Game 9 Open Thread / Cubs @ Pirates (3 of 3)

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SP *Rich Hill SP Matt Morris
  0-0, 3.00, 4 K, 3 BB 0-0, 5.40, 2 K, 2 BB
LF Alfonso Soriano CF *Nate McLouth
2B *Mike Fontenot 2B Freddy Sanchez
1B Derrek Lee LF Jason Bay
3B Aramis Ramirez 1B *Adam LaRoche
RF *Kosuke Fukudome RF Xavier Nady
C Geovany Soto C Ronny Paulino
SS Ryan Theriot 3B Jose Bautista
CF *Felix Pie SS Brian Bixler
*Rich Hill P Matt Morris












After 27 innings of baseball in two games, I think the Cubs should just get credit for the third game and call it a sweep. It is three full games of baseball afterall.

Lou thought about switching up the rotation a bit and giving Marquis the start tonight, but he was still feeling the effects of the flu. So Rich Hill stays in his spot and as long as the rain stays away, I'm sure there's not a happier guy in Pennsylvania right now. Hill, a flyball pitcher, gets the cozy left field dimensions of PNC Park and the punchless Pirates instead of the hitter-happy Citizens Bank Park and the powerhouse Phillies lineup.

Lou was pondering tinkering with his lineup as well, teasing us with playing Fukudome in center and Ward in right or Pie in center, Fukudome in right, and giving Fontenot a start at second to take advantage of the righty/lefty matchup with Matt Morris on the mound. Eventually he settled on rewarding Pie for his game-winning hit yesterday and giving a spot start to Fontenot, as you can see. Of course, Morris has shown little difference in his three-year splits (775 OPS vs lefties and 769 vs. righties) and was actually better versus lefties in 2007 (784 OPS compared to 828 OPS vs. righties).

The weather block on the left of the site says 30% chance of showers tonight and the map looks even more ominous, although it appears the green blob might stay north of the city the entire time.

Be sure to visit TCR tommorrow, as Mike Wellman of Road to Wrigley will have the first of his eyewitness accounts from Prinicipal Park in Iowa. He'll be stopping by here after each Iowa homestand, and will have some other articles throughout the year.


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"After 27 innings of baseabll in two games, I think the Cubs should just get credit for the third game and call it a sweep. It is three full innings of baseball afterall."

I think you mean three full GAMES of baseball.

thanks...knock a buck off your tab. :)

Woo Soriano!!!

Boo Hill!! (woo McLouth...fantasy points)

Is Hill going to get anyone out?? I think a sickly Marquis could have done this bad.

Now that Hill is out maybe the Cubs will start scoring some runs.

Soto a triple away from the cycle.

ok 7-3...lets make this one easy for once?

I think Godenot has been resurrected.

Actually, I think Fontenot is potentially the best hitter out of Theriot, Cedeno, and DeRosa. DeRosa has him beat on walks, but I think Mighty Mike actually has more pop. And, as we all know handedness is the most important factor, Fontenot has the edge in hitting from the correct batter's box.

let me take a stab at this...

tomorrrow Lou will be quoted that Hill wasn't sent down because he walked a zillion batters in 3 innings...and that they needed a lefty reliever in the bullpen, so they brought Pignatello back up (since they already have Marshall stretched out).

on another note...Nice work Jon Lieber.

Pignatello can't be called back up unless there is an injury.

And Hill is going anywhere.

re: Hill

just being silly...but Hill better have been noticing that Lieber throwing strikes made Lou smile.

Sweet double play!

It would seem unlikely that Hill would be optioned out over the weekend? I'd bet alot of money against it but stranger things have happened.


Go Cubs!!!

That may have been the ugliest sweep in baseball history. Still a sweep, though.

3 uglies beats a pair of sweet wins and a tough loss. Still, can't we extract some measure of good vibe from this series? Something about building a notion of "ain't over 'til its over" etc in the clubhouse, that stuff never gets old IMHO. My big man crush (probably premature) is for Mr. "Leave it to Lieber" who might be setting records for length of middle relief appearances this early in the season? Too early to vote for a TCR POTM?

How 'bout that Geovany Soto?

The Pirates aren't a great team and the Cubs squeeked out a couple but sweeping any series is always a bonus. Now just pull out 1 or 2 in Philly and its a nice little road trip.

Dood. A sweep is nice and tough to complete, I don't care who the team is. And Rich Hill isn't getting optioned. Relax bro.

Looks like rain tomorrow night in Philly. I guess we're playing two Saturday?

scott moore started tonite for 2nd...

okay, whatever.

1. i wonder what that lou and hill conversation was about in dugout
hill did not say anything lou did all the talking.

2. i would have made hill sit on bench and watch lieber pitch
first pitch strikes are huge.

3. coincidence that pie made last out in 3rd and lou made the double switch
i think lou is getting a hardon for johnson,we know he will start on saturday
but will it be pie or johnson on friday?

I think I might be gettin' a little bit of a hard-on for Johnson.

Maybe it had to do with the pitcher's spot coming up next to lead off the inning and Pie batting 9th after that? I dunno, sounds more like managing 101 then some perceived affection for a player.

the double-switch was standard managing as you mentioned, Pie made the last out and Lou knew that Lieber would be going more than one inning. That being said, Pie didn't look too hot out there today and Reed had another nice game. Two lefties this weekend as well...


So "picking up Reed in case Pie doesn't pan out" might have been a good strategy. I know, it's all very cursory being the ninth game and all, but still.

Pie looked awful in his 2nd AB (the only one I saw).

Matt Morris, an over-the-hill righthander, just toyed with him -- slow curve, slow curve, fastball right down the middle. Strikes 1, 2 and 3. No chance. Ugly. Given Pie's reaction, I think he is stressing a fair amount.

Hendry's two "shrug" additions -- Liebs and Johnson-- are paying big early dividends. Without Lieber, I think they lose yesterday's game -- Hill spits the bit after a 15-inning, bullpen-drainng marathon. Is Hill too comfy? Does he need a little pressure and sense of urgency to perform well?

Jason Kendall hitting .538 for the Crew.

he is definately looking good so far,and he is probally glad to be
out of toronto,wonder how stewart is doing for bluejays.

Hey people, don't forget to pitch in a few bucks to support TCR.

PS digging the "sweep" graphic.

Love the sweep graphic. Looking forward to updates from Road to Wrigley.

Nice to see Soriano starting to hit. Looked like Lee lost his hot-streak...maybe Zach Duke has a lasting effect on a guy. Tough road trip to Philly early in the year, Go get 'em Cubbies!

Samardzija (W, 2-0) 7.0 4 0 0 1 5 0 0.75

Second strong outing for Samardzija at Tenn. Very encouraging.

Was it Sutcliffe who said during ST '07 that we'd see Samninja sometime in '08? September call-up maybe? Maybe sooner?

Piniella hints Hill's on thin ice

Only option offered by Lou is bullpen.

nothing like a little incentive from Lou.

That is ridiculous.

Rich Hill is too good to not be given a real opportunity to work through some of his issues.

If anyone thinks that John Lieber will have a better year than Rich Hill, they are crazy.

Eventually Hill will have a better year than Leiber, but that doesn't mean trotting Hill out to the mound every 5 days will solve his problem.

Clearly Hill has been struggling with his control, and its been that way since spring training. If he has the same problem again his next start, something will probably have to change, either sending him down to Iowa for a few weeks or declare that some mystery injury is what's causing the problem and sit him down for 2 weeks of "rehab."

Right now, the Cubs have two capable 6th starters in Marshall or Leiber, theres no reason not to use them if there is something wrong with Hill.

Dave, if he'd like to show ANY improvement over the last 6 weeks worth of throwing, that would be great. He's not learning anything. He's not fixing anything. He still can't throw his curveball for a strike, so everybody's teeing off on his fastball. Coincidentally, he's also having problems throwing his fastball for a strike.

Seems to me the new delivery concocted by Rothschild isn't working for him. I don't really care how many guys steal off of him if he'd actually get some guys out.

i believe you would be hard pressed to find anyone who has categorically stated that "jon lieber will have a better year than rich hill in 2008". i don't read every comment on here; i may be wrong.

there has been no change in hill since pitchers and catchers reported. maybe he has an injury, maybe he has mentally hit the wall. maybe he has hit his ceiling altogether. that cannot be known yet.

but there is no reason to put the club at a disadvantage by putting hill out there, when he cannot find the plate. 75 or so pitches in 3 innings is not acceptable; what sort of hue and cry would be on here if it were zambrano going 75 in 3? or lilly? or heaven help us dempster?

you can holler "it's only 2 starts" as loudly as you would like, and you would be factually correct; it's lou's ear you need to reach. meanwhile some nice hitting from the un-stars salvaged a win and a sweep. shouldn't team wins be the measure?

i believe you would be hard pressed to find anyone who has categorically stated that "jon lieber will have a better year than rich hill in 2008".

Fair enough. But I don't think that sending Hill down to dominate in AAA is really going to help him much.

maybe he has hit his ceiling altogether.

His ceiling? Right not certainly isn't his ceiling, so that doesn't make much sense. If he "his his ceiling," he would be pitching like he did last April.

what sort of hue and cry would be on here if it were zambrano going 75 in 3? or lilly? or heaven help us dempster?

It probably wouldn't be as bad as people have been saying about Hill. First of all, I don't think anyone is saying that Hill is okay with his 75 pitches in 3 innings. That is awful. But second, I can guarantee you that if Z or Lilly threw 75 pitches through 3 innings, no one would be talking about sending them down.

Hell... if Rich Hill continued pitching like he has through April (i.e. 5.00 ERA, 1.55 WHIP), he would still have a better April than Z had last year.

shouldn't team wins be the measure?

Sure... if a team's success, but that is often irrelevant to an individual's performance.

His ceiling?

point taken.

no one would be talking about sending them down.

i think i am more in favor of sitting him down than of sending him down. not forever. only a period of time (2 weeks?). if there is any inkling of a physical malady (of which none of us have heard or read anything), get multiple opinions immediately. he is somewhat like pie, nothing left to prove in aaa, but needs to press "re-start" on 2008. with the cubs.

if Rich Hill continued pitching like he has through April (i.e. 5.00 ERA, 1.55 WHIP), he would still have a better April than Z had last year.

i am more interested in how rich hill progresses vs rich hill 2007, not hill vs zambrano 2007. right now there has been regression, not progression. but only one man's opinion.

I don't disagree with about being interested in the progression of Rich Hill.

I am just making a point that Z was this awful, or worse, last April, and there was little/no talk about taking him out of the rotation.

People forget that Hill was given a chance before to work out control issues while still on the big league roster - no reason to send him down again at this point.

And how about Lieber? The guy specifically didn't want to work out of the pen when he signed, but he's handled it like a professional and now may be close to getting a chance to start. Marquis, please pay attention.

Actually... Lieber was pretty clear when he signed in saying that he would do whatever was needed, whether that was starting or out of the pen.

And Leiber out of the pen has been genius so far. For real. A starter out of the bullpen adds a new dimension for games where you are either in extra innings or have to pull rich hill early, but yet, still in the game.

Lou needs to take the kids gloves off and give these guys some time. If you are going to commit to Hill, Soto, Pie, etc. then give them some time. Threateing to bench them, pull them or whatever after only a few games is only going to make them press and that isn't good for anybody involved. If Lou thought these guys gave them the best chance to win this year, thus making them starters, then let them be starters for more than a few games and see what they can do. Now if any of them are struggling still by the end of May then a change should be looked at.

Manny -- For the sake of clarity, I understand the phrase "take the kids gloves off" = stop coddling or stop going easy on them. To "give them some time" seems to be the opposite of taking off the kid gloves.

It seems to me that Rich Hill had one good start and one poor start. Not quite the time to go all paniky, it seems to me.

Yeah, I missed used that phrase. My bad, thanks for clearing that up.

I agree, let Hill stay out there for awhile still, no need to have a knee jerk reaction.

Recent comments

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  • Well said. On one hand, I thought the HBP was a bad baseball play -- down 4 runs, put a runner on for a red-hot Fowler. On the other hand, they needed to do something -- I hadn't thought about the warning/pitching inside point. Is Hurdle that smart? He does not strike me that way. By the way -- not clear which fan base you are referring to in your "first" 3rd point.

  • My unsolicited opinions on topics covered in this thread:
    1. I hate the fact that after 162 games, a team could be out after 1 game. However, I think the system is pretty close to perfect right now. 2 of 3 isn't feasible unless they shorten the regular season, and it ices the division winners for way too long. This creates excitement, and rewards the division winners.

  • Personally, I think the game could have had a very different look had the Pirates held onto the ball and tagged Fowler out on the steal in the first. Cole was clearly frazzled, but if they took that runner off the base, it could have relaxed him a lot.

  • Football games are played once a week. There are 16 games a year. I'm not even remotely following at all how you can compare the two leagues and playoff systems. It is physically impossible to play a home and away series. The idea of not having any road games in baseball playoffs is certainly a head scratcher.

    How is not having the first and last game at home a benefit for the division winners and team with the best record? How is it not an incentive to win the division when a WC team has to blow their top pitcher?

    Call me lost.

  • 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.

  • Unbeleivable Dodgers:
    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:

    Some "Highlights"
    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.

  • 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).