GAME 47 RECAP
BRAVES 6 BAD-NEWS BEARS 5
Recap | Box Score | Play-by-play | Game Chart | Photos
W: Mike Remlinger (2-2) L: Ryan Dempster (0-3) S: Kenny Ray (1)
So I decided that I'd keep a chronology of today's game, from start to finish. Little did I know that it would be a chronology of one of those games that is emblematic of what it means to be a Cubs fan, or to play Cubs-style baseball. At least it was an entertaining loss, which is more than what can be said of the other Cubs losses, of late. The rest is below the fold.
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I'm not sure I have the energy to even complain about today's lineup. The only thing that surprises me is that Blanco isn't making an appearance. Woeful. Pathetic. Insert adjective. Good luck Z, you'll need it. GAME FOURTY-SEVEN IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] ATLANTA BRAVES (24-23, 3rd, 4.5 GB) AT CHICAGO CUBS (18-28, 5th, 12.5 GB) Wrigley Field, 1:20 PM CDT Weather: 75 degrees, Sunny, Wind from left to right @ 12 mph TV: WGN Radio: WGN, XM 189
Carlos Zambrano, RHP 3-2, 3.53 ERA, 63.2 IP 71 K, 38 BB, 9 HR Tim Hudson, RHP 4-3, 3.95 ERA, 66 IP 45 K, 21 BB, 4 HR

Marcus Giles, 2B Edgar Renteria, SS #Chipper Jones, 3B Andruw Jones, CF *Adam LaRoche, 1B Jeff Francoeur, RF *Ryan Langerhans, LF Todd Pratt, C Tim Hudson, P*Juan Pierre, CF #Neifi Perez, 2B *Todd Walker, 1B Michael Barrett, C *Jacque Jones, RF Aramis Ramirez, 3B *Freddie Bynum, LF Ronny Cedeno, SS #Carlos Zambrano, P
Braves vs. Zamrbano: Edgar Renteria:10-23 435/536/565 1 HR, 5 BB, 6 K Chipper Jones:4-14 286/444/500 Andruw Jones: 2-13 154/333/385Cubs vs. Hudson: Jacque Jones: 9-29 310/310/517 2 HR's Todd Walker: 4-17 235/278/353 John Mabry: 4-16 250/250/250 Neifi Perez: 4-12 333/333/333

The long arm of MLB law reached out Friday and handed Michael Barrett a ten game suspension and an undisclosed fine. The only other player suspended for the fracas was White Sox outfielder Brian Anderson. Barrett rightfully appealed the suspension and will play in today's game versus the Braves. Hopefully MLB won't get around to hearing the appeal until Lee is back and hopefully MLB will reduce the suspension to a more appropriate 7 to 8 games. And if you want to be really annoyed by Andy McPhail, feel free and read this interview with the Trib. On the other hand, if you want to enjoy the 3 day weekend, just avoid that link. [UPDATE:] Tony Womack called up, Ryan Theriot sent down. I don't even have a joke here, actually I do, it's the previous sentence.
Excellent advice for an off-day from TCR reader Dr. Johnson. I'd call it a prescription, but I don't know if he's a real doctor. GAME FORTY-SEVEN IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] DETROIT TIGERS (32-14, 1st, +1.0) AT KANSAS CITY ROYALS (10-34, 5th, 21.0) Kaufmann Stadium, 1:05 PM CDT TV: None (MLB.tv only) Radio: WXYT, WHB, XM 181
Mike Maroth, LHP 5-2, 2.45 ERA, 47 2/3 IP 22 K, 15 BB, 5 HR 269/327/403 against, .283 BABIPDenny Bautista, RHP 0-2, 3.75 ERA, 24.0 IP 16 K, 10 BB, 1 HR 250/340/352 against, .296 BABIP

The Tigers have been the biggest surprise in baseball so far this year. They haven't finished above .500 since 1993, and a succession of uninspiring managers (Buddy Bell, Phil Garner, Alan Trammell) has helped erode the fan base to the point where even a new stadium (Comerica Park, opened in 2000) couldn't pull the team's attendance out of the lower depths for more than one season. This year, though, things have been different. A new manager (Jim Leyland), a couple of breakout players (Chris Shelton, Curtis Granderson, Justin Verlander, Mike Maroth), and good numbers from a couple of veterans (Magglio Ordonez, Ivan Rodriguez, Kenny Rogers, Todd Jones) has added up to the best record in baseball over the first quarter of the season. On the other side of the ball, we have the Royals, otherwise known as "the Cubs on the cheap." They're currently on a 12-game losing streak, their second double-digit skid of the year. They have the worst record in baseball, are near the bottom of the majors in just about every offensive category, have an injured first baseman (Mark Sweeney), a young pitching prospect who has yet to pitch this year (Zach Greinke), and a general manager (Allard Baird) under fire after the misguided decision to bring in mid-level free agents (Mark Grudzielanek, Doug Mientkiewicz, Scott Elarton, Mark Redman) in the off-season. It's like looking in a mirror sometimes.
So is it a bad sign when you barely even notice blowing a one run lead in the bottom of the ninth? I was listening to the game on XM radio on the drive home and let's say I was less than shocked when the Marlins came back to win. No angry tirade, no profanities, just a simple turn of the dial to the rest of the Heat/Pistons game. Sad. I do want to note that Marlins manager Joe Girardi is capable of the same stupidity as Dusty Baker. With his best hitter coming up next (Miguel Cabrera), he bunts with Dan Uggla essentially making it a no-brainer to walk Cabrera. Taking the bat out of your best hitter's hands isn't a really sound strategy in my humble opinion. Mike Jacobs saved the day for him though. Maddux goes for win number six today and about the only thing I have to look forward to this season beyond who the Cubs are going to be willing to sell come the trade deadline is how far Maddux will climb the wins ladder. If getting swept by the Marlins isn't the final nail in someone's coffin (I'm not even going to speculate who), then there's some serious lack of accountability going on over at Cubland. GAME FORTY-SIX IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (18-27, 5th, 11.5 GB) AT FLORIDA MARLINS (13-31, 5th, 14.0) Dolphin Stadium, 12:05 PM CDT Weather: Partly Cloudy, 86 degrees, Wind 8 mph in from CF TV: CLTV, DirecTV 734 Radio: WGN, XM 183
Brian Moehler, RHP 1-4, 7.29 ERA, 42 IP 18 K, 13 BB, 8 HR 333/382/559 against, .338 BABIPGreg Maddux, RHP 5-3, 3.76 ERA, 55.0 IP 37 K, 14 BB, 4 HR 266/309/391 against, .307 BABIP

*Juan Pierre, CF Ronny Cedeno, SS *Todd Walker, 2B Michael Barrett, C *Jacque Jones, RF Aramis Ramirez, 3B Matt Murton, LF #Neifi Perez, 2B Greg Maddux, PHanley Ramirez, SS Dan Uggla, 2B *Mike Jacobs, 1B Miguel Cabrera, 3B #Joe Borchard, LF *Jeremy Hermida, RF Reggie Abercrombie, CF Miguel Olivo, C Brian Moehler, P
Cubs vs. Moehler: Todd Walker: 7-18, 389/421/778, 2 HR, 1 BB, 4 K
God, this team sucks. I was talking with The Lovely Wife about it last night and I realized that, right now, I just plain don't like this team. I'm trying to figure out what it means to be a Cub fan when the team is like this -- I don't get any enjoyment from following them, and if that's the case why do I bother? I want the manager, the general manager, and the pitching coach gone, but also realize that unless Andy McPhail is removed from the chain of command, it won't matter who the coaching staff is. When I look at the players on the field, I feel like several of them are actively hurting the team. On top of that, I flat-out don't like some of the players on the team, and two of the players I really like are injured (Prior) or continually getting jerked around by management (Walker). Offensively, this team is offensive. ESPN.com lists 11 team offense categories, and the Cubs are last, or second-to-last, in nearly all of them. Not last or second-to-last in the NL; last or second-to-last in the majors. The bottom three in just about every category is occupied by the Devil Rays, the Royals, and the Cubs. That is beyond sad. In other cities, when your team sucks like this, you look to the youngsters and into the minors for hope. There are a few bright spots among the youngsters on the team (Zambrano, Murton) and in the minors (Pie, Patterson) but because of management's track record, I don't get a sense, like fans of some teams, that the kids will get a chance to play. Thanks to the big Jacque Jones contract and the presence of guys like Neifi Perez, Juan Pierre, and Tony Womack (he's not here yet, I know, but he will be), I feel like we're going to be stuck with a particular type of team for the forseeable future, a type of team that doesn't play the sort of baseball I enjoy. Not only that, but because of the way the team is built, there's no "quick fix." There's no "if they could just trade for that guy, they'd be back in the playoff hunt." I think the team is broken (though some may disagree), and it's broken in too many ways for a Band-Aid to do any good. So the team isn't contending, it isn't one player away from contending, it isn't rebuilding. I don't know where it is in the success cycle, and I don't think *it* knows where it is. As a fan, that's a really frustrating place for your team to be. The Lovely Wife suggested that how you feel about your team is similar to how you feel about your family. You might not always like your family, but you always love them. When someone in your family is off doing something stupid, or dangerous, or self-destructive, it makes you sad, and mad; you do what you can to help them, but if, at a certain point, the behavior continues, you eventually have to detach for a while and hope they can figure things out for themselves. All the while, you pray they can get their act together, and you're there to help when they ask for it, and there to give encouragement when they make tentative steps in the right direction. But sometimes it becomes too painful to watch every day, and you have to disengage. I think that's where I am with this team. It doesn't mean I'll stop paying attention, and it doesn't mean I'll stop posting. But it does mean I'll being doing less of both of those things, and trying my best to care a little bit less about what's happening between the lines. I don't know how long it will last, but at least for the near future I have to unplug a little bit.
Nice job, Michael Barrett. You let yourself get suckered into sucker-punching one of the smartest jerks in the game. I figure that punch is worth at least a five-game suspension and maybe more, and those will be games where the Cubs offense is even more anemic than it has been up to this point. There are very few people in the game who are better than A.J. Pierzynski at getting under the skin of opposing players. Did he have to bowl into Barrett? No. Did he have to slap the plate after he scored? Of course not. That's a straight-up dick move. But you damn well better believe he knew exactly what he was doing. I'm sure he didn't want to get punched in the head, but I imagine he probably didn't mind all that much, especially once he realized it took one of the Cubs best (only?) hitters out of the game. I'm already hearing how maybe this will be the thing that will fire up the Cubs and get them back on the winning track, but I have no idea how extra Henry Blanco in the lineup is going to do that. You know what will get the Cubs back on the winning track? Winning. Timely hitting. Any hitting. Taking the occasional walk. Not bunting in the first inning. Not bunting with two outs in the ninth inning. Getting more than two hits in a game, and when they do, not leaving those guys on base. Those sorts of things, not punching people in the face, even if they might deserve it. Barrett ought to be ashamed of himself.
So Maddux & Beuhrle came in below my prediction, and the game ended in 2:07. For the Cubs offense, it ended about two hours before that, though, as they managed to put only one run on the board, and that happened as the result of a single, a sacrifice, an error, and a sac fly. Dusty must be absolutely aglow at this fantastic smallball execution. The White Sox countered by taking what Greg Maddux was giving them, which was walks. Two hours later, it was another loss. Today's starter, Rich Hill, certainly appears to be in line for a demotion once Mark Prior returns to the rotation. If, at the beginning of the year, the question was which of Hill or Sean Marshall was ready for the big leagues, the answer now seems clear. Hill has walked 10 in 15 1/3 innings, and that, combined with a .310 BAA, leads to a 7.63 ERA. GAME FORTY-TWO IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (17-24, 5th, 9.5 GB) AT CHICAGO WHITE SOX (27-14, 1st, 0.0) U.S. Cellular Field, 12:20 PM CDT Weather: Sunny, 63 degrees, wind 10 mp out to left TV: FOX Radio: WGN, XM 180
Freddy Garcia, RHP 6-1, 4.56 ERA, 49 1/3 IP 28 K, 16 BB, 5 HR 242/301/389 against, .261 BABIPRich Hill, LHP 0-3, 7.63 ERA, 15 1/3 IP 9 K, 10 BB, 3 HR 310/400/621 against, .326 BABIP

*Juan Pierre, CF Ronny Cedeno, SS *Todd Walker, DH Michael Barrett, C *Jacque Jones, RF Aramis Ramirez, 3B *John Mabry, 1B Matt Murton, LF Jerry Hairston, 2B*Scott Podsednik, LF Tadahito Iguchi, 2B *Jim Thome, DH Paul Konerko, 1B Jermaine Dye, RF *A.J. Pierzynski, C Joe Crede, 3B Juan Uribe, SS Brian Anderson, CF
Cubs vs. Garcia: Todd Walker: 5-14, 357/438/429, 2 BB Jacque Jones: 7-36, 194/237/389, 2 HR, 1 BB, 7 K Jerry Hairston: 1-17, 059/059/059, 1 K
It's not quite like that feeling you get when you climbed the rope in gym class, and it's a little different than the feeling I used to get before I went onstage. But it's good, and I like it. I won't call it optimism, because I recognize that there are still plenty of problems with this team, and back-to-back shutouts doth not a playoff push make, especially in May. I guess it's...enthusiasm, like I said yesterday. It's amazing what a difference a couple of days and some good news can make: * Carlos Zambrano scatters four hits over eight innings, strikes out eight, and walks only two * Sean Marshall and three relievers combine to one-hit the Nationals * Kerry Wood makes his season debut tonight * Mark Prior makes his first Rookie League rehab start on Friday * Wade Miller makes his first Rookie League rehab start on Monday Like I said, it isn't optimism. All of this news is pitching-related, and even if every rehab start went extremely well, and Prior and Miller were smoothly integrated into the rotation alongside Wood, Big Z and Maddux, we'd still have to deal with the fact that the Cubs have some pretty significant problems on the offensive side, and the eventual return of Derrek Lee isn't going to solve them all. But for now, enjoy. GAME FORTY IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] WASHINGTON NATIONALS (13-27, 4th, 11.5 GB) AT CHICAGO CUBS (17-22, 5th, 7.5 GB) Wrigley Field, 1:20 PM CDT Weather: 54 degrees, cloudy, wind in From LF @ 20 mph TV: WGN, DirecTV 737 Radio: WGN, XM 187
Kerry Wood, RHP Season debutRamon Ortiz, RHP 0-4, 6.30 ERA, 40 IP 13 K, 17 BB, 4 HR 329/403/470 against, .340 BABIP

Alfonso Soriano, LF *Marlon Anderson, 2B *Nick Johnson, 1B *Daryle Ward, RF Ryan Zimmerman, 3B Marlon Byrd, CF Wiki Wiki Gonzalez, C Damian Jackson, SS Ramon Ortiz, P*Juan Pierre, CF Matt Murton, LF *Todd Walker, 2B Michael Barrett, C *Jacque Jones, RF #Neifi Perez, 3B *John Mabry, 1B Ronny Cedeno, SS Kerry Wood, P
Nationals vs. Wood: Daryle Ward: 6-18, 333/350/722, 2 HR, 1 BB, 2 K Jose Guillen: 2-15, 133/133/333, 1 HR, 6 KCubs vs. Ortiz: Neifi Perez: 6-14, 429/467/714, 1 BB, 2 K Jacque Jones: 6-21, 286/423/667, 2 HR, 2 BB, 1 K
GAME THIRTY-NINE IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] WASHINGTON NATIONALS (13-26, 4th, 11.5 GB) AT CHICAGO CUBS (16-22, 5th, 7.5 GB) Wrigley Field, 7:05 PM CDT Weather: 54 degrees, Rain, Wind in From LF @ 17 mph TV: CSN, DirecTV 744 Radio: WGN, XM 187
Sean Marshall, LHP 2-1, 4.93 ERA, 38.1 IP 28 K, 16 BB, 3 HR Zach Day, RHP 2-3, 5.85 ERA, 32.1 IP 15 K, 15 BB, 4 HR

Alfonso Soriano, LF Marlon Byrd, CF #Jose Vidro, 2B *Nick Johnson, 1B Jose Guillen, RF Ryan Zimmerman, 3B Wiki Wiki Gonzalez, C Damien Jackson, SS Zach Day, P*Juan Pierre, CF Matt Murton, LF *Todd Walker, 1B Michael Barrett, C Aramis Ramirez, 3B *Jacque Jones, RF Jerry Hairston, Jr., 2B Ronny Cedeno, SS *Sean Marshall, P
Nationals vs. Marshall: Cubs vs. Day: Juan Pierre: 2-10, 200/200/200, 1 K,

Since I'm enjoying another day of 70 degree sunny weather, I don't know how bad it's raining in Chicago but the game is currently being delayed. I assume they'd play two tomorrow if they can't get the game in as I believe this is the Nationals only trip to Chicago this year. It's amazing how one start can skew a pitcher's numbers so early in the season. I put up a preview for Marshall's last game versus the Giants in which he was resoundingly beaten before most fans could get in their seats to enjoy their Gilroy Garlic Fries. His numbers went from "ace in waiting" to "still a rookie". We'll see which Marshall we get tonight (or tomorrow). And just when you think Dusty has trouble filling out a lineup card, Frank Robinson (or one of his assistants as he's not at the game suffering from severe back spasms) has decided to put Soriano as his leadoff hitter. Tough to imagine why these guys are doing even worse than us. If we get it in, go Cubs! Tomorrow is the return of Kid K.
Our jeremiad had no apparent effect -- one day later and no one (not even Transmission) has been fired. So, back to what's happening on the field. GAME THIRTY-EIGHT IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] WASHINGTON NATIONALS (13-25, 4th, 10.5 GB) AT CHICAGO CUBS (15-22, 5th, 8.5 GB) Wrigley Field, 7:05 PM CDT Weather: TV: WCIU, DirecTV 744 Radio: WGN, XM 186
Carlos Zambrano, RHP 1-2, 3.88 ERA, 48 2/3 IP 54 K, 33 BB, 6 HR 233/359/439, .300 BABIP Livan Hernandez, RHP 1-4, 6.52 ERA, 50 2/3 IP 34 K, 17 BB, 11 HR 307/359/533, .323 BABIP

Alfonso Soriano, LF #Jose Vidro, 2B *Nick Johnson, 1B Jose Guillen, RF *Ryan Church, CF Ryan Zimmerman, 3B Wiki Wiki Gonzalez, C Royce Clayton, SS Livan Hernandez, P*Juan Pierre, CF Matt Murton, LF *Todd Walker, 2B Michael Barrett, C Aramis Ramirez, 3B *Jacque Jones, RF *John Mabry, 1B Ronny Cedeno, SS #Carlos Zambrano, P
Nationals vs. Zambrano: Daryle Ward: 6-25, 240/269/280, 3 K Royce Clayton: 3-16, 188/188/313, 5 KCubs vs. Hernandez: John Mabry: 12-21, 571/591/952, 2 HR, 2 K Aramis Ramirez: 6-19, 316/316/737, 2 HR, 4 K Henry Blanco: 5-15, 333/412/400, 2 BB, 2 K Neifi Perez: 8-30, 267/290/300, 1 BB, 1 K Juan Pierre: 18-68, 265/296/294, 2 BB, 6 K

For the last few years, I've wondered if Carlos Zambrano might be a sort of Livan Hernandez 2.0 -- a big, beefy righty capable of putting up 200-inning seasons over and over without succumbing to injury. Up until this season, the comparison would have been a compliment. This year, though, Livo has struggled mightily. He's still a horse, averaging 104 pitches and more than six innings per start, but batters are hitting over .300 against him, something they've never done to him in his career. That number should come down into the .275 range, but it might not happen this year, and I'm actually optimistic it won't start heading down tonight. The current Cubs roster has hit him well, with John Mabry and Aramis Ramirez leading the way. Meanwhile, Zambrano has handled the current Nats, allowing no home runs and giving out only three walks, two to Jose Guillen (who's hurt) and one to pitcher Brian Lawrence. I don't know why I'm optimistic about tonight's game -- maybe it's because I've been travelling over the last three weeks and haven't actually witnessed much of the current skid -- but I am. Whatever it takes, I guess. Go Cubs!
At just about the 1/4 mark in the 2006 season, here is the Cubs intra-organizational leader-board. Nothing very complicated, just the kind of stats you might find in the newspaper.

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