New Lineup Fail
The Cubs drop the opener to the St. Louis Cardinals on a warm night in St. Looey. Before we get to the recap, it's a busy Saturday here at TCR, so be sure to check out the other stories on here today.
Why the Cubs Lost: Give credit where credit is due, but Adam Wainwright was pretty brilliant for the first six innings and if Skip Shumaker doesn't make an error in the 7th, he may have been brilliant for seven. This three-game valley the Cubs have found themselves in has been against Johnny Cueto, Aaron Harang and Adam Wainwright, so at least it's not some Triple A scrubs. Sometimes you just get beat and the Cubs were in all of these games.
The new lineup - for one game at least - sure didn't work out though. A combined 2-13 with Ryan Theriot in the leadoff spot leaving 5 men on base. In the 7th, Theriot comes up with bases loaded and no outs and promptly grounds into a double play. I know I would have rather seen Soriano striking out there...at least it would have saved an out a the time.
But the big moment and why I never really minded Soriano batting leadoff came in the 9th. Milton Bradley walked as a pinch hitter with 2 outs and the Cubs down one run and Gathright pinch ran for him. That turned over the lineup and would normaly give Soriano a fifth chance to affect the game, but he was still two batters away. Instead Theriot is up and there was no way he was going to put the team ahead and pretty unlikely he could even tie it up unless Gathright stole second and that's not likely with Yadier Molina behind the plate. That means you're talking at least two more batters reaching just to tie the game (Theriot walk or single and hopefully Fukudome coming through). So when I say that I don't mind Soriano batting leadoff, last night's game was the perfect example. He may not be the prototypical leadoff hitter, but you are taking anywhere from 40-80 PA's a year from him by moving him down in the order depending on the slot (also, a little less since we're not talking a full year now).
Also, wanted to mention how damn good Albert Pujols is. I know I should be berating a Cardinal, but he flashed some fine defensive skills yesterday starting a nice 3-6-3 double play and then punked Carlos Marmol in the 8th after a single. I was on my drive home by that point, but the Cards radio announcer - former Sox announcer John Rooney I believe - noticed immediately that he had a huge lead and talked up how he already stole two bases on the homestand. Marmol apparently never looked over and Pujols practically had a running start for a crucial stolen base.
The Good: Dempster had a pretty nice outing I thought besides the 5th. I have nothing else.
Death Pool: It looks like Aramis Ramirez or Milton Bradley might be headed to the disabled list so the Cubs can call up someone to fill out the short bench. With 6 spots open on the 40-man, they can have their pick of the litter at Iowa but expect it to be someone who can play third base - possibly Bobby Scales.
Up Next: Sean Marshall vs. Mitchell Boggs in a Saturday afternoon tilt. Hopefully the Cubs offense can wake up against a lesser pitcher.
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.