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.
I don't think his issue(s) will have anything to do with it. He hasn't hit since he's been back. Coghlan has the hot hand.
I'm not a denier but definitely a skeptic on Strop and Grimm, who struggle with fastball control. Strop doesn't go near the ninth inning, and note how Grimm couldn't close the deal even with a 5-run lead. So Felix Pena comes in and gets the 3-pitch game-ending strikeout like it was nothing.
And how about Almora missing that very catchable ball? That was unexpected after all the hype about his glove.
When Trea Turner misses balls like that--which he does--I draw conclusions from it. It seems to be the one chink in his armor. But I'll give Almora another chance.
Assuming Soler is good to go, I think it comes down to 3 of the following 4: Coghlan, TLS, Sczcur, Almora. Of the 4, TLS seems to be the hardest to justify, particularly given his behavioral issues.
I'm wondering if both Coghlan and LaStella make it. With Javy being able to play all the infield spots and Joe maybe wanting late-inning D when Soler plays (assuming he plays), hence either Szczur or Almora, I think LaStella might be the odd guy out.
Hendricks needs the win, anyway, plus a couple more.
My hunch is that Hendricks wins the Cy Young . . . for Lester. That is, without Hendricks tipping the scale toward the Cubs, Scherzer tops Lester.
Old Cub fans remember when Ken Hubbs died at 22 in the crash of a small plane he was piloting in a storm in Utah in 1964. But Hubbs was not an elite power pitcher like Score and Fernandez. Score lived a long time after the accident but it was (effectively) career-ending.
HAGSAG: Since I've only seen them throw in one game and in one "live" BP session, all I can do is provide initial first impressions.
Brailyn Marquez is listed at 6'4 but is probably more like 6'5 or 6'6. I would describe him as a younger version of Bryan Hudson, throwing a ton of ground balls but not getting a lot of swings & misses (yet). Because of his size he could eventually grow into more velocity, but right now he's mostly a pitch-to-contact guy. He generally throws strikes.
Phil, do Marquez and Ocampo look like prospects?
It helps when your defense has declared war against the H in WHIP.
Lackey finishes with a 3.35 ERA. Currently good for 13th in the NL. Not bad for a guy signed to be a #3 starter in a 15-team league.
He is also 6th in WHIP. Pretty amazing: Cubs have the #2, #3, #5 and #6 starters in WHIP.
Completely meaningless game, but Pena striking out Sean the Turd to with the bases loaded was very fun.
Other than one bad game in SD, Pena has been very good. Even with that game, 9.0 IP, 13 K, 0.89 WHIP.
101 wins...most since 1910 (104).
neat. ...or sad. pick one. pick both. 'murica.
Just looked up Grimm's stats -- after a great run, he gave up 2 runs vs. MIL then didn't pitch for 10 days. Don't remember why?
Sean Rodriguez's helmet looks like it's taking a dump
Grimm not doing himself any favors lately re: making the playoff squad. Seems to have lost the feel for his curveball.
j.grimm is literally worse than hitler.
felix pena, your turn.