I’m so glad the Cubs didn’t cancel the season after Sunday, because that was fun. It was a pitchers day at Wrigley, but I’m not sure if 80 degrees and sun would have mattered as Jake Arrieta, and Lance Lynn were brilliant. Luckily for the Cubs, Arrieta was better, but not by much. Both guys were dealing, and the winning run came as a result of a hit batter, and a wild throw on a pick-off, go figure. After Rizzo was hit by a pitch in the 7th, and advanced to second on said wild pick-off, Starlin Castro delivered the game winning single, it was a super lazy single though…
Back to Arrieta, early on he didn’t have his best stuff as he had to battle through trouble in the first and third inning before settling into a groove. Arrieta worked seven scoreless innings, giving up three hits while walking three, and striking out seven en route to his first win of the season. For the second straight game the Cubs bullpen displayed just how dangerous they could be, dangerous in a good way, not a Carlos Marmol way. Phil Coke, Neil Ramirez, Pedro Strop, and Hector Rondon combined to pitch the last two innings with Rondon picking up his first save of the season.
Fast and Furious 11… sorry. The Cubs have announced, well I think the Dodgers actually announced it, but anyway the Cubs have traded Carlos Marmol to the Dodgers along with international bonus money (4th slot) for relief pitcher Matt Guerrier. Clearly the Cubs had to throw money into this deal or the Dodgers would have never taken it considering they were dealing with zero leverage here. I assume that the money the Cubs just got from the Orioles in the Scott Feldman trade went to the Dodgers or at least made the money even for the Cubs so they wouldn’t feel so bad about losing it. Guerrier is not going to improve this team down the road, but he helps the Cubs get rid of Marmol and his money which is never a bad thing. Pretty impressive that Jed and Theo could move Marmol in this situation, maybe he figures it out, he wasn’t going to do so here.
Another frustrating loss, as I mentioned in the series preview the Cubs had an opportunity to take another step forward with a series win, instead they take a step back, as they have all year. Travis Wood was brilliant again, but the Cubs wasted multiple opportunities until the fifth inning when Wood took things into his own hands. With the game scoreless and the Cubs threatening to waste another lead-off double Travis Wood launched a two run homer out on to Waveland to give the Cubs a 2-0 lead. After the Mets got one run back in the sixth the Cubs answered right back in the bottom half to regain their two run lead. That’s when things unraveled as Wood gave up a two-out, two-run homer to Juan Lagares, yeah, the noted home run hitter, Juan Lagares. It was Lagares first home run of his career and it tied the game at three and seemingly took all the fight out of the Cubs. Kyuji Fujikawa quickly gave the Mets the lead in the eight giving up a lead-off homer to Daniel Murphy and just like that a series win turned into a series loss. If this loss doesn’t sum up 2013 I don’t know what does, a quality start wasted, a bunch of wasted opportunities offensively, and the bullpen took the loss, yep, your 2013 Chicago Cubs, so frustrating.
At The Plate – The Cubs problems with runners in scoring position came back to bite them again in this one as they were 1-for-10, yuck. David DeJesus was 2-for-4 from the lead-off spot with a double, he’s now hitting .294 on the season. Ryan Sweeney got the start in left for Soriano and produced just about as well as Soriano has. Sweeney was 2-for-3 with a double, his first home run of the season, a walk, an RBI, and a run scored. Welington Castillo was 2-for-4 with his tenth double of the season and a run scored. Travis Wood did all he could to get the win today, he was 1-for-2 with his first home run of the season with two RBI’s and a run scored.
On The Mound – Travis Wood delivered with his ninth straight quality start, and didn’t factor in the decision, again. Wood worked seven innings giving up three runs on five hits while walking two and striking out three. Kyuji Fujikawa didn’t take long to record his first loss of the season, he worked one inning giving up one run on a solo shot to lead off the inning while striking out two. Carlos Marmol worked a scoreless ninth because it wasn’t a save situation giving up one hit while striking out two.
Up Next – The Cubs are off tomorrow then they open an eight game road trip starting with a three game set in Pittsburgh on Tuesday. Matt Garza will make his first start in ten months for the Cubs, I’m sure he will be more than ready to go.
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
Some good news today on the injury front, the Cubs have activated Kyuji Fujikawa from the DL and he will join the team in Washington tonight. Rafael Dolis was sent back to Iowa, and Kameron Loe refused his assignment to Iowa so he has been released. Fujikawa, assuming he is healthy should calm down a bullpen that has been shaky to say the least. With the emergence of Kevin Gregg as the new Cubs closer they now have a formidable seventh (Russell) eighth (Fujikawa) and ninth (Gregg). Wouldn’t be surprised to see Russell and Fujikawa flipped so that Fuji can ease his way back into the bullpen rotation. On paper at least it looks like the toughest spot for the bullpen will be that middle guy, sixth/seventh innings. Luckily for the Cubs their starting pitching has done a tremendous job of getting the ball to the seventh inning, if they can keep doing that they might start seeing no decisions start turning into wins.
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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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