August 2008

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SP *Jamie Moyer SP *Sean Marshall

11-7, 3.81, 102 K, 50 BB, 160.2 IP
3-3, 3.52, 43 K, 13 BB, 46 IP
       
SS #Jimmy Rollins LF Alfonso Soriano
2B *Chase Utley CF Reed Johnson
LF Pat Burrell 1B Derrek Lee
1B *Ryan Howard 3B Aramis Ramirez
CF #Shane Victorino 2B Mark DeRosa
RF Jayson Werth C Geovany Soto
3B Pedo Feliz RF *Kosuke Fukudome
C Carlos Ruiz SS Ronny Cedeno
P *Jamie Moyer P *Sean Marshall

 

Carlos Zambrano was scheduled to start Sunday for the Cubs, but Z and his dead arm ("muscle fatigue in his triceps," according to the Cubs) are going to skip a turn. WSCR also reported this morning that Rich Harden, whose velocity was markedly down against the Phillies on Friday, will skip his next turn, meaning he won't pitch until sometime after the Houston series. Can I say it? Oy, oy, oy. (Nice to have an 11-game lead in the Wild Card race, however.)

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SP Brett Myers SP *Ted Lilly
       
SS #Jimmy Rollins LF Alfonso Soriano
2B *Chase Utley SS Ryan Theriot
LF Pat Burrell 1B Derrek Lee
1B *Ryan Howard 3B Aramis Ramirez
CF #Shane Victorino CF *Jim Edmonds
RF Jayson Werth 2B Mark DeRosa
3B Pedo Feliz RF *Kosuke Fukudome
C Chris Coste C Geovany Soto
P Brett Myers P *Ted Lilly

 

Angel Guzman (September '07 TJS) had what was likely his final rehab outing last night at Iowa, pitching the 8th & 9th in a GF non-save situation in an I-Cubs victory, throwing two shutout inings (31 pitches - 23 strikes). With his minor league rehab going well, I fully expect the Cubs to reactivate Guzman from the 60-day DL on Monday when the MLB active rosters expand to 40.

With three days left in August, the Cubs have two legit contenders for player of the month honors in August. The only player of the month winner so far for the best team in baseball has been Geovany Soto's rookie of the month honor in April, although he's certainly a strong contender to win it again in August. His only real competition is the July winner, Ian Stewart who has a slight edge in OPS and both have 20 RBI's in August.

All the NL contenders after the jump...

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SP Joe Blanton SP Rich Harden
(NL) 1-0, 4.03, 27 K, 15 BB, 38 IP (NL) 4-1, 1.47, 70 K, 14 BB, 49 IP
       
SS #Jimmy Rollins LF Alfonso Soriano
CF #Shane Victorino SS Ryan Theriot
2B *Chase Utley 1B Derrek Lee
1B *Ryan Howard 3B Aramis Ramirez
LF Pat Burrell CF *Jim Edmonds
RF Jayson Werth 2B Mark DeRosa
3B *Greg Dobbs RF *Kosuke Fukudome
C Carlos Ruiz C Henry Blanco
P Joe Blanton P *Rich Harden

 

A few aftershocks from last night's game...the come from behind win was the 38th for the Cubs this season, second to the Yankees 39. It was their 19th win when trailing in the seventh inning or later, best in baseball ahead of their current foe - the Phightin Phils.

Today, ex-teammates do battle as Rich Harden and Joe Blanton take the mound. I'm sure a steak dinner at Morton's is on the table for the winner.

 

Some more game notes fun after the jump...

I think I'm taking the 2008 Cubs for granted. I headed to my car for my commute home last night just as the Phillies were scoring three runs in the sixth. And even with Cole Hamels carving up the lineup, I never thought we were out of it. I tuned into XM radio by that point and it had Pat and Ron going and Pat was carrying on that the Phils bullpen has been worked hard lately. If the Cubs could just work up  that pitch count up on Hamels. If he could go eight, the Phils would just go to Brad Lidge which probably wouldn't have done the Cubs much good considering he's a perfect 31 for 31 in save opportunities. The key was to get into the pen before that. After seven, Hamels was up to 108 pitches but due up third, and Charlie Manuel obliged by pinch hitting for him.

Boom. Mike Fontenot goes yard on Ryan Madson. As I heard Bob Brenly say on the replay, "ABH - Anybody but Hamels".

Next up, Soriano sounds like he just missed one for a double. After the Theriot single, Derrek Lee stepped up and I'm sure many the skeptical Cub fan were expecting the double play that he seems to be so prone to hitting to this year. But he already had two hits on the night and his one out sounded like a well-struck ball to the outfield. He's also managed a .923 OPS over the last 7 days. Chad Durbin left his control in the bullpen though and the bases were loaded for tonight's hero.

Whenever a Cub hits one deep, you can always tell with Pat if it's going out or not by the first or second word. He tries to put some excitement in any ball that looks like it has any chance but there's just this little extra inflection he puts in his voice when a ball is definitely going out. When Soriano hit his double, it wasn't there. When Fontenot and Ramirez hit there blasts, I could tell right away just by the subtle change in Pat's voice.

After missing on the first pitch to Ramirez and considering Durbin just walked Lee, I figured Ramirez would be taking. Instead I'm listening to Pat Hughes calling yet another Cubs comeback victory. 

Ramirez is certainly the game's hero, but let's be sure to give Kerry Wood his deserved praise. Working on his fourth straight game against the four best Phillies hitters was no small task. He had a bit of breathing room, but an outstanding outing by him as well to navigate the ninth inning for his 28th save.

The Win Probability chart after the jump...

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SP *Cole Hamels SP Ryan Dempster
  11-8, 3.20, 162 K, 43 BB, 188.2 IP
15-5, 2.85, 153 K, 65 BB, 170.2 IP
       
SS #Jimmy Rollins LF Alfonso Soriano
2B *Chase Utley SS Ryan Theriot
LF Pat Burrell 1B Derrek Lee
1B *Ryan Howard 3B Aramis Ramirez
CF #Shane Victorino C Geovany Soto
RF Jayson Werth CF Reed Johnson
3B Pedro Feliz RF *Kosuke Fukudome
C Carlos Ruiz  2B Mark DeRosa
P *Cole Hamels P Ryan Dempster

 

The Cubs and Phillies play the first game in Major League history in which the umpires—or at least the crew chief—will have the option to summon an instant replay to assist a call. (The Rangers/Angels and Twins/A's games starting later Thursday will also be replay-enabled; umpires at all games will be onboard starting Friday.) The reviewable plays will be limited to potential home runs, i.e., fair or foul, over the fence or in play, fan interference or not.

Cubs manager Lou Piniella thinks it's all just a grand idea:

"This is not going to work. I shouldn't say it's not going to work, but this could turn into a little bit of a fiasco initially."

Anyhow, having beaten our boys twice (and nearly three times) in a three-game series in Philadelphia back in April, the Philles begin this four-game set as the only NL team with a lead in their season series against the Cubs.

Happy 65th Birthday Lou Piniella!

I put together some historical perspecitve on how solid or fragile things can be now that the 2008 Cubs are 83-50 (+33) and have the best record in baseball.

Tentative rosters for the 2008 Arizona Fall League (AFL) were announced yesterday (they are incomplete and also subject to change), and six of the seven Cubs prospects who will be playing for the Mesa Solar Sox this fall have been named:

Quite a night for the Cubbies, who looked nothing like the team with the best record in baseball, other than the final result. Errors, defensive miscues, bad starting pitching, bad relief pitching and yet they overcame all that thanks to Craig Hansen's pitching and Geovany Soto's hitting. Soto had been on a steady decline since his monstrous April putting up OPS numbers of 1.048, .868, .747, .740 heading in August. But things have turned around for him and he's put up a 1.014 OPS with 20 RBI's matching his April RBI total with five games still to go this month. His seven RBI outburst yesterday tops his 6 RBI game in April versus the Brewers and is the second most RBI's for a Cubs catcher in a game trailing the likes of Barry Foote, George Mitterwald and Ed Bailey (since 1956).

If you happen to be wondering who had the most RBI's in a game for the Cubs since 1956 like I was, the answer is after the jump.

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SP Jason Marquis SP *Zach Duke
  8-7, 4.76, 71 K, 52 BB, 134.1 IP
4-12, 5.29, 72 K, 42 BB, 151.1 IP
       
LF Alfonso Soriano RF *Nyjer Morgan
SS Ryan Theriot SS Jack Wilson
1B Derrek Lee CF *Nate McLouth
3B Aramis Ramirez 1B *Adam LaRoche
CF Reed Johnson LF *Brandon Moss
RF Mark DeRosa 2B Freddy Sanchez
2B Ronny Cedeno 3B Andy LaRoche
C Henry Blanco C Raul Chavez
P *Jason Marquis P *Zach Duke

 

The Cubs go for the sweep, and once again I am reminded that I don't know how to add Rob's broom graphic to the game results box at the top of the right-hand column. I'll make you a deal, Jason Marquis: you win the game, and I'll work on the broom.

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SP Carlos Zambrano SP Ian Snell
13-5, 3.29, 111 K, 57 BB, 164 IP
5-10, 5.60, 108 K, 74 BB, 133.1 IP
       
LF Alfonso Soriano LF *Nyjer Morgan
SS Ryan Theriot CF *Nate McLouth
1B Derrek Lee C #Ryan Doumit
3B Aramis Ramirez 1B *Adam LaRoche
CF *Jim Edmonds RF *Brandon Moss
2B Mark DeRosa 3B *Doug Mientkiewicz
RF *Kosuke Fukudome 2B Freddy Sanchez
C Geovany Soto SS Jack Wilson
P #Carlos Zambrano P Ian Snell

 

It's always nice when the league lets the Cubs use a designated hitter. Zambrano's .972 OPS is not only the best for tonight's starters, but would be second only to Milton Bradley among the regular DH's of the game. His hitting prowess has also helped the Cubs put up a .597 OPS out of the number nine spot in the order. That's good for 14th in baseball and better than the A's, Royals and Orioles have been able to manage (thanks to reader "nohit" for the tip). 

 The quest to the playoffs continues...

I started a thread regarding the Sun-Times article this morning stating that many of the Cubs September call-ups may be delayed as the Iowa Cubs clinched the playoffs. The I-Cubs will host the Oklahoma RedHawks (Texas Rangers AAA affiliate) starting Sept 3rd in a best of 5 game series. The debate over what value the AAA playoffs bring vs getting a September reward as a call-up for a contending team doesn't get my debating shoes polished but it's interesting to see how the Cubs brass is going to handle this issue.

From the Gordon Wittenmyer notes:

The Class AAA Iowa Cubs are back in the playoffs for the first time in four years, and one small ramification at the big-league level is that a few anticipated September roster additions might stay with Iowa through its playoff series.

The exceptions: Pitchers Jon Lieber (foot) and Angel Guzman (elbow) are expected to be activated from the DL when rosters expand, and lefty hitter Micah Hoffpauir, who's having a monster season, is expected to join the big club right away.

I suppose getting Lieber is an upgrade on last year where Hendry dropped AAA talent on the Orioles for a near worthless Steve Traschel. Angel Guzman just might be another solid compliment in our bullpen. Micah Hoffpauir, well there is a big fan club out there rooting for some September Hoff-Power.

The biggest addition might not get up here until after the AAA playoffs. This is when Koyie Hill gets the call-up to add 5 mph to the pitching staff's fastballs. That's "Serious" music to my ears.

 

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SP *Ted Lilly SP Jeff Karstens
  12-7, 4.25, 148 K, 56 W, 161 IP 
2-2, 2.25, 11 K, 8 W, 28 IP
       
LF Alfonso Soriano CF *Nate McLouth
SS Ryan Theriot 2B Freddy Sanchez
1B Derrek Lee C  #Ryan Doumit
3B Aramis Ramirez 1B *Adam LaRoche
CF *Jim Edmonds RF  Jason Michaels
2B Mark DeRosa LF *Brandon Moss
RF *Kosuke Fukudome 3B Andy LaRoche
C Geovany Soto SS Jack Wilson
P *Ted Lilly P Jeff Karstens

 

The Cubs open a three-game set at PNC Park, concluding their 9-game stretch against the Reds, Nationals, and Pirates before they resume play against Major League opposition. (Yes, I'm tempting fate: Friday's smug game preview was just a preamble to an ugly 13-5 loss to the Nats, but 30 games over .500, I'm feeling smug all over again.)

Coming off a tough luck defeat in which he held the Reds hitless for the first 5 innings and wound up yielding just 2 hits in 7 IP, Lily has reduced his ERA to a season-low 4.25.The lefty has given the Cubs Quality Starts in 8 of his last 10 turns, and that defeat to Cincinnati was his first after five consecutive W's.

This will mark Lilly's fourth start of the year against the Bucs. He's 1-0, 5.63 in the three previous starts, with a butt-ugly 8.38 ERA in his two outings at PNC.

Years before most of the English-speaking world was convinced it could do a passable Harry Caray impression, Jim Volkman was a regular on Chicago radio and had established himself as the master Harry mimic.

Well, Harry (Jim) is back now, at 1908worldchampions.com, where he recently started a game-by-game commentary on the Cubs season, with assistance from two other great voices from the Cubs past, who, like Caray, happen to be dead: Jack Brickhouse and Lou Boudreau.

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SP Jason Bergmann SP Rich Harden
  2-9, 4.50, 83 K, 33 BB, 116 IP (NL)
3-1, 1.50, 59 K, 14 BB, 42 IP
       
LF *Willie Harris LF Alfonso Soriano
SS #Christian Guzman SS Ryan Theriot
3B Ryan Zimmerman 3B Aramis Ramirez
CF Lastings Milledge 1B *Daryle Ward
1B Ronnie Belliard RF Mark DeRosa
C Jesus Flores CF *Jim Edmonds
RF Austin Kearns C Geovany Soto
2B #Anderson Hernandez 2B *Mike Fontenot
P Jason Bergmann P *Rich Harden

The Cubs go for yet another series win with Rich Harden making his eight start as a Cub. The win would give them their seventh straight series win and secure a tie  in the season series against the Nationals. Good thing it's Sunday where the Cubs are 15-5 this season, their best record for any day of the week.

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SP *Odalis Perez SP Ryan Dempster

5-9, 4.06, 83 K, 44 BB, 124 IP
14-5, 2.92, 149 K, 64 BB, 163.1 IP




2B #Emilio Bonificio LF Alfonso Soriano
LF *Willie Harris SS Ryan Theriot
3B Ryan Zimmerman 1B Derrek Lee
CF Lastings Milledge 3B Aramis Ramirez
1B Ronnie Belliard CF Reed Johnson
C Jesus Flores 2B Mark DeRosa
RF Austin Kearns C Geovany Soto
SS #Anderson Hernandez RF *Kosuke Fukudome
P *Odalis Perez P Ryan Dempster

Let us never speak of yesterday's game ever again. And damn, this game is early. And what's with all that pounding going outside my window? And why is everyone screaming? Anyone have any aspirin? 

(buries head under his pillow)

A rough but fun night for yours truly and the Angelfan wife drowning out yesterday's losses celebrating her birthday. It's gonna be another rough night if we lose again today.

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SP *John Lannan SP Jason Marquis
  6-12, 3.81, 89 K, 54 W, 141.2 IP
8-7, 4.67, 68 K, 49 W, 129 IP
       
2B #Emilio Bonificio LF Alfonso Soriano
SS #Cristian Guzman SS Ryan Theriot
3B Ryan Zimmerman 1B Derrek Lee
CF Lastings Milledge 3B Aramis Ramirez
1B Ronnie Belliard CF Reed Johnson
RF *Ryan Langerhans C Geovany Soto
LF *Willie Harris RF Mark DeRosa
C Wil Nieves 2B Ronny Cedeno
P *John Lannan P *Jason Marquis

Weather note: As of 12:40, it's pouring in the western suburbs, with storms on their way to the city. Could be a rain delay in our future.

The Cubs advance to the next course in the all-meatball buffet, following their series against the Reds with three against the 45-83 Nationals starting today, before moving on to Pittsburgh.

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SP Josh Fogg SP Carlos Zambrano
  2-5, 7.71, 38 K, 24 BB, 65.1 IP
12-5, 3.38, 107 K, 53 BB, 157 IP
       
LF *Chris Dickerson LF Alfonso Soriano
SS Jeff Keppinger SS Ryan Theriot
RF *Jay Bruce 1B Derrek Lee
2B Brandon Phillips 3B Aramis Ramirez
1B *Joey Votto CF *Jim Edmonds
3B Edwin Encarnacion 2B Mark DeRosa
CF *Corey Patterson RF *Kosuke Fukudome
C *Paul Bako C Henry Blanco
P Josh Fogg P #Carlos Zambrano

 

The Cubs try to take two of three from a team so bad, they have given more than 250 at-bats to a player hitting less than .200, are granting a 12th start to a pitcher with a 7.71 ERA (ERA+ of 58), and sent an apology letter to their fans...with 35 games still left in the campaign.

Carlos Zambrano goes for his fifth consecutive win against the Reds, hoping to bounce back to #1 form after three unimpressive outings.

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SP Bronson Arroyo SP *Ted Lilly
10-10, 5.51, 125 K, 50 BB, 143.2 IP
12-6, 4.32, 141 K, 54 BB, 154 IP
       
CF *Chris Dickerson LF Alfonso Soriano
SS Jeff Keppinger SS Ryan Theriot
RF *Jay Bruce 1B Derrek Lee
2B Brandon Phillips 3B Aramis Ramirez
3B Edwin Encarnacion CF *Jim Edmonds
1B *Joey Votto 2B Mark DeRosa
LF Jolbert Cabrera RF *Kosuke Fukudome
C Ryan Hanigan C Geovany Soto
P Bonson Arroyo P *Ted Lilly

The Astros did us no favors this afternoon losing to the Brewers so it'll be up to Ted Lilly and the Cubs to bring themselves closer to a division and playoff spot. The Cubs current six game lead in the division is its largest division lead since June 22nd, 2001, when they led the Cardinals by that much. Things should hopefully go a little smoother the rest of this season. 

A quick look at how the rotation might shake out the rest of the season.

Rich Harden's brilliant effort Tuesday night followed yet another complete-game win for the second-place Brewers' C.C. Sabathia the evening before.

Through last night's play, here is what Harden and Sabathia have done for their NL Central teams, alongside the contribution of another mid-season acquisition, who, once upon a time, made a huge impact when he joined the Cubs from the American League:

  GS CG IP
H
K
 BB ERA
 W L
C.C. Sabathia 9 5 73 60 69 15 1.60 8 0
Rich Harden 7 0 42 26 59 14 1.50 3 1
Rick Sutcliffe (thru 8/19/84) 13 1 94 87 93 32 3.26 11 1

 

(Note: Sabathia's first start for the Brewers was on July 8, Harden's Cub debut was on July 12, and Sutcliffe's first game for the Cubs was on June 19, 1984.

Thoughts after the jump...

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SP Johnny Cueto SP Rich Harden
8-11, 4.90, 136 K, 53 BB, 145 IP (NL) 2-1, 1.80, 49 K, 14 BB, 35 IP
LF *Chris Dickerson LF Alfonso Soriano
SS Jeff Keppinger SS Ryan Theriot
RF *Jay Bruce 1B Derrek Lee
2B Brandon Phillips 3B Aramis Ramirez
1B *Joey Votto CF *Jim Edmonds
3B Edwin Encarnacion C Geovany Soto
CF *Corey Patterson RF *Kosuke Fukudome
C *Paul Bako 2B Mark DeRosa 
P Johnny Cueto P *Rich Harden

 That sure seemed like the longest one day break from baseball for some reason. Back to the Friendly Confines, where the Cubs have already surpassed their 44-win total from last year with a 45-17 record. The Reds limp into town, depleted and desperate enough to start Corey Patterson. And in honor of Dusty's return, let's discuss the Cubs leading the majors in walks with 501 and on pace for 655 which would break the club mark of 650 set in 1970. Of course, those walks don't mean much if you're not driving them in. The Cubs compliment those walks with an NL leading .284 batting average and .834 OPS with runners in scoring position. That's base-clogging done right.

August 31st is an important date for contending MLB teams, because that’s the date that determines eligibility for post-season rosters.

The Cubs get to enjoy their off-day with a nice come from behind win yesterday and a 5-1 road trip that puts them on the right side of the .500 mark away from Wrigley. They'll play 16 straight starting tomorrow, 13 of those coming at home and the three road games at Pittsburgh. It seems like a great time to increase their lead in the Central, but the Brewers have a pretty easy go of it as well. The schedules through September 4th (three game series unless otherwise noted):

Cubs (16 with 13 at Home): vs. Reds, vs. Nats, @ Pirates, vs Phillies (for 4 games), vs Astros
Brewers (14 with 9 at Home): vs. Astros, vs. Pirates,  @ St. Louis (2 games), @ Pitt, vs. Mets
Cardinals  (13 with 7 at Home): vs. Pirates(2 games), vs Braves, vs. Brewers (2 games), @ Astros, @ Diamondbacks

So that's looking forward, but what about taking a look back at the 2008 season. Peter Gammons on Friday brought up Geovany Soto's name as an National League MVP candidate and it got me thinking about who is the Cubs 2008 MVP.

Your candidates after the jump... 

Unfortunately you have to register to vote and you have to vote to see the results. Just a bug in this software.

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SP Ryan Dempster SP Chris Volstad

13-5, 2.92, 139 K, 62 BB, 157.1 IP
4-2, 3.03, 26 K, 18 BB, 38.2 IP
       
LF Alfonso Soriano SS Hanley Ramirez
SS Ryan Theriot LF *Luis Gonzalez
1B Derrek Lee 3B Jorge Cantu
3B Aramis Ramirez 1B *Mike Jacobs
RF *Kosuke Fukudome 2B Dan Uggla
C Geovany Soto RF *Jeremy Hermida
2B *Mike Fontenot CF Cody Ross
CF Reed Johnson C *John Baker
P Ryan Dempster P Chris Volstad

 

The Cubs end the brief road trip with a chance to win yet another series and take the season matchup with the Fish, which currently stands at three victories each.

Ryan Dempster, who is profiled by Alan Schwarz in Sunday's New York Times, goes up against 21-year-old Chris Volstad, who pitched well in an ND when the Marlins were in Chicago.

Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee return to the starting lineup.

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SP *Sean Marshall SP Anibal Sanchez

2-2, 3.55, 33 K, 10 BB, 38 IP
1-2, 4.08, 14 K, 7 BB, 17.2 IP
       
LF Alfonso Soriano SS Hanley Ramirez
SS Ryan Theriot CF Cody Ross
CF *Jim Edmonds 3B Jorge Cantu
1B *Daryle Ward 1B *Mike Jacobs
2B *Mike Fontenot 2B Dan Uggla
RF *Kosuke Fukudome LF Josh Willingham
3B Mark DeRosa RF Jeremy Hermida
C Henry Blanco C Matt Treanor
P *Sean Marshall P Anibal Sanchez

Sean Marshall gets the start because of the doubleheader on Wednesday and he'll be on a limit of 80 pitches. If that doesn't get the Cubs to at least the 6th, expect to see Jason Marquis out there for an inning or two.
Lou, obviously bored with winning with his normal lineup, lets the scrubs try to extend the Cubs five game win streak and nine game road win streak.

This might be a random collection of events, but taking the mound against the Cubs has had it's risks. It dawned on me that we've seen some season ending injuries happen to our opponents pitchers. Coincidence? Or Death Cab for Cutie?

Follow the link to the pitchers who've risked entering the valley of shadows:

In one of those magic moments that seem to happen during every team's playoff run, Daryle Ward went from one of the Cubs 2008 goats to Northside hero. His three-run homer in the top of the ninth was good for a .647 WPA, which seems to be the biggest hit of the Cubs season.

fangraph

Before that astonishing at-bat, Ward was 0 for his last 10, 4 for his last 29, and 4 for 40 as a pinch-hitter this season. Nothing like a big surprise in a big package.

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SP Carlos Zambrano SP Josh Johnson

12-5, 3.22, 101 K, 48 BB, 151 IP
3-0, 3.19, 28 K, 14 BB, 36.2 IP
       
LF Alfonso Soriano SS Hanley Ramirez
SS Ryan Theriot RF *Jeremy Hermida
1B Derrek Lee 3B Jorge Cantu
CF *Jim Edmonds 1B *Mike Jacobs
C Geovany Soto 2B Dan Uggla
3B Mark DeRosa LF Josh Willingham
2B *Mike Fontenot CF Cody Ross
RF Reed Johnson C *John Baker
P #Carlos Zambrano P *Josh Johnson 

The Cubs attempt to extend their 8-game road winning streak with Carlos Zambrano trying to recover from a 4-inning+ outing against the Cards last Saturday in which he seemed to be channeling Bob Howry, i.e., allowing a whole big bunch of hits (10), homers (4), and runs (9).

Josh Johnson makes his second start this season against the Cubs. He served up solo home run balls to Geovany Soto and Reed Johnson but little else, a in an ND start on July 25th at Wrigley. (That was the game the Marlins won on a ninth-inning homer by Jeremy Hermida against you-know-who.)

Speaking of that four-game series, which the teams split, that's also the last series the Cubs played and didn't win.

Friday's Game Notes highlight:

The Cubs' seventh and eighth place batters are hitting a combined .301 this season, which is best in MLB. In the series at Turner Field, the #7 and #8 guys went 11-for-25 (.440) with 9 RBI.

And to think—we've expended all that energy this year debating who should hit leadoff.

By the way, no matter what happens the rest of the way, I think the Cubs should definitely go after Michael Phelps as a free agent.

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SP *Ted Lilly SP *Tom Glavine

11-16, 4.26, 133 K, 52 BB, 148 IP
2-3, 4.85, 34 K, 33 BB, 59.1 IP
LF Alfonso Soriano SS Yunel Escobar
RF *Kosuke Fukudome 2B Martin Prado
1B Derrek Lee 3B #Chipper Jones
3B Aramis Ramirez LF Omar Infante
CF Reed Johnson 1B *Casey Kotchmann
C Geovany Soto RF Jeff Francoeur
2B Mark DeRosa CF *Mark Kotsay
SS Ryan Theriot C Clint Sammons
P *Ted Lilly P *Tom Glavine

The Cubs go for the sweep and hopefully gain some ground on the Brewers, who are losing 3-2 in the ninth in San Diego as I write this. The Cubs doubleheader sweep last night was their first since 2003 over the Pirates (I'm sure you remember the day) and first road sweep since 1992 over the Cardinals.

It'll be Lilly for the Cubs, the proud owner of a 2.53 ERA on the road this season. For the Braves, it's the return of Tom Glavine off the disabled list, his first start since facing the Cubs in early June.

Blasphemy!!!!

I'm not really advocating this strategy, but hear me out. The current NL standings after the jump. 

Wednesday night the Brewers won their 8th consecutive game, and the consensus is that the streak grew directly out of the dugout shoving match-turned-public apology involving Prince Fielder and Manny Parra. (Note to consensus: the fact that the Brewers have been playing the Nats and the Padres might also be a contributing factor.)

The Cubs have been doing just fine, thank you—7 consecutive road wins,11 victories in 14 games overall, maintaining a 3 1/2-game lead in the NL Central—but still, it's nice to know that we could conjure an 8-game run whenever we needed it simply by initiating a little Cub-on-Cub action.

Hell, it's not like we don't have the boys with backgrounds in intramural brawling: Lou Piniella (grappled with Rob Dibble to a draw), Ted Lilly (TKO over his Toronto manager, John Gibbons), and Carlos Zambrano (knocked out Michael Barrett, all the way into the National League West!).

Sure, we could follow the Milwaukee match-making strategy and have Lee (our Fielder) take on Marshall (our Parra), or we could be a little more creative.

Some ideas:

Tags: 

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SP Rich Harden SP Jorge Campillo
(NL)
1-1, 2.10, 47 K, 9 BB, 30 IP
7-4, 2.83, 81 K, 21 BB, 114.1 IP
       
LF Alfonso Soriano CF *Gregor Blanco
SS Ryan Theriot SS Yunel Escobar
1B Derrek Lee 1B *Casey Kotchmann
3B Aramis Ramirez C #Brian McCann
CF *Jim Edmonds LF Omar Infante
2B Mark DeRosa 2B *Kelly Johnson
RF *Kosuke Fukudome 1B Martin Prado
C Henry Blanco RF Jeff Francoeur
P *Rich Harden P Jorge Campillo

 

Cubs go for the day/night sweep. Blanco gets the start behind home plate. Otherwise, it's the same group with Theriot moving up to the 2-hole and Fukudome moving down to seventh.

Lots of the same faces in the Braves' order as well. Slumping Jeff Francoeur gets a start and the chance to see what it's like to slump out of the eighth spot.

Harden is starting the nightcap after telling Piniella he prefers to work at night.

Oh, my God—we traded for a vampire!

UPDATE: Looks like Lou made up his mind after the first game and it will be Sean Marshall getting the start on Sunday versus the Marlins.


Just a little scheduling note, that Lou has tabbed either Jeff Samardzija or Sean Marshall for Sunday's start against the Marlins due to today's doubleheader. That is if Marquis cannot go on short rest.

"I can't bring Harden back on short rest, but I can bring Marquis back possibly," Piniella said Wednesday. "By him pitching the day game, it gives him a little longer time. If not, we'll either pitch Samardzija or pitch [Sean] Marshall."

Other than possibly using Marquis on short rest, there was another reason Harden will pitch tonight's nightcap.

"I know he's told us his preference would be to pitch at night and in cooler weather," Piniella said  

As always, blame Canada.

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