The Cubs could easily be accused as a team just going through the motions this year as they have a had a number of lifeless losses and currently sit 35 games under .500. Tonight was more of the same against the Nationals until Bo Porter, former Cub, and the Nationals third base coach, lit a fire under the club. After the Nationals stole a couple of bases, and Jayson Werth swung at a 3-0 pitch with a five run lead, catcher Steve Clevenger went to the dugout to get a new glove. Apparently Bo Porter didn’t like it, and started barking at the Cubs bench, Jaime Quirk took exception to Porter and the two got in a shouting match which resulted in benches clearing. Miraculously, Bo Porter, who started everything stayed at his post at third base, and Quirk was ejected. Fast forward to the 6th, the Cubs were determined to get the last word as Lendy Castillo threw at Bryce Harper, and missed. Harper walked towards the mound with Clevenger intercepting him before he could get too far, but the benches and bullpens were empty once again, this time with vigor. Nats reliever Michael Gonzalez kept running his mouth, which resulted in some more pushing and a possible sad attempt at a punch from Clevenger. Clevenger, and Corpas were ejected along with Gonzalez, that was the end of the extracurriculars, the butt kicking resumed after that. I will say this, it was nice to see a Cubs team answer the bell and finally say enough is enough, however when you are getting blasted night after night it makes you look rather sad. I was still happy to see it.
Now onto the third straight embarrassment on the field. Justin Germano got the start for the Cubs tonight, and didn’t fare much better then the Cubs starters that preceded him in this series. Germano was done after four innings, he gave up seven runs, six earned, on seven hits while walking two and striking out two. Germano left trailing 7-2, this was after the Cubs actually held a lead of 2-1 in the second inning. The Cubs had some success early against Nats starter Jordan Zimmermann as they scored in the first and second to take an early lead. Anthony Rizzo had a great day at the plate going 3-for-4 with his 12th home run of the season. Starlin Castro also did his best to keep the Cubs in this one as he was 2-for-4 with a double, a triple, and a run scored. On to Pittsburgh.
Incident #1 – Bo Porter NOT Ejected
Brett Jackson’s Great Catch
Barney Triples Home a Run
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Much like the Cubs did yesterday, the Giants jumped out in front early and rode that momentum to victory. Justin Germano got the start and struggled with his command early, and he can’t succeed if he doesn’t have his command. The Giants struck for four runs in the first, all coming after the first two hitters were retired. Germano finished his day after five innings giving up five runs on six hits while walking two and striking out two. His counterpart Tim Lincecum was good today, however he made plenty of mistakes over the middle of the plate but the Cubs couldn’t take advantage as they could only bang out five hits in the loss. David DeJesus got every bit of a Lincecum mistake in the third inning launching a massive two-run homer that bounced onto Sheffield Avenue to bring the Cubs to within three at 5-2. Unfortunately that was as close as the Cubs would get as they were shut down over the last six innings in this one. Anthony Rizzo also had a good day at the plate as he is starting to get hot again, he finished the day 2-for-4 with a double. The rubber game of the series takes place tomorrow afternoon where the Cubs will put their hopes of a series win in the hands of Travis Wood.
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I don’t think I should predict anymore victories, especially when Chris Volstad is pitching. So much for trying to be positive, Chris Volstad is just lost out there, and I was foolish to think he had a chance tonight. Furthermore, if I knew Lendy Castillo would make an appearance I would have definitely kept my mouth shut. Volstad was roughed up again tonight, as he recorded his ninth loss of the season, he’s only made twelve starts. Sure, four runs doesn’t seem like a lot, but Volstad was hit hard in every inning. Speaking of innings, Volstad only lasted five, giving up four runs on eight hits while striking out three. Lendy Castillo, or as I like to call him, kerosene, made things much worse in his 0.2 innings of work, he gave up five runs, three earned on five hits while striking out two. This was another one of those “going through the motions” games as the Cubs seemed to want to do anything but play baseball tonight. They only managed six hits, and one run on their way to a 10-1 defeat thanks in large part to Lucas Harrell, who, to be fair, was outstanding tonight. Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro, and Brett Jackson each had one hit in the loss, so that’s exciting, I guess. The Cubs will look to win the series tomorrow as they send Justin Germano to the bump.
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We’ve seen this way too many times over the last 12 games, a decent pitching performance from the Cubs wasted as the offensive attack was anything but. It happened again today as Brooks Raley did everything he could to get the Cubs a win but they fell short for the 11th time in their last 12 games. Raley was much better in his second major league start as he went six strong innings giving up three runs on five hits while walking one and striking out two. It was a pitchers duel all day as Raley was perfect through four innings but ran into trouble in the fifth where he surrendered three straight hits, and two runs to basically put this one out of reach. Things were never really in doubt this afternoon as the Cubs could only manage four hits against Johnny Cueto who tossed eight scoreless innings for his 15th win of the season. After winning the first game of this series the Cubs put on a crap show the rest of the weekend. This weekend will be best remembered for the lackadaisical effort put forth by the Cubs, that includes a five error “effort” on Friday and multiple mental mistakes, not just from players named Castro.
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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.
The Cubs, fresh off almost being no-hit, battle the Pirates in the rubber game of the series today. Travis Wood starts for the Cubs and tries to keep the ball in the ballpark which has been a major problem for him as of late. Darwin Barney is not in the lineup today, hopefully that is just precautionary after being hit in the head last night. Here is how the Cubs will line up.
1. DeJesus – CF
2. Castro – SS
3. Rizzo – 1B
4. Soriano – LF
5. LaHair – RF
6. Baker – 2B
7. Castillo – C
8. Valbuena – 3B
9. Wood – P
Why can’t Cardenas get a start at 2B or 3B??
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Another low scoring game between the Cubs and Pirates ended with the Pirates hanging on for a 3-2 victory to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Cubs. Ryan Dempster started for the Cubs, and I can’t disagree with that anymore given everything swirling around Dempster right now. The good news I guess is that Dempster was really good despite being tagged with his 5th loss of the season. Dempster allowed three runs over six innings of work on five hits, he didn’t walk anyone and struck out six. Leading 2-1 in the fifth thanks to a Anthony Rizzo solo home run, and an RBI single, Dempster couldn’t hold the lead. He allowed a solo home run in the fifth inning to Michael Mckenry to tie the game, and gave up the lead in the 6th inning on a two out RBI double by Garrett Jones. Dempster was visibly upset in the dugout after the inning, and took his frustration out on a Gatorade cooler. It was nothing really, he just pushed it and threw a cup against the wall, he was later seen apologizing to the Gatorade cooler and asking it if Atlanta was a nice place, wait that’s not right, moving on. The Cubs couldn’t get anything going the rest of the way as the Pirates pen shut the offense down. Still a solid series for the Cubs as they take two out of three from the Bucco’s, full box score and highlights after the jump.