August 2008

Game 137 Thread / Phillies @ Cubs (4 of 4)

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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.)

Angel's in the Bullpen

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.

Ramirez versus DeRosa for Player of the Month

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...

Game 135 Thread / Phillies @ Cubs (2 of 4)

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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...

ABH - Anybody But Hamels

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...

Game 134 Thread / Phillies @ Cubs (1 of 4)

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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.

Cubs Assign Six Prospects to Arizona Fall League

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:

Lucky Number Seven

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.

Game 133 Thread / Cubs @ Pirates (3 of 3)

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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.

Game 131 Thread / Cubs @ Pirates (1 of 3)

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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.

kcab si yaraC yrraH (That's "Harry Caray is back," spelled backwards)

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, 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.

Game 128 Thread / Nationals @ Cubs (1 of 3)

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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.

Harden, C.C., and Sut

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:

 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...

The Cubs 2008 MVP

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... 

The Bump and The Grind

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:

Ward-o-saurus Walks the Earth Again

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.


I Can't Wait for Derrek Lee to Punch Sean Marshall in the Mouth

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:



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