Cubs Rally Falls One Run Short

Sure these games don’t matter much to the Cubs, but watching them battle to the final out is at least fun to watch, for those of us who are still watching.  Jason Berken, who was claimed from the Orioles made his Cubs debut today and didn’t have his best stuff but he didn’t get any help from his defense.  Berken lasted four innings giving up six runs, only two earned, on eight hits, while walking one and striking out two.  The Pirates were able to build a 6-1 lead by the fifth inning and that’s when the Cubs started to turn the tide in this one.  The Cubs were able to push across two runs in the bottom of the fifth to make it 6-3, but the Pirates were able to get one back in the seventh on Clint Barmes solo shot to push the lead to four runs.  Refusing to quit the Cubs scored once in the eighth and two more times in the ninth to cut the Pirates led to one.  Unfortunately the Cubs couldn’t tie it up in the ninth as Dave Sappelt struck out with the bases loaded to end the threat, and the game. Four different Cubs had two hits in this one, Anthony Rizzo, Alfonso Soriano, Starlin Castro, and Dave Sappelt.  Darwin Barney also had a spectacular day with the glove as he made several fantastic plays to rob various Pirate hitters of base hits.  Game three of this series is tomorrow afternoon, and the series wraps up on Monday Night.

FULL BOX SCORE

Castro’s Trip..Double

Barney’s Great Catch

Game Highlights:
Soriano’s RBI Single
Valbuena’s RBI Single
Barney Great Play
Another Defensive Gem From Barney
Rizzo’s RBI Single

Thanks for reading,
– George

Cubs Send Pirates Further Into Downward Spiral

The Cubs are enjoying the role of spoiler right now as they have won six out of their last seven, four of those being against the wild card contending Pirates.  The Pirates have not only lost fours games recently to the Cubs but they have lost seven straight and are on the verge to falling back to five hundred for the first time in forever.  Chris Rusin got the ball for the Cubs today and earned his first major league victory behind five strong innings.  Rusin gave up two runs on four hits while striking out six.  After the Cubs jumped out to a 4-0 lead the Pirates made things a little uncomfortable for Rusin and company by scoring once in the sixth and twice in the seventh to make it a one run game.  Starlin Castro who had a big day at the plate opened the gap up again in the bottom of the seventh with his 13th home run of the season, a three run job to put the Cubs up 7-4.  The Pirates would get one run closer in the eighth but that is as close as they would come as Carlos Marmol closed the door for his 20th save of the season, his 19th straight.  We all remember how horrible Marmol was at the beginning of the year but he deserves major credit for his turnaround.  In his last 19 save opportunities (since May 2) Marmol is 19-for-19 with a 0.49 ERA (1 ER/18.1 IP), wow, that is elite right there.

FULL BOX SCORE

Rusin’s Postgame

Sveum’s Postgame

Game Highlights:
Rusin’s First Major League Win
Full Video Recap
Castro’s Huge Three-Run Homer
Rizzo’s Two-Run Double

Thanks for reading,
– George

Soriano Powers Cubs to Series Win

There is no slowing down for Alfonso Soriano, sure he would like to see his average a little higher but the aging slugger is putting up some eye-popping numbers this year.  With his huge performance last night, which led the Cubs to a 5-1 victory, he is now hitting .260 on the year with 29 home runs and 96 RBI’s, he’s actually within striking distance on the National League lead in RBI’s (102 – Headley).  Travis Wood also turned in an outstanding performance to register his 6th win of the season against eleven losses.  Wood tossed 7.2 strong innings giving up one run on four hits while walking one and striking out six.  Soriano wasn’t the only Cub with a great day at the plate, Dave Sappelt continued his hot play of late.  Sappelt was 3-for-3 with a walk, a double, and a run scored, he is now hitting .350 in limited duty since his call up.  Last night was the 20th straight day with a game for the Cubs, they have today off before welcoming the Pirates to town this weekend.  It was also the last time the Cubs will visit Houston while they are in the National League as they move over to the American League next year.  Hitters are probably not too thrilled with the move, but I’m sure some of the pitchers are just fine with it.

FULL BOX SCORE

Scary Moment for Storey

 

Game Highlights:
Soriano’s 29th Home Run
Wood’s Great Outing
Recker’s RBI Double
Soriano Doubles
Castillo’s RBI Single

Thanks for reading,
-George

Mental and Physical Errors Cost Cubs

The Cubs quest for a five game winning streak fell short last night thanks in large part to the Cubs not being able to get out of their own way.  Justin Germano got the ball for the Cubs and turned in one of his best outings of the year.  Germano lasted five innings giving up one run, unearned, on three hits while walking two and striking out eight.  Unfortunately that wasn’t good enough for a victory, not even a no decision as the Cubs couldn’t push a run across all night.  It’s not like the Cubs didn’t have their chances as they were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position and left 11 guys on base in the loss.  They had a wonderful opportunity to tie the game in the 6th inning with runners on second and third with only one out.  Darwin Barney hit was seemed to be a sacrifice fly to center, inexplicably Dave Sappelt tried to tag up from second and make it to third.  In true Cubs fashion Sappelt was thrown out at third before Castro could cross the plate meaning the run doesn’t count.  There was no reason for Sappelt to tag, I like being aggressive but there was no reason for it, he was already in scoring position and the important run was Castro.  As I mentioned the Cubs had their chances but they weren’t really generating any offense, they only had six hits.  The Astros did all they could to give this one to the Cubs by committing four errors and walking two.  This loss could have been even more costly as Anthony Rizzo had to leave the game in the third inning after a violent collision at first base with Brett Wallace.  All reports after the game seemed to indicate that Rizzo was going to be fine and was just sore, let’s hope so.

FULL BOX SCORE 

Five First Responders Throw Out First Pitch

Rizzo’s Scary Collision

Game Highlights:
Cubs Cost Themselves a Run
Germano’s Solid Outing

Thanks for reading,
– George

Sappelt, Volstad Lead Cubs to Fourth Straight Victory

It’s up to you, the reader, to decide whether or not you want to believe my headline, but I assure you that it is valid, and not a joke.  This one was a struggle to get through, not only were two of the worst teams in baseball playing, but they did so for just under four hours.  It’s hard to play a four hour game and only have five total runs scored, but the Cubs and Astros “accomplished” that feat last night.  All’s well that ends well I guess as the Cubs wraped up what felt like the longest game of the year with a 4-1 victory.  Chris Volstad was solid yet again for the Cubs as he tossed five strong innings giving up one run on four hits while walking five and striking out four.  Volstad struggled with his command, see the five walks he surrendered, but he battled and made it through the fifth to not only qualify for, but register his third win of the season.  The Cubs had an unlikely hero at the plate, I only say unlikely because Dave Sappelt doesn’t get a lot of playing time and hasn’t been up with the big club for very long this season.  Cubs fans might want to get used to him because he most likely will have a role on the 2013 team, performances like last nights will go a long way in securing a spot on the roster next year for Sappelt.  Sappy was 2-for-5 with two doubles, three RBI’s and a run scored in the victory, the three RBI’s are a career high.

FULL BOX SCORE

Game Highlights:
Full Video Recap
Marmol Gets the Save
Sappelt’s Big Day
Volstad’s Outing

Thanks for reading,
– George

Cubs Use Long Ball to Sweep Away Pirates

Wins at this point of the year don’t mean much for the Cubs, sure they might be able to avoid 100 losses, but that’s about it.  Across the field in the other dugout these wins mean everything, which renders this weekend as a complete disaster for the Pirates as they walk away from this series without a single win.  Today it was a combination of solid starting pitching from Chris Rusin, and the long ball as the Cubs blasted three home runs in the 4-2 victory.  Rusin was solid on the mound for the Cubs as he tossed five strong innings giving up one run on five hits while walking three and striking out three.  Unfortunately the Cubs bullpen couldn’t hang on to a one run lead late so Rusin had to settle for a no decision.  After the Pirates tied the game in the seventh on a  James Russell balk, Alfonso Soriano continued is ridiculous 2012 by blasting his 28th home run of the season in the eighth to put the Cubs up for good 4-2.  Soriano finished the day 1-for-4 with a home run, and two RBI’s, he’s now has 94 RBI’s on the season to go with his 28 home runs.  Josh Vitters and Anthony Recker had the other two home runs for the Cubs today, it was Recker’s first major league home run.  Carlos Marmol had an uneasy ninth inning but was able to nail down his 18th save of the season and lowered his ERA  to under four, which was something that no one thought he would do this year back in May.

FULL BOX SCORE

Game Highlights:
Soriano’s Game Winning Home Run
Marmol Escapes with the Save
Sappelt’s Nice Grab
Recker’s First Career Homer
Josh Vittes Goes Deep

Thanks for reading,
– George

Samardzija Saves His Best for Last

Talk about an exclamation point on a season, Jeff Samardzija went the distance in his final 2012 start in a 4-3 victory over the Pirates.  It was known for a couple of days that Samardzija would be making his last start of the season tonight, so he was ready to empty the tank tonight, and he did.  Samardzija gave up three runs, two earned, on four hits while walking one and striking out nine in his first career complete game.  A fantastic season for Shark as he was not guaranteed a spot in the rotation until the last week of spring training, he finished the year 9-13 with a 3.81 ERA, and 174.2 innings.  The Cubs did just enough with the bats to help Samardzija get his ninth win of the season and put another dent in the Pirates playoff hopes.  Four runs was just enough, but the Cubs could have had so much more tonight as they were 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left ten guys on base.  Tony Campana, hitting ninth tonight, was 2-for-3 with two runs scored, a walk, and a stolen base, the Cubs had four stolen bases in all.  Alfonso Soriano went deep again tonight, his 27th home run of the season, David DeJesus and Welington Castillo each had two hits in the victory.  Two in a row, the Cubs go for the sweep tomorrow afternoon.

FULL BOX SCORE

Game Highlights:
Samardzija Goes the Distance
Castro Hit by Pitch
RBI Single from DeJesus
Soriano’s 27th Home Run

Thanks for reading,
– George