As I mentioned in the series preview the Cubs look to be finding a groove and riding the momentum of some nice wins lately. Tonight was pure domination from beginning to end as the Cubs had a 5-0 lead after two innings en route to a 9-1 victory, their third straight win. These wins are coming against good teams as well, and they held their own in their most recent losses against the Reds, and Cardinals. I’m not saying the Cubs are going to be contenders next week, but they are playing some of the best baseball they have played in the last three years. Okay, I know, that really doesn’t take much, but watching this team every night I can see the change. Lost in the offensive awesomeness, say that five times fast, was the performance of Travis Wood. He was brilliant again, and is pitching like a true number one, this is the Travis Wood the Cubs’ brass was hoping they got when they traded Sean Marshall to the Reds. Actually this is probably more than what they expected this soon, just outstanding.
At The Plate – The best offensive night for the Cubs this year, they pounded out fourteen hits and scored nine runs. They were an impressive 6-for-18 with runners in scoring position and had eight extra base hits, six doubles, a triple, and a home run. David DeJesus was 2-for-4 with a walk, a double, two RBI’s, and two runs scored. Starlin Castro was on base all night going 2-for-3 with a walk, a double, two RBI’s, and a run scored. Alfonso Soriano padded his slugging numbers in this one going 2-for-4 with his fourth home run of the season, a double, two RBI’s and a run scored. Nate Schierholtz was 2-for-4 with a triple, and two RBI’s, he is now hitting .299 on the season. Welington Castillo and Travis Wood also had two hits in the victory, both of Castillo’s hits were doubles, what else is new, the Cubs lead the Majors in doubles.
On The Mound – Travis Wood was brilliant, what else can be said, he has been all year. Wood worked seven scoreless innings giving up two hits while walking three and striking out two. This was his eighth straight quality start to begin the season, he improved his record to 4-2, and lowered his ERA to 2.03 as well. Kyuji Fujikawa had another solid performance out of the pen tossing a scoreless inning while striking out two. Carlos Marmol worked the ninth inning giving up one run on one hit while striking out three.
Up Next – The Cubs go for their fourth straight win as Carlos Villanueva looks to get things back on track. The Rockies counter with Jeff Francis, first pitch scheduled for 7:05 PM CST, and the weather is supposed to be very summer like.
Wood’s scoreless outing
DeJesus two-run single
Schierholtz two-run triple
Cubs turn two to end the fifth
Castro turns two
Castro’s two run double
Travis Wood helps himself with a double
Alfonso Soriano launches one out onto Waveland
Edwin Jackson match all everything Stephen Strasburg pitch for pitch for the first four innings, then the Cubs got a gift. With two outs and nobody on in the top of the 5th Welington Castillo hit what looked like an inning ending ground out to Ryan Zimmerman. Then Zimmerman’s horrible mechanics took over and he made an awful throw to keep the Cubs alive in the inning. The next five Cubs hitters reached base, and when it was all said and done the Cubs led 4-0, with all four runs being unearned. Not only did they take the lead but they knocked Strasburg out of the game after five then added on in the sixth. Leading 4-1 the Cubs scored four more times in the sixth to take an 8-1 lead en route to an 8-2 victory. Edwin Jackson earned his first win of the season, and the Cubs were outstanding with runners in scoring position, bizarro world, but I’ll take it.
At The Plate – The Cubs did get some help from Ryan Zimmerman and his awkwardness in the field, but they also took advantage. The Cubs pounded out twelve hits and scored eight runs, six of those twelve hits were doubles, that gives the Cubs thirteen doubles in the last two games. If that wasn’t enough, the Cubs were also 6-for-12 with runners in scoring position, that usually bodes well. David DeJesus was 1-for-4 with a double, two RBI’s, a walk, and a run scored. Anthony Rizzo has found his 2012 form, he was 3-for-5 with two RBI’s, he’s now hitting .288 on the season, he was hitting .173 on April 26th, think about that. Alfonso Soriano was 2-for-5 with two doubles, and a run score in the victory. One of the biggest hits came off the bat of Edwin Jackson, he laced a two-out, two-run double off of Strasburg to give the Cubs a 2-0 lead in the fifth.
On The Mound – Edwin Jackson was much better in this one, he worked 5.1 innings giving up two runs on four hits while walking two and striking out three to earn his first win as a member of the Cubs. The bullpen was solid as well as they worked the final 3.2 innings to close this one out. Shawn Camp went 1.2 scoreless innings giving up two hits while striking out two. Hector Rondon continues to impress as he went two scoreless innings while striking out two.
Up Next – The rubber game of the series on Mother’s Day as Scott Feldman looks to keep things rolling and get a series win for the Cubs. He will be opposed by left hander Gio Gonzalez, who has uncharacteristically struggled in the early going. First pitch is scheduled for 12:35 PM CST on WGN TV.
As a baseball fan these games are fun to watch. No matter what the records are the Cubs and Cardinals always seem to play close, hard-fought games. Tonight was no different as Travis Wood and Lance Lynn were locked in a battle all night long. The Cardinals took an early 1-0 lead on a solo home run from Allen Craig, and that’s all they would get the whole night. The Cubs erased that deficit and turned it into a lead in the fourth inning, all with two outs as well, something this team hasn’t been great at. Alfonso Soriano looped a single to right then Nate Schierholtz put a good swing on a 3-1 fastball and deposited it in the right center, well more center than right center, bleachers to give the Cubs a 2-1 lead and that’s how this one would end. Tremendous job top to bottom tonight from the Cubs, love beating the Cardinals, and hey, that’s two wins in a row!
At The Plate – Lance Lynn came into this one 5-0 and he didn’t disappoint as he matched Travis Wood pitch for pitch. The Cubs didn’t generate a lot as they only had five hits, but it was enough for the win. Starlin Castro had a rough night at the plate and made a questionable error, but did manage a double in his last at bat to finish the night 1-for-4. Alfonso Soriano was a big part of the offense tonight going 2-for-3 with a run scored, fonsi has his average up to a respectable .276, need more production out of him however. Nate Schierholtz was the offensive hero tonight going 1-for-3 with his fourth home run of the season, two RBI’s and a run scored.
On The Mound – How about Travis Wood, he was outstanding again tonight and has been all season. Wood improved his record to 3-2 and lowered his ERA to a sparkling 2.33 by going 6.2 innings giving up one run on five hits while walking two and striking out eight. Carlos Marmol (yes I held my breath when he came in) was really good in this one. Marmol worked 1.1 scoreless innings giving up two hits while walking one, but he worked around the free pass. Kevin Gregg has been reborn, he was spotless again in the ninth inning, he didn’t give up any hits and struck out one.
Up Next – The Cubs go for the sweep, okay it’s only a two game series, but a sweep over the Cardinals is a SWEEP OVER THE CARDINALS. Carlos Villanueva will battle Jake Westbrook at 1:20 PM CST, both pitchers have been outstanding this year, should be another good one.
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Another game, another loss that the opponent didn’t have to earn. Jeff Samardzija battled his way through six innings in this one and thanks to a pair of Alfonso Soriano two-run homers was in a position to get a win. Then Carlos Marmol took over in the eighth inning. It was apparent right from the get go that Marmol didn’t have it, he walked the first hitter he faced on four pitches, he then walked the next batter, then he hit Brandon Phillips on a 1-2 count, that was the end of the day for Marmol. Sveum was forced to go to Hector Rondon to try to get out of it, but he allowed all three inherited runners to score, and just like that a 4-2 lead turned into a 6-4 deficit and this one was over. The Cubs probably didn’t deserve this one based on their offensive performance, but there they were late in the game with chance to steal one, and the bullpen imploded once again, frustrating loss after frustrating loss, they really are piling up.
At The Plate – I’m shocked that the Cubs scored four times in this game, I’ll tell you why. The Cubs only had three hits all day, and only had seven (3 hits, 2 walks, 2 HBP) base runners. Alfonso Soriano was a one man Army in this one as he went 2-for-3 with two home runs, four RBI’s, a walk, and two runs scored. Despite a couple of costly at bats yesterday from Alf, he seems to be getting locked in at the plate as he is now hitting .279 on the season. Another guy that has been hot recently is Anthony Rizzo, he was the only other Cubs player to register a hit, he was 1-for-3 with two runs scored, he was also hit by a pitch.
On The Mound – Jeff Samardzija saw his pitch count rise quickly in this one, but was able to bear down towards the end of his outing to get deeper then many thought today. Shark went six innings giving up two runs, one earned, on four hits while walking three and striking out five. James Russell worked a scoreless inning while walking one walk and striking out one. Carlos Marmol didn’t retire anyone in facing three hitters, he gave up three runs while walking two and hitting one. Hector Rondon struggled with his command initially out of the pen but did a solid job. Rondon went two innings out of the pen giving up one run on two hits while walking two (one intentional).
Up Next – The Reds will go for the sweep on Sunday afternoon as they send Mat Latos to the mound to face Edwin Jackson. It’s time for Jackson to turn things around for the Cubs as he has been below average in the early going for his new team. First pitch is scheduled for 1:20 PM CST on WGN, and the weather is supposed to be great.
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Well, how should we look at this loss? Be thrilled that the Cubs fought back against arguably the best closer in the game only to fall just one run short. Or say that this was the typical Cubs “fake rally” where they get just close enough to give us fans some hope, then fizzle out. Maybe a little of both I guess, fact remains the Cubs left way too many guys on base in this one and that was the difference. The Cubs trailed 4-0 in the sixth before getting two runs in the bottom half to pull within two. Unfortunately the Cubs pen couldn’t keep the Reds in check over the next two innings as they built their lead back up to four runs heading to the ninth. The Cubs, somewhat miraculously touched up the untouchable Aroldis Chapman in the ninth inning, scoring three runs off the flamethrower. Unfortunately, with the bases loaded and trailing 6-5 Darwin Barney struck out with the bases loaded to end the threat and the game, not a game to remember from Darwin Barney, more on that later. So close, so frustrating, so encouraging, so many things pulling us in different directions, welcome to the 2013 Cubs.
At The Plate – The Cubs had a solid game at the plate, but on one hand they could have been so much better. They scored five times on fifteen hits, that’s hard to do, too many opportunities wasted in this one. Anthony Rizzo is now far removed from his early season struggles as he was 3-for-5 with a double, and a run scored, he’s now hitting .243 on the season. Alfonso Soriano was 2-for-5 with a double, an RBI, and a run scored but it was the at bats he had where he didn’t get a hit that hurt the most. The Cubs four hitter was 0-for-2 with zero RBI’s in this game with the bases loaded, both at bats came with less than two outs, unacceptable. Nate Schierholtz had another good day going 2-for-4 with an RBI, but he also left five guys on base. Luis Valbuena continues to string together good games here and there he was 3-for-4 in the loss. Really rough game for Darwin Barney, he was 0-for-5, he left eight men on base, eight, by himself, including striking out with the bases loaded to end the game. Tomorrow is another day, Darwin, go get em.
On The Mound – Carlos Villanueva didn’t have his best stuff in this one, but he did all he could to get deep into the game. Villanueva went 5.2 innings giving up four runs on seven hits while walking two and striking out four. Michael Bowden really struggled out of the pen, and it was his own doing as he worked 1.1 innings giving up one run on three walks, ugh. Kameron Loe wasn’t much better has he work one inning giving up one run on two hits while walking one. Kevin Gregg had another solid outing as he worked a scoreless ninth inning while walking one and striking out one.
Up Next – Game two of the series as the Cubs trying to even it up. Jeff Samardzija looks to get a little deeper in the game as lately his pitch counts have been elevated too early, it would be nice to see him get some run support as well. That won’t exactly be easy as the Reds will counter with Tony Cingrani who has been really good in the first few starts of his career.
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The Cubs fight finally paid off in this one, so often this year the Cubs have had the will to win….see what I did there? But they have all too often come up short, but not tonight as they beat the Padres 5-3 to open the four game set. Jeff Samardzija struggled with command in the early going which resulted in an earlier than normal exit. That’s when the bullpen took over as they walked a fine line over the last four innings but shut the Padres down. With the game tied in the sixth Cody Ransom and Darwin Barney came up huge with two outs to give the Cubs a 5-3 lead and they never looked back. That’s four wins in their last five games for the Cubs, I think we can all get used to this.
At The Plate – The Cubs pounded out ten hits en route to scoring five runs in this one, and probably could have had more as they were 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position. Alfonso Soriano broke out of his slump, at least for tonight as he went 2-for-4 with a double, and a run scored. Cody Ransom was a hero for the Cubs with the bat and glove as he made a game saving play in the seventh. Ransom was 2-for-4 with a home run, two RBI’s, and two runs scored against his former team. Darwin Barney also found some rare success as he was 2-for-3 with two doubles, two RBI’s, and a walk in the victory.
On The Mound – Jeff Samardzija battled, but he didn’t have his best command, the result was an elevated pitch count by the fifth inning. Shark worked five innings giving up three runs on four hits while walking four and striking out eight, he did not factor into the decision. Michael Bowden, Shawn Camp, James Russell, and Kevin Gregg all had scoreless outings out of the pen to nail this one down. Bowden earned the win as he worked an inning while striking out one. Camp and Russell each had some trouble, but were able to work out of it with the help of one another and Kevin Gregg. Gregg worked his third perfect ninth for his fourth save of the year already with the Cubs. Overall Gregg worked 1.1 scoreless innings while striking out two.
Up Next – Game two of the series tomorrow night at 7:05 PM CST, should be a great night for baseball as temperatures are supposed to soar into the 80’s. Edwin Jackson gets the ball for the Cubs, he will be opposed by Edinson Volquez who always seems to have the Cubs number.
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If you like a good old fashion pitchers duel, then this one was for you. Jeff Samardzija and Mat Latos went toe-to-toe in this one, and it almost didn’t even happen. Both pitchers received visits from the trainer in the first inning, Latos after being hit with a hard ground ball off the bat of Julio Borbon, and Samardzija ripped up the nail of his index finger on his pitching hand while trying to knock down a ground ball. Both pitchers stayed in the game, Samardzija with blood dripping from his hand and both were outstanding. Todd Frazier was the only player to make an impact on offense for either team as he connected on an estimated 480 foot home run in the sixth inning, and that was enough for Latos and the Reds. The Cubs threatened in the eighth but once again couldn’t make contact to score a run. Alfonso Soriano pinch hit in the eighth and struck out with runners at second and third with only one out. Then DeJesus was robbed by Zack Cozart on a ground ball back up the middle, if it gets through the Cubs lead 2-1, it didn’t, Cubs lose.
At The Plate – As I mentioned, the Cubs really didn’t get much going off of Latos, Broxton, and Chapman in this one. Julio Borbon had a solid day as he made good contact a few times, he went 1-for-3 with a double. Both Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo were 1-for-4 in the loss, Castro was also caught stealing. Luis Valbuena and Cody Ransom were the only other Cubs that registered his in the loss.
On The Mound – Jeff Samardzija was solid again, this time while battling an injury, and still ended up with a loss, his fourth of the season despite an ERA of 3.03, sounds like much of the Cubs staff. Samardzija went six innings giving up one run on seven hits while walking three and striking out eight. Shawn Camp and James Russell gave the Cubs a shot late as they each tossed a scoreless inning out of the pen.
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