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.
HAGSAG: Chris Pieters was sent to instructs to develop his hitting, bunting, and outfield play (he is already a decent first-baseman).
Pieters is tall and rangy , a "long-strider" in the same mold as Trey Martin and Rashad Crawford. He is a very patient hitter (unusual for a hitter with his lack of experience) and has an outstanding (almost uncanny) eye at the plate, and he is a fast runner with unusually good baserunning instincts, and he is a good basestealer, too.
I doubt we will see Pedro in any more "high leverage" situations this series. With Hendricks and the pen today, we need Bryant-Rizzo-Castro to get going ASAP.
One funny thing to see before the game was the two submariner pitchers (David Berg and Corbin Hoffner) playing catch with each other. Both pitchers throw "submarine" even when they play catch, and it's kind of mesmerizing to watch, even for the other players.
CUBSTER: One of the points of emphasis at "basic" Instructs this year was teaching the position players the art of baserunning and base-stealing, like getting a good primary and seconday lead, reading the pitcher, cutting bases sharply, and different ways to slide to maximize the baserunner's chance to arrive safely.
Brooksbaseball.net has some interesting stats/graphs on pitch and strike zones and you can dial up individual games/pitchers. I'd love to see some comments from readers who can interpret this better than I can. I thought the Ump was really inconsistent with a very wide zone. Does this info seem to match up with my eyeball perception? Also, looking at the graphs, Lackey was not throwing as many pitches below the K-zone (certainly more above) while Lester was clearly getting his pitches down and not many above.
As I was fearing in my post yesterday, Maddon keeps trotting Strop out against the Redbirds and he constantly fails. I understand the psychology behind this, but in a series where there is a finite lock on who moves on, why does he keep riding the wrong horse?
AZ Phil: Agree, this must have been a really fun game to watch. There was a lot of base stealing going on. Are the pitchers not holding runners or is the catching still a work in progress?
Cuzzi has long been known as having the biggest strike zone among all umpires.
AZ Phil, give me a scouting report on Chris Pieters since he has become a 1B/OF.
I think it's probably hard to adjust to an ump's zone mid-game, as least for hitters. Pitchers can locate to an ump's zone, but hitters have minimal time to react.
But, whatever. Umps are going to miss calls. Let's beat up on the non-Lackey starters.
Watched a little of Mets-Dodgers.
Jason deGrom -- oh, my.
Cubs 3-4-5 hitters are 0-21 so far in the post-season.
Let's change that in a big effin' way tomorrow, boys.
Considering how players reacted it seemed pretty accurate high and wide (to righties), but not so accurate low and in. I thought the strike zone by the ump was awful, but it was consistent and the Cubs never adjusted.
Rizzo and Bryant need to have good at bats. They are really looking outclassed in these two games.
that game sounds fun as hell.
I was just wondering the same thing. I'd rather not see it at all. If it's inaccurate, it's a bad viewer experience. If it's accurate, it shows some shitty calling by the umpire.
TBS' K Zone seems to be more harsh than the others.
I wonder if MLB will ask the networks to stop using them. They just make the umps, and the game, look bad, and it only pisses off the fans.