It was a valiant effort from the Cubs, coming back from a 5-1 deficit against the soon to be Central Division champs, unfortunately the Cubs couldn’t close the deal and lost to the Reds 6-5 in eleven innings. The outcome looked like it was going to be much different in the bottom of the 10th when the Cubs had 2nd and 3rd with only one out but couldn’t push across the winning run. Welington Castillo struck out, Brett Jackson walked, and Steve Clevenger grounded out to leave the bases loaded and ned the threat. Things got worse for the Cubs in the 11th after the first two hitters were retired, Brandon Phillips reached on a David DeJesus error and of course came around to score the winning run, unearned. On a tough night to pitch with the wind howling straight out all game Chris Rusin did his best to keep his team in it. He lasted five innings giving up five runs on ten hits while walking two and striking out two, not the greatest outing but not terrible given the conditions. The Cubs pen did a solid job the final six innings, as they allowed only three hits the rest of the way. Anthony Rizzo, and Luis Valbuena each has two hits in this one, but Valbuena was picked off second in spectacular fashion to end a Cubs threat in the 6th so I’m not too thrilled with anything else he did last night, terrible. Starlin Castro had a great night at the plate going 4-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored to raise his average to .283 on the season. The Cubs look to avoid the sweep this afternoon as Jason Berken makes his second start as a Cub.
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Chris Rusin gets the start on Wednesday against Mike Leake and the Cincinnati Reds. The game is set to start at 7:05 on CSN. Here is a look at the rest of the Cubs lineup.
DeJesus – RF
Barney – 2B
Rizzo – 1B
Soriano – LF
Castro – SS
Valbuena – 3B
Castillo – C
Jackson – CF
Rusin – P
The Reds come to Chicago for a three game series starting Tuesday, September 18. The Reds have all but locked up the division, but are just 5-5 in their last ten, including losing series’ to both the Marlins and the Astros. The Reds have gotten Joey Votto back since we last saw them, but Aroldis Chapman has been shut down for a little bit and the Cubs will not face him this weekend. The Cubs on the other hand have been playing good baseball as of late going 7-3 in their last ten and splitting their most recent series against the Pirates. The Cubs can’t really play spoiler against the Reds, but they can postpone the Reds clinching the division for a few days and hopefully against somebody else. Alfonso Soriano went over the 100 RBI plateau last week and he will look to hit his 30th home run this series against the Reds.
Record: 88-59 (road, 41-31) 1st in Central
Runs Scored: 627 – 8th in NL
Team ERA: 3.44 – 2nd in NL
Last 10: 5-5
Last Series: Lost two of three to the Marlins
Record: 58-89 (home, 36-36) 5th in Central
Runs Scored: 565 – 15 in NL
Team ERA: 4.46 – 14th in NL
Last 10: 7-3
Last Series: Split with the Pirates
Here are the pitching matchups for the series.
Season Series: Reds lead series 9-4
Prediction: Cubs lose series 2-1
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The Pirates comes to town looking very much like the 2011 version of the club that collapsed down the stretch and finished with a below five hundred record yet again, and nothing like the surging contender earlier in the year. The Pirates sit just two games over five hundred now and are losers of six straight games, three of those against the Cubs in Pittsburgh last week. The Cubs on the other hand are playing solid baseball, winning five out of their last six games, all on the road which is really saying something given how bad they have been away from Wrigley this year. Solid starting pitching and the long ball have paced the Cubs in September as they have ten home runs, 5th most in the National League this month. No one has contributed more to that total than Alfonso Soriano as he has five home runs in just 12 games this month. After being pulled in the third inning two nights ago, and missing yesterday’s game it sounds like Anthony Rizzo will be back in the Cubs lineup tomorrow, that collision could have been much worse.
Here are the pitching matchups for the four game series.
Season Series: Series Tied 6-6
Prediction: Cubs win series 3-1
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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.
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Let’s hope the Cubs have some fire left over from yesterday as they could use some of that on the field this weekend against the Pirates. The season is becoming historically bad, and facing another contender on the road is not going to make it any better. The Cubs come into this series losers of six straight with only two wins in their last ten games. Anthony Rizzo is one guy that has been earning his paycheck of late as he is hitting .423, with a double, three home runs and three RBI’s in his last seven games. The pitching staff on the other hand should give their money back to the organization. The Cubs staff has a record of 0-6 with a 7.20 ERA, such is life in September with a bunch of guys basically trying out for next season. The Pirates have been mediocre as of late as they try to summon the energy for one final push for the postseason, they trail both Atlanta and St. Louis in the race for the Wild Card by 1.5 games.
Season Series: Pirates lead 6-3
Prediction: Cubs Win Series 2-1, how do you like those apples?
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No doubt about this one, as the Nationals pounded out 19 hits, six of which were home runs, and 11 runs en route to an 11-5 victory over the Cubs. This one was ugly from the get go as Chris Rusin couldn’t command anything and was awesome at finding the barrel of the Nationals bats. Rusin only lasted an inning plus giving up five runs on eight hits while walking one and striking out one. The Cubs used seven pitchers in this one, and everyone one of them gave up at least two hits except for Jaye Chapman who pitched a hitless, scoreless inning in his major league debut. This one was basically a spring training game, Sveum threw out almost every pitcher possible to see what they had, most of them didn’t have much. Offensively it was a weird night for the Cubs, hitters two through five were 8-14 with a triple, a home run, two walks, five RBI’s and five runs scored. The rest of the Cubs were 0-for-19 with two walks, yikes. Luis Valbuena, Anthony Rizzo, Alfsonso Soriano, and Starlin Castro all had two hits in the loss. Soriano had a great night at the plate going 2-for-4 with a home run, a triple, and three RBI’s. The Cubs set a franchise record tonight by playing their 51st player of the year, not really sure if that’s something to be happy about, probably not.
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