Cubs vs. Brewers Series Preview

Cubs (2-1; 1st in NL Central) vs. Brewers (1-2; 4th in NL Central) at Miller Park

Head-to-head Record
First meeting in 2009. Cubs won 9 of 16 games between the teams in 2008.

Pitching matchups
Friday, 3:05pm
Rich Harden (0-0) vs. Braden Looper (0-0)

Saturday, 6:05pm
Carlos Zambrano (1-0, 1.50) vs. David Bush (0-0, 18.00)

Sunday, 7:05pm
Ryan Dempster (0-0, 3.00) vs. Jeff Suppan (0-1, 13.50)

Hot

Cubs
Hard to say anyone is "hot" after just three games, but the big bats came out in Houston after a couple of lackluster games. Ryan Theriot (5/9, .556) and Aramis Ramirez (6/14, .429 with team-high 5 RBI) are off to good starts and hit safely in all three games in Houston. Kosuke Fukudome (4 hits Wednesday night), Mike Fontenot (5/13, .385), and Alfonso Soriano (5/15, .333, 2 HR) have also contributed. Zambrano had an outstanding, highly controlled start in the opener, yielding just one run in 6+ innings.

Brewers
Milwaukee opened on the road in San Francisco, where Mike Cameron went 4-for-7 with 6 BB and a homer. Ryan Braun, 4-for-12 including a pair of doubles, was the only other Brewer regular who did much hitting. Yovanni Gallardo, not pitching in this series, homered against Randy Johnson on Wednesday, the first time Johnson has ever been touched for a home run by an opposing pitcher.

Not So Hot

Cubs
Milton Bradley is hitless in 9 AB so far, though he has drawn a team-high 4 BB. Derrek Lee was 1-for-6 Wednesday night with 3 K's and is hitting just .154 (2-for-13).

Brewers
Against the Giants, Weeks,Fielder, Hart, Hardy, and Kendall went a combined 7-for-57 with 17 K's.

Other notes: The series opener matches the sometimes brilliant and generally brittle Harden against the former Cardinal, Looper, whose Brewer Spring Training debut was delayed until late March by a muscle pull; when he pitched, he didn't pitch well...In case you forgot, the last time the teams met was on the final weekend of the '08 season, when the Brewers took two of three from the Cubs to clinch the NL Wild Card...This series will mark the first matchup between the two teams since former, WGN extra guy in the radio booth, Cory Provus, left 'GN to start calling Brewers games. I thought Provus did a nice job in Chicago, but since he bailed out on us, he is officially dead to me.

 

Comments

No hits and no runs in 1st? I'll still take it. They made Looper throw 24 pitches—that's nice to see in the first.

Harden hitting 93-94 with regularity in the first.
Should put some doubts to rest.

Just catching up on my pre-game notes from Len & Bob. Harden scheduled to throw between 90-95 pitches. Four pitches into the third inning, he has thrown 38 pitches.

Not a bad first hit.

Heh - Harden has struck out everyone in the Brewers' lineup except the pitcher.

Koyie Hill!

Who saw that coming?

Hill-Pauir!!!!

Koy E. Hill

How many pitchers is Lou going to use today?

Unfortunately Aaron Miles was already used as a pinch hitter.

Gregg is not instilling confidence in his new closer role.

I kept looking for his "out" pitch. It never surfaced, except when he pounded it into the ground against no-name.

Theriot is not instilling confidence in his defense.

Awful, awful baseball on that last play.

Little league play that was so bad I'd probably come out of the stands and beat the crap out of the kid who did it.

Not only did he f up that play, but he also cost the Cubs a run in the first, and he blew the pop-up later in the game.

And all around great example of Theriot's poor defense.

Why? What happened? I only saw the small highlight on gameday (blocked out for Brewers games in Wisconsin). Looked like he went deep in the hole, fielded cleanly, and threw home right away. Better throw would have got him.

I'm just getting worried about Gregg, so far his outings have looked like this:

Game 1: Single, Single, Sac Fly, Flyout, Groundout

Game 2: Flyout, Intentional Walk, Walk-off RBI Single

Game 4: K, Groundout, Walk, Double, Wild Pitch, Walk, Walk-off RBI fielder's choice.

He didn't go deep in the hole. He had an tailor-made double play ball, but instead tried to make an ill-advised off-balanced throw to the plate. And he couldn't even make a decent throw.

If he goes to second on that ball, its a double play and the inning is over, and we get extra baseball.

Yeah I just saw it on ESPN, should have turned two. You could see Ramirez throw is hands up in the air like "wtf?"

ESPN guy also said Soriano misplayed the double, froze instead of going back right away. Which begs the question we already asked earlier this year, why is Gathright replacing the best defending outfielder we have in late innings?

I don't agree with this line of thinking, but I'm guessing that Gathright came in for Fukudome instead of Soriano for two reasons:

1. Lou is more concerned about Soriano's ego than Fukudome's.

2. Lou was hoping for extra innings and didn't want to downgrade from Soriano's bat to Gathright's (the downgrade from Fukudome to Gathright being less noticeable).

I could be completely wrong, but that's my guess.

I agree with #1, but Gathright's ego has to be even a lesser concern for Lou, so if Lou is worried about extra innings, why even bring Gathright in at all? Save him. He doesn't really improve the D that much over Fukudome.

We talked about this in parachat after it happened.

I'm not 100% certain that they turn the double play, but they certainly have a much better shot at it than gunning down the run at the plate. I'd also rather lose trying to turn it on Braun than getting Weeks at the plate from that deep.

The question I have is - why does he even try that when they're already at double play depth? You're at double play depth for a reason - turn it!

Well this game was less than satisfying.

I didn't see the first 7 innings or so but it sounded like Harden looked okay. I'd be interested in opinions from the rest of yuz.

I only saw him pitch his last two innings, and listened on the radio for the first four, but from what I saw and heard, he was great. He was hitting mid-90's with his fastball, and great command, and was overall pretty dominating.

Cool. Good to know. Harden is one of those guys I never see. I just kept missing him last year and not quite enough time to watch the replayed games. Saw him in Mesa and his fastball had no movement but it was spring training so I wasn't shocked.

GOD DAMN YOU DUSTY

It always kinda bugged me that Dusty would be so stoic while losing. I liked it when Lou got pissed after Gregg lost control of that pitch to the scrub. I don't remember his name. If I was a pitcher I'd never walk a guy, and then, sure enough, Gregg served up a fat fastball to Weeks. He'll need to learn how to pitch for Lou pretty damn quick.

Gregg coulda gotten a coupla calls from the ump, too. I didn't see much of the game but from what I saw the ump had a worse game than Gregg -- although he was right about Theriot's throw. Not even close.

did you like it when, with a full bench and 1 out with men on the corners he sent a singles hitting groundball hitter up?

lou got pissed, that ruled. shows me he cares.

When you get to be my age you don't give a shit about small manager stuff. They ALWAYS screw up.

For me, it's more about how does the team play. Their fundamentals could still be better, but they were awful under Dusty.

That said, if you have HoffPower in the bench you always bring him in, matchups be damned. The dude rakes.

Things that sucked about this game:

-Theriot awful in the field. Drops a short fly to left after calling Soriano off to try and make a catch with his back to home plate and drops the ball, and throws home in the 9th on a double play ball that would have ended the inning tied.

-Lou torching through the bullpen..but Cotts, Marshall, and Heilman all failed in their roles, not to mention Gregg who will not make anyone forget Kerry Wood by the early returns.

-Did I mention Gregg looks like a crap closer?

-We pull Marmol out of the game so Miles can pinch hit with one out and runners on the corners, only so he can hit into a DP? If you are not going to squeeze, why the hell isn't Hoffpair hitting? This is the second time this season Miles pinch hit ahead of Hoffpair...what is the point of that? I thought Hoff was your new pinch hit guy and he is 1 for 2 in that role???!!

There is no way I should be this frustrated this early in the season...help me out here.

"There is no way I should be this frustrated this early in the season...help me out here."

There's a game tomorrow?

Agreed on all points. What is bothering me is that this team will clearly win a lot of games and likely make the postseason. But so far they look like the same old Cubs in close games. The 9th in game one was way too exciting, game two was lost in extras, game 4 lost in the 9th. They need to develop that killer instinct or attain that level of confidence that championship teams have. Right now, they don't have it, but it's early.

Thanks....a fistful of medication and your posts have had a calming effect. On the plus side...

-Harden looks like the best 4th starter in the league

-Fonte, Theriot, and Fukadome are still hitting

-Bradley finally got one on the board

-K. Hill with some surprising offense

-Marmol is one of the best relievers in pressure situations

K hill actually took some nice cuts in Spring training while I was there. I thought I noticed it last year, too. Not sure where the bad rap comes from. Maybe he has lousy stats -- I haven't checked. But catchers can come on late as hitters -- witness one Hank White, who has definitely improved over the last two years. They're students of the game and ...blah blah

If you're right about that and they make the post season, I'd worry more about D Lee than some of the other stuff, which will work itself out overall. It's true that they didn't have a killer instinct but Bradley may help with that if he doesn't implode into a gelatinous pile of broken tendons.

D Lee got under a pitch really bad today that he would have driven out of the park on a line drive during his one good year with us. Small sample size, but a trend worth watching.

I hope Lou starts easing Hoffpower into more at bats at 1B if that continues, and takes the same attitude with Lee as he has with Kfuk. Although I don't know what our infielders will do if that happens. I guess they'll have to aim at the first baseman's mitt. Which will be really weird for them.

There is some good news today:

A 22-year-old man was charged with three murder counts and drunken driving Friday in the crash that killed Los Angeles Angels rookie pitcher Nick Adenhart and two others.

I enjoy a nip or three, but I NEVER drive. Which is why I'm old (being a Cubs fan for all these years is why I'm blue).

Recent comments

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  • In what was probably the last start for RHSP Jeremy Null at EXST  
    Intrasquad game this morning on Field #5 at Riverview Baseball Complex 
    4.1 IP, 7 H, 3 R (3 ER), 0 BB, 2 K, 1 HR, 2 WP, 1 GIDP, 5/4 GO/AO, 75 pitches (50 strikes) 
    Next stop is likely either South Bend or Myrtle Beach (TBD)  

  • There does seem to be something funky about closers pitching in non-save situations -- they never seem to be as effective. But, to your point, there could not have been a save situation in that game, so why not use your best reliever?

  • Heyward getting the night off.

    Grand Slammin' Sczcur in RF - La Stella batting 2nd

  • Your thought: don't pitch Rondon at all, since a save can't happen in extra innings at home.

    Maddon's thought: might as well pitch him now, because there's no later.

  • It looked like the baserunner might have screened Russell some though it's still a play he should have made.

    I wasn't thrilled with the use of Rondon in that situation. In save situations opponents have a 77 OPS. In non-save situations it's a 116 OPS. We had other relievers for that spot we could have used.

  • I'm not sure if it's his normal swing but it's obvious he can hit and he's always hit for power just not HRs so if it is his normal swing there's something else going on.

    This article from spring training said he was trying to pull the ball a lot more:

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/making-too-much-of-...

  • Oh, thanks. I guess I should actually look at the schedule. Yay, 3-game road trip!

  • Good call, indeed. This ought to be a good series.

  • Sorry to nit-pick -- but the games against the Nats this week are at home.

    Can't remember a worse weather-start to a season. Yuck.

  • Basically Russell booted a slam dunk DP grounder letting a run score. But he drove in the tying run in 9th. Just not their day, Rondon notwithstanding.

  • Didn't see the game, but it sounded like the Cubs gave away 2 runs with poor fielding. Bummer.

    Well, it's been a fun diet of Reds, Brewers and Braves, but now the Cubs have to play real teams in May (Pirates, Nationals, SF, Cards and Dodgers) -- hope we are all still smiling when we wake up on Memorial Day.

  • He does seem out of synch. His body seems to start forward, then his arms sort of try to catch up -- if that's his normal swing, he will never hit for power. It's an all-arms slasher swing, but the timing seems off.

    He is currently slugging .256 -- I realize the weather has been bad, but that's epically bad. Currently 92nd out of 94 qualified NL batters. Yikes.

  • Weird home stand -- 3-1, with 2 rainouts, vs. two teams that will lose 100 games. Feels oddly disappointing.

    Miserable baseball weather all week -- hopefully better weather will get the bats going. Not just walking, but actually hitting.

  • That strike call on LaSterlla was terrible

  • I was hearing some talk that John Mallee is trying to change Heyward's swing. Wonder if that is lending itself to the slow start.

  • rollercoaster loss...ugg.

    at least it wasn't a "nobody showed up" stomping.

    anytime you wanna jumpstart your season would be nice, heyward.