Alfonso Soriano

The Cubs claimed a rain-shortened victory Wednesday night, winning behind: Ted Lilly, who pitched into the seventh inning and improved to 5-2; Alfonso Soriano, who hit his 53rd career leadoff home run; Geovany Soto, who hit his first homer of the season after 96 plate appearances; and George Herman Theriot, who banged out two home runs and now has five in the month of May. (He had seven career homers in 380 games heading into this month.)

In Houston, Ted Lilly straightened himself out after a ragged beginning—four-pitch leadoff walk to Kaz Matsui, gopher ball to Miguel Tejada; Miggy's first home run in 116 at-bats this season—as the Cubs beat the Astros, 8-5, to sweep the two-game series at Minute Maid Park.

The Cubs have now won six of seven and have climbed to four games above .500 for the second time this year, heading into a weekend series in Milwaukee.

Highlights, lowlights and other observations from the Cubs' 8-5 win over the Brewers Sunday night in Milwaukee, a victory that leaves the Cubs at 4-2 as they return home for the Wrigley Field opener on Monday afternoon.

"We've Seen This Movie Before" Moment of the Night:

In his first at-bat since beating the Brewers with a dramatic, ninth-inning home run on Saturday, Alfonso Soriano crushed Jeff Suppan's first pitch of the game over the centerfield wall, his fourth HR in the young season.

Play of the Night:
Reed Johnson's leaping catch to rob Prince Fielder of what would have been a game-tying grand slam in the bottom of the fifth. Instead Fielder wound up with a sac fly and a reason to tip his helmet to Reed Johnson.

All I'm going to say about this victory is, Alfonso Soriano reminded us why it's worth having a left fielder who can't actually field, Kosuke Fukudome continues his drive to be christened "Mr. April," and Carlos Marmol, who is officially NOT the Cubs closer, made our opponents' best hitters look helpless in a way that the guy who is our closer never, ever could.

 

The Cubs scored seven runs in the bottom of the 1st, and cruised to a 9-4 victory over the White Sox this afternoon at Ho Ho Kam Park in Mesa, in front of a Cactus League record crowd of 13,327, a game that I'm sure many of you watched on WGN-TV.

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Alfonso Soriano drove in two runs and reached base four times on two singles and two wallks, Milton Bradley had three hits including a double and a solo home run, and Geovany Soto drove in two runs with a double and a sacrifice fly, leading the Cubs to a hard-fought 9-8 victory over the Colorado Rockies this afternoon in front of a record Ho Ho Kam Park crowd of 13,298.

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Alfonso Soriano ripped a two-out two-run single to cap a three-run 7th, and Carlos Zambrano threw six innings of one-run ball, leading he Cubs to a 5-3 victory over the Seattle Mariners in Cactus League action before 13,002 fans at Dwight Patterson Field at Ho Ho Kam Park this afternoon in hot & sunny Mesa, AZ.

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Jake Fox had three hits and drove in five runs with a two-run double and a three-run homer, Milton Bradley drove in three runs with a two-run home run and an RBI single, Alfonso Soriano drove in two runs with a solo HR and an RBI single, and Sean Marshall started the game and pitched five strong innings (getting ten ground balls), as the Cubs drubbed the White Sox 13-2 in Cactus League action at Camelback Ranch this afternoon

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Nick Noonan capped a five-run 9th with a two-out grand slam, as the Giants rallied to defeat the Cubs (and leave a lot of Cubs fans speechless) before a record crowd of 13,024 under sunny skies at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa this afternoon.   

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Also, the Cubs sent have sent non-roster RHPs Esmailin Cardidad and Ken Kadokura to minor league camp. This brings the Cubs Spring Training roster down to 43 (including Ted Lily and Kosuke Fukudome, who are still playing in the WBC) 

The 35-year old Karokura was making his U. S. debut after spending 13 years playing in Japan, and I suspect he will be released (or will request his release) prior to Opening Day and will return to Japan. He probably isn't at the point in his career where he would want to spend a year playing AAA ball. He didn't really have a bad Spring with the Cubs, but he had a tendency to get ahead of hitters 0-1 or 1-2 and then nibble, nibble, nibble. I don't think Manager Lou Piniella likes that approach too much.  

Caridad is a different matter, however, I have him rated as one of the Cubs Top Ten prospects, and he pitched very well so far this Spring and could surface sometime this season in Chicago. Now 25, Caridad was (like Alfonso Soriano and Timo Perez) originally signed by the Hiroshima Carp and was assigned to their Dominican Academy, before pitching in Japan in 2007. But Caridad became a free-agent on a technicality after that season, and Cubs Player Personnel Director Oneri Fleita personally signed the right-hander while on a trip to the Dominican Republic in December 2007  Caridad pitched at Daytona and Tennessee in 2008 (going a combined 13-7, 3.73 ERA, 1.11 WHIP), and then pitched in the AFL with the Mesa Solar Sox in October-November '08. He can start or relieve.

As for today's game...      

Alfonso Soriano belted a two-run home run, Mike Fontenot drove in two runs with a homer and a double, So Taguchi drove in three runs with a bases-loaded triple, Joey Gathright scored three runs and drove in one, and Derrek Lee had an RBI double, as the Cubs drubbed the Kansas City Royals 9-1 in afternoon Cactus League action at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa this afternoon, before 8,987 fans under overcast skies and in mid-60's temperatures

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Sean Marshall,threw three perfect innings and Alfonso Soriano, Jake Fox, and Aramis Ramirez slammed home runs, helping the Cubs dump the Oakland A's 6-4 under overcast skies and 80-degree temperatures and in front of 6.500 fans at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa this afternoon.

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So ends the saga of Jake Peavy to the Cubs for 7 or more players. But is the deal really dead? In fact, even the Brian Roberts deal isn't exactly dead. These kind of non-transactions take a "life" of their own. So I thought we might play a little game. One of the more common cliche's is "the best trade is often the one not made". So I'm asking for you to reach back and see what you can remember as to rumored trades that never occurred but if they had been made, would have been one gigantic mistake for someone or maybe even a timeline changer in the course of baseball history. Sosa for Soriano circa 2000 comes to mind. I'm sure there are some good one's out there to remember. Please help.

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... 

Jon Lieber and Scott Eyre threw in rehab outings with the AZL Cubs at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning, as Larry Rothschild, Lester Strode, and Carlos Zambrano (who was visiting buddy Angel Guzman) watched from the bench, and a gaggle of Cubs brass watched from the observation tower.

Hitting lead-off and serving as the DH, Alfonso Soriano got into his first game action in almost six weeks, as the AZL Cubs defeated the AZL Padres 6-3 at Padres Field #1 at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, AZ this morning.

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