Cubs' Worst Game in, Oh, About 48 Hours: D-Backs 7, Cubs 2
The Cubs dropped their fourth game in five as Arizona's Dan Haren pitched a complete game, three-hitter to beat Ted Lilly, who just pitched like hell.
Why the Cubs lost: Aside from Alfonso Soriano's leadoff home run, Mike Fontenot's eighth-inning solo shot, and Lilly's third-inning single, the Cubs could do nothing against Haren.
On the mound, Lilly had little command of his breaking ball and it was painful to watch him try to steer his pitches over the plate. After walking but two hitters in his first 18 2/3 IP this season, the Cub lefty passed four men in his five innings Monday night. Worse, a number of the pitches that were in the strike zone got massacred, including one to Arizona catcher Chris Snyder (hitting just .094 coming into the game), that wound up 425 feet or so from home plate, in the seats beyond straightaway center field.
On defense, Fontenot, continuing to fill in for the injured Aramis Ramirez, looked awful, committing two errors, getting betrayed by his footwork on a routine ground ball (resulting in an "infield hit" for Justin Upton), and dropping the ball after what would have been a caught stealing on the Diamondbacks' Mark Reynolds in the early going. Fontenot also allowed a chopper hit by Haren to go over his head for a two-run double during the home team's decisive four-run, fourth-inning rally.
Speaking of caught stealing, the Diamondbacks weren't, not in five other attempts against the Lilly and Soto or David Patton and Soto batteries. Arizona seemed to come into this game determined to test Soto's balky right shoulder and the results for the Cubs on this night were dismal. I would think we can expect to see a lot more of this from Cub opponents in the near future.
On a positive note: Kosuke Fukudome gunned down Reynolds, attempting to score from third on a medium-deep fly ball. Fukudome threw the ball to Soto on the fly and Reynolds was tagged out without ever touching home plate. Also, Jeff Samardzija followed Patton to the hill and struck out two men in his one inning of work.
In honor of the Chicago Blackhawks, winners of their first-round playoff series against the Calgary Flames, here are your 3 stars of the game: Dan Haren, Dan Haren, and Dan Haren.
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.