Cubs Beat Rockies in 11; Zambrano Getting Recast
Aramis Ramirez blasted a one-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the 11th to lead the Cubs to a 4-2 win over the Rockies Monday night at Wrigley. Lou Piniella's post-game press conference, the main topic of which was a player who never even appeared in the game, was at least as newsworthy as the main event.
First about the game:
The Cubs had leads of 1-0 and 2-1 courtesy of run-scoring singles by Aramis Ramirez and Koyie Hill, before the Rockies tied the game in the 8th inning on a single and three walks, two by John Grabow and one by Carlos Marmol. Marmol redeemed himself by inducing an inning-ending double play, nicely initiated by Starlin Castro, to preserve the tie.
From the ninth through the eleventh, Marmol and Sean Marshall held the Rockies scoreless and hitless while fanning seven (!!!).
Castro led off the bottom of the 11th with a single, his third hit of the night. After Derrek Lee lined out to Troy Tulowitzki, Ramirez pounded the game-winning shot halfway up the bleachers in left-center field. It was Ramirez's first HR in 108 AB's, dating all the way back to April 15th in Milwaukee.
The failing of the Cub bullpen—primarily the failure of Grabow—cost Randy Wells a victory on a night when the righty threw a career-high 116 pitches and limited the visitors to 1 run on 7 hits over 6 2/3 innings. He also pitched himself out of a potentially disastrous fourth inning, striking out Ian Stewart and Clint Barmes to get out of a bases loaded, one out jam.
About the press conference and events leading up to it...
When Grabow took the mound to begin the eighth inning, Kasper and Brenly pointed out that only Carlos Marmol was warming up in the pen. Our 8th Inning Man, Carlos Zambrano, was nowhere to be seen...at least not until the tv cameras found him sitting in the dugout alongside Geovany Soto.
In his post-game meeting with the press, Piniella explained that Zambrano's role in the bullpen would be changing. Piniella, as quoted by Sullivan in the Tribune:
We thought the outcome (of moving Z to the bullpen) would be different. He's not as comfortable in the bullpen pitching short. So we're going to use him in a different role, give him some stamina, build up his arm.
Piniella said his lefties, Grabow and Marshall, would serve as setup men and in answer to a direction question, Lou finally said that Zambrano would rejoin the starting rotation "down the road, if need be."
I guess that means long relief for now. Thing is, Cub starters are averaging better than six innings per outing so it doesn't seem like there is much "long relief" duty to be had. Unless we're talking about mop-up duty in those lost cause games, in which case I'd say that having an $18MM-a-year Mop-Up Man seems a lot sillier than having an $18MM-a-year Setup Guy.
Like just about everything involving this team this year, the Zambrano situation should be fascinating, if not actually enjoyable, to watch.
Some perspective (mostly for my own benefit): Dan Straily beat MadBum 2-1 today as the Reds took 2 of 3 in SF. Giants are 2-9 since the break and their lead over LA is down to 2.5 games. So, yeah...baseball. It'll drive ya nuts.
McNutt / Archer didn't work out well for us.
The floor is more valuable than the ceiling. It's the same reason we drafted Kris Bryant instead of Jon Gray.
Apparently the Yankees had the choice of either Gleyber Torres or Eloy Jimenez in the Chapman deal, and they chose Torres.
Chapman shouldn't be reserved anymore on 40 man.
Interesting split on Heyward according to ESPN. As a CF, his slash line .292/.363/.375/.738. At RF: .212/.204/.300/.604. 21/72 as a CF, 58/273 as a RF.
He's also been better when batting 2nd, but he had a nice start in the 6 hole, but has slumped ever since. He was heating up before the All Star break, but is only hitting .108 in the 2nd half.
When we played the Reds with Chapman, I always thought of it as an eight-inning game. So now other teams have eight innings to try to get a lead against the Cubs. Should be a challenge, assuming three or four Cubs ever start hitting again.
I don't really try to get to know and like these players personally. I'm rooting for laundry, for the most part. Exceptions might be when a player makes trouble in the clubhouse or in the dugout. (Zambrano and Bradley come to mind. Also Papelbon.) But I don't think Chapman is one of those jerks.
Unfortunately, a pretty good summary. It looks like next year Heyward will be getting yet another batting stance adjustment.
The recent good news has been Baez. I'm afraid about the next league adjustment on him, though, which is probably right around the corner.
Bryant I don't worry about too much. Just not seeing the ball well right now. He'll turn it around. Russell's been good with men in scoring position all year and he's 22ish. He'll be fine but next year is likely to be his breakout year.
If Travis' back-to-back-to-back walks cost Hendricks the ERA title, that would really suck.
Edit: "A lifeless loss to a lousy Sox team."
This place is a real downer after a loss to the Sox.
I expect they will go 5-9 games above .500 the rest of the year. 96-98 wins will win the Division.
They should have one more 2-3 week hot streak in them.
However, several players are just "average" for the last month: Zobrist, Ross, Russell, Ceasar. Montero is terrible, plus he cannot throw anyone out. -WAR. Heyward is abysmal at the plate, but a plus in the OF. Still with RISP he has been terrible. KB has not been driving in runs as of late. But Apparently the team is still above average with RISP according to S Sahadev.
I came to that realization tonight. I kept expecting them to play better, but now I realize they aren't going to. They are a .500 team now.
- They have one reliable starting pitcher. Jake's magic is gone, and it doesn't look like it's coming back. Lester has been lousy recently. Lackey's ERA goes up every time he pitches.
- Heyward has been dead weight all year. I can't remember a single series where he was a significant offensive contributor. Not one. Great defense, but but if he were hitting .270 with 10 HR and played average defense, the Cubs would be better off.
new rule...no one's allowed to throw k.bryant a changeup
Team is .500 since early May and is playing like a .500 team. Lack of offense seems to be putting a lot of pressure on the pitchers...and they aren't handling it terribly well.
.500 the rest of the way still may win the division though.
...i hate espn.
nothing like settling into a cubs game to get a few minutes cutaway for an ortiz AB in the 6th inning of the det/bos game.
oh, at least they're doing split screen now...i guess.