September 2007

Game Chat : BR Preview : Game Notes Sean Marshall vs. Joel Pineiro Lineups:
Soriano LF Taguchi LF
Jones CF Ryan SS
Lee 1B Pujols 1B
Ramirez 3B Ludwick RF
Floyd RF Edmonds CF
DeRosa 3B Molina C
Kendall C Spiezio 3B
Theriot SS Pineiro P
Marshall P Cairo 2B

In beating the Cardinals 3-2 in the sunshine half of Saturday’s day-night doubleheader, the Cubs:
  • Overcame a rocky first inning that put them in an early hole
  • Won despite a dominant starting pitching performance by the opposition
  • Got the game-winning hit and a nice ninth-inning catch from the same, very important leftfielder
  • Saw their closer pitch like Friday night never happened
And we did it all in the blistering heat of a pennant race and at the expense of the Saint...Louis...Cardinals. Game two can’t begin soon enough.
Game Chat : BR Preview : Game Notes Ted Lilly vs. Braden Looper Lineups:
Soriano LF Miles 2B
Theriot SS Taguchi LF
Lee 1B Pujols 1B
Ward RF Ludwick RF
Jones CF Edmonds CF
DeRosa 3B Molina C
Soto C Cairo 3B
Fontenot 2B Looper P
Lilly P Ryan SS

Nail, Meet Coffin.

GameCenter, Box Score, Play by Play, Photos

W- Zambrano(16-12), Industrial-size antacid bottles, sparing the life of a perfectly good wooden bat, quick games, clutch pinch-hits.

L- Wainwright (13-11), closers in non-save situations, defending your World Series title. S - Howry (8), Ward, Zambrano's "ace" reputation, the season? Things to Take from the Game 1. A quickie. Before Isringhausen and Dempster stumbled through the ninth, this game was on pace to finish in just over two hours. Zambrano and Wainwright just mowed 'em down, each walking just two and striking out just three. A very, very effective game by Z. 2. The biggest pinch-hit of the year? With the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the ninth in a 2-1 game, the Cubs took down Zambrano for pinch-hitter Daryle Ward. Ward cleared the bases with a double, and some insurance runs that we wound up needing, because.... 3. A Very Scary Finish Dempster gave up solo HRs to Edmonds and Ludwick, bringing the game to 5-3, then a single to Molina, and exited the game for Howry, who then loaded the bases with two more singles. Miles grounded out on a very softly hit, slow roller towards the second base bag, which Theriot fielded for the out at first. The Reds have just beaten the Brewers, putting the Cubs 1.5 up on Milwaukee, and 6 up on the cards, with just over two weeks left in the season. Your first-place details, below.
Game Chat : BR Preview : Game Notes Carlos Zambrano vs. Adam Wainwright Lineups:
Soriano LF Miles 2B
Theriot SS HGH RF
Lee 1B Pujols 1B
Ramirez 3B Edmonds CF
Floyd RF Shumaker LF
DeRosa 2B Spiezo 3B
Jones CF Molina C
Kendall C Wainwright P
Zambrano P Ryan SS
The Cubs once again find themselves the sole proprietors of the NL Central's top spot with tonight's series win over the Houston Astros. Lou won the first leg of the 4-start parlay he laid down earlier this week as Tricky Trachsel hemmed and hawed his way to a laborious 5-inning win, most of it thanks to a 4-spot the Cubs hung on Woody Williams before he could remember where he stashed any foreign substances on his uniform. The power show the Cubs put on tonight was certainly an encouraging sign but the key item to take away from the game was that we stole a win with one of Hendry's worst ideas ever on the mound. The first three innings were a chore enough to watch as Trachsel continuously balanced a tightrope, an act which he made all the more difficult by adding a degree of difficulty each inning. One inning on a bike, the next balancing some bowling pins and finally riding a bike and balancing some bowling pins. By the time the fourth showed up, he was lucky there was that 4-run safety net ready to catch him. Let's take a quick peek at what was going on in Trachsel's head during the 4th. (81 mph junk to Cub-killer Carlos Lee hammered to left) Trachsel: Man, he hit that hard, lucky this park is huge, Soriano should have that one. (Lee rounding the bases, the crowd in a frenzy) Trachsel: WTF? How did that get out? When the hell did they put those ridiculous seats in left field and what happened to the Astroturf? Eight wonder of the world, my ass. And why the f*** is there a train whistle going off? (Lamb steps up to the plate) Trachsel: Lamb huh? Lamb chops don't sound bad for dinner. Man there's a real good place downtown I recall. I wonder if Archie still works the bar there. That guy made the best hi-balls. (The entire stadium patiently awaits for the first pitch) Trachsel: Aw crap, I guess I better throw something. Will it be the 75 mph junk that goes to the left or the 80 mph junk that goes down? (Lamb grounds out to second, Luke Scott to the plate) Trachsel: Luke Scott huh? I hate it when people have two first names. It's really weird. You know what else was weird? That man-hug McGwire gave his first base coach when he hit #62 off me. That was really uncomfortable. (Trachsel finally gets around to throwing a pitch to Scott) Trachsel: Almost as uncomfortable as watching Mark Grace trying to pick up chicks when he was in a slump. When he meant fat, he meant fat. My arm's starting to hurt. (At some point he retires Scott and then Loretta hits a liner that ends up falling in the first few rows) Trachsel: Damn, that might be a double....WTF? When did we start playing at Thillens? And seriously why the f*** is there a train whistle? (The #8 hitter Eric Munson walks on 6 pitches) Trachsel: Did I really just walk the #8 hitter with no one on? I even put myself to sleep when I pitch. (About 26 pitches into the inning and pitcher Woody Williams fouls off a ball) Trachsel: Damn this is taking forever and damn my shoulder hurts. God, I always said I would never bother you about baseball, lord knows you have bigger things to worry about. But if you could make this pain in my shoulder stop for ten minutes, I would really appreciate it. Well you know the rest, a nice series win; would have been nicer if it was a sweep, but first place for a day either way. Time to put an end to the Cards season....
Game Chat : BR Preview : Game Notes Ted Lilly vs. Braden Looper Lineups:
Soriano LF Miles 2B
Theriot SS Taguchi LF
Lee 1B Pujols 1B
Ward RF Ludwick RF
Jones CF Edmonds CF
DeRosa 3B Molina C
Soto C Cairo 3B
Fontenot 2B Looper P
Lilly P Ryan SS
How's that for September baseball? The Cubs a mere three outs from being once again tied for the NL Central lead, handed the closer duties to the always entertaining if not frightening Ryan Dempster, the night after he went one+ innings and took the loss. The potential for catastrophe loomed large. I was well on my drive home at this point and got the Astros-filtered version through known Cub-hater Milo Hamilton. Here's the 9th inning paraphrased recap of Milo Hamilton and my brain: Milo: Mark Loretta with a chopper down the right field....OHHH!! it hit the bag (blah blah blah I hate Harry Caray). The Astros FINALLY catch a break, it seems like that's a play that would happen to us. My Brain: F***; 30 comments waiting at TCR about Dempster blowing this now. And the Astros suck this year that's why your team can't catch a break, Milo. Milo: (Still droning on about the Astros finally catching a break). LAMB WITH A LINE DRIVE TO RIGHT CENTER AND PIE OVERRUNS THE BALL (bunch of old man jibberish). Lamb with a triple. My Brain: F***, F***, F***. Somehow folks at TCR are going to still blame Dempster for letting the ball hit the bag and Pie misplaying one. Milo: Scott with a little dribbler down to third annnnddd...he just gets him. Lamb would have been a dead duck if he tried to score. My Brain: This would be a helluva Houdini act if Dempster could get out of this. Maybe we should bring Blanco in here to save the eventual wild pitch that Dempster's about to throw though. Milo: BALL FOUR IN THE DIRT! My Brain: I wonder what we're having for dinner. Milo: The team has to get that runner home from third, Pence waiting on deck. My Brain: We're doomed. Chinese food sounds good. Milo: Munson with a shot to first, Lee throws to second (long, long pause....voice trailing off) and the game is over. My Brain: (Multiple fist pumps) YEAH!!!! Someone will still be calling for a new closer in the comments. Quite the ballgame to say the least, huge effort from Rich Hill tonight after two straight sub-par starts. The Big Red Dog had a nice night too with a booming homer and a triple and another flyout that he seemed to just miss. A chance to win the series tomorrow with Steve Trachsel on the mound (insert throwing up in mouth cliché).
Game Chat : BR Preview : Game Notes Rich Hill vs. Matt Albers Lineups:
Soriano LF Pence CF
Jones CF Biggio 2B
Lee 1B Berkman 1B
Floyd RF Lee LF
Ramirez 3B Loretta SS
DeRosa 2B Wigginton 3B
Kendall C Scott RF
Theriot SS Quintero C
Hill P Albers P
I guess Lou couldn't stomach letting Cedeno get a start.
There's a term they use out here in Hollywood-land - recycling scripts - that could pretty much sum up tonight's game. The same plot just dressed up with different characters and a few minor plot point changes. Tonight's game seemed like a rehash of those heartbreaking one-run losses in April and May. Cubs score some runs early, give the lead back up, the offense takes a snooze and the bullpen pitches well, just not quite well enough. Rinse. Repeat. The Cubs had nothing but chances, walking ten times and leaving fifteen men on-base as a team. I can't find the article at this moment, but I believe Baseball Prospectus last year did a rundown of team walks per game and if I recall this correctly, no team lost last year who walked 10 or more times in a game. And in a pure moment of Cubbery, the Cubs only walk allowed turned into the winning run. Eighteen more games of fun...or misery left. Hopefully the Cubs dust off that 2003 regular season script and leave the 2004 one in the trash.
Game Chat : BR Preview : Game Notes Jason Marquis vs. Brandon Backe Lineups:
Soriano LF Pence CF
Theriot SS Biggio 2B
Lee 1B Berkman 1B
Floyd RF Lee LF
Ramirez 3B Loretta SS
DeRosa 2B Scott RF
Jones CF Wigginton 3B
Kendall C Quintero C
Marquis P Backe P
• About the business of our pitchers starting on three days rest: Z was right--except for taking the mound August 23rd against the Giants right after the 8/19 rainout against the Cardinals, he has never done it. Lilly has done it once in his career (4 1/3 IP, 7H, 2 ER). And Trachsel has done it five times (1-3, 6.04, 6 HR allowed in 28 1/3 innings), but not since 2000, when he was 29-year-old Steve Trachsel. • In his MLB Power Rankings published Monday, the Tribune’s Phil Rogers had the Cubs 9th among all MLB teams—six spots in front of the Brewers and seven spots ahead of the Dodgers—though heading into Monday’s game, the Cubs had the 9th best record in the National League. • Though the Cub defense has been a bit wobbly lately, for the season the Cubs and Mets are solidly atop the rest of the National League in Defensive Efficiency (turning batted balls into outs). I know there are more relevant things to be talking about just now, but in case things don't go well over the next 19 games, I'm going to need something to cling to. • Your wife may be mad at you, your kids may not respect you, and your boss may wonder why you're still on the payroll, but take heart. John McDonough is very proud of you.
Game Chat : BR Preview : Game Notes Joel Pineiro vs. Ted Lilly Lineups:
Ryan 3B Soriano LF
Taguchi LF Theriot SS
Pujols 1B Lee 1B
Ankiel RF Floyd RF
Molina C Ramirez 3B
Edmonds CF DeRosa 2B
Miles 2B Jones CF
Pineiro P Kendall C
Eckstein SS Lilly P
Notes: This game is the make-up for the 8/19 rainout that spoiled Carlos Zambrano’s near no-hitter vs. the Cardinals (“near” as in, just six innings short). When the rain fell, the Cubs were 63-59, one-half-game ahead of the Brewers and four up on St. Louis. Since then, the Cubs have gone 9-11, the Brewers are 10-9, and the Cards, 11-9. In other words, things haven’t changed much in three weeks and a day, except that the Cubs now have 20 fewer games to discover that one remaining hot streak they supposedly have left in them. Today’s pitching matchup is a repeat of the Pineiro-Lilly duel when the teams last met on 8/20, the day after the rainout. The Cards won that day, 6-4, and Lilly was hit hard, particularly by Scott Rolen, who smacked two doubles and drove in three runs. The Cub lefty is fresh off a victory at Wrigley against the Dodgers, and he will tie a career high if he can notch his 15th win of the season this afternoon. The Brewers play at Pittsburgh tonight. In fact, this is the only day game in the majors, which means all eyes, especially those that seek out games between profoundly mediocre baseball teams, will be trained on Clark & Addison.

Fallen

GameCenter, Play-by-Play, Box Score, Photos

W- Matt Morris (9-9), Cheating aging, death and karma L- Steve Trachsel (6-10), Jim Hendry Things to Take from This Game 1. Well, at least Eyre pitched well Eight pitchers used, and five of them gave up more walks than strikeouts. Trachsel was predictably bad, but wasn't helped any by Jacque Jones' very unfortunate bad jump on a Freddy Sanchez line drive to his right. (He broke to the left.) Did I mention the bases were loaded at the time? Wood had no control, Wuertz walked the only guy he faced, etc. etc. Matt Morris wasn't good, by any stretch of the imagination, but good enough to once again make Cubdom detest him. 2. Left on Base For awhile, it looked like the cubs could get back into it. We pulled from 7-2 to 7-5, on home runs by Soriano and Soto (his first in the majors), but Wood's performance in the eighth effectively ended that hope. We also left eleven guys on, including five from Derosa. Especially early in the game, it seemed like we were leaving a lot of guys in scoring position with two outs. On the other hand, it could have been worse - Pirates had 17 LOB. 3. We're out of first. The Brewers beat the Reds. Cheer the Bears on, then read the second-place details, below.
Game Chat : BR Preview : Game Notes Steve Trachsel vs. Matt Morris Lineups:
Soriano LF Morgan CF
Theriot SS McLouth LF
Lee 1B Sanchez 2B
Ramirez 3B LaRoche 1B
Murton RF Bautista 3B
Jones CF Pearce RF
DeRosa 2B Paulino C
Kendall C Wilson SS
Trachsel P Morris P
Notes: This is a match-up between veteran righties who started the season pitching for eventual bottom-dwellers. Trachsel left Baltimore to join a division leader; Morris left San Francisco only to land on a different part of the bottom...Morris is one of those pitchers I think of as a proverbial Cub-killer, and he has had his moments against us. Still, over his last five starts versus the Cubs, Morris is 0-5, 7.86, allowing 46 hits and 7 HR in just 26 1/3 innings, which sounds an awful lot like batting practice...Trachsel last pitched for the Cubs against the Bucs in July of '99, in a game the Pittsburghs would win 6-1. I'd say it's time for revenge. Let's win this one for Tyler Houston!
Game Chat : BR Preview : Game Notes Carlos Zambrano vs. Ian Snell Lineups:
Soriano LF Morgan CF
Theriot SS McLouth RF
Lee 1B Sanchez 2B
Ramirez 3B Bay LF
Floyd RF LaRoche 1B
DeRosa 2B Bautista 3B
Kendall C Paulino C
Jones CF Wilson SS
Zambrano P Snell P
Notes: We need this one. Man, do we need this one.
If you would have polled Cubs fans around the world at the beginning of the year and asked who would be happy if the team was tied for first place with 22 games to go, I'm sure there wouldn't have been one single dissenting hand raised. The team is certainly in a far better position than they were last year at this time, yet there isn't much joy in Cubville right now. We've got a 90-million dollar arm pitching with a ten-cent head, a power hitting lineup that can't hit home runs and a rip-roaring 3-4 record in September that feels like a 7 game losing streak. Yet today we stand on top of the NL Central and sure it's like being the valedictorian of a class of 6 kids who can't spell their names but it's still the top spot. And no matter how we've played of recent, we're in this race. A race that looks like it's being run by drunk turtles hopped up on meth, but a race it is nonetheless. 22 games to the promised land and all the Cubs have to do is catch 22 games of good luck (or good hitting or good pitching) and we'll be dancing in October.
Game Chat : BR Preview : Game Notes Rich Hill vs. Tom Gorzelanny Lineups:
Soriano LF Morgan CF
Theriot SS Bautista 3B
Lee 1B Sanchez 2B
Ramirez 3B Bay LF
DeRosa 2B LaRoche 1B
Monroe CF Pearce RF
Soto Paulino C
Murton RF Wilson SS
Hill P Gorzelanny P
In two career starts and 15 IP against the Cubs, Gorzelanny has struck out 12, allowed one hit and one run. I believe in scouting parlance, that's referred to as "kicking our ass." Hill, however, has been mighty tough on the Bucs: 26 strikeouts and a 1.69 ERA over 21 1/3 innings. Sounds like a pitchers duel to me. But watch out--the Pirates canned Dave Littlefield today. No telling how much raw emotion that could set loose in the Pittsburgh clubhouse. Last is this note from mlb.com:
Gorzelanny's biggest problem continues to be running up an early pitch count. On Sunday, that pitch count was at 49 after two innings and 105 by the end of four. It's been an ongoing problem for Gorzelanny all season, but it's something that has gotten more concerning during the second half of the season.
What are the odds Cub hitters will exploit a shortcoming like that?
With several recent trades and other roster moves, here are the updated roster and salary projections for next off-season and 2008, as well as a list of Cubs minor leaguers assigned to the Arizona Instructional League, AFL, and HWL:

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