If I would have told you that Chris Volstad would only give up two runs tonight you would probably think that the Cubs would win, who am I kidding, I mean lose by less than you originally thought. That’s exactly what happened as Volstad was outstanding, unfortunately the Cubs could not get anything going against Kershaw and fell to the Dodgers 3-1. Volstad who is trying to make a great third impression on the Cubs organization tossed seven strong innings giving up two runs on six hits while walking one and striking out three. The loss is Volstad’s eighth of the season and extends his winless streak to 21 straight starts. For the fourth straight game the Cubs offense was listless at best, resembling the May and June Cubs offense. Kershaw held the Cubs to three hits over his seven stellar innings of work, and the Dodgers bullpen was spotless. Darwin Barney, Alfsonso Soriano, and Welington Castillo were the only Cubs to get hits in the loss. The Cubs look to avoid the sweep tomorrow afternoon against newly acquired Joe Blanton, something tells me he will resemble Cy Young more than Joe Blanton. Full box score and highlights after the jump.
Some slight changes to the lineup tonight as Dale Sveum searches for a combination that can put some runs on the board. Hint: Don’t let Baker, Mather, and Valbuena play. Regardless of who is playing it will be hard to find runs agains Clayton Kershaw, here’s how the Cubs will line up behind Chris Volstad, oh right, Volstad is pitching.
1. Castro – SS
2. Barney – 2B
3. Rizzo – 1B
4. Soriano – LF
5. Baker – 2B
6. Castillo – C
7. Mather – CF
8. Valbuena – 3B
9. Volstad – P
Thanks for reading, go Cubs!
A quick look at the Cubs minor leaguers on Friday, July 27.
The AZL Cubs dropped a low scoring game to the AZL Athletics 3-1. Lendy Castillo got the start as he continues to work his way back allowing one run on two hits in four innings. He struck out six and took a no decision in this one. Tyler Bremer gave up two runs and took the loss. Carlos Martinez-Pumarino and Jin-Young Kim combined to pitch 3.2 scoreless innings, but the Cubs offense couldn’t come back. The Cubs got their run in the first when Albert Almora hit a two-run double and then scored on a Jorge Soler RBI single. Soler would add another hit on the night and stole a base. Carlos Penalver was the only other Cubs player to record a hit on Friday. This is not what we have come to expect from the Cubs, but they will get back on track soon.
Boise exploded to beat Tri-City 8-3. The Hawks had five players with multi-hit games. Daniel Vogelbach was one of those going 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI. Gioskar Amaya and Marco Hernandez each had two hits, wtih Amaya driving in two. Trey Martin and Xavier Batista also added two hits a piece. Wilson Contreras connected on his second home run of the season, a three run shot in the second inning. Willengton Cruz got his second win of the season out of the bullpen. He pitched two strong innings striking out four. James Pugliese started and gave up three runs in four innings of work. Michael Heesch and Su-Min Jung each pitched well in relief. After a tough 1-0 loss last night, it was nice to see Boise come back strong tonight.
Javier Baez gave Peoria a lead with a two-run shot in the eighth and the Chiefs held beating Cedar Rapids 3-2. Baez’s 11th homer of the season turned out to be one of his biggest of his young career. He finished the game 2-for-3 and is now hit a robust .341. Wes Darvill also had two hits, including a double, a run scored, and an RBI. Austin Reed recorded the win in relief, his fourth of the season. Zach Cates got the start, pitching 5.1 innings allowing two runs on three hits, while striking out seven. Sheldon McDonald pitched two scoress inning in relief dropping his ERA to 1.91 on the season. It has been exciting following Baez this year and he continues to impress.
Robert Whitenack and the staff were outstanding for the Daytona Cubs beating Bradenton 2-0. Robert Whitenack got his first win since coming back from Tommy-John surgery. He pitched five innings allowing no runs on two hits, while striking out four. Eduardo Figuerora struck out four in three scoreless innings in relief. AJ Morris closed the game out recording his second save of the season. The offense lost Matt Szczur who was promoted to Tennessee was able to get enough to win. Rebel Ridling hit his second home run of the season and had two hits. Timothy Saunders also had two hits including a double and a run scored. A big congrats to Robert and here’s to many more in the near future.
Jacksonville was able to score two runs in three different innings defeating Tennessee 6-4. Junior Lake continued his hot stretch in this one going 2-for-4 with two doubles and two RBIs. Greg Rohan had two hits and connected on his fourth home run with the Smokies. Juan Apodaca also had two hits and an RBI. In his first game with Tennessee Matt Szczur went 0-for-4 with two strike outs. Ty’relle Harris started and took the loss going 2.2 innings allowing four runs on six hits. Zach Rosscup gave up two runs in 3.2 innings, but struck out an impressive six batters. Casey Harman and Kevin Rhoderick also pitched in the loss.
Iowa wins, Iowa wins, Iowa wins. It has been a rough go as of late so to beat Okalahoma City 5-0 is great to see. Chris Volstad had his best start pitching eight scorelss innings. He only surrendered four hits, walking three, and striking out five. Alberto Cabrerea finished the game off throwing a scoreless ninth striking out two. Alfredo Amezaga led off going 3-for-5 and scored a run. Adrian Cardenas and Brian Esposito each had two hits with Cardenas hitting a double and scoring a run. Dave Sappelt had a triple and drove in two on Friday. Josh Vitters and Brett Jackson each recorded one hit and scored a run, Jackson also drove one in. Hope this is signs to come for Chris Volstad and the Cubs.
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A Sunday down in the minors.
We didn’t have to wait long as Jorge Soler launched a two-run homer in the fourth, he would add another hit and scored two runs. Despite this excitement the AZL Cubs lost 6-4. Shawon Dunston Jr. had another good game going 3-for-4 and scoring a run. Ben Carhart added two hits, including a double and Dan Vogelbach drove in his 31st run of the season. Lendy Castillo continued his rehab assignment pitching four scoreless innings. He gave up two hits and struck out five. David Henrie took the loss, allowing four runs, three earned in two innings of work. It was more than exciting to see Soler hit his first home run. We have been anticipated it for quite a while and to do so in only his second game was great to see.
There is not much good that came out of Sunday’s game against Eugene, as Boise lost 8-1. James Pugliese gave up seven runs on eight hits in four innings and took the loss. The bullpen did a pretty nice job the next four innings. Michael Heesch pitched two scoreless innings, striking out three as well. Eduardo Orozco gave up one run, but struck out three in his two innings of work. Offensively not much happened at all. All but one player recoreded a hit for Boise, with the only extra base hit coming off the bat of Xavier Batista, who hit a double. Wilson Contreras scored the only Hawks run of the game. It was a not very fun game for Boise dropping another in a bad loss.
Peoria couldn’t pull off the win, losing to South Bend 3-2. All good things must come to an end and that was the case with Javier Baez’s hitting streak as he went 0-for-4 on Sunday. Dustin Geiger connected on his 10th home run of the season, a two-run shot in the fourth. Sergio Burruel had two hits and Chadd Krist just keeps on hitting as he had another hit on Sunday. Pin-Chieh Chen and Oliver Zapata each recorded a hit and Chen scored a run as he was on base when Geiger hit his homer. Starling Peralta pitched well, but took the loss. He threw six innings giving up three runs, two earned on six hits. Sheldon McDonald relieved him and pitched two perfect innings, striking out three. Looking forward to Baez starting another streak and the Chiefs winning a few more games.
Daytona was postponed on Sunday.
Tennessee finished Saturday nights game and lost a tough one in 11 innings. Twice in extra’s the Smokies took the lead, but couldn’t hold it in either, ultimately losing 12-11. There was a lot of offense, here are some of the highlights. Justin Bour was 2-for-6 with a homer, two RBIs, and three runs scored. Junior Lake, Jae-Hoon Ha, and Greg Rohan all contributed with two hits with Rohan adding an RBI. Logan Watkins went 3-for-6 with an RBI and two runs scored. Michael Burgess and Chad Noble each had RBIs and Nelson Perez connected on his third home run since being at Tennessee. The pitching was not very good at all. Dallas Beeler got the start, but obviously didn’t factor in the decision. Casey Harman took the loss giving up the two runs in the 11th. Frank Batista was the lone bright spot out of the bullpen, pitching two scoreless innings, bringing his ERA down to 1.06. It was a very tough loss, because of all the leads the Smokies had.
Game two was a little different, as a six run sixth led Tennessee to a 8-4 win. Nicholas Struck got his 11th win of the season pitching five innings, giving up only one run on four hits. Zach Rosscup did a great job in relief, striking out five in three scoreless innings of work. Junior Lake, Logan Watkins, Jae-Hoon Ha, and Dustin Harrington all had two hits, scored a run, and all but Ha drove one in. Nelson Perez and Michael Burgess drove in two runs and Chad Noble added an RBI as well. It was a nice bounce back in game two ending the week with a win.
A late rally fell short, as Iowa lost to Aburquerque 9-5. Chris Volstad was bad yet again giving up six runs, five earned on nine hits in five innings. He took the loss, he is now 2-5 with 5.83 ERA. Ty’Relle Harris did a fine job in relief striking out three in two scoreless innings. Offensively there were only a couple of highlights. Josh Vitters and Welington Castillo each hit a homer. For Vitters it was a three-run shot and Castillo was a solo. Brett Jackson, Adrian Cardenas, and Dave Sappelt all had a hit a piece as well.
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July 17, 2012 – Ready, go!
Peoria was off
The AZL Cubs scored three in the top of the ninth to beat the AZL Mariners 6-5. Dan Vogelbach continued crushing the ball going 2-for-5 with a home run, triple and three RBIs. He is now hitting .360 with 7 HR 30RBI, and an OPS of 1.202. The Cubs also got RBIs from Dan Lockhart, Ben Carhart, and Carlos Penalver. Shawon Dunston Jr. had another solid day at the plate going 2-for-4 with a run scored. David Bote and Penalver each had two hits on the day as well. Steve Perakslis gave up two runs on three hits in relief, but managed to get the win. Chad Martin picked up his first save of the season striking out three in a scoreless ninth.
Boise made it two in a row on Tuesday defeating Yakima 5-0. The Hawks pitching was the story as James Pugliese, Michael Heesch, and Pet Levitt combined for the three hit shut out. Pugliese got his first win of the season striking out five and allowing only one hit in five innings. Heesch and Levitt each pitched two scoreless innings to close ou the game and secure a Boise win. Lead-off hitter Trey Martin did his job reaching base five times. He was 3-for-3 with two walks including his third home run of the season. Marco Hernandez had a nice night as well going 2-for-5 with two RBIs. Wilson Contreras and Rock Shoulders each had two hits as well. Contreras and Carlos Escobar were responsible for driving in a run a piece for the Hawks. Boise hasn’t won two in a row too often so hope more is to come.
Behind a tremendous effort from Matt Loosen the Cubs beat Charlotte 6-1. Loosen started and recorded his eight win of the season. He pitched into the eighth inning allowing only one run on five hits, while striking out six. Jeffrey Lorick came on to record the last five outs and close the game out for Daytona. Matt Szczur was 3-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBIs. Ronald Torreyes and Elieser Bonne each had two hits with Torreyes driving in a run. Rubi Silva added a hit and Micah Gibbs and Elliot Soto each had a hit and scored two runs on Tuesday.
It was a rough one for Tennessee losing the Jackson 9-2. Nicholas Struck got the start and took the loss giving up six runs in just five innings of work. Casey Harman pitched an inning in relief and was not any better giving up another three runs. The good news from the staff came from Frank Batista and Tony Zych who combined to pitch the last three scorelss innings of the game. Not much happened on the offensive side of things either. Logan Watkins had two hits including a triple. Justin Bour and Greg Rohan were the only Smokies to record RBIs, they also had a hit each. Junior Lake and Jae-Hoon Ha were the only other Smokies to have a hit in the game. Not a very good night for Tennessee on Tuesday.
Iowa scored two in the first, but that was all they could push across losing to New Orleans 7-2. Chris Volstad was bad again giving up seven runs, six earned on eight hits in 5.2 innings pitched. Brett Jackson was 2-for-5 with a double and a run scored, he also stole his 22nd base of the season. Josh Vitters also had two hits and drove in his 52nd run of the season. Alfredo Amezaga and Dave Sappelt each had two hits and Sappelt drove in a run.
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Your daily trip through the minor leagues.
A six run fourth was too much for the AZL Cubs to overcome on Thursday losing 7-2. Even though the Cubs only had two runs on five hits there were a few offensive bright spots. Dan Vogelbach did it again belting a two-run home run, his fifth of the young season. Ben Carhart also had a nice day going 3-for-4 with two doubles and a run scored. Ethan Elias started and pitched three innings giving up one unearned run. Ryan Hartman struggled and took the loss in relief. Matt Iannazzo struck out six in 3.1 innings pitched. The Cubs have been really good so hope to see them bounce back after this one.
Boise lost a wild one to Vancouver 12-11. It was a tough loss as it seemed Boise was in complete control of this one, but an eight run seventh for Vancouver was all they would need to hold on. Offensively Boise had 16 hits to go along with those 11 runs so a lot of good came out of that. Three Hawks hit home runs, including Gioskar Amaya, Marco Hernandez, and Rock Shoulders. Amaya and Hernandez each drove in two and Shoulders drove in three on the night. Bijan Rademacher also drove in two runs as he went 3-for-4 with a double at the plate. Stephen Brruno and Jeimer Candelario each had two hits and Trey Martin had three. The good on the mound turned to ugly pretty quickly on Thursday. James Pugliese and Michael Heesch combined to get the Hawks into the sixth with a 10-4 lead. The lead was soon erased as Rafael Diplan struggled giving up five in .1 innings. He was followed by Roderik Pichardo who gave up three more in the seventh and he took the loss. Another tough loss for Boise on Thursday.
Dayton pounded out 16 hits and scored eight runs to beat Peoria 8-5. There was some good that happened offensively in this one though. Taiwan Easterling was 3-for-5 with a home run and two RBIs. Paul Hoilman and Chadd Krist who was recently promoted from Boise each had two hits. Krist also drove in a run as did Wes Darvill and Pin-Chieh Chen. Jose Rosario was pretty good on the mound giving up one run on seven hits in six innings of work. Justin Berg and the defense let Rosario down giving up five runs, one earned on three hits in .2 innings. Hunter Cervenka struggled as well giving up two runs on six hits in 2.1 innings. After a five run seventh and a two run ninth Peoria just didn’t have enough left to come back.
Palm Beach scored four times in the lst four innings to beat Daytona 5-4. Matt Loosen got the start pitching 6.2 innings. He gave up four runs, three runs on three hits while walking three and striking out six. Eduardo Figueroa took the loss in relief. He gave up the go ahead run in .2 innings. At the plate Rubi Silva had a nice night going 2-for-4 with a triple and a runs scored. John Andreoli, Rebel Ridling, Rafael Lopez, and Dustin Harrington each had a hit and Ridling drove one in. Matt Szczur and Taylor Davis each had an RBI for the Cubs on Thursday as well. Another game on Thursday where it looked like the Cubs affiliate was in command, but ended up losing.
Tennessee was postponed on Wednesday so they played two on Thursday. All the scoring for game one came in the first inning when Tennessee scored one, but Birmingham scored four. The score would stand and Tennessee lost 4-1. Staring pitcher Zach Rosscup didn’t last long allowing four runs on four hits and walking two and only recording one out. In relif Ty’Relle Harris and Kevin Rhoderick held the Baron scoreless the rest of the way to give the Smokies a chance. Philip Humber started his rehab assignmnet and held the Smokies to only two hits and one run. Junior Lake led the game off with a double and scored the Smokies lone run when he was driven in by Jae-Hoon Ha. Justin Bour had the other Smokies hit in game one.
Three Tennessee runs in the second inning was plenty for Nicholas Struck as Smokies won game two 3-0. Struck wsa outstanding allowing no runs on only three hits while walking none and striking out seven in six innings. Frank Batista came on to pitch a scoreless seventh to recrord his 17th save. The Smokies RBIs came from the bottom of the order with Nelson Perez driving in two with a triple and Chad Noble then driving him in. Jae-Hoon Ha was the only Smokie player with a multi hit game as he went 2-for-4. After dropping the first one it was nice to see them come back and get game two.
Iowa wins a crazy one in Omaha on Thursday. Trailing 7-2 after three innings Iowa started there come back with a four run fourth. After adding on in the sixth, they scored five more and eventually won 12-11. They had 15 hits to go along with those 12 runs so there was a lot of good offensively. Adrian Cardenas and Diory Hernandez each had three hits. Hernandez hit a home run, scored two runs, and drove in two. Dave Sappelt was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Welington Castillo also had two hits, including a hom run. He also scored two runs and drove in three. Brett Jackson was back in the lineup delivering a hit and walking three times. He drove in on run, scored two, and stole his 21st base of the season. Josh Vitters had two more hits, including his 26th double, he also scored a run and drove one in. Chris Volstad got the start and was not very good allowing seven runs, five earned in just two innings. The Cubs would use five arms out of the pen to finish this one Alberto Cabrera earning his second win of the season. Jay Jackson pitched a scoreless eighth and Michael Bowden recorded his second save of the season striking out two in a scoreless ninth. It’s nice to come out on top of a crazy one like that.
What a crazy night throughout the Cubs system.
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Can’t believe that the Cubs have already played 81 games, seemed like just yesterday the season started. Here is a recap of what transpired over the first three months of the 2012 season, and my thoughts.
Let’s start with the bad –
- When talking about the bad moments of the first half it’s hard to ignore the 12 game losing streak which took place from May 15 thru May 27. Before the streak the Cubs were 15-20, and playing rather well, in fact given how well the Cubs played the majority of their games it wasn’t crazy to think that if the bullpen resembled anything close to Major League caliber that the Cubs would be at .500.
- That leads me to Carlos Marmol. Marmol was a disaster in the first 81 games of the season, although he has been pitching better of late. Marmol was placed on the DL after a May 11th game against the Brewers, at the time he had an ERA of 6.35 and had been removed from the closers role in favor of Rafael Dolis. Marmol had as many blown saves (2) as saves before being DL’d. Since coming off the DL, and being thrown back into the closer role Marmol is 6-for-6 in save opportunities and has lowered his ERA to 4.74, it might have a lot to do with this.
- Chris Volstad has to be mentioned here as well as he had and is having a horrific first half. Volstad finished the first half, which included a trip to Iowa, with an 0-7 record and a 7.94 ERA. Sometimes numbers don’t tell the whole story, in this case I don’t think they tell enough of it. Volstad has completely lost all confidence, he’s pitching as if he expects to lose. I guess that will happen to a guy that hasn’t won a game in a calendar year.
- The record. Coaches, players, fans, and executives alike knew that this season would be a rough one, they didn’t think it would be this rough. I for one have no problems with the 31-50 record because it means nothing, this year was a throw away year, whether the Cubs were 25 under or 15 under, it’s just a necessary season in the process of rebuilding and I’m okay with that.
- Geovany Soto, oh how the mighty have fallen. After alternating good and bad years since his 2008 rookie of the year campaign it seems as though Geo has found some consistency, not in a good way. It looks more and more like Soto was a one hit wonder, as he is in the midst of another wasted season. Soto hit .163 over the first 81 games, with only five home runs. He has been routinely outplayed by Clevenger and Castillo behind the dish. I will even say that Koyie Hill provided more of a spark, that’s how bad Geo’s been.
Now on to the good, yes there has been plenty of that –
- Alfonso Soriano, what a tremendous first half from a player that almost everyone, except Jed and Theo, thought was beyond done. Not only has Soriano provided improved offensive numbers he has been spotless in LF. Think about that for a second, Soriano has not committed an error all season in LF. He has also played an above average defense, getting to balls he could only once dream about getting to. He’s clearly hurt but he has earned a lot of respect back from me after I wrote him off. Soriano finished the first half (again in games, I know the Cubs have 4 games left in the “half”) hitting .269 with 15 home runs and 46 RBI’s.
- Bryan LaHair was another player that was bound and determined to prove himself, but for different reasons. Coming into the season LaHair never had a starting role in the big leagues, an oddity for a 29-year-old with just a handful on major league experience. But he took the opportunity and ran with it in the first month of the season by hitting .390 with five home runs and 14 RBI’s. As expected he cooled off during May and June, but he has been great in July which also coincides with finding out he was elected to his first All-Star game.
- Ryan Dempster entered the 2012 season amid trade rumors, and they just got louder and louder every time he pitched, mostly because he was outstanding. Dempster has been a man on a mission in the first half, he has been slowed by a lat injury but he has pitched at a Cy Young level up until then. If the Cubs bullpen or clutch hitting was consistent at all Dempster might be close to the lead league in wins. He has settled for a 3-3 record with a sparkling 2.11 ERA. I doubt he makes it past July 31st as a Cub, so enjoy it while it lasts.
- Travis Wood who was brought over from Cincinnati in the Sean Marshall deal, didn’t make the team out of Spring Training. He started the year at Triple-A and struggled, leaving some to suggest that Theo got fleeced in the deal. Wood got an opportunity in the rotation at the big league level once is was clear that Chris Volstad was not up to par. Wood has dominated ever since, thus shutting up all those people who questioned his existence on the Cubs roster. Wood made nine starts in the first half and finished with a 3-3 record and a 3.05 ERA. He might be a huge part of the future for this team.
- James Russell and Shawn Camp’s work out of the bullpen cannot go unrecognized. Both guys have been a stabilizing force in the back of the Cubs bullpen all year. Russell sports a 2.27 ERA in 39.2 innings, while Camp has been just as good in his 43 innings, he finished the first half with a 2.93 ERA.
- A late addition to this post has to be Anthony Rizzo. After basically two and three-quarters months of Cubs fans pleading for Rizzo they finally got their wish in late June. Rizzo has not disappointed one bit. Not only is he producing at a high level, and is exciting to watch, he is giving Cubs fans a glimpse of what Theo’s vision might look like down the road. That’s important for Cubs fans to see, to know they are not suffering through maybe the worst season in Franchise history for nothing. In the 8 games that Rizzo has been up with the Cubs he has hit .323 with three home runs and six RBI’s. Not to mention he has had the game winning hit in three of those eight games, and the Cubs are 6-2 since his call up.
The in-between –
- Long time Cub Kerry Wood retired during the first half of the season. It was bittersweet for sure. For a lot of Cubs fans, including myself, Kerry Wood was the face of the franchise growing up, in good times and bad. Kerry worked his tail off to get in shape and put his injuries behind him to have a pretty solid career. He was having a horrible season this year, and it was clear to him and many people surrounding the team that it was time to hang em up. He did the right thing, walked away, and will be apart of this organizations future one way or another.
There were a lot of things in the first half that made us cover our eyes as Cubs fans. But there were also a lot of things that opened them as well, this team competes, rarely gives up and is usually in a lot of games. Right now that doesn’t translate to a lot of wins, but it’s something to hang on to from the first half. This team will look much different in the second half once the trade deadline comes and goes. Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster, David DeJesus, Geovany Soto, among others could all be gone. Anthony Rizzo is already here, but he could be joined by Brett Jackson, and Josh Vitters at some point. It’s something to be excited about, we’ve suffered through quite possibly the worst first half in team history, the saving grace is that it shouldn’t be this bad ever again.
Thanks for reading, go Cubs!