Cueto Quiets Cubs: Reds Win at Wrigley, 3-0
Righthander Johnny Cueto dominated Cub hitters Wednesday night, and a strong outing by Ted Lilly (7 IP, 5 H, 0 BB, just 1 unearned run allowed) was wasted as Cincinnati ended the Cubs' three-game winning streak.
Why the Cubs lost: No O—the offense produced no runs and four hits against Cueto in his seven innings. Overall, the Cub bats delivered six measly singles, two each by Soriano and Lee, and one apiece from Fukudome and Ramirez. In both the first inning and the fourth, they managed to put two runners aboard, but failed to capitalize. In total, Cub hitters only had four opportunities to hit with men in scoring position.
Milton Bradley, who rejoined the starting lineup, fanned three times in four trips, and is now hitting .043 (1-for-23). He still appears to be suffering from the groin strain, both at the plate, where his swings seemed mostly flat-footed, and in the field, where he wasn't running down fly balls so much as shuffling after them.
Ted Lilly's only shortcoming tonight was his defense. He made two errors, and the first one—a wild throw following a bunt single by Alex Gonzalez in the fourth inning—led to the only run the Reds would need on yet another frosty spring evening at Wrigley Field.
Angel Guzman and Kevin Gregg were each tagged for a run over the last couple innings. As Bob Brenly pointed out on Comcast, Gregg's inability to throw his breaking ball for strikes reduced him to a one-pitch pitcher, and young Jay Bruce, who also homered Tuesday night, tagged one of those pitches for an opposite field home run in the ninth.
Speaking of the Cub bullpen and per Rob's post earlier this evening, don't run out and buy that Luis Vizcaino Cubs jersey you've had your eye on.
Lilly has been here before: The Cub southpaw went 17-9 last season and four of the losses were to the Reds, three of them at Wrigley. On the other hand, the Cubs also abused Cueto in '08, defeating him three times in four starts.
On tap for Thursday: A little ace-on-ace action in the series' rubber game as Aaron Harang (1-2. 2.70) meets Carlos Zambrano (1-0, 5.21). Weather forecast calls for partly cloudy skies and highs approaching 70, which will be a nice change after two cold nights on the lakefront.
2nd in defensive WAR, NL.
6th in NL in RBI
Go complain about something else, like, "they never play good against the good teams", or some other shit.
Addy really has trouble breaking through .250 BA -- after his hot streak got him to .251, he has gone 1-for-17.
Thank goodness for Jansen's 2 WP on Friday -- otherwise this would have been a sweep.
There seems to be a direct correlation with overconfidence in the Cubs offense against mediocre/young pitchers and really poor offense against mediocre/young pitchers. So, let's fear the Pirate pitchers!
Rizzo due for a power surge -- one HR in August so far. He truly does hit them in bunches.
Sometimes I'm not as supportive of Cahill as maybe I should be. There, I said it.
Rough 8th inning all around -- HBP, Cahill error, Javy's poor decision.
Oh well - given that the Cubs didn't look like they were going to score, it's better to lose in 9 innings, save the bullpen and get changed for the PJ trip home.
Baez still learning
heyward with his 3rd multi-hit game since the all-star break (all in august)...2nd in the past 3 games during his 7 game hitting streak.
he's gone from flirting with a sub-.300 ob% to nearing .310 ob% in 3 games (1 game was just a 1 for 1 pinch hit appearance). all 5 hits in the past 3 games have come in a row...neat.
stewart with 7Ks through 3ip...of course.
that 10-13 mph difference in his fastball/change is working today...and they're swinging at his crappy slider.
brock stewart...steven brault...fun times for the cubs hitters vs allegedly competitive teams...maybe.
Maddon would have started three lefties against the Dodgers, Montgomery, Zastryzny and Lester, except that he doesn't have the juice to do that. No manager does. Maddon has a boss, Epstein (and probably Hoyer, too), who gave him a starting rotation of five guys including Hammel. Maddon was asked yesterday about the starting group for next year and basically said, Not my call, that's why I drive away in my RV in the summer and occasionally check in, etc.
video of Maddon.
always nice that he actually tries to honestly answer questions. Does mention that he wanted to give Zastr? a chance in a meaningful spot rather than a mop-up role.
#Cubs Maddon: "I'm not going to make up an excuse for why I did what I did. It has nothing to do with lack of confidence" ... "It was the right thing to do today based on what I saw, what their lineup looked like and Rob Z.'s availability." #Cubs
Hammel not particularly understanding of getting pulled out...as he should. Be curious what Maddon had to say. All I can think of is is keeping arms fresh and maybe wanting to see if Zastr? is worth considering for the playoffs and how he'd do against the Dodgers.
Heyward, Russell, Baez, Bryant, Ross in particular...although Bryant's a bit hard to judge with all the positions.
Fowler and Rizzo in the top half of the NL for their positions as well (per fangraphs)...Zobrist right at the halfway cutoff for 2b in the NL.
I'm sure some luck is involved too, but the Cubs and Maddon knew what they were doing.