Polishing the Silva
Last year I traveled to Chicago over the Memorial Day weekend to see the Cubs and Cardinals do battle. My companion was a neighbor friend who also happens to be a Redbird fan.
I discovered too far out of town to turn back that I’d forgotten the tickets for the Friday afternoon game. Luckily we overcame that absentmindedness at the Wrigley Field ticket window when I was able to verify that I had indeed purchased the seats in question and duplicate tickets were issued. But that snafu on top of the clogged vehicular traffic in downtown Chicago and the really clogged human traffic on the CTA Red Line left us barely enough time to scramble into position down in the right field corner ahead of the first pitch.
Six batters, 16 pitches and six hits later the Cubs’ starter that day, Randy Wells, was already finished and the visitors were well on their way to an easy win. I’m not sure I’d even caught my breath by the time the game was effectively over.
The next day we got to the ballpark early and were able to score club boxes behind the St. Louis dugout. This time the Cub starter was Carlos Silva and he did a little better than Wells had managed the day before. He threw exactly 100 pitches in his seven scoreless innings and gave up only two harmless hits. He didn’t walk anyone and fanned 11. I also recall the Cubs’ other Carlos coming in from the bullpen for the second straight day and the two triples legged out by Mike Fontenot as the Cubs evened the series.
In the rubber game on Sunday Albert Pujols belted a hat trick of homers and our rivals coasted again. My only consolation was that we were listening from the road on the car radio, much to the chagrin of my driver. Ryan Dempster labored through 125 pitches in 6+ innings and broke the sweat that neither Wells nor Silva had.
That weekend was rock bottom for Wells and as good as it got for Silva. They have since passed each other headed in opposite directions. Meanwhile the workmanlike Dempster has ascended through attrition to staff ace and the Cubs have replaced one beefy, erratic Carlos with another. I hope the one named Zambrano is anywhere near as good in 2011 as the one named Silva was that day last year.
And if he can do it against the Cardinals, so much the better.
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.