Rizzo comes up huge to complete Cubs comeback

Cubs 6-5 line

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Tale of two games in this one for the Cubs as they fell behind 4-1 in the fourth inning then went to work.  Cody Ransom just barely snuck a three-run homer inside the left field foul pole to tie the game at four in the fifth.  The Cubs jumped ahead in the sixth inning as Ryan Sweeney came through with a big RBI single.  The Cubs hung onto that one run lead until the eighth inning when Mark Trumbo took James Russell deep to tie things up.  It stayed that way until the tenth inning when the Cubs loaded the bases with two out for Anthony Rizzo.  Up until that at bat Rizzo was scuffling, but that’s the great thing about baseball, always a chance to turn the day around.  That’s exactly what Rizzo did as he laced a two-out bases clearing double to give the Cubs an 8-5 lead, and they held off the Angels in the bottom half to take this one 8-6.

PICTURE OF THE GAME

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Cubs 6-5 box

Game Highlights:

Rizzo’s huge three-run double
Ransom’s three-run homer
Sweeney’s big hit
Barney’s RBI groundout
Sweeney makes a huge diving catch
Gregg nails down the save

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Cubs bats stay hot as they pound the Diamondbacks for fifth straight win

Cubs 5-31 line

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This is starting to resemble a real winning streak, not just a few games, but an actual legitimate winning streak.  The Cubs had everything working for them today as they pitched, hit, and played solid defense, that usually wins a lot of games.  The Cubs only needed one inning in this one as they scored five times in the third inning to take a 7-0 lead en route to a 7-2 victory, their fifth straight.  The big blow came from Scott Hairston, who must have been taking pointers from Travis Wood before the game as he mashed a grand slam, just like Wood did a day earlier.  After the third inning the Cubs didn’t do much with the bats, but they didn’t need to as Matt Garza was outstanding in picking up his first win of the season.  Garza worked seven strong innings giving up two runs on six hits while striking out four, he didn’t walk anybody. Over the last five games, the Cubs are 15-for-38 with runners in scoring position, that is mind-boggling for a team that hasn’t been above .200 as a team in what seems like forever.

PICTURE OF THE GAME

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Cubs 5-31 box

 

Game Highlights

Scott Hairston’s grand slam
Soriano’s two-run homer
Cody Ransom goes deep
Great grab by Barney

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Samardzija dominant, Cubs waste it of course

Cubs 5-22 line

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Yet another outstanding effort from a Cubs starting pitcher ends up in a Cubs loss, as it has so often in 2013.  It was Jeff Samardzija‘s turn to get screwed over as he was dominant all night only to see his record get worse as the Cubs couldn’t push a single run across the plate.  Sure, Francisco Liriano was solid, but the vaunted “righty lineup” did what it usually does, come up empty, often.  The turning point in this one took place in the third inning when the Cubs loaded the bases with nobody out with the top of the order coming up.  The Cubs couldn’t score in that situation, it wasn’t the first time this year, and it won’t be the last, and a team that can’t score in that situation Smardzija 5-22doesn’t deserve to win the game.  It wouldn’t be a Cubs loss without another fake rally in the ninth inning and that’s exactly what happened as the Cubs had runners on first and second with only one out and came away empty-handed yet again.  If it’s not the bullpen blowing a game, it’s the offense not helping out a starter after he has done way more than enough to win, these losses are really starting to get on everyone’s nerves.

At The Plate – The Cubs could only manage four hits in the loss, they walked only once, and struck out eleven times.  Here are a couple more depressing stats, they were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and left eight guys on base.  Julio Borbon, and Cody Ransom each had a hit in the loss while Welington Castillo had two singles.

On The Mound – Jeff Samardzija did everything he could to get the win tonight, I guess he was supposed to hit a home run as well, unfortunately he didn’t.  Shark worked seven innings giving up one run on three hits while walking one and striking out eight.  The loss drops his record to 2-6 on the season as he lowered his ERA to 3.25 for the year, amazing.  Carlos Villanueva was available tonight, guess he wasn’t available twenty-four hours ago, he worked a scoreless inning while walking one.

Up Next – Game three of the series, hopefully the Cubs can find a way to salvage one game of this series.  Edwin Jackson gets the start for the Cubs, he will be opposed by Jeanmar Gomez at 11:35 AM CST tomorrow morning.

Cubs 5-22 box

 

Game Highlights:

Check back later, MLB.com has no Cubs highlights yet, oh right, they probably won’t.

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Cubs comeback to steal a win, and the series from Nationals

Cubs 5-12 line

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  The Cubs are usually on the other end of these games, I like winning these games WAY more than losing them.  The Cubs had nothing going all day as they were being no hit through five innings, then they started to chip away at Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez.  The Cubs loaded the bases in the sixth only to come up empty, but it signaled that the Cubs might be ready to make things difficult for the Nats.  Gonzalez rebounded nicely in the seventh inning, Soriano 5-12but Nats manager Davey Johnson decided to pull Gio after only 86 pitches on the day, the Cubs thank you Davey.  The Cubs went to work in the eighth as they played some small ball.  Navarro singled to lead off the eighth, he was then moved to second on a sac bunt by Barney.  Travis Wood pinch ran for Navarro and made a great base running play to tag up on a foul ball behind first base to make it to third with two outs.  Starlin Castro delivered as he took a Drew Storen pitch back up the middle for game tying base hit.  The Cubs used some aggressiveness in the ninth to take the lead an ultimately win the game.  They put the first two guys on in the ninth then Ryan Sweeney struck out, I know I’m not the only Cubs fan to think here we go again.  But on the very next pitch Soriano and Borbon executed a double steal and the Cubs finally got a break.  Kurt Suzuki‘s throw to third hit Welington Castillo‘s bat and went down the third base line allowing Soriano to score the game winning run.  Kevin Gregg was perfect in the ninth to secure the Cubs win, and the series win over the Nats.

At The Plate –  As I mentioned the Cubs had nothing going all day long, but woke up just in time.  Starlin Castro was 1-for-3 with a walk, and a game tying RBI from the lead-off spot.  Cody Ransom had a solid day from the two spot going 2-for-4 with two singles.  Dioner Navarro was one of the few guys who were locked in at the plate, he was 2-for-3 in the win.

On The Mound – Another really solid start for Scott Feldman, he had to settle for a no decision but that was better than an undeserved loss.  Feldman went six innings giving up one run on five hits while walking three and striking out six.  Kyuji Fujikawa was solid, and healthy for the second time this series.  Fujikawa worked a scoreless inning while striking out one, very encouraging to see his velocity up near 93-94 MPH.  James Russell worked a scoreless eighth inning while walking one to earn his first win of the season.  Kevin Gregg was lights out yet again, what else would you expect?  Gregg worked a scoreless ninth while striking out two earning his sixth save of the season.

Up Next – The Cubs head home to start a three game series with the Colorado Rockies tomorrow night.Cubs 5-12 box

Game Highlights:

Soriano scores on a wild throw in the ninth
Gregg gets the save
Great catch by DeJesus
Castro’s game tying single
Navarro gets the first Cubs hit

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Bullpen fails Villanueva yet again; Cubs settle for split

Cubs 5-8 line

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  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

Cubs waive Ian Stewart, no one bites

The weird and not so wonderful saga of Ian Stewart continues.  In the off-season the Cubs decided to bring Ian Stewart back under the assumption, well not really an assumption, but the thought that he was 100% over the wrist issues that plagued him for two years.  Ian Stewart received a two million dollar contract from the Cubs, guaranteed money, meaning no matter where Stewart ended up he would get paid.  Stewart was excited to prove everyone Ian Stewart 5-8wrong, and give the Cubs a solid healthy season, or so it seemed, then came the spring training injury.  The injury lingered, then it lingered some more, just recently Stewart returned to Iowa to begin rehab.  After a week or so of mediocrity it was clear that Ian Stewart had fallen behind and his “rehab” assignment was really more of a destination than a stop over.  Dale Sveum was pretty blunt, “He’s a AAA player”… I suppose that was the writing on the wall for Stewart, or at least he was being served notice.  With Sveum’s comment one could now be confident in saying that Ian Stewart was behind Luis Valbuena, and Cody Ransom at the big league level, and wasn’t going to get back there until he deserved it.

Things got worse for Stewart, this past week Josh Vitters returned from his season long DL stint and extended spring training.  Vitters went right into the starting lineup at third base for Iowa, and produced immediately, that led to today where the Cubs announced that they removed Stewart from the 40-man roster, and waived him, but he went unclaimed.  Red flags everywhere, no team in the entire league wanted Ian Stewart for essentially free.  To me, that points to not just a health issue, but an attitude problem, and I wouldn’t be Junior Lake 5-8surprised if that’s it.  I hope you’re still following, Ian Stewart was waived, went unclaimed, then he was removed from the 40-man roster, and outrighted to Iowa (which he accepted, because he gets to keep his $2 million bucks) where he was already located… ahhhhh!  Stewart remains on the bench now behind Vitters, and things are just going to get tougher for him as Junior Lake is close to returning, and odds are he will be ahead of Stewart as well.  I don’t like to see players pushed out, what I really don’t like seeing is players given a third or fourth opportunity to prove themselves seemingly lack the effort to do so.  Again, no one is saying that his attitude is the issue, however it seems like that could be the case given how quickly all of this transpired.  So Ian Stewart is still Cubs property, but looks to have a long road ahead of him before he gets out of Iowa, or even back on the field at Iowa.

Thanks for reading,
– George

Edwin Jackson still searching for a win, pounded by Padres

Cubs april 30 line

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The first twenty-five games of the Cubs season featured a fun fact, every game has been decided by four runs or less, that streak came to a crashing halt tonight in game twenty-six.  Edwin Jackson was hit hard and often in the early going as the Padres built an 8-0 lead in the fifth inning.  As the Cubs have done all year they fought right back and scored four times in the bottom half of the fifth to make it a game.  Unfortunately the rest of the Castro 4-30Cubs staff couldn’t miss any bats either as the Padres scored in the next three innings, five runs in total, to take a 13-5 lead in the eighth inning.  The Cubs staged a minor rally in the ninth inning to make the score look somewhat presentable but they really never had a chance in this one, and that can be attributed to Edwin Jackson’s continued struggles.

At The Plate – Nice to see the Cubs really pound the ball in this one, too bad it wasn’t enough to keep pace with the Padres.  The Cubs scored seven times on eleven hits, and were uncharacteristically good with runners in scoring position (3-for-9).  Starlin Castro had a big game going 2-for-5 with a home run, two RBI’s and two runs scored.  Anthony Rizzo is locked in at the plate, and now the results are starting to come, he was 3-for-4 tonight with two doubles, a walk, an RBI, and a stolen base.  Luis Valbuena, David DeJesus, and Cody Ransom all hit home runs in this one, Valbuena’s home run was a two-run shot, while DeJesus and Ransom each had solo homers.

On The Mound – Not a lot of success on the mound in this one and it started with Edwin Jackson who was torched.  Jackson went 4.2 innings giving up eight runs on eleven hits while walking two and striking out six, his ERA ballooned to 6.27 for the season.  Kameron Loe was okay in relief going 1.1 innings giving up one run on two hits while striking out two.  Hector Rondon didn’t fare too well out of the pen going two innings giving up four runs on four hits while walking one.  Shawn Camp was the only pitcher to escape unscathed in this one as he worked a scoreless inning.

Up Next – Game three of the series, and the Cubs will face a familiar face in Andrew Cashner.  The Cubs will counter with Scott Feldman at 7:05 PM CST.  Editors note:  Congrats Blackhawks on winning game one!  Go Chicago sports.

Cubs 4-30 box

Game Highlights:

Valbuena’s two-run homer
Castro’s two-run shot
David DeJesus’ reviewed home run

Thanks for reading,
– George