Once again Jason Hammel was brilliant in six innings of work for the Cubs as they held on to beat the Marlins 3-2. Hammel thought he could have went longer, which is usually the case as he only threw 80 pitches before being lifted for Miguel Montero in the bottom of the 6th (Montero failed). The strike zone was getting worn out by Hammel who finished the night throwing 52 strikes, and just 28 balls. Joe Maddon felt it necessary to pull Hammel in favor of Montero to try and capitalize on a scoring chance against Jose Fernandez, it didn’t work out.
Pedro Strop was ineffective but his stuff was pretty darn good to this uneducated baseball watcher. Strop gave up two runs, only one of them was earned as he was charged with an error on a botched double play ball. It looked like there was a lack of communication between Zobrist and Russell on the play, shortly after that a ball ricocheted off of Strop and into right field for single to score the second run, just odd. Hector Rondon and Aroldis Chapman shut the door in the eighth and the ninth to secure the victory. Dexter Fowler was in the middle of it all as usual at the plate, he went 3-for-4 with a triple, an RBI, and two runs scored. Willson Contreras also had a stellar night against one of the best in Fernandez, he went 2-for-3 with a walk, and an RBI. The Cubs will go for the sweep tomorrow behind John Lackey, and the Cardinals lost so the NL Central lead swells to nine games.
Welcome to deadline day, the MLB non waiver deadline is 3:00 PM CST, so we are pretty much right up against it now. The Cubs have already made their big splash in acquiring Aroldis Chapman from the Yankees for Gleyber Torres among others. Indications are that the Cubs are done, but you never know with how things shake out towards the end of the day. Keep it here for updates from around the league all day!
7:03 AM — Jay Bruce is a popular guy right about now. Multiple reports from sources around baseball have mentioned a handful of teams as a possible destination for Bruce today. Bob Nightengale mentions that the Reds have found a match for Bruce, he goes on to identify that the Dodgers are not that team, and the Giants and Mets seem to be the likely destination.
Jon Heyman also mentions those two teams as possible spots for Bruce, as well as the Indians.
Ken Rosenthal also brings up the Giants, Dodgers, and Mets but throws the Rangers and Blue Jays into the mix as well. If I had to guess, I would think that the Giants are going to go all in for Bruce especially after missing out on Mark Melancon. They need to make an impact, and have been struggling since the all-star break, seeing their lead in the NL West shrink to just two games.
7:13 AM — The Cubs still could be in the market for another arm, and there have been links to the Tampa Bay Rays as of late. I know everyone wants Chris Archer, but it seems the most likely guy would be Matt Moore. Bruce Miles chimed in earlier on twitter about just this thing. Another team that will be hard after Matt Moore is the San Francisco Giants, see the note above about needing to make a move to bolster their lineup.
7:25 AM — The Chris Sale saga continues to unfold, or doesn’t I guess. I still don’t think the White Sox have the mentality needed to pull a deal like this off. Two teams in particular have a a bounty of prospects lined up ready to be shipped to Chicago, the Rangers, and the Red Sox. There are plenty of reasons for the White Sox to hang on to Sale, he’s an ace, he’s controllable (in terms of contract), he’s relatively cheap, etc. The reason the Sox would think about moving him is as their GM has said, they are mired in mediocrity, and this would be a tremendous jump start to their rebuilding process that they have not committed to for the last decade or so.
7:48 AM — Ken Rosenthal reports this morning that the Cubs are still looking for that controllable arm, and do not want to overpay for a left-handed hitting outfielder. Still expecting Soler back soon, and that would provide a lift, the obvious name that Ken is hinting at is Josh Reddick.
8:18 AM — Jon Morosi reports this morning that the Mets are still engaged with the Reds about Bruce.
9:01 AM — Jeff Passan jumps into the fray with some big news regarding Jay Bruce, he sees the Mets as the favorites to land Bruce. The usual suspects are still there in the Rangers and the Giants, I could definitely seeing a team get desperate and overpay for the left handed slugger.
9:06 AM — Bob Dutton is reporting on twitter that the Mariners are “closing in” on a deal to get Zack Cozart from the Reds. He also cautions that a deal is not done yet, but there appears to be smoke building on this one.
9:14 AM — Jerry Crasnick is reporting that the Brewers might have to “lower their expectations” to get a deal done today. I’ll say, after dealing Lucroy to the Indians yesterday, and having Lucroy veto the trade is a blow to the Brewers and their leverage to get a deal done. If anything it could hurt the return and now Crasnick is hinting at just that, Brewers can’t be happy.
9:31 AM — Chris Cotillo now reporting that the Giants are long shots to land Jay Bruce. Bob Nightengale mentions that the Red Sox had discussions with the White Sox last night about Chris Sale. If Sale is moved (see my note above), the Red Sox or Dodgers are the likely landing spot. Those teams are so stacked when it comes to the minor league system, super interested to see what kind of deals they are putting together.
10:47 AM — The Red Sox are leading the charge for Chris Sale per Rosenthal, not really sure how serious that charge is, but it seems likely that if Sale is traded that it will be to the Red Sox.
10:52 AM — Mark Gonzales is reporting that Brian Matusz will indeed be released by the Cubs today, opens a spot if the Cubs want to make a deal today. Not sure the two are related, but there is that option now.
11:35 AM — Buster Olney finally has some news for us today, the Mets are “on the verge” of acquiring Jay Bruce from the Reds. Tim Brown adds to the report saying that Brandon Nimmo will be part of the package going back to the Reds.
11:42 AM — Rosenthal reports that Rich Hill and the A’s could not come to terms on an extension, the thought is that Hill will be traded. The Cubs have had their on Hill a little bit.
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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It was an uphill battle all day long for the Cubs, they were battling not only the Reds but themselves for the better part of the game. Mentally the Cubs were out of it again, Soriano was making base running errors, mental errors in the field, and Luis Valbuena had a great time watching the game on the bases instead of actually playing it. With all of that the Cubs were able to erase a 4-1 deficit to tie the game at four in the eighth inning, and made things interesting in the ninth. Brett Jackson somehow managed to hit a double off of all world closer Aroldis Chapman, but was then caught stealing third with one out, that would be something the Cubs would do today, nothing was going right. So you can guessed what happened next, before you could blink the Reds led off the ninth with a triple and two pitches later the game was over with the Reds winning 5-4. Chris Volstad got the start today, and he did an adequate job, not horrible, not terrific, something in the middle, and that’s okay from Volstad. He went six innings giving up four runs on seven hits while walking one and striking out four, if he gets hit I’m fine with it, he needs to avoid the walks and he did that today. David DeJesus led the offensive attack once again going 3-for-4 with a double, an RBI, and two runs scored in the loss. The Cubs only had seven hits but they were able to push across four runs as they were 3-for-8 with runners in scoring position. The Cubs travel to Milwaukee to start a three game series tomorrow night.
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