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.
Two 97+ win teams in a do-or-die, great bullpens, overpowering starters, plenty of pop--hard to believe that game wouldn't be tense. A 4-0 lead is not a blowout, especially in that situation and with the Cubs' young bullpen. Not only would a defensive play here or there make a difference, but you get the win there also on the home plate umps strike zone (generous strike calls for Arrieta, including a couple Ks), and on Schwarber sitting on the right pitch at the right time.
I just noticed the Dodger's payroll today. It is just absurd. $300,000,000+!!
Here is where just some of their money is for 2015:
Carl Crawford $20MM
Brandon McCarthy $17MM
Bronson Arroyo $3.5MM
Darwin B $2.2MM
Dan Haren $10MM
Matt Kemp $18MM
Brian Wilson $10MM
Ryan Webb $2.2MM
Dee Gordon $2.5MM
So I think tomorrow will be the most important test of how far we can go. We can win it all with two pitchers since Arietta has shown he can carry over his success to the post season. If Lester can be dominant also then I think we can go far no matter how Hendricks or Hammel do.
And in terms of pitching just went through to see how we could maximize Lester and Arietta and came up with this (Lester would be going on 4 days rest three times and Arietta twice):
i still can't believe that crawford contract (7/142). all that loot and years for a LF'r who's entire hitting game revolves around his legs and line-drive power. those triples that raised his value are deceptive as hell to his true power, but it helped him get paid.
there's also pause about a guy who's ob% is almost totally driven by hits rather than walks. BOS got lucky unloading that crap deal.
I think the Cubs take Berry and Soler off playoff roster and add Hammel & Ramirez. Believe Maddon will find Denorfia & Jackson defense too hard to lose.
O & B: I like the one-game Wild Card heart attack game, but I'd actually like to see a best two-out-of-three LDS played in the home parks of the two division winners with the best records, and then the LCS as a best two-out-of-three in the home park of the division winner left standing with the best record, and then let's get to the World Series already.
I...don't know. If chanting would help the Cubs beat the Cardinals in the next series or ultimately the World Series I think I'd be ok with it lol. I'm not supportive of saying insulting things to opposing fans or throwing things but loud noise and chanting seems appropriate to me.
I also grew up in France though and that kind of thing is par for the course at soccer and rugby matches and I love it. I find crowds too passive here.
Enjoyable read on David Ross.
Er, they won the first one. My bad. Carry on.
With last night's win in Pittsburgh, the Cubs have tied the Pirates with 98 wins, and are only 2-1/2 games behind the Cardinals. No reason why the Cubs can't finish the post-season with the best winning percentage in baseball (regular season & post-season combined).
BOB: I doubt very much that Matt Szczur will be on the Cubs LDS roster.
If he wasn't on the Wild Card roster (when the Cubs went with 15 position players), he won't be on the LDS roster (when the Cubs will go with 13 or 14 position players).
As it is, at least one of the three RH hitting outfielders who were on the Cubs WC roster (Denorfia, Jackson, and Soler) could get bumped off the LDS roster (probably Soler).
I want my baseball team to win by playing better baseball. I don't want umps, fields, or fans to have anything to do with it.
Just with the chanting thing it worked to rattle Cueto last year where he dropped a ball and gave up a HR next pitch so you can't really hate on the fans for trying it again in this important of a game.
I felt the same way, too, but...
I was very disappointed with Pittsburgh fans. At Wrigley a few weeks ago, they were very obnoxious guests, the cockiness on Twitter, and what's the deal with chanting Arrieta's name during the game? Very bush league. Add that up with Rodriguez's poor sportsmanship and you quickly have a team that you don't mind beating 4-0 in a do or die game.
Absolutely-It was tense. And when the Pirates couldn't push any runs across, you could see the frustration boil over.