Once Again, It's Homer or Nuthin' (Mostly Nuthin'); Cubs Lose 2-1 to L.A.
Today at Baseball Prospectus (subscription), Joe Sheehan wrote about how the Cubs have become one of baseball's most home run-dependent teams and tonight, we saw, yet again, where that generally gets you.
A pinch-hit home run by Bobby Scales in the eighth inning against Randy Wolf accounted for all the Cubs' scoring Thursday night in the team's most recent, painful defeat.
Young Randy Wells, starting in place of the injured Rich Harden, delivered yet another terrific start, holding the Dodgers to just 2 runs over 7 innings. He made tough pitches when he had to, fanning seven and walking one. Wells departed with his season ERA still at a glittering 1.80.
The Cubs looked feeble against Dodgers starter Randy Wolf through most of his 7+ innings. The veteran lefty matched Wells with 7 K and 1 BB, but he kept the Cubs off the scoreboard until Scales's blast in the eighth. Wolf helped his cause by inducing three double-plays. Also, as a team, the Cubs went 0-for-8 with men in scoring position.
The bottom of the ninth was just a killer. Milton Bradley dropped an ugly but well-placed bunt for a single to lead off the inning, then Derrek Lee followed with another single, moving Bradley to second. After trying and failing to bunt the runners over, Reed Johnson eventually did advance Bradley and Lee with an infield dribbler. Following an intentional walk to Geovany Soto, Dodgers reliever Ramon Troncoso, subbing for the recently overworked Jonathon Broxton, fanned Scales and Jake Fox to quell the rally and drop the Cubs back to .500.
The basher without a position entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the eighth, right after Scales had homered, and he ripped a single to centerfield. Fox then played the field in the top of the ninth, manning third base and actually handling a chance successfully (though Scales was nearly folded in half by Russell Martin as he received Fox's throw to complete a force out at second base.)
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.