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.
Heyward getting the night off.
Grand Slammin' Sczcur in RF - La Stella batting 2nd
Twitterverse reporting that Heyward is dealing with a sore right wrist
Cardinal way #47
See ya on parrot chat
In what was probably the last start for RHSP Jeremy Null at EXST...
Intrasquad game this morning on Field #5 at Riverview Baseball Complex:
4.1 IP, 7 H, 3 R (3 ER), 0 BB, 2 K, 1 HR, 2 WP, 1 GIDP, 5/4 GO/AO, 75 pitches (50 strikes)
Next stop is likely either South Bend or Myrtle Beach (TBD)
There does seem to be something funky about closers pitching in non-save situations -- they never seem to be as effective. But, to your point, there could not have been a save situation in that game, so why not use your best reliever?
Your thought: don't pitch Rondon at all, since a save can't happen in extra innings at home.
Maddon's thought: might as well pitch him now, because there's no later.
It looked like the baserunner might have screened Russell some though it's still a play he should have made.
I wasn't thrilled with the use of Rondon in that situation. In save situations opponents have a 77 OPS. In non-save situations it's a 116 OPS. We had other relievers for that spot we could have used.
I'm not sure if it's his normal swing but it's obvious he can hit and he's always hit for power just not HRs so if it is his normal swing there's something else going on.
This article from spring training said he was trying to pull the ball a lot more:
Oh, thanks. I guess I should actually look at the schedule. Yay, 3-game road trip!
Good call, indeed. This ought to be a good series.
Sorry to nit-pick -- but the games against the Nats this week are at home.
Can't remember a worse weather-start to a season. Yuck.
Basically Russell booted a slam dunk DP grounder letting a run score. But he drove in the tying run in 9th. Just not their day, Rondon notwithstanding.
Didn't see the game, but it sounded like the Cubs gave away 2 runs with poor fielding. Bummer.
Well, it's been a fun diet of Reds, Brewers and Braves, but now the Cubs have to play real teams in May (Pirates, Nationals, SF, Cards and Dodgers) -- hope we are all still smiling when we wake up on Memorial Day.
He does seem out of synch. His body seems to start forward, then his arms sort of try to catch up -- if that's his normal swing, he will never hit for power. It's an all-arms slasher swing, but the timing seems off.
He is currently slugging .256 -- I realize the weather has been bad, but that's epically bad. Currently 92nd out of 94 qualified NL batters. Yikes.
Weird home stand -- 3-1, with 2 rainouts, vs. two teams that will lose 100 games. Feels oddly disappointing.
Miserable baseball weather all week -- hopefully better weather will get the bats going. Not just walking, but actually hitting.
That strike call on LaSterlla was terrible