Cubs win second straight series behind strong Samardzija

Cubs 5-15 line

 

Full Box Score

I know it sounds funny given the Cubs struggles, but they are playing their best baseball of the year right now.  They have played well for the majority of games earlier this year, but now they are putting together more complete efforts and the result is more wins.  With the win the Cubs take the series from the Rockies, this is the Cubs second straight series victory, both over winning ball clubs.  The Cubs jumped on the Rockies right away as David DeJesus led the game Shark 5-15off with a solo home run.  After the Rockies got that run back in the second Jeff Samardzija helped his own cause in the third by launching a two run homer to give the Cubs a 3-1 lead.  The Rockies pulled to within one run in the sixth but the Cubs broke it open with a three run seventh inning en route to a 6-3 victory.  Samardzija earned his second win of the season, his first since opening day, hopefully he can build on that, what was most important for him was finally being able to work deep into a game and control the outcome instead of handing it over to the pen in the fifth or sixth inning.

At The Plate – The Cubs made the most of their hits as they pounded out nine while scoring six times.  The top of the order did most of the damage as the Cubs one, two, three hitters were a combined 6-for-10 with three RBI’s, and three runs scored.  David DeJesus was 2-for-3 with his fifth home run of the seasonCastro 5-15, an RBI, and two runs scored.  Starlin Castro was 2-for-4 with an RBI, and a run scored, he’s now hitting .282 on the season.  Anthony Rizzo continues to produce, he was 2-for-3 with a walk, a double, and an RBI, he now has twenty-nine RBI’s on the season.  Darwin Barney is starting to find a groove at the plate he was 1-for-3 with a walk, a stolen base, and two runs scored.  Jeff Samardzija had a great day all around, he was 1-for-2 with his first home run of the season, two RBI’s, and a run scored.

On The Mound – Really nice to see Samardzija pitch instead of just throw and try to miss bats.  He has the stuff to miss bats but also get quick outs, and that’s what he did today.  Shark went eight innings giving up two runs on five hits while walking two and striking out seven to earn his second win of the season.  James Russell worked just one-third of an inning striking out the only hitter he faced.  Kevin Gregg took it from there, things got sketchy, but he was able to get out of the ninth to preserve the win.  Gregg worked two-thirds of an inning giving up one run, unearned (on a Gregg error), on two hits.

Up Next – The Cubs welcome the Mets to Wrigley Field for a three game weekend set starting Friday.  The Cubs are off tomorrow, their second straight Thursday without a game.

Cubs 5-15 box

 

Game Highlights:

Samardzija goes deep
Samardzija’s strong outing
DeJesus with a sweet grab to end the game
Castro scores in the seventh
Rizzo’s RBI single
Castro with a big insurance RBI
Great defense from the Cubs
DeJesus’ lead-off homer

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Villanueva makes case for spot in the pen as Rockies rout Cubs

Cubs 5-14 line

Full Box Score

  Carlos Villanueva was so very good for parts of this season, but the last few times out have not gone so well.  With the recent struggles it wouldn’t be surprising to see Villanueva head to the bullpen when Matt Garza returns.  I know who he can replace, Shawn Camp , more on him later, he didn’t help his or the Cubs cause tonight.  The Cubs were never in this one and it was over before it started it seemed as the Rockies jumped out to a 5-0 lead by the third inning.  Things got worse in the fifth as the Rockies added two more to take a 7-0 lead, that’s when the Cubs woke up, with some help from the Rockies.  The Cubs scored once in the fifth, and twice in the eighth to Helton 5-14make it 7-3 but they wouldn’t get any closer.  The Rockies tacked on two more runs in the ninth thanks to Carlos Gonzalez putting an exclamation point on his night with his second home run, he ended is evening 5-for-5 with two home runs, and three RBI’s.  Seems about right when it comes to Car-Go and the Cubs.  Two games in this series and two blow outs, one each way, wonder what tomorrow will bring.

At The Plate – The Cubs could only manage seven hits in this one, but they had their chances to score more than the four runs they did.  The Cubs were only 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position in this one, and they left seven men on.  David DeJesus was 2-for-5 with a run scored as he raised his average to .281 on the season.  Darwin Barney found some magic in this one, he was 3-for-4 with a double, a home run, and two RBI’s, that performance raised his average to .186, going to need a few more of those from Darwin.

On The Mound – Carlos Villanueva was hit hard all night, even the outs were loud outs.  Villanueva worked five innings giving up seven runs on twelve hits while striking out one, the loss dropped his record to 1-3 on the season.  Hector Rondon continues to prove he belongs out of the pen as he worked a scoreless inning while walking one and striking out one to lower his ERA to 3.68 on the season.  Michael Bowden also seems to be finding a comfort zone out of the pen, he worked two scoreless inning giving up two hits while striking out one.  The only thing comfortable about Shawn Camp is how opposing hitters feel in the box against him.  Camp is getting really close to be designated for assignment, he worked one inning tonight giving up two runs on three hits while striking out one, his ERA climbed to a robust 7.31 for the season.

Up Next – The rubber match of the series as Jeff Samardzija looks for his second win of the season.  He will be opposed by a familiar face, Jon Garland, first pitch scheduled for 7:05 PM CST.

Cubs 5-14 box

 

Game Highlights:

Thank you, Rockies
Barney goes deep, imagine that

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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

Ransom, Bullpen Lead Cubs to Victory

Cubs April 29 line

Full Box Score

The Cubs fight finally paid off in this one, so often this year the Cubs have had the will to win….see what I did there?  But they have all too often come up short, but not tonight as they beat the Padres 5-3 to open the four game set.  Jeff Samardzija struggled with command in the early going which resulted in an earlier than normal exit.  That’s when the bullpen took over as they walked a fine line over the last four innings but shut the Padres down.  With Ransom 4-29the game tied in the sixth Cody Ransom and Darwin Barney came up huge with two outs to give the Cubs a 5-3 lead and they never looked back.  That’s four wins in their last five games for the Cubs, I think we can all get used to this.

At The Plate – The Cubs pounded out ten hits en route to scoring five runs in this one, and probably could have had more as they were 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position.  Alfonso Soriano broke out of his slump, at least for tonight as he went 2-for-4 with a double, and a run scored.  Cody Ransom was a hero for the Cubs with the bat and glove as he made a game saving play in the seventh.  Ransom was 2-for-4 with a home run, two RBI’s, and two runs scored against his former team.  Darwin Barney also found some rare success as he was 2-for-3 with two doubles, two RBI’s, and a walk in the victory.

On The Mound – Jeff Samardzija battled, but he didn’t have his best command, the result was an elevated pitch count by the fifth inning.  Shark worked five innings giving up three runs on four hits while walking four and striking out eight, he did not factor into the decision.  Michael Bowden, Shawn Camp, James Russell, and Kevin Gregg all had scoreless outings out of the pen to nail this one down.  Bowden earned the win as he worked an inning while striking out one.  Camp and Russell each had some trouble, but were able to work out of it with the help of one another and Kevin Gregg.  Gregg worked his third perfect ninth for his fourth save of the year already with the Cubs.  Overall Gregg worked 1.1 scoreless innings while striking out two.

Up Next – Game two of the series tomorrow night at 7:05 PM CST, should be a great night for baseball as temperatures are supposed to soar into the 80’s.  Edwin Jackson gets the ball for the Cubs, he will be opposed by Edinson Volquez who always seems to have the Cubs number.

Cubs 4-29 box

Game Highlights:

Scott Hairston solo blast
Ransom goes back to back with Hairston
Barney with his first RBI double
Ransom with a huge RBI single
Barney’s second RBI double of the night

Thanks for reading,
– George

Cubs Win Second Straight Behind Rizzo’s Monster Shots

Cubs April 26 line

Full Box Score

If you are going to break out of a slump, do it in impressive fashion.  That’s exactly what Anthony Rizzo did tonight as he blasted two monster home runs, each two run shots and that’s all the Cubs would need.  Scott Feldman and company made those four runs hold up the rest of the way for the Cubs second win in as many games, the first time they have done that all year.  Scott Feldman worked out of a couple jams thanks to some slick defense, the Rizzo 4-26biggest play might have been Darwin Barney saving a throwing error and turning into a double play in the third inning.  Shawn Camp also faced some trouble in his inning of work but once again was able to wiggle off the hook.  Heading to the ninth with a two run lead Dale Sveum turned to Kevin Gregg and he delivered, pitching a spotless ninth for the save.

At The Plate – The Cubs scattered ten hits in this one while scoring four times.  The offense really only came from three guys in this one, Dave Sappelt, Anthony Rizzo, and Darwin Barney.  Rizzo had the huge game going 3-for-4 with two home runs, four RBI’s, a stolen base and two runs scored.  Dave Sappelt getting the start for DeJesus filled in admirably going 2-for-4 with two runs scored.  Barney was 3-for-3 with three singles in the victory.

On The Mound – Scott Feldman finally got that elusive first win tonight as he worked 6.2 innings giving up two runs on seven hits while walking two and striking out two.  With first and second and nobody out in the third Feldman almost threw it all away, literally.  Feldman grabbed a ball hit back to him and threw to second to start a big double play but the throw was high and if not for some defensive heroics from Darwin Barney this game might have ended differently.  Shawn Camp and James Russell each had scoreless appearances to get the game to the ninth.  Kevin Gregg took it from there as he worked a scoreless ninth for his second save of the year.

Up Next – The Cubs go for their first three game winning streak of the year tomorrow night with Travis Wood taking the mound.  Wood will oppose Alex Sanabia at 6:10 PM CST.

Cubs 4-26 box

Game Highlights:

Anthony Rizzo’s first home run of the night
Rizzo goes deep into the upper deck
Barney’s game saving play

Thanks for reading,
– George

Series Preview – Cubs @ Marlins; April 25 – April 28, 2013

Marlins Preview Header

Well, based on the records, this could be an ugly series as the Cubs come in at 6-14 with the Marlins sporting a 5-16 record, that’s a lot of losses.  As one could imagine, it hasn’t gone well of late for either team as the Cubs are 2-8 ion their last ten games, of course at least half of those losses could be wins, and the Marlins are 3-7 in their last ten.  The Marlins struggles are similar to the that of the Cubs, they can’t score runs.  The Marlins have the worst team batting average in all of baseball (.221), the Cubs aren’t much better at .229 (26th in MLB).  The Marlins are also dead last in runs scored with 54, eleven fewer than the Cubs on the season.  The Cubs also hold the edge in the pitching department as they sport a 3.44 team ERA which is 9th best in all of baseball, think about that for a second, the Cubs have the 9th best ERA yet sit eight games under .500 this year.  The Marlins team ERA is a full run worse than that of the Cubs, they sit 26th in the Majors at 4.50.  All signs point to a successful weekend in Miami for the Cubs, but they still have to go out there and perform.

Cubs Standings 4-24

Marlins Standings 4-24

Last Series:

The Cubs left Cincinnati wanting more, they lost two of three and could have easily won two of three.

The Marlins split a rain shortened series in Minnesota.

Game Times and Broadcast Information:

  • Thursday, April 24, 2013 – 6:10 PM CST on WCIU
  • Friday, April 25, 2013 – 6:10 PM CST on WGN TV
  • Saturday, April 26, 2013 – 6:10 PM CST on CSN+ (Channel Finder)
  • Sunday, April 27, 2013 – 12:10 PM CST on CSN Chicago

Starting Pitchers Scheduled:

Cubs:

Game One – Edwin Jackson (0-3, 4.84)
– Career vs. Marlins (8 appearances, 7 GS) (1-6, 6.69)

Game Two – Scott Feldman (0-3, 4.50)
– Career vs. Marlins (First appearance)

Game Three – Travis Wood (1-1, 2.08)
– Career vs. Marlins (2 GS) (0-2, 16.88)

Game Four – Carlos Villanueva (1-0, 1.53)
– Career vs. Marlins (10 appearances, 2 GS) (1-1, 5.79)

Marlins:

Game One – Kevin Slowey (0-2, 1.90)
– Career vs. Cubs (1 GS) (1-0, 4.50)

Game Two – Wade LeBlanc (0-3, 6.27)
– Career vs. Cubs (2 appearances, 1 GS) (1-0, 2.08)

Game Three – Alex Sanabia (2-2, 5.09)
– Career vs. Cubs (1 GS) (0-1, 3.18)

Game Three – Ricky Nolasco (1-2, 3.81)
– Career vs. Cubs (8 appearances, 7 GS) (4-2, 2.85)

Who’s Hot / Who’s Not:

The Cubs have struggled all season long with runners in scoring position, even more troubling is their inability to get runners in from third base and less than two outs.  That is a situation where contact needs to be made and the run needs to score.  So far this season the Cubs have had twenty-three at bats with a runner at third with less than two outs, they only have two hits, that’s a .077 average.  They have only scored eleven times in those twenty-three chances, David DeJesus, Starlin Castrofor one, they need more chances, and two they need to capitalize starting yesterday.  Anthony Rizzo is having better at bats as of late unfortunately that is not yielding better results.  Over his last six games Rizzo is hitting .185 (5-for-27), he does have three home runs and five RBI’s during that stretch.  Darwin Barney has struggled mightily at the plate since returning from the DL, he is hitting .174 (4-for-23) in his last six games, but does have a game winning homer.  David DeJesus has been lighting it up of late, he is hitting .368 (7-for-19) over the last six games with a double, a triple, two home runs, three RBI’s, and four walks.  On the mound, Carlos Villanueva has been outstanding in his last two starts going 1-0 with a 2.35 ERA only giving up seven hits in 15.1 innings.

The Marlins glaring issues are scoring runs, and then preventing them once the bullpen comes into the game, sounds familiar, eh?  I mentioned the Marlins offensive woes above, but their bullpen ERA is just as bad.  The Rob Brantly 4-24 previewMarlins sit 28th in the Majors in bullpen ERA with a 4.98 ERA, which is worse than the Cubs if you can believe that.  Get ready for a lot of names that you probably don’t know, starting now.  Not much has gone right at the plate for the Marlins, but Rob Brantly has been a bright spot lately.  Over the last five games Brantly is hitting .313 (5-for16) with three doubles, four RBI’s, and two walks.  Justin Ruggiano on the other hand has been awful in the last seven games hitting .207 (6-for-29), of those six hits two have left the park.  Ryan Webb has been one of the few bright spots out of the Marlins pen of late as he has tossed six innings over the last seven days giving up only one run.  Jon Rauch has been stupid bad in his last two appearances, giving up five runs on four hits in 1.2 innings.

Bold Prediction:

These close games are bound to start going in the favor of the Cubs, and I think that starts now.  The way the Cubs staff has been throwing the ball I like their chances against a weak Marlins line up.  I also think the Cubs will start getting some timely hits and take three out of four this weekend….please??

Thanks for reading,
– George

Cubs Find a Way to Win Despite Another Blown Save

Cubs April 23 line

Full Box Score

Same thing every night it seems as once again the Cubs blew a ninth inning lead, this time it was Carlos Marmol giving up a game tying single to Joey Votto.  Marmol then loaded the bases and narrowly escaped the jam, lucky he did as the Cubs responded right away in the tenth.  An unlikely power source did the trick, Darwin Barney took Manny Parra deep to start the tenth, how unlikely you ask?  I’ll tell you my inquisitive friend, that was Barney’s first home run away from Wrigley Field, in his career.  The Cubs were able to tack on another insurance run for good measure and Kevin Gregg nailed down the save, with the tying run on base of course.  Lost in this was the Castillo 4-23 winperformance by Carlos Villanueva, he was sensational, but had to settle for a no decision and Carlos Marmol got the win…. yeah, the win stat in baseball doesn’t always tell the truth, sometimes it’s just a dirty liar, okay, Cubs win!

At The Plate – I know it’s easy to pin the blame on the bullpen with all of these close losses, but one of the other fingers has to be pointed at the offense as well, tonight was a perfect example.  The Cubs jumped on the board early in this one, plating two runs in the second, that was it until the tenth, more times than not, that won’t be good enough.  Hello Cody Ransom!  Ransom made his Cubs debut tonight as was terrific, he went 2-for-4 with a home run, a double, an RBI, and a run scored.  Alfonso Soriano has located the fountain of youth, it’s in Cincinnati, weird place for it, but anyway.  Soriano was 3-for-4 but his aggressiveness on the base paths was refreshing, he stole second and third on consecutive pitches which set up the first run, the Cubs need more of that.  The Cubs stole four bases tonight, the two from Soriano, one from Sappelt, and one from Julio Borbon.  Dave Sappelt had a solid night out of the lead-off spot as well going 2-for-4 with a walk, a double, and an RBI.  Darwin Barney had the game winning hit, a solo home run in the tenth which was his only hit in four at bats.

On The Mound – What else can be said about Carlos Villanueva, he has been outstanding in the early going and only has one win to show for it.  Villanueva went 8.1 innings giving up two runs on just three hits while walking two and striking out six.  Carlos Marmol blew the save, he worked two-thirds of an inning giving up one hit which allowed the tying run to score while walking two and striking out one.  Kevin Gregg did a solid job in nailing this one down, I don’t expect any Cubs pitcher to go 1-2-3 in a save situation, he gave up two hits while striking out two to earn the save.

Up Next – Great match up in the series finale tomorrow morning at 11:30 AM CST on CSN Chicago.  Jeff Samardzija battles Mat Latos, a series win would be fantastic, but again, the Cubs are trying to win a series tomorrow when they could be going for a sweep.

Cubs 4-23 box 1

Cubs 4-23 box 2

Game Highlights:

Cody Ransom goes deep in debut
Big double play
Darwin Barney’s game winning blast
Sappelt’s RBI single
Slick play here from Cody Ransom

Thanks for reading,
– George