Cubs Lose First Series of the Year
The Cubs dropped their first series of the year losing two of three to Dusty and the Reds. The unfortunate details after the jump.
Why the Cubs Lost: Micah Hoffpauir's glove was the main culprit, costing the Cubs two to three runs. He badly misplayed a flyball by Chris Dickerson into a triple that made the game 1-0. The wind had something to do with it, but a decent RF'er definitely makes the play. Then in the 7th, with runners on 1st and 2nd, he tried to come up throwing on a single by Alex Gonzalez and the ball bounced off his glove making sure two runs score(one may have scored anyway) and Gonzalez made it to third base. A nice play on a suicide squeeze attempt by Zambrano did erase Gonzalez though.
Z pitched well for the most part, but he did throw away a pickoff throw to first base, although it did look like a play Derrek Lee could have made. Wily Taveras made it around to third base on the error and after Z struck out Dickerson, Lou came out to see if Z wanted to walk Joey "Cub-Killer" Votto and set-up the double play with the righty Edwin Encarnacion up next. Z's hubris won out and they brought the infield in and Z got ahead quickly. With Geovany Soto setting up low and outside, Z let one up on the inner half of the plate right at the belt and Votto ripped a double to left-center. The fantastic movement on Z's pitches can be a curse as much an asset at times.
After giving up that second run, the Cubs mounted a rally on a hit and error that put Alfonso Soriano at second base and a Ryan Theriot single up the middle to make it 2-1. The first pitch to Kosukue Fukudome saw Theriot stealing and get this...he was thrown out. A great throw by the catcher right on the bag, but nonetheless, Theriot stealing hasn't been a good idea since 2007.
And the bullpen gave up 3 runs in two innings....so great effort all around.
The Good: The Cubs finally scored a run and Z pitched much better than the boxscore shows, a victim of poor defense for the most part.
Death Pool: Luis Vizcaino surprisingly took the first honor but I still think Neal Cotts leads the way for the next victim. He came in to face Joey Votto and fell behind 3-1, making it 3-2 and then - afraid to walk anyone - left a few pitches down the middle that Votto fouled off and then eventually took out to left center.
Up Next: The Cubs try to find their bats in St. Louis this weekend who just finished off sweeping the Mets.
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.
If all the starters have FIP > ERA, is that luck or good defense?