Aramis Ramirez

Cubs (2-1; 1st in NL Central) vs. Brewers (1-2; 4th in NL Central) at Miller Park

Head-to-head Record
First meeting in 2009. Cubs won 9 of 16 games between the teams in 2008.

Pitching matchups
Friday, 3:05pm
Rich Harden (0-0) vs. Braden Looper (0-0)

Saturday, 6:05pm
Carlos Zambrano (1-0, 1.50) vs. David Bush (0-0, 18.00)

Sunday, 7:05pm
Ryan Dempster (0-0, 3.00) vs. Jeff Suppan (0-1, 13.50)

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.

box score

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...

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...

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... 

A look at the ten Cubs hits from the season so far that did the most to enhance the team's chances of winning, according to FanGraphs' Win Probability Added statistic.

#10.) May 11th, 7th inning v. Arizona, man on first, one out, Cubs trailing the Diamondbacks, 4-2. Facing former Cub Juan Cruz, Reed Johnson cracks a two-run homer to tie the game, which the home team will go on to win 6-4, after Daryle Ward delivers a two-run double one inning later. Johnson homer = WPA .321

#9.) May 2nd, 9th inning at St. Louis, man on second, one out, Cubs trail the Cardinals, 3-1. Jason Isringhausen is in for the Cards, trying to preserve a 3-1 St. Louis lead for starter Adam Wainwright, but Alfonso Soriano will have none of it, clobbering an Isringhausen pitch for a game-tying two-run shot. Chad Fox, who clearly has no sense of drama in addition to his physical challenges, winds up serving a game-winning two-run homer to Skip Schumacher in the 11th inning. Soriano homer = WPA .342

#8.) April 23rd, 10th inning at Colorado, men on first and second, two outs, Cubs and Rox are tied, 6-6. The Cubs get two men aboard for Ryan Theriot, who lines a single to right field that scores Mike Fontenot with the lead and eventual winning run, extending a Cubs winning streak to six games. Theriot single = WPA .351

The countdown continues after the jump.

Game Chat | Press Pass | BR Preview

SP *Ted Lilly SP *Barry Zito
  5-8, 5.40, 95 K, 36 BB, 98.2 IP
3-11, 5.91, 44 K, 48 BB, 80.2 IP
       
RF *Kosuke Fukudome LF *Fred Lewis
SS Ryan Theriot 3B Jose Castillo
1B Derrek Lee RF #Randy Winn
C Geovany Soto C Bengie Molina
3B Mark DeRosa CF Aaron Rowand
CF *Jim Edmonds 1B Rich Aurilia
LF Matt Murton 2B Travis Denker
2B Ronny Cedeno SS #Emmanuel Burriss
P *Ted Lilly P *Barry Zito

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well that whole American League thing was no good...the Cubs went a paltry 6-9 against what was considered to be a soft interleague schedule at the beginning of the year.

Now it's back to the NL and back to the NL West, whom the Cubs have collectively beaten at an 18-5 clip. They'll get the offensively-challenged Giants tonight and it'll be up to Ted Lilly to try to keep them challenged. Lilly's overall numbers have been disappointing this year, but he's managed a 3.21 ERA in June up to this point. Most of his struggles this year can be attributed to a tendency to give up the gopher ball, but there's some hope that'll correct itself.

Game Chat | Press Pass | BR Preview

SP Ryan Dempster SP José Contreras
  9-2, 2.63, 85 K, 38 BB, 102.2 IP
6-6, 3.96, 56 K, 26 BB, 97.2 IP
       
DH *Kosuke Fukudome SS Orlando Cabrera
LF *Eric Patterson C *A.J. Pierzynski
1B Derrek Lee LF Carlos Quentin
3B Aramis Ramirez RF Jermaine Dye
RF *Daryle Ward DH *Jim Thome
CF *Jim Edmonds 3B Joe Crede
C Geovany Soto 1B #Nick Swisher
2B *Mike Fontenot 2B Juan Uribe
SS Ronny Cedeno CF *Dewayne Wise

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It's time for Round Two of the Cubs versus White Sox, a.k.a. Team Inferiority Complex.

The Cubs go with a lineup that's long on lefties and rich on suck. Fontenot? Cedeño?? Ward in the field??? Lou is clearly trying to win the game with one hand tied behind his back, thus completely demoralizing the hosts.

Dempster, who yielded just one run (though 10 hits) to beat the White Sox on Sunday night, gets the nod against Contreras, who the Cubs undressed last Saturday (9 ER, 10H allowed in 3.1 innings).

The five hits from the past week that did the most to enhance the Cubs' chances of winning, according to Win Probability Added as calculated by Fan Graphs:

#5.) Tuesday, 9th inning at Tampa, man on first, one out, Cubs trailing the Rays, 3-1. Kosuke Fukudome doubles against Troy Percival, sending Mark DeRosa around to third. It's so obvious the Cubs will at least tie up this game and send it to extra innings. It's so very, very obvious...right up to the moment the Rays retire Reed Johnson to lock down the 3-2 win. Fukudome double = WPA .150  

#4.) Saturday, 4th inning vs. White Sox, men on first and second, one out, Cubs trailing the Sox, 4-3. Fukudome hits a ground single to right, scoring Ryan Theriot from second base to tie the game 4-4, with much more run-making yet to follow in this fourth inning. Fukudome single = WPA .159

The countdown continues after the jump.

In the opener of the Cubs' just-completed series in Toronto, Derrek Lee, playing the part of Designated Hitter, went 0-for-3 with a strikeout; Aramis Ramirez, in his regular third base role, went 2-for-5.

On Saturday, Ramirez took over the DH role and went 1-for-5 with two K's and left five men on base; Derrek Lee returned to his accustomed position at first base and went 3-for-4 with two runs scored.

Always one to jump to a quick conclusion, on Saturday night, I got to thinking that just maybe this DH thing was a little trickier than one might imagine, especially for National League players who don't know what it is to have four or five at-bats in a game separated not by time in the field, but by long idle stretches in the dugout, or back in the clubhouse, doing whatever it is DH's do when they're not sitting idle in the dugout.

Game Chat | Press Pass | BR Preview

SP Ben Sheets SP Jason Marquis
  3-0, 0.96, 24 K, 4 BB
1-0, 3.47, 15 K, 9 BB
       
2B Rickie Weeks LF Reed Johnson
CF Mike Cameron SS Ryan Theriot
LF Ryan Braun 1B Derrek Lee
1B *Prince Fielder 3B Aramis Ramirez
RF Corey Hart RF *Kosuke Fukudome
3B Bill Hall 2B Mark DeRosa
SS JJ Hardy C Geovany Soto
P Ben Sheets CF *Felix Pie
C Jason Kendall P *Jason Marquis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No, you're not imagining things--this is the Brewers' second visit to Wrigley Field in the season's first month while the Cubs have yet to visit Milwaukee and won't do so until after the All-Star break.

While the Cubs (16-9) were losing two of three on the road to the Nationals and scoring 10 runs this past weekend, the Brewers (14-11) were dropping two of three at home to the Marlins and scoring six runs. The Brewers, who led the NL in batting with RISP (.303) going into the series, went just 1-for-26 against the Marlins in those same situations.

Quotation marks make their first appearance in the Hits of the Week headline since this week's list includes two walks.

So here they are, the five hits...er, that is, offensive events...that did the most to enhance the Cubs' chance of winning during the past week, as measured by FanGraphs' Win Probability Added (WPA):


#5 Big Hit:
Tuesday, v. the Mets, 4th inning-- With the bases loaded and two out and the Cubs already leading 1-0, Reed Johnson drives a single to left field, scoring Ronny Cedeno and Henry Blanco, and the Cubs' margin is three, which, on a day when the Mets can't seem to get an important hit, is more than margin enough. WPA .151

Dedicated to cockfighting, that is.

Chicago Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramírez is prominently featured in a recent issue of a Dominican cockfighting magazine, En La Traba, in which he is pictured with several roosters that he raises for fighting. Of roosters, he said in the magazine, “When I’m in the Dominican Republic, I’m dedicated entirely to them.”

Too bad all of this is going on in the D.R. It would be a perfect topic for that new Henry Waxman reality show.

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