May 2008

With VP of Player Personnel Oneri Fleita and about a dozen Cubs scouts in attendance, LHP Mark Pawelek threw three shutout innings of one-hit ball and Las Vegas Durango HS SS Niko Vasquez crushed a two-run homer onto 8th Street, leading the EXST Cubs to a 3-1 victory over the EXST A's at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning.

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SP *Glendon Rusch SP Ryan Dempster
  1-2, 6.41, 12 K, 11 BB, 19.2 IP
6-2, 2.56, 56 K, 29 BB, 70.1 IP
       
CF Willy Taveras LF Alfonso Soriano
RF *Seth Smith SS Ryan Theriot
1B *Todd Helton 1B Derrek Lee
LF Ryan Spilborghs 3B Aramis Ramirez
3B *Ian Stewart C Geovany Soto
C Chris Iannetta RF *Kosuke Fukudome
2B Jeff Baker 2B Mark DeRosa
SS *Omar Quintanilla CF Reed Johnson
P *Glendon Rusch P Ryan Dempster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Former Cub Glendon Rusch makes his first appearance at Wrigley since September 4, 2006. After a none too successful comeback with the Padres earlier this year (6.41 ERA in 12 relief appearances), the Rockies signed him, sent him to Triple-A Colorado Springs, recalled him after two successful appearances for the Sky Sox, and you know now everything you need to know about what a desperate season the Colorado Rockies are having.

Starlin Castro went 3-4 with a single, a double, and a triple, Junior Lake crushed a two-run homer, Jose Made tripled twice, and 17-year old Dominican LHP Jeffry Antigua pitched four strong innings of one-run ball (retiring the final ten men he faced), leading the EXST Cubs to an 8-1 victory over the EXST Angels in a Rush Hour "Beat the Heat" Special (9 AM start) at Diablo Park Field #3 in Tempe this morning.

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SP Aaron Cook SP *Ted Lilly
  7-3, 2.82, 35 K, 22 BB, 76.2 IP
5-4, 5.23, 58 K, 21 BB, 62 IP
       
CF Willy Taveras LF Alfonso Soriano
RF #Jonathan Herrera 2B *Mike Fontenot
LF Ryan Spilborghs 1B Derrek Lee
3B Garrett Atkins C Geovany Soto
1B *Todd Helton RF *Kosuke Fukudome
C Chris Iannetta CF *Jim Edmonds
RF Jeff Baker 3B Mark DeRosa
SS *Omar Quintanilla SS Ronny Cedeño
P Aaron Cook P *Ted Lilly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With rain falling and plenty of those intimidating orange and red spots on the weather radar, we could well be looking at a rainout. That being the case, I'm going to save all of my good Omar Quintanilla material for another occasion.

This is the Rockies' only visit to Wrigley this season, and the Cubs have already made the trip to Denver, so a washout would presumably create a doubleheader. I imagine Saturday would be the DH day, so as not to complicate the teams' travel plans. (The Rockies play in Los Angeles Monday night, while the Cubs will be in San Diego.)

Best Team in Baseball


W-
Wuertz (1-1), pitchers who can't field their position, first MLB RBIs, double-steals


L-
Herges (2-2)


Box Score
, Photos


Things to Take from This Game


1. Balanced Attack

Soriano, Lee, Ramirez, Soto and Johnson all had RBIs, with XBH by Ramirez and Fukudome (2Bs) and Lee (Solo HR.)

2.Cotts almost has a good sixth inning

Almost. He relieved Marquis with a 3-1 lead and the bases loaded, one out. He gets Willie Tavares in an 0-2 count, before Tavares bloops one just over the drawn in Lee, scoring two and tying the game at three. He K's Seth Smith, and seems to K Helton swinging, but it's just barely a foul tip, popping out of Soto's glove. Helton walks on the next pitch. So much for Cotts' return to the majors. Marquis wasn't great, but some bad luck after he had left gave him a final line worse than it might have been.


3. Messy 7th gives Cubs a comeback

A blooper into the bermuda triangle, another soft single, an error, a hit by pitch and a sacrifice fly gave the Cubs two generous runs off of Matt Herges.

4. Messy 8th gives Cubs an easy win

A double, a bad throw on a sac bunt, a single, a double steal, a single with a dropped ball on a play at the plate, and the Cubs get three more in the eighth, for an 8-4 lead. After some shakey middle-infield play by the Cubs early in the game, it was the Rockies who played sloppy the rest of the way.

With the win, the Cubs move past a certain AL East powerhouse, to claim the best record in baseball. The cream of the crop details, follow.

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SP *Jeff Francis SP Jason Marquis
  1-5, 6.18, 46 K, 24 BB, 59.2 IP
2-3, 4.97, 29 K, 20 BB, 50.2 IP
       
CF *Scott Podsednik LF Alfonso Soriano
RF *Seth Smith SS Ryan Theriot
1B *Todd Helton 1B Derrek Lee
3B Garrett Atkins 3B Aramis Ramirez
LF Ryan Spilborghs C Geovany Soto
2B *Ian Stewart RF *Kosuke Fukudome
C Yorvit Torrealba 2B Mark DeRosa
SS Omar Quintanilla CF Reed Johnson
P *Jeff Francis P *Jason Marquis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The darlings of the National League in 2007 make their annual visit to Wrigley Field, bypassing the normal chartered bus in favor of an escorted ambulance. The Rockies find 1/3 of their starting lineup on the disabled list (Troy Tulowitzki, Matt Holliday and Brad Hawpe), along with five pitchers and Tulowitzki's replacement, Clint "Deer Meat" Barmes. It appears the devil is cashing in on the deal they made last August.

The Cubs have optioned RHP Jose Ascanio to AAA Iowa, and have recalled LHP Neal Cotts from the same club.

Ascanio was acquired from the Atlanta Braves last December for LHP Will Ohman and IF-OF Omar Infante, and was optioned to AAA Iowa during Spring Training. He went 1-0 with nine saves at Iowa (2.08 ERA, allowing 14 H and one HR in 21.2 IP, with a 1.01 WHIP, a .179 OBA, and an 8/23 BB/K) before being recalled on May 19th when Chad Fox was placed on the DL with a sore elbow.

Ascanio got into five games with the Cubs over the past ten days, going 0-0 with a 1.80 ERA, allowing one run (earned) on four hits (.235 OBA) over 5.0 IP, with a 3/3 BB/K. He threw one scoreless inning in last night's Cubs victory over the Dodgers. 

The 28-year old Cotts was also optioned to Iowa during Spring Training (March 21st), and had spent the entire 2008 season (up until now) at Iowa, posting a 2-0 record with three saves, a 2.00 ERA, and a 1.22 WHIP in 19 games, all in relief (.232 OBA, 23 hits in 27 IP, no HR, and a 10/33 BB/K). Cotts has been particularly effective versus left-handed hitters, allowing just seven hits (.206 OBA) and one walk with 15 K in 9.1 IP (0.78 WHIP).

Cotts was acquired by the Cubs from the White Sox in November 2006 for RHP David Aardsma and LHP Carlos Vasquez. He was selected by the Oakland A's in the 2nd round of the 2001 Rule 4 Draft out of Illinois State, and was traded to the White Sox after the 2002 season.   

Cotts has 3+077 MLB service time and will (once again) be eligible for salary arbitration after the 2008 season. He is making $800K (plus another $75K in potential performance bonuses) in 2008, and will be out of minor league options as of Spring Training 2009.   

As many of you know by now, Thursday is usually Camp Day at Cubs Extended Spring Training.

And so it was in fact today, as the EXST Cubs first had some fielding drills & took BP on Fitch Park Fields 1, 2, and 4, followed by a three-inning intrasquad game on Field #3 (and with no Banana Break in between, either!).

1010-1010


W-
Howry (1-2 ), getting to a W/L record against the Dodgers franchise that looks like binary.


L-
Park (1-1 ), not getting Z a win, inconsistent strike zones

 

Things to Take from This Game


1. Lowe rolls, Z keeps us in it.

Derek Lowe looked pretty unstopable. After getting Lee to GIDP with the first two hitters on in the first, Lowe didn't look like he was challenged much by the Cubs offense all night. Z didn't have his best stuff, but labored through 8 innings and 130 pitches while only giving up one run. That came in the fourth, the result of a couple singles followed by two walks, the second one bringing in a run. It would have been a miserable way to lose a 1-0 game, but...

 


2. The top of the 8th vs. the bottom of the 9th.

The Dodgers had a chance to add some insurance runs in the 8th, as the Cubs defense lets Zambrano down and he's suddenly nearing 130 pitches with a bullpen that has just begun to warm up. Z gets out of it, however striking out Kemp and keeping the game at 1-0. Compare that to the bottom of the 9th, where Saito has a very, very rare fit of wildness. Like Z, he battles hard with far from his best stuff, but Soto manages a bases-loaded sacrifice fly to tie up the game at one.

 


3. Pulling out a tough win in the 10th

Pinch-hitting, Fontenot lined a double into the left-center gap. Soriano then hit a little blooper down the left field line that just did drop in fair territory. Fontenot scored uncontested, giving a very satisfying result to a hard-fought nail-biter of a game.

The sweeping details, below.

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The EXST Giants put up a six spot in the bottom of the 1st inning en route to a 12-7 victory over the EXST Cubs at Indian School Park Field #2 in Scottsdale this morning. 

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SP Derek Lowe SP Carlos Zambrano
  2-5, 5.03, 44 K, 19 BB, 62.2 IP
7-1, 2.47, 52 K, 20 BB, 73 IP
       
LF *Juan Pierre LF Alfonso Soriano
2B Luis Maza SS Ryan Theriot
RF *Andre Ethier 1B Derrek Lee
C Russell Martin 3B Aramis Ramirez
1B *James Loney RF *Kosuke Fukudome
CF Matt Kemp C Geovany Soto
3B *Blake DeWitt 2B Mark DeRosa
SS Chin-lung Hu CF Reed Johnson
P Derek Lowe P #Carlos Zambrano

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carlos Zambrano is fresh off that remarkable game in which he stroked four hits off a trio of Pittsburgh pitchers and, oh, yeah, also threw the first seven innings in a 12-3 Cubs win.

Z was 1-1 last year against the Dodgers, including a horrible outing last September at Wrigley. Lowe pitched twice against Piniella's men in '07 and came away with a pair of ND's. Derrek Lee, who is 10-for-22 lifetime (1136 OPS) against the former Bosoxer probably couldn't get to the ballpark today early enough. For his part, Lowe hasn't won a game in more than a month and has a 7.29 ERA in his last six starts.

You are traveling through another dimension...

Having shared baseball's best, regular-season record, the Cubs and the surprisingTampa Rays, making their first-ever trip to baseball's post-season, enter the 2008 playoffs assured of home-field advantage in the first two rounds.

In the NL, Lou Piniella's Cubs, reaching the post-season in
consecutive years for the first time since 1908, when they also won
their last World Championship, will hope to continue their superb play
at Wrigley Field this season as they host their National League
Division Series with the NL West champion, Arizona.

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SP Hiroki Kuroda SP Sean Gallagher
  2-3, 3.48, 34 K, 18 BB, 62 IP
1-1, 5.68, 14 K, 8 BB, 19 IP
       
LF *Juan Pierre LF Alfonso Soriano
SS Luis Maza 2B *Mike Fontenot
RF *Andre Ethier 1B Derrek Lee
2B Jeff Kent 3B Aramis Ramirez
1B *James Loney RF *Kosuke Fukudome
CF Matt Kemp CF *Jim Edmonds
3B *Blake DeWitt C Geovany Soto
C Danny Ardoin SS Ronny Cedeno
P Hiroki Kuroda P Sean Gallagher

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you've probably heard by now, the Cubs are pretty good at home. 20-8 which seems like the best record, but is actually third behind the Red Sox and Braves and tied with the Rays. One of the many reasons for that 20-8 record, is the collective 308/390/498 batting line by the team at Wrigley.

But that isn't stopping Lou from tinkering with the Cubs lineup today. Ryan Theriot (.154 batting average over the last 7 days) and Mark DeRosa (.381 BA over the last 7 games) sit in favor of Mike Fontenot and Ronny Cedeno. And Geovany Soto (.182 BA over the last 7 days) and Jim Edmonds (.150 as a Cub) flip spots. What does it all mean? Probably nothing more than giving some of the bench players a few at-bats and some time off with the day game following the night game tomorrow. (Of course that theory only holds true if tomorrow was a day game...nuts!)

The EXST Angels scored three runs in the top of the 6th to break a 1-1 tie, and went on to defeat the EXST Cubs 4-2 at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa this morning.

RHP Robert Hernandez got the start for the Cubs and worked four innings, allowing only one unearned run on one hit, while walking one and striking out three. Hernandez completed his 50 game suspension this past Sunday, and so he can be assigned back to Peoria at any time.

Monday's tense victory over the Dodgers might have been much less so if the Cubs had capitalized on a bases loaded/one out situation in the last of the sixth inning. Instead Chad Billingsley turned Kosuke Fukudome's hard groundball back to the mound into a snappy, 1-2-3, inning-ending double play.

In general, the Cubs offense, which remains the highest-scoring in the NL at 5.7 R/G, has held up its end of the workload in 2008. It's certainly been true in the precise situation that Fukudome found himself.

According to numbers presented at Bill James Online (subscription required),

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SP Chad Billingsley SP Ryan Dempster

4-5, 3.76, 60 K, 29 BB, 52.2 IP
5-2, 2.70, 53 K, 26 BB, 63.1 IP




LF *Juan Pierre LF Alfonso Soriano
RF *Andre Ethier SS Ryan Theriot
C Russ Martin 1B Derrek Lee
2B Jeff Kent 3B Aramis Ramirez
1B *Mark Sweeney RF *Kosuke Fukudome
CF Matt Kemp C Geovany Soto
3B *Blake DeWitt CF *Jim Edmonds
SS Luis Maza 2B Mark DeRosa
P Chad Billingsley P Ryan Dempster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cubs followed Saturday night's disappointing loss with one of the agonizing variety on Sunday afternoon. The blown saves by Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol also lowered the Cubs' save conversion rate to 14 saves in 22 opportunities, or an unimpressive 64%. (Marmol's "failure," of course, was due primarily to Alfonso Soriano's work in left field, not a failing of the pitcher's.)

Before Sunday's disaster, here is how the Cubs and their designated closer stacked up to the rest of the National League and the respective teams' individual saves leaders, several of whom have already lost their "closer" tags because of ineffectiveness or injury.

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SP *Ted Lilly SP *Paul Maholm
  5-4, 5.14, 56 K, 19 BB, 56 IP
2-5, 5.03, 38 K, 20 BB, 53.2 IP
       
LF Alfonso Soriano 2B Freddy Sanchez
SS Ryan Theriot SS Luis Rivas
1B Derrek Lee CF *Nate McLouth
3B Aramis Ramirez LF Jason Bay
CF Reed Johnson RF Xavier Nady
RF *Kosuke Fukudome 1B *Adam LaRoche
2B Mark DeRosa 3B Jose Bautista
C Henry Blanco C Ronny Paulino
P *Ted Lilly P *Paul Maholm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The residue from last night's 14-inning loss:

  • The Cubs need to win today to take the series and finish with a .500 road trip
  • After pitching 8 innings last night, the bullpen is all beat to hell, with a Memorial Day home game on tap tomorrow
  • The Wood-to-setup-man and Marmol-to-closer discussion can begin anew
  • Alfonso Soriano got to play a 4-hour and 21-minute game on that calf muscle which isn't "injured" but sure looks like it when Soriano runs
  • Any Cub fan who stayed up until the bitter end will be haunted the sight of Henry Blanco playing first base

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SP Jason Marquis SP *Phil Dumatrait
  2-3, 4.96, 27 K, 17 BB, 45.1 IP
1-2, 4.39, 28 K, 25 BB, 41 IP
       
LF Alfonso Soriano 2B Freddy Sanchez
SS Ryan Theriot SS Luis Rivas
1B Derrek Lee CF *Nate McLouth
3B Aramis Ramirez LF Jason Bay
C Geovany Soto 1B *Adam LaRoche
RF *Kosuke Fukudome RF Jason Michaels
2B Mark DeRosa 3B Jose Bautista
CF Reed Johnson C Raul Chavez
P *Jason Marquis P Phil Dumatrait

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

His leg doesn't hurt. His leg doesn't hurt. His leg doesn't hurt. Just keep repeating it to yourself as you watch Alfonso Soriano run the bases and man leftfield tonight. The guy says his leg is fine despite what your eyes and the television cameras may tell you.

We all know Alfonso Soriano has been dealing with leg issues for awhile. Last August, against the Mets, he pulled up lame rounding 2nd base with a hamstring pull that kept him out of the lineup for a month and prevented him from running the bases aggressively the rest of the 2007 season. During spring training this year, people were questioning why he wasn't running all out. Manager Lou Piniella said in spring training he didn't want his left fielder running much to prevent any leg injuries. Certainly there was enough time for his hamstring injury to have healed in the offseason, so the Cub braintrust knew something wasn't right this season from the beginning in Arizona. This April, he pulled a calf muscle sometime before or after making a signature hop-catch in left field, which cost 2 weeks on the disabled list.

Last night after two days of rest (he didn't play the last game in Houston), Soriano obviously wasn't running normally on what should have been an easy leadoff double to the RF corner where he gimped toward 2nd base and had to do a headfirst slide to get into 2nd safely. Two plays later, Soriano "boldly" took off early on a line drive rope by Derrek Lee which Pirate right fielder Xavier Nady just missed making a diving catch. The ball popped out of Nady's glove letting Soriano score. If the catch was made, it would have been a baserunning blunder. His play in the outfield shows that his running is causing problems there as well. A single by Jason Bay in the bottom of the 1st, which if he had normal wheels would have been his fly ball to catch. It dropped in softly for a single and was ultimately fielded by CF Reed Johnson. In the 4th inning Zambrano and Soriano singled, Theriot walked. After a fielder's choice putting Sori at 3rd base, ARam hit a medium deep fly to right. Although Nady has a strong arm in RF, if Soriano had any confidence in his legs, I am sure he would have challenged Nady's arm, instead Nady's throw was cut off since it was obvious Soriano and his leg wasn't a threat to score. In the 5th, he hit into a double play and even the Pirate TV commentators were showing replays on how funky his running looked while not even making the play at first base close. Soriano was mercifully replaced in the bottom of the 6th by Micah Hoffpauir and as it was a blowout game one wonders if it was the score or Lou's frustration with Soriano's running that lead to that move. The Chicago TV feed had their camera's on the Cub dugout showing the intereaction between Piniella and Soriano where it appeared to me that Lou was trying to get Soriano to fess up and admit that his leg is hurting, although he adamantly denied being injured.

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SP Carlos Zambrano SP *Zach Duke
  6-1, 2.45, 46 K, 19 BB, 66 IP
2-2, 4.23, 20 K, 19 BB, 55.1 IP
       
LF Alfonso Soriano 2B Freddy Sanchez
SS Ryan Theriot CF *Nate McLouth
1B Derrek Lee LF Jason Bay
3B Aramis Ramirez 1B *Adam LaRoche
C Geovany Soto RF Xavier Nady
2B Ronny Cedeño 3B *Doug Mientkiewicz
RF Mark DeRosa C Ronny Paulino
CF Reed Johnson SS Chris Gomez
P #Carlos Zambrano P *Zach Duke

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, the Washington Generals host the Harlem Globetrotters yet again.

The Cubs enter the game with an 8-1 record and 69-38 run differential this season against the Pirates. The lone loss occurred last Saturday at Wrigley Field, when these same two pitchers hooked up, and Zambrano, who has been so stellar in the first couple months of the campaign, went completely mental. Neither pitcher figured in the final decision, a 7-6 Pittsburgh win.

Tonight, Fukudome gets the night off, DeRosa moves to right, and Cedeño, who has hit Duke well (8-for-21), gets a start and gets to hit in front of DeRosa, who can't seem to hit at all on the road this year (11-for-62, .172, 530 OPS).

Kyler Burke lined a game-tying RBI single to CF with two outs in the bottom of the 9th, and Roberto Sabates followed with a line-drive game-winning RBI single to LF, as the EXST Cubs rallied to edge the EXST Angels 9-8 this morning in a "Rush Hour Special" (9 AM start) at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa.

Apologies if this is 3/44 -- Cubs batting stances, past and present:

This guy has a whole series of batting stance videos up. A nice diversion on a day off.

Last week, I came across Sean Gallagher's goofy photo from an MLB.com preview, and then some readers submitted their best finds in the comments.

So I figured I might as well do it right and went through each teams Yahoo roster page and pulled the best of the best. Amusingly, Gallagher cleans up just fine in his Yahoo photo.

So, a little off-day fun and eternal Internet fame and glory if you can name each player without looking them up.

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SP Sean Gallagher SP Shawn Chacon
  1-0, 4.40, 10 K, 7 BB, 14.1 IP
0-0, 4.14, 35 K, 27 BB, 54.1 IP
       
SS Ryan Theriot CF *Michael Bourn
RF *Kosuke Fukudome 2B #Kaz Matsui
1B Derrek Lee SS Miguel Tejada
3B Aramis Ramirez 1B #Lance Berkman
LF *Micah Hoffpauir LF Carlos Lee
C Geovany Soto 3B #Geoff Blum
CF *Jim Edmonds RF Hunter Pence
2B Mark DeRosa C J.R. Towles
P Sean Gallagher P Shawn Chacon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After going five consecutive series without a series win, the Cubs will snag their fourth series in a row if they can upend the Houstons.

Lineup changes galore this evening--Theriot hits leadoff, Fukudome moves up to second, and Hoffpauir gets his first MLB start (in left, not as a replacement for Lee at first, as we expected).

The EXST Angels defeated the EXST Cubs 6-4 this morning at very windy Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa.

Tonight when the Braves visit the Mets, former Cub Rick Sutcliffe will be in the ESPN broadcast booth for the first time since he was diagnosed with colon cancer during spring training. Sutcliffe, who has been receiving chemotherapy and radiation, is scheduled for surgery on June 16th, which he hopes will lead to a clean bill of health.

On an infinitely more mundate note, Dayn Perry at foxsports.com argues that the Cub Express must be seen as wobbly, given that Ryan Dempster appears to be pitching with a rabbit's foot or similar in his pocket--Dempster's .211 batting average against on Balls in Play is way below the normal .290-.300 range--Carlos Marmol is on pace for an ungodly number of innings pitched, and Jason Marquis is just not very good.

Perry does, however, end on this semi-upbeat note:

If they do get to the postseason, then they'll have the kind of team
that's built to succeed in that environment. Teams with good defenses,
high-strikeout pitching staffs, and dominating closers tend to do well
in the playoffs, and all of that describes this year's Cubs model.

...the team defense has been exceptional, and the
pitching staff ranks third in the NL in whiffs. As for the closer
thing, Kerry Wood has looked strong save for two isolated bad outings.
If he continues to grow into the role, then the Cubs will have a real
shot at ending their comically long title drought.

Of course, unless the pitching holds up, they won't get the chance.

Cheap Salami


W -
Sampson (3-3), cheap homers


L -
Dempster (5-2), real homers

S - Valverde (13)


Box Score
, Photos


Things to Take from This Game


1. A Lamer Grand Slam Never Was Seen

The entirety of the Astros scoring came in the fourth, when Pence lined an opposite field grand slam home run into the first row in right field. I didn't catch the dimensions, but it couldn't have been 350 feet. It came in response to Aramis hitting a mammoth 2-run home run in the top half of the inning. If style points on home runs counted, the Cubs would have won this game.


2. Dempster, Sampson, Ascanio

If you ignore the grand slam, and the consistently getting behind hitters, Dempster had a pretty decent outing. If you ignore the fact that he won the game, gave up 2 ER in 6.2 and only walked one, Sampson looked very pedestrian. Jose Ascanio also made his debut for the Cubs, and looked ok. One of the two walks was intentional, one of the two hits was a blooper on a nice pitch.


3. Lee and Ramirez play see-saw with Soriano

How's that for a visual aid? A few days after all the talk was about how hot Soriano was while Ramirez and Lee were taking 0-fers, and now Soriano and Theriot go 0-8 while Lee and Ramirez go 5-8.

4. Enron/Minute-Maid/NASA Presents the Houston Astros of Texas Field is still stupid.

Really. It's like Baseball meets the fifth course on Excitebike.

 

The architectural criticism, game details, and the relentless pursuit of perfection (isn't that an auto slogan?) below...

 

Tags: 

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SP Ryan Dempster SP Chris Sampson
  5-1, 2.35, 48 K, 24 BB, 57.1 IP
2-3, 6.46, 18 K, 9 BB, 39 IP
       
LF Alfonso Soriano CF *Michael Bourn
SS Ryan Theriot 2B #Kaz Matsui
1B Derrek Lee SS Miguel Tejada
3B Aramis Ramirez 1B #Lance Berkman
RF *Kosuke Fukudome LF Carlos Lee
C Geovany Soto 3B #Geoff Blum
CF *Jim Edmonds RF Hunter Pence
2B Mark DeRosa C JR Towles
P Ryan Dempster P Chris Sampson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It appears that the Cubs have the edge in tonight's pitching matchup as Dempster continues his march to free agency. The Astros counter with Chris Sampson, who has fallen on some hard times since we last left him . He's given up five or more earned runs in four of
his last seven starts and his 6.46 ERA is enough to make
Jason Marquis blush.

But it seems the 30-year old saves his best against the Cubs... 

Chad Fox is landing on the DL again, apparently re-injuring his right elbow playing catch with Scott Eyre. If you play the game of six degrees of separation, Will Ohman's ghost just played a trick on Chad Fox. Or maybe it was just being overly optimistic to expect his oft injured right pitching elbow to hold up. Fox has been on the Cubs 25 man roster for a whopping 17 days. He was activated May 2nd, so in his 2nd stint with the Cubs he's made it to the DL faster than his first. In 2005 he went on the DL April 26th, and he's spared us this time as his injury that year occurred while on the mound. I have vivid memories of his pain on that cold April night in 2005:

when he threw a slider Monday night and felt the "pop," he knew it was bad.

This time the diagnosis is ulnar neuritis or inflammation of the ulnar nerve. For a 37 year old pitcher with a history of 3 surgeries on the elbow (he didn't get surgery after the 2005 event), it's not surprising that pitching, given his surgical history, will make the nerve cranky. The ulnar nerve passes behind the medial/inside of the elbow called the cubital tunnel but this area is what most people call "the crazy bone", which gets it's name because impact to that area often dings the nerve causing sharp pain and tingling. The nerve is susceptible to inflammation leading to what is called cubital tunnel syndrome where the ulnar nerve inflammation leads to pain, numbness or even weakness in the hand, starting on the inside of the elbow and radiating down the forearm into the ring and little fingers. If the symptoms don't calm down with rest and anti-inflammatory medication then there are surgical options including transposing (moving) the nerve to a location anteriorly (further in front of the elbow) where it isn't as likely to be crimped from repetitive bending. There are alot of variations on that surgery. The fact that Chad Fox has had 3 previous surgeries, including Tommy John (Ulnar Collateral Ligament reconstruction), and he opted not to have surgery with his last "event" in 2005 indicates he will pass on any procedure this time as well. Expect the nerve symptoms to calm down but always be eager to come back with repetitive activity. The timeline to recovery? Well Cubs trainer, Mark O'Neal said:

"it could take a week, it could take two weeks, it could take two months. Who knows?"

The extra righty spot in the bullpen moves on. Kevin Hart, Chad Fox and now Jose Ascanio. My guess is if Ascanio, who has been closing for the Iowa Cubs (9 saves) can throw strikes, Lou is gonna fall in love with another hard throwing option out of the bullpen. Ascanio in Iowa has pitched 21 innings, given up 14 hits with a 2.08 era. Now if those numbers could translate to the big club, trainer Mark O'Neal's most pessimistic prognosis just might be a bit too optimistic.

UPDATE [1:00PM CST]: It will indeed be Jose Ascanio getting the call-up. 

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SP *Ted Lilly SP Brian Moehler
  4-4, 5.33, 50 K, 17 BB, 50.2 IP
1-0, 4.58, 10 K, 4 BB, 17.2 IP
       
LF Alfonso Soriano CF *Michael Bourn
SS Ryan Theriot 2B #Kaz Matsui
1B Derrek Lee SS Miguel Tejada
3B Aramis Ramirez 1B #Lance Berkman
RF *Kosuke Fukudome LF Carlos Lee
C Geovany Soto RF Hunter Pence
CF *Jim Edmonds 3B Ty Wigginton
2B Mark DeRosa C Brad Ausmus
P *Ted Lilly P Brian Moehler

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cubs, winners of eight of ten, all at home, meet the Astros, winners of seven of ten, all on the road.

From this morning's Tribune and Steve Rosenbloom...

If you're rating the last 10 games for each team, the Sox get more style points than the Cubs. Sure, the Cubs went 8-2 while the Sox went 7-3, but the Sox did that on the West Coast, while the Cubs were at home.

Sure, the Cubs played better, won more games, faced teams with a higher combined winning percentage (.488 to .455) and outscored their opponents by a wider margin (+27 to +13), but the White Sox did it while they were sleeping with their road groupies and the Cubs players got to sleep in their own beds. That makes all the difference in the world...because this is the NBA all of a sudden.

The Sox also did it against the one good team that either team
played, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of Orange County of
California of the United States of the Northern Hemisphere of Earth,


Haha, see what Steve did there? He took a joke that's three years old and recycled it.

coming back in the last two games to get a split.

Wow, the White Sox split a four-game series on the road versus a good team that just got back its best starter for that series and is still missing Kelvim Escobar, Howie Kendrick and Chone Figgins. That's incredible work there by the White Sox. I mean they managed to play .500 baseball versus a depleted team. Print up the playoff tickets for winning 5 of 6 against two teams with winning percentages at or below .400.

To be fair, The Cubs did play against some lightweights in the last series, the just-below .500 Pirates, the woeful Padres and the Diamondbacks, who just happen to have the best record in baseball.

While the EXST Cubs were losing 8-3 to the EXST Giants this morning on Fitch Park Field #3, Angel Guzman continued his rehab from September 2007 TJ surgery, throwing 20 pitches in a "simulated game" on Field #2.

Facing five EXST Cubs who were not in the starting lineup on Field #3 (Junior Lake, George Matheus, Nelson Perez, Kevin Soto, and Josh Vitters), the 26-year old Guzman once again had good velocity (consistently throwing his fastball 92-94 MPH, same as last Thursday), but also once again struggled with his control, (throwing ten balls and ten strikes in his one inning of work). But at least nobody hit the ball hard off him.

The five hits that did the most to enhance the Cubs' chance of winning during a week that can only be described as Sorianolicious, as measured by FanGraphs' Win Probability Added (WPA):

#5 Big Hit: Wednesday, v. the Padres, 7th inning — The Cubs had knocked Jake Peavy from the game and taken a 4-0 lead before the Padres drew to within a run, thanks to a 3-spot in the top of the fifth. Geovany Soto then smashed a Wil Ledezma pitch for a two-run homer to give the Cubs some breathing room. WPA .143

We Walk


W -
Marquis (2-3), .800 homestands


L-
Dumatrait (1-2)

S- Wood (10)


Box Score
, Photos


Things to Take from This Game

1. More walks than hits

Dumatrait walked 7 in 4.2 innings, with 53 balls and 52 strikes. He only gave up four hits, or else the game wouldn't have been close. Dumatrait walked the bases loaded in the third, leading to a Soriano sac fly and Cedeno bloop single for two runs. Three more walks in the fourth led to a Johnson sac fly, and two walks in the fifth led to a Fukudome single just over Bixler's head, for the final Cubs run.

2. Marquis was just good enough

His pitching line (6IP, 4H, 1 BB, 3K, 3R) looks better than his performance from where I'm sitting. He had a nice strike of seven consecutive outs, but made a couple of mistakes to Paulino that could have been home runs, and had spotty command of the fastball and slider.

3. 3 RBI for LaRoche


LaRoche hit a two run homer in the first that suprised most everyone when it made it into the left-center basket. He added an RBI single in the sixth

4. Solid Relief

Howry, Marmol and Wood provided three scoreless innings.

 

The 8-2 homestand-closing, warm news for a cold day at Wrigley game recap, and some life-saving, pride-stroking parachat recap shout-outs, below.

 

Tags: 

Game Chat | Press Pass | BR Preview

SP *Phil Dumatrait SP Jason Marquis
  1-1, 3.96, 26 K, 18 BB, 36.1 IP
1-3, 5.26, 24 K, 16 BB, 39.1 IP
       
2B Freddy Sancez LF Alfonso Soriano
CF Nate McLouth SS Ronny Cedeño
LF Jason Bay 1B Derrek Lee
1B *Adam LaRoche 3B Aramis Ramirez
RF Xavier Nady RF *Kosuke Fukudome
3B *Doug Mientkiewicz C Geovany Soto
C Ronny Paulino 2B Mark DeRosa
SS Brian Bixler CF Reed Johnson
P Phil Dumatrait P *Jason Marquis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the heels of Saturday's loss to the Bucs and the unexpected appearance by Bad Carlos, the Cubs need a win to take this series from the Pirates and finish the homestand 8-2. Cedeño gets a start at shortstop and The Riot sits.

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