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.
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.