baker's defense, when he pulled Walker, we were tied, but the Cards had the bases loaded. When Murton is pulled, we're already losing by three. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the only reason to do a double switch when you bring in a new pitcher, is because you want that pitcher to be able to pitch the next inning as well. The switch pushes the pitcher's spot further away from batting, so that you don't have to either pinch-hit for him, or watch him flail away at the bat. So if the pitcher's spot is due up first, second, third, or even fourth, and you're quite certain that you don't want your pitcher to bat, but you DO want him to pitch the next inning, then you do the double switch. Now, I have the advantage of writing this piece after the fact, knowing that neither of these double-switches wound up serving their function, and in fact gave Bynum and Perez ABs that should have gone to Walker and Murton. But for the life of me, I can't understand that first double-switch. Why not just leave Walker in the game? If we rally in the bottom of the inning, and we get to the 9th spot in the order, Baker is then free to pinch-hit with whomever he wants - Barrett, Restovich, Hairston, or Perez - and we bring in a new reliever to a game where we've (likely) drawn closer. If we don't get to the 9th spot in the order, Williamson can pitch the next inning, and Walker can still hit. And it further removes the necessity (which isn't even a necessity, just the option) of making that second double-switch, the following inning. Am I missing something, here? Is it worth removing two of your best offensive players from a game that still has a long way to go, and from a lineup that's missing Derrek Lee, and inserting your two weakest hitters, all in order to be absolutely certain that Williamson and then Eyre could pitch the next inning without maybe having to take his turn in the batting order or be pinch-hit for? I just don't get it. Did it affect the outcome of the game? Probably not. But there has to be some sort of Hippocratic Oath for managers, obligating them to not make moves that are more likely to harm the club than to help it.
GAME SIXTEEN IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (9-6, 4th, -1.5) AT ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (10-6, 3rd, -1.0) Busch Stadium, 1:15 PM CDT Weather: 77 degrees, Cloudy, Wind 7 mph left to right TV: WGN, DirecTV 735 Radio: WGN, XM 187
Sydney Ponson, RHP 1-0, 3.97 ERA, 11.1 IP 5 K, 1 BB, 2 HRGlendon Rusch, LHP 1-2. 6.60 ERA, 15 IP 11 K, 4 BB, 7 HR
*Juan Pierre, CF Ronny Cedeno, SS *Todd Walker, 2B Aramis Ramirez, 3B *John Mabry, 1B *Jacque Jones, RF Matt Murton, LF Henry Blanco, C *Glendon Rusch, PDavid Eckstein, SS Hector Luna, 2B Albert Pujols, 1B Scott Rolen, 3B *Jim Edmonds, CF Juan Encarnacion, RF Yadier Molina, C So Taguchi, LF Sidney Ponson, P

Cubs vs. Ponson Jacque Jones: 5-26, 192/267/308, 3 BB, 5 K Todd Walker: 6-18, 333/368/389, 1 BB, 1 KCardinals vs. Rusch Albert Pujols: 13-38, 342/419/737, 3 HR, 6 2B Jim Edmonds: 13-49 265/308/327, 3 BB, 12 K Scott Rolen: 8-26, 308/455/577, 2 HR, 6 BB, 7 K Juan Encarnacion: 5-14, 357/438/429, 2 BB, 2 K So Taguchi: 4-18 222/263/222, 1BB, 1 K

Let's just forget about last night's game, all I have to say is that Jacque Jones should probably not be in there versus lefty pitchers, especially those of the quality of Mark Mulder. Granted, options are limited, but Restovich can play right field and wastiing 3-4 at-bats a game doesn't seem like the best use of your talent. Today it's Butterball Rusch versus another out of shape pitcher, Sydney Ponson. If the game gets out of hand, I say they settle the score in a sumo match. Rusch should make all efforts to avoid pitching to Pujols and Rolen today as he has a lot better luck versus Edmonds. GO CUBS!!!


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