Cubs throttle Rockies for third straight win

Cubs 5-13 lineFull Box Score

  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 Wood 5-13next 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.

Soriano 5-13

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.

Cubs 5-13 box

Game Highlights:

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

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Series Preview – Rockies @ Cubs; May 13 – May 15, 2013

Rockies preview

  The Cubs are ready to go on a run, I really believe that considering it’s been about two years since they put together an honest to God winning streak.  I think they have the opportunity to build on their last two wins in Washington, the next test won’t be easy, but the chance is there for the Cubs to reel off some wins here.  The Rockies come to town for a three game series starting tonight, and it all starts with their offensive attack.  The Rockies have scored 177 runs, that’s good for seventh best in the Majors, yeah Helton previewI know, the Rockies always score runs as they play in a launching pad.  While that’s true the Rockies have been equally as good on the road this year as they have scored 86 runs on the road compared to 91 at home, that’s not a normal Rockies attack.  The Cubs starters will be tasked with shutting down that Rockies attack, and that plays a huge role in whether or not the Cubs will be successful in this series.  The Cubs starters have an ERA of 3.50 which is sixth best in the Majors, that is where the Cubs hold the advantage in this series as the Rockies have a team starters ERA of 4.20 which is nineteenth best in baseball.  Based on the numbers the Cubs have a really good chance to get late into the game with a lead, that is where the Cubs pen has to step up because if the Rockies have a lead late they usually don’t let it go.  The Cubs bullpen ERA is 4.13 which is twenty-fourth best in  baseball, the Rockies on the other hand have a bullpen ERA of 2.73, which is third in all of baseball.  The Cubs need to get out to a quick lead, and hope their starters get deep enough to eliminate as much of their own bullpen as possible, if they do that it could be a very successful series.

Last Series:

The Cubs took two out of three games from the Nationals in Washington over the weekend.

The Rockies lost two out of three to the Cardinals in St. Louis, and have lost four out their last five.

Game Times and Broadcast Information:

  • Monday, May 13, 2013 – 7:05 PM CST on WCIU
  • Tuesday, May 14, 2013 – 7:05 PM CST on CSN Chicago
  • Wednesday, May 15, 2013 – 7:05 PM CST on CSN Chicago

Starting Pitchers Scheduled:

Cubs:

Game One – Travis Wood (3-2, 2.33)
– Career vs. Rockies (3 appearances, 2 GS) (0-1, 2.77)

Game Two – Carlos Villanueva (1-2, 3.02)
– Career vs. Rockies (11 appearances, 0 GS) (0-1, 10.05)

Game Three – Jeff Samardzija (1-5, 3.70)
– Career vs. Rockies (5 appearances, 1 GS) (0-0, 2.25)

Rockies:

Game One – Juan Nicasio (3-0, 4.72)
– Career vs. Cubs (first appearance)

Game Two – Jeff Francis (1-3, 6.90)
– Career vs. Cubs (6 GS) (1-0, 7.67)

Game Three – Jon Garland (3-3, 4.83)
– Career vs. Cubs (12 appearances, 8 GS) (4-4, 3.61)

Bold Prediction:

The Cubs should carry the momentum they generated in Washington over the weekend into this series, at least I hope so.  I really think they will, and I like the match ups on the mound to favor the Cubs.  As long as the Cubs can play solid defense they have an outside shot to sweep this series, and I think that’s what they will do, sweep the Rockies.  As in Washington, the only game the Cubs dropped was the one where they shot themselves in the foot defensively, that’s the only way I see the Cubs losing a game in this series.

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Bullpen fails Villanueva yet again; Cubs settle for split

Cubs 5-8 line

Full Box Score

  Carlos Villanueva can’t buy a win as he has left with a lead in five of his seven starts this year, the Cubs pen has blown the lead now in four of those five starts.  Villanueva didn’t have his best stuff today but still got into the seventh inning with a 4-3 lead.  The usually reliable James Russell took over in the seventh and gave up back-to-back hits which resulted in the Cardinals knotting the game up.  Michael Bowden worked the eighth inning and surrendered the game winning run as the Cubs couldn’t generate anything in the final two innings.  The bullpen was half the story, double plays and missed opportunities were the other half.  The Cubs seemingly had men on base all day long, but grounded into four double plays to thwart any rally they might have had.  The Cardinals weren’t much better, but did get the big hit in the eighth inning when they needed it, but they also grounded in to four double Rizzo 5-8plays, odd game in that regard for sure.  Really wanted a sweep for the Cubs, and of course they were in position to get one, eventually these blown leads have to stop…..I think.

At The Plate – The Cubs pounded out eleven hits, but could only manage four runs as they were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position, and they had that double play issue that I already mentioned.  Luis Valbuena got a chance in the three spot today and delivered a solid game going 1-for-2 with two walks, and two runs scored.  Anthony Rizzo continues to roll, he was 3-for-4 with a double, and a run scored, all of a sudden he is hitting .269 on the season.  Cody Ransom continues to hit for the Cubs, he was 2-for-4 with two singles in the loss.

On The Mound – Carlos Villanueva wasn’t at his best, but did more than enough to pick up a win in this one, alas, a no decision for the funny facial hair guy.  Villanueva went 6.2 innings giving up three runs on seven hits while walking three and striking out two.  James Russell wasn’t his usual self in this one, he was asked to get the last out in the seventh, he did, but not after giving up a run on two hits.  Michael Bowden worked the eighth and took the loss, he gave up one run on two hits.  Kevin Gregg, the Cubs new closer (officially), worked a scoreless ninth to keep the Cubs in it, he walked one and struck out two.

Up Next – A day off tomorrow.  Then a three game weekend series in Washington, the full series preview will be up tomorrow, going to be a tough series for sure.

Cubs 5-8 box

Game Highlights:

Schierholtz’s two run double
Rizzo rips a double, Valbuena scores on error
Schierholtz with a sliding catch
Borbon called out on interference
Another tremendous catch by Schierholtz

Thanks for reading,
– George

May 8, 2013 – Cardinals @ Cubs; Lineups!

What a beautiful day for a sweep.  It almost feels like summer as temperatures are in the high seventies and the sun is shining, definitely the best day of the year for baseball.  Carlos Villanueva gets the ball today as the Cubs look to win their third straight and sweep the Cardinals in this brief two game set.  The Cardinals will counter with veteran Jake Westbrook who has been nothing short of brilliant so far this year, first pitch is at 1:20 PM CST on CSN Chicago.  Here are the lineups.

May 8 lineups

Thanks for reading, go Cubs!
– George

Wood brilliant again as Cubs edge Cards

Cubs line 5-7

Full Box Score

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 Wood 5-7single 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.

Cubs 5-7 box

Game Highlights:

Schierholtz’s game winning two run homer

Thanks for reading,
– George

Series Preview – Cardinals @ Cubs; May 7 – May 8, 2013

Cardinals preview header

Bring on the Cardinals.  The Red Birds and their fans descend on Wrigley Field tonight for a quick two game series against the Cubs.  The Cubs haven’t seen the Cardinals all year, but they know what to expect.  The Cardinals are scoring runs, as they usually do, they have scored 150 runs so far Cardinals previewthis year which is good for seventh in all of baseball.  The Cubs on the other hand have scored just 122 runs and sit twenty-second in the majors, but they are steadily improving.  The Cubs typically have the pitching advantage as they have started out so well this year, well that’s not the case in this series.  The Cardinals pitching is a big reason why they have the second most wins in the Majors (20-11), they have a team ERA of 3.09 which is tops in all of baseball. The Cubs are no slouch when it comes to team ERA as they sit at 3.82, good for eleventh in the Majors.  It should be a good series featuring some good pitching.  The team that makes the fewest mistakes will have the most success, that usually holds true throughout baseball, but it’s even more clear in this series.  Coming into this one the Cubs have committed a league worst twenty-seven errors, the Cardinals have only committed thirteen, fifth fewest in the Majors.  Pitch, hit, field…. win.

Central standings 5-7

Last Series:

The Cubs lost two out of three to the Reds at home, and beat the Rangers yesterday in a make up game.

The Cardinals swept the Brewers in Milwaukee, it was a three game sweep, and the Cardinals have won six straight.

Game Times and Broadcast Information:

  • Tuesday, May 7, 2013 – 7:05 PM CST on WGN TV
  • Wednesday, May 8, 2013 – 1:20 PM CST on CSN Chicago

Starting Pitchers Scheduled:

Cubs:

Game One – Travis Wood (2-2, 2.50)
– Career vs. Cardinals (6 GS) (2-2, 5.36)

Game Two – Carlos Villanueva (1-2, 2.85)
– Career vs. Cardinals (25 appearances, 7 GS) (5-3, 3.10)

Cardinals:

Game One – Lance Lynn (5-0, 2.75)
– Career vs. Cubs (5 appearances, 4 GS) (4-0, 2.73)

Game Two – Jake Westbrook (2-1, 1.07)
– Career vs. Cubs (8 GS) (5-2, 4.14)

Bold Prediction:

The Cardinals are playing their best baseball of the year, winning six straight heading into tonight.  The Cubs have shown flashes of brilliance yet still find ways to lose games because of themselves.  The result, I think the Cubs split with the Cardinals in this brief series.

Thanks for reading,
– George

Cubs chase Chapman, but fall just short

Cubs May 3 line

Full Box Score

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 Soriano 5-3touched 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.

Cubs 5-3 box

Game Highlights:

Castillo’s two run single
Barney turns a DP
Schierholtz RBI single
Soriano’s RBI Double
Castro makes a nice play

Thanks for reading,
– George