Game Recap

It's... It's.... It's.....
Cubs Game Recaps!

Hart (1-0), the Lees, extra-base hits
L- Oswalt (0-1), relief pitchers
S- Wood (2), hope for this homestand

Things to Take from This Game

1. No easy innings

Other than the sixth
and the half-inning ninth, no inning went without someone scoring a
run. Marquis struggled through five and a third, featuring
rolling sliders and fastballs that kept moving back over the plate, but
getting out of potentially disasterous innings with 3 GIDPs.
Oswalt gave up ten hits and a walk without striking anyone out in six
and two-thirds.

2. The Lees

and Carlos combined for seven hits, five runs, four rbis, three
doubles, two home runs, and awful defense. Derrek dropped a ball
at first that started a 2-run sixth inning for the Astros. Carlos
Lee wandered about aimlessly in left field, occasionally drawing stray
baseballs closer to him by virtue of his gravitational field.

3. More love for Fukudome

day featured a fine running catch, a bunt single that surprised the
whole ball-park, and the go-ahead, two-run double in the five-run
seventh inning.

4. Then, there's Soriano...

Whose 0-5 with 5 LOB day leaves him with a .045 average to start the year.

That je ne se qua of mine that you didn't know you missed until you saw it again, the dinge an sich goodness inherent in a recap, below


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W: Mike Remlinger (2-2) L: Ryan Dempster (0-3) S: Kenny Ray (1)
So I decided that I'd keep a chronology of today's game, from start to finish. Little did I know that it would be a chronology of one of those games that is emblematic of what it means to be a Cubs fan, or to play Cubs-style baseball. At least it was an entertaining loss, which is more than what can be said of the other Cubs losses, of late. The rest is below the fold.
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W: Eric Milton (2-0) L: Carlos Zambrano (0-1)

The first piece of good news is we don't face the Reds again until the end of May. The second piece of good news is we're off to play the Pirates next and they've struggled mightily out of the gate. The third piece of good news is Matt Murton broke out of his mini-slump with 2 RBI's, 2 Hits and a Home Run. The final piece of good news is I saved a bunch of money on my car insurance.

What I really took from this game was the importance of on-field leadership. Without Henry Blanco catching and Neifi manning the hot corner, we could really see the calming influence they both had on Carlos Zambrano as he really settled down after gettting into some tough jams early. Oh wait, no he didn't, he tried to pick off Eric Milton from first for no apparent good reason and then he tried to pick off Eric Milton later in the game from third base for no apparent good reason. And I believe at one point I actually saw steam coming from his ears. At least Barrett's all well and rested. Hopefully his bat won't cool off with the rest.

What's there to say? The Cubs stunk up the joint today, Baker should of forgotten about getting the scrubs some starts today and put some better bats in the lineup, waiting until we were a bit closer to full strength (or at least until Aramis came back). Walker hits lefties just fine and Milton just fine as well, same goes for Barrett. Off for a nine game road trip from Pittsburgh to LA to St. Louis. Let's get them tomorrow Sean Marshall!!!

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W: Brandon Backe (4-3) L: Greg Maddux (2-3)
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W: Jason Jennings (2-6) L: Carlos Zambrano (3-3)
Mark Prior, Carlos Zambrano, Greg Maddux, Glendon Rusch and Sergio Mitre looks to be the rotation for the time being. That five, responsible for all but two of the twenty-one starts since the off-day on May 2nd, have combined for a 3.11 ERA over that time. And yet, in those nineteen games, the Cubs are just 9-10. The biggest reason for that is an offence which doesn't seem too interested in scoring any freaking runs. The result is quality starts from Carlos Zambrano such as yesterday's go wasted as Jason Jennings improves to 2-6 and lowers his ERA to less than eleventy billion. Short of the Cubs being afforded a fourth out in their half of the inning, it's not immediately obvious whether there's an available solution to these run-scoring problems. Outside of Derrek Lee and Jerry Hairston, the Cubs have no-one with more than a handful of at-bats with an on-base percentage above .321. Making outs at that kind of a rate ends big innings before they've even begun. A walk here and a walk there though keep frames alive longer, and that leads to more opportunities for hitters to drive runners home. Sadly, Michael Barrett, Jason Dubois, Corey Patterson, Jeromy Burnitz and Neifi Perez, five out of eight hitters in the lineup, have drawn just 34 walks between them all year long. Even more sadly, I wouldn't bet upon any of them, besides Burnitz, to walk at a significantly better rate from here on out. That's the real problem. The other real problem has been Aramis Ramirez. Unless he's injured though, it's unfathomable that he's not going to improve dramatically. His low average is related not so much to strikeouts or a lack of home runs but to nothing going his way on balls in play, as was the case earlier in the season for the now red-hot (but not walking) Michael Barrett. Average aside, there's not been too much wrong with Ramirez. He's striking out only fractionally more than he did last year, his walk rate is at its highest in his career and the power certainly hasn't disappeared. His return to form will definately help things, to an extent. Also potentially helpful will be the return of Todd Walker. The second baseman's bat is definately an asset. However, the same applies to Hairston's, who as I mentioned above, by virtue of getting hit by a ridiculous number of pitches, is only one of two in the lineup presently getting on-base at a good enough rate. The Cubs cannot afford to lose that. What they could and should instead do, I now think, is shift Jerry to left-field, full time, batting him lead-off ahead of Walker. Burnitz and Dubois can then sort right-field out between themselves until one of them exhibits a tool besides power. Corey Patterson meanwhile can hit sixth until the end of the time, and Ben Grieve can get on the first flight from Iowa. Besides Hollandsworth, he represented the only bench bat capable of actually hitting a lick while (you guessed it!) not continually acting as another step towards the end of the inning. Demoting him was as stupid a move as the Cubs could possibly have made. Well, besides batting Neifi Perez lead-off the next day. He's hit just .224/.256/.306 in May. Don't vote Neifi!
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W: Michael Wuertz (3-2) L: Brad Lidge (1-2) S: Ryan Dempster (4)
It's tough doing the work of six men, so that's why this game report is winging its way to you about a day late. Rob at least has a good excuse - he and his wife were due on Monday to bring their first child into the world, so I hope you'll all join me in hoping that mother and child did and are doing well and that the new proud father will soon return bearing cute baby photos, tales of sleepless nights and big happy smile all over his face. Roger Clemens won't be smiling though. He's having to do the job of not six men, but about fifteen or so, and at the age of forty-two, more than half of which you've spent hurling a baseball at hapless hitters, that can take its toll. Clemens had been cruising - he'd retired ten hitters in a row. But, with two outs in the bottom of the fifth, he then walked Enrique Wilson, which is about as clear a sign as any that a pitcher's injured. A coaching visit to the mound followed, and though Clemens retired the next batter to end the inning, he immediately left for the locker room, leaving the final four frames and a 2-0 lead in the hands of his bullpen. Injured groin or not though, he may have been better advised to stay in the game given the way the Cubs put together a four-run rally off the wild Brad Lidge in the eighth to secure their fourth come-from-behind win in their last seven games (over which they're 5-2). It's becoming increasingly difficult to assess a pitcher when they're throwing against the Houston offence, but, even taking that into account, Sergio Mitre turned in a pretty impressive outing. Only Craig Biggio seemed able to generate any really hard hit balls, two foul down the left field line and one that on any other given day without the wind blowing in would have made its way out of the park for a home run. Instead, it held up just at the ivy at the kink in the left field wall, and though it was a far from routine play, Dubois at this level ought to have made it rather than leaping and coming up with nothing but air. Faced with second and third with no outs, Mitre remained composed, following with three meek groundballs and a strikeout (both runners in scoring position did score though, the first on a botched fielder's choice, the second on a botched double play). And that, coming in the fourth inning, was all the Astros could muster off Mitre. He threw all four of his pitches for strikes, mixing them up and changing speeds well, and getting his usual strew of groundballs. He walked just the one and struck out five. Encouraging. It must have been the facial hair holding him back last year. When he left after the seventh inning, it looked as though his performance would be in vain. Clemens had dominated, and the Astros' bullpen had added two scoreless innings. Jason Dubois though went a long way to atoning for his earlier fielding "error" by leading off with a double, and pinch-hitter extraordinaire Todd Hollandsworth singled him home with one out. With the tying run on board, the Astros turned to Lidge. Two walks, two wild pitches and a huge clutch Jeromy Burnitz single with two outs and the bases loaded did the job of turning the game around. Ryan Dempster then went 1-2-3 in the ninth again. And with that, the Cubs ran their winning streak to three. And Todd Walker will be back for tonight.
Recap | Box Score | Play-by-play | Game Chart
W: Glendon Rusch (3-1) L: Wandy Rodriguez (0-1) S: Ryan Dempster (3)
If there were any reservations as to whether or not Glendon Rusch's 2004 was just a case of sheer luck, he's not doing too bad a job of dispelling them so far this year. In his four starts in place of Kerry Wood, he's put up a 2.71 ERA, carrying on where he left off as a reliever. Today, albeit against the Astros' woeful offence, he was pretty masterful, painting the outside corner with his fastball at will in particular, and allowing just the single run through eight blisteringly fast and very economical innings. The solo home run he allowed to Brad Ausmus in the second inning, which was all that blighted the shutout, was the first he'd given up all year, a far cry from the four in just four innings I remember him allowing in a single Spring Training game! Keeping the ball in the park so well thus far this season has allowed him to get away with being uncharacteristically wild, but if he can tame that and keep everything else up, and the single walk today and his track record suggest that free passes really aren't a problem (which makes a refreshing change for the Cubs), I think we may have to start thinking about which of Rusch and Maddux is the better pitcher at this stage. That is, of course, pretty staggering, because I certainly don't remember Maddux being cut by the Rangers about 14 months ago! The Cubs didn't quite get to Wandy Rodriguez as you'd perhaps like, and they're still short of offence, which will probably be underlined by Roger Clemens in the second game of the series, but they did manage to plate four despite the wind blowing in. Hairston reached and advanced to third on a well executed hit-and-run with Neifi, and then Derrek Lee absolutely nailed yet another pitch (the quality of the contact he's making right now, still, is staggering), and Hairston tagged up and scored. Later Corey Patterson hit his ninth home run of the year (a solo shot, of course, as they all have been), and Burnitz later followed with a gopher ball of the two-run variety to give the Cubs a cushion of three. Ryan Dempster needed just four pitches to work a scoreless inning for the save, with the Astros displaying impatience that'd make Jose Macias blush. Speaking of Jose Macias, he's had just six plate appearances the entire month in games he hasn't been spot-starting for Ramirez. Enrique Wilson has picked up the bat just once. Certainly, it makes you question just why we have the two on the bench if we're (rightly) not going to use them, and Dusty should have figured it out long ago that Macias, for a lemon, doesn't have much of a tang, but this is a belated step in the right direction and I think Dusty, dude, deserves some kudos. That is, if I'm not speaking too soon.


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