Rizzo’s Huge Day Fuels Cubs Comeback

For the second day in a row the Cubs got down early and stormed back, unlike yesterday, Anthony Rizzo made sure that the Cubs completed the comeback this time.  Chris Volstad got the start today for the Cubs and was pretty horrible right from the get go.  Volstad only lasted 4.2 innings giving up six runs on ten hits while walking three and striking out three.  By the time Volstad left this one the Pirates had built up a 6-1 lead, but the Cubs were able to get a big chunk back in the bottom of the fifth.  The Cubs were able to score four times in the fifth thanks to a Joe Mather solo shot, an Anthony Rizzo two-run homer and a Welington Castillo run scoring single.  After all but squandering a five run lead the Pirates pushed across three more runs in the sixth to make it a 9-5 game.  To conclude what might be the craziest two innings of the year the Cubs exploded in the bottom of the inning for five runs to take a 10-9 lead.  The big blow was an Anthony Rizzo grand slam, the first of his career, and the second homer of the day giving him six RBI’s.  Just for good measure the Cubs scored three more times in the bottom of the eighth, and Carlos Marmol pitched a scoreless ninth for a 13-9 victory.  Alfsonso Soriano also had a big day at the plate going 3-for-5 with a double, and two RBI’s, that’s now 101 RBI’s on the season, that is an absolutely amazing accomplishment from Soriano.  The final game of the four game set will be tomorrow night as the Cubs look to take three out of four.

FULL BOX SCORE

Game Highlights:
Rizzo’s Grand Slam
Game Ending Double Play
DeJesus’ Two Run Single
Soriano’s RBI Double
Barney’s Great Play
Rizzo’s Two-Run Homer
Mather’s Solo Homer
Soriano’s 100th RBI

Thanks for reading,
– George

September 14 – 17, 2012; vs. Pirates – Series Preview

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.

Friday September  14, 2012
Pittsburgh: James McDonald (12-7, 3.93 ERA)
Cubs: Chris Rusin (0-2, 5.73 ERA)

Saturday September 15, 2012
Pittsburgh: Jeff Locke (0-1, 4.11 ERA)
Cubs: Jason Berken (0-0, 0.00 ERA)

Sunday September 16, 2012
Pittsburgh: Wandy Rodriguez (10-13, 3.72 ERA)
Cubs: Chris Volstad (3-10, 5.99 ERA)

Monday September 17, 2012
Pittsburgh: Kevin Correia (10-9, 4.29 ERA)
Cubs: Travis Wood (6-11, 4.23 ERA)

Season Series:  Series Tied 6-6

Prediction:  Cubs win series 3-1

Thanks for reading,
– George

Sappelt, Volstad Lead Cubs to Fourth Straight Victory

It’s up to you, the reader, to decide whether or not you want to believe my headline, but I assure you that it is valid, and not a joke.  This one was a struggle to get through, not only were two of the worst teams in baseball playing, but they did so for just under four hours.  It’s hard to play a four hour game and only have five total runs scored, but the Cubs and Astros “accomplished” that feat last night.  All’s well that ends well I guess as the Cubs wraped up what felt like the longest game of the year with a 4-1 victory.  Chris Volstad was solid yet again for the Cubs as he tossed five strong innings giving up one run on four hits while walking five and striking out four.  Volstad struggled with his command, see the five walks he surrendered, but he battled and made it through the fifth to not only qualify for, but register his third win of the season.  The Cubs had an unlikely hero at the plate, I only say unlikely because Dave Sappelt doesn’t get a lot of playing time and hasn’t been up with the big club for very long this season.  Cubs fans might want to get used to him because he most likely will have a role on the 2013 team, performances like last nights will go a long way in securing a spot on the roster next year for Sappelt.  Sappy was 2-for-5 with two doubles, three RBI’s and a run scored in the victory, the three RBI’s are a career high.

FULL BOX SCORE

Game Highlights:
Full Video Recap
Marmol Gets the Save
Sappelt’s Big Day
Volstad’s Outing

Thanks for reading,
– George

September 12, 2012 – Cubs Lineup vs Astros

The Cubs look to extend their winning streak to four tonight in Houston behind Chris Volstad.  Volstad has been much better as of late, winning two of his last three starts, here is how the Cubs will lineup behind him, DeJesus not in the lineup.

1. Mather – CF
2. Barney – 2B
3. Rizzo – 1B
4. Soriano – LF
5. Castro – SS
6. Castillo – C
7. Vitters – 3B
8. Sappelt – RF
9. Volstad – P

Thanks for reading, go Cubs!
– George

September 10 – 12, 2012; @ Astros – Series Preview

The Cubs are heading into this series on a high note coming off a three game sweep in Pittsburgh, a sweep that put a major dent in the Pirates playoff hopes.  It will be quite the different atmosphere in Houston as this three game set will be a battle for the first pick in the draft.  Huge crowds usually don’t turn out for these types of series, couple that with the NFL season getting underway and it could be a very empty ballpark.  The Cubs shouldn’t worry about that, they should worry about going out there and getting better with each game, and trying to win a job for next year.  Two guys that have jobs locked up for next year, Starlin Castro, and Anthony Rizzo, are leading the Cubs charge as both are red-hot at the plate.  Castro is hitting .333 in September, and Rizzo is hitting a whopping .382 during the month, unfortunately that hasn’t translated to many win as the Cubs are a less than stellar 3-6.  If the Cubs want to extend their winning streak this week they are going to need the starting staff to step up as it will now be without Samardzija for the rest of 2012.

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Here are the pitching matchups for the four game series.

Monday September  10, 2012
Cubs: Chris Volstad (2-10, 6.23 ERA)
Houston: Dallas Keuchel (1-7, 5.54 ERA)

Tuesday September 11, 2012
Cubs: Justin Germano (2-6, 6.95 ERA)
Houston: Jordan Lyles (3-11, 5.55 ERA)

Wednesday September 12, 2012
Cubs: Travis Wood (5-11, 4.42 ERA)
Houston: Fernando Abad (0-3, 5.30 ERA)

Season Series:  Chicago leads 5-4

Prediction:  Cubs win series 2-1

Thanks for reading,
– George

From Bad to Worse as Cubs Get Thrashed Again

Dale Sveum said it best after the game, “That’s just men playing against boys right now.”  For the second straight night the Cubs gave up six home runs to the Nationals, at least they didn’t use as many pitchers tonight as they did last night.  Volstad was the one serving up long balls tonight, but at least he was able to give the Cubs some innings.  Volstad’s night came to an end after five innings, he gave up five runs on nine hits while walking four and striking out two.  Volstad gave up three home runs, Michael Bowden gave up one, and Blake Parker gave up two more.  Bryce Harper had two home runs tonight, and Adam LaRoche hit another home run in this one, LaRoche has been amazing against the Cubs, and will continue to be awesome until someone decides to pitch him inside off the plate.  I mentioned it yesterday, opponents are way too comfortable in the box against Cubs pitchers, until they go inside with a purpose balls will continue to leave the park.  Speaking of comfortable at the plate, the Cubs are anything but as they were carved up by now 18 game winner Gio Gonzalez.  The Cubs could only manage four hits in the 9-1 defeat, one of which was an Anthony Rizzo solo home run in the ninth inning.  Dale Sveum was ejected tonight after he took exception to home plate umpire Larry Vanover “eyeballing” the Cubs bench after a couple of close calls.  The Cubs will try to avoid the four game sweep tomorrow night.

FULL BOX SCORE

Game Highlights:
Anthony Rizzo’s 11th Home Run
Great Play by Vitters
Sveum Ejected

Thanks for reading,
– George

September 5, 2012 – Cubs Lineup vs. Nationals

Hopefully the Cubs can keep the pitchers used tonight somewhere around 3-4, I don’t want to see seven trot out there again like last nights Spring Training B game.  The way Chris Volstad starts is going to have a lot to do with that tonight.  Volstad has been outstanding as of late winning his last two starts.  Here is how the Cubs will line up behind Volstad tonight as they face 17 game winner Gio Gonzalez.

1. Mather – CF
2. Sappelt – RF
3. Rizzo – 1B
4. Soriano – LF
5. Castro – SS
6. Castillo – C
7. Vitters – 3B
8. Barney – 2B
9. Volstad – P

Thanks for reading, go Cubs!
– George