Home Sweet Home
So the Cubs left for this road trip on the winds of winning 7 of 8 and being a half-game up on the Cardinals. They come home losing 6 of 10 and dropping 3 back (3.5 games total). It leaves their road record a paltry eight games under .500 at 25-33. To rehash the trip in all its glory...
Cubs tie it up in the top of the 7th with 2 runs, Marmol walks two in the 8th and gives up three runs total.
Cubs enter the 9th up 8-5, Kevin Gregg blows it, then Derrek Lee unblows it with a solo HR to leadoff the 10th and Aaron Heilman notches an unlikely save.
Cubs enter the 9th up 2-1 and Kevin Gregg blows it by giving up back-to-back home runs. Then notifies the team that his arm may have been tired over the weekend and he needs some rest.
Mike Fontenot's 3-run HR is most of the offense and fill-in closer Carlos Marmol tries to, but fails at blowing the game.
Fukudome leads off the game with a home run and Gorzelanny sparkles in his Cubs debut.
The Justin Lehr Game! Complete game shutout for the 32 year junk ball journeyman.
The Rockies have been playing good enough that the Cubs didn't need to handicap themselves for the series. Z doesn't make it out of warm-ups and Sean Marshall and the bullpen are called into action and the results are predictable.
It looks like the Cubs were paying attention during those Jason Marquis starts and take 5 walks and score 6 total on the game. The bullpen holds the one run lead without any drama. The Cubs still lose though when Aramis Ramirez leaves early with shoulder stiffness.
Randy Wells was due for a correction, although he probably didn't need his defense doing the correcting for him. 3 errors that the Rockies capitalized on and then finished off Jeff Stevens for the blowout win. The Cubs managed 5 runs on 17 hits.
Gorzelanny was well on his way to getting shelled anyway, but a comebacker off his ankle/foot and an odd landing trying to make a play claimed another Cub to injury. Lou deemed Esmailin Caridad as the sacrificial lamb of the bullpen and the Rockies bloodied him up over 5 innings of work with Troy Tulowitzki doing the bulk of the butchering - a cycle and 7 RBI's. A meager 9th inning rally made the score look more respectable than the game. The Cubs left about 3,241 runners on base during the 4-game set (unofficial tally).
So back to Wrigley come the Cubs, 33-19 on the year and 132-82 (.616) since Lou took over in 2007. That's probably more a reflection on the talent than any magic on Lou's part, but I suppose a flimsy case could be made that he's cracked the day-game code that has befuddled many a past Cubs team (hint: schedule more night games). The Cubs will host the Keystone state for the next 6 games, before heading back on the road to my side of the country and 7 versus the Padres and Dodgers.
First up at home though are the World Series champs, but they're also the losers of 7 of their last 10 including a sweep at home against the Marlins. They'll throw Randy Wells' Rookie of the Year competition J.A. Happ (8-2, 2.74 ERA) in the first game. The Cubs will counter with Rich Harden and his 1.80 second half ERA. Then Pedro Martinez makes his debut on Wednesday against Jeff Samardzija's starting debut. Finally Cliff "Complete Game" Lee goes on Thursday against Ryan Dempster. If the Cubs can manage 2 out of 3 wins against Philadelphia, it could bode well for a nice rebound homestand as they finish off against the Pirates who have already started their spring training.
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.