Series Preview – Rangers @ Cubs; April 16 – April 18, 2013

The Cubs welcome another tough opponent to Wrigley, quite the back-to-back series as the Cubs, who are coming off a series with Giants now entertain the Texas Rangers.  As bad as the weather was this past weekend it might be even worse this week.  Tomorrow’s game looks okay, but Wednesday and Thursday are supposed to be wet, very wet, 70% chance of rain each day.  Obviously with this being an inter-league series they will do everything they can to get these games in.  Darwin Barney is scheduled to make his return to the Cubs lineup tomorrow, and he has been missed greatly in the defensive lineup.  One could say the Cubs have had some bad luck in the early going this year, but they have made most of that luck, if they just convert their save opportunities this team could be no worse than .500, just have to keep fighting.

Last Series:

The Cubs lost three out of four to the Giants at home.

The Rangers split a four game series with the Mariners in Seattle.

Game Times and Broadcast Information:

  • Tuesday, April 16, 2013 – 7:05 PM CST on CSN Chicago
  • Wednesday, April 17, 2013 – 7:05 PM CST on WGN TV
  • Thursday, April 18, 2013 – 1:20 PM CST on WGN TV. MLBN

Starting Pitchers Scheduled:

Cubs:

Game One – Travis Wood (1-0, 1.46)
– Career vs. Rangers (First appearance)

Game Two – Carlos Villanueva (0-0, 0.64)
– Career vs. Rangers (8 appearances, 2 GS) (1-1, 3.16)

Game Three – Jeff Samardzija (1-2, 2.75)
– Career vs. Rangers (First appearance)

Rangers:

Game One – Derek Holland (0-1, 2.40)
– Career vs. Cubs (1 GS)  (0-0, 3.00)

Game Two – Justin Grimm (0-1, 4.50)
– Career vs. Cubs (First appearance)

Game Three – Alexi Ogando (2-0, 1.08)
– Career vs. Cubs (First appearance)

Who’s Hot / Who’s Not:

Let’s start with “not” for the Cubs.  The bullpen, and defense, both have been a disaster lately, and for the most part of the year.  The pen has been bad at the worst time too, in the seventh inning or later the Cubs have a bullpen ERA of 5.67 Castro previewwhich is 29th in the Majors.  That number alone says a lot as the Cubs have had a chance to win pretty much every game they have played so far this year, maddening.  Carlos Villanueva has been a big part of getting the ball to the seventh inning this year as he has been outstanding, unfortunately he has nothing to show for it except a sparkling 0.64 ERA.  Starlin Castro has basically made up for his slow start in the last seven days as he is hitting .379 over that period of time.  The only guy hotter is David DeJesus who is hitting .381 over that same period of time.  Another big reason for the Cubs early season struggles has been their success or lack thereof with runners in scoring position, they are hitting a paltry .141, 29th in the Majors.

The Rangers look rather different this year, but still come into this series with an 8-5 record.  Gone are Josh Hamilton and Michael Young, but the Rangers have persevered early in the season.  A big reason is the play of two newcomers, Lance Berkman, and everyones favorite catcher, A.J. Pierzynski.  Berkman is hitting .389 in the early going, and Pierzynski is hitting .342 so far.  Ian Kinsler has found some power in the early going and has stayed healthy, he’s Rangershitting .292 with four home runs and nine RBI’s.  David Murphy is struggling mightily, he is hitting .160 on the season, that’s with fifty at bats too (8-for-50).   Yu Darvish is the high-profile name on the Rangers staff, but the guy that is pitching like a number one is Alexi Ogando, and the Cubs will see the latter in this series.  Ogando has been outstanding, he is 2-0 with a 1.08 ERA, and opponents are hitting only .194 against him this season.  The Rangers also boast the fourth best bullpen in all of baseball with a 2.06 ERA from their relief pitchers.  Moral of the story, get to their starters early.

Bold Prediction:

The Cubs win the two out of three if all games get played.  A few breaks have to start going the Cubs way soon….right….Go Cubs!

Thanks for reading,
– George

Cubs Blow it, Then Walk-Off a Winner

Cubs line 4-12

Full Box Score

Baseball is a funny game, it’s also infuriating and thrilling, today had a little bit of everything.  Carlos Villanueva battled Matt Cain today, and got the best of him as he was brilliant all afternoon.  Villanueva left in the seventh inning with a 2-0 lead, things looked great!  Then the ninth inning rolled around, and that clearly has been a problem this year, and it’s not just Marmol either.  Kyuji Fujikawa struggled with his command and got hit Castro 4-12pretty hard as he gave up three runs to blow the save and put himself and the Cubs in line for the loss.  That’s when for the fourth straight game the Cubs showed some fight.  Dioner Navarro tied the game at three with a pinch hit home run off Sergio Romo, David DeJesus came up with a two-out single then Starlin Castro played hero.  Castro drove a 2-1 pitch off the center field wall for a walk-off double, just like that the Cubs were winners, as I said infuriating and thrilling all in one game, gotta love baseball.  My head hurts.

At The Plate – Top of the order magic again for the Cubs.  David DeJesus was 3-for-5 with a home run, a double, an RBI, and two runs scored.  Starlin Castro was the hero, he finished the day 2-for-5 with a double, a home run, two RBI’s, and a run scored.  Welington Castillo continued his torrid start to the season going 2-for-4.  Dioner Navarro came up large off the bench in the ninth delivering a game-tying solo home run, he finished 1-for-1.

On The Mound – What can be said about Carlos Villanueva?  He was absolutely outstanding today, and unfortunately for the second straight game he had to settle for a no decision.  Villanueva tossed 7.1 scoreless innings, he gave up three hits while walking one and striking out three.  James Russell worked tow-thirds of an inning and only allowed one hit.  Kyuji Fujikawa really struggled, he worked one inning giving up three runs on three hits, he earned the blown save, and the win, go figure.

Up Next – Game three of the series and it’s a good one.  Jeff Samardzija takes on Madison Bumgarner at 12:05 PM CST on Fox.

Cubs box 4-12

Cubs box 4-12 1

Game Highlights:

Castro’s solo shot
DeJesus goes deep
Navarro ties the game in the ninth
Castro wins it!

Thanks for reading,
– George

Comeback Successful! Cubs Even Series With Brewers

Cubs 4-9 line

Full Box Score

One day after the Cubs teased us all with the possibility of a thrilling comeback they actually delivered.  Trailing 3-0 early because of mostly defensive miscues the Cubs pitching shut the door and for the first time all year the offense sprung to life when the team needed it the Schierholtz 4-9most.  After inching closer on RBI ground outs from Rizzo in the 5th and Castro in the 7th the Cubs found a new level of clutch tying the game in the seventh then breaking it open in the eighth inning.  The last two games the Cubs have shown some fight with two comebacks, well one and a half, and at this point that’s all you can ask for, a team that fights.

At The Plate – Finally some production from the top of the order, after two listless at bats David DeJesus broke out.  DeJesus was 3-for-5 with a double, two RBI’s, and two runs scored.  Anthony Rizzo showed a much better approach tonight as he went 1-for-2 with a huge game tying single off of lefty Michael Gonzalez (previously 0-for-6 vs LHP), he also had two walks, and two RBI’s.  Scott Hairston registered the game winning RBI with a sac fly in the eighth inning to give the Cubs a 4-3 lead.

On The Mound – Another outstanding effort from Travis Wood who could have easily mailed it in after a rough second inning in which his defense let him down.  Wood ended up going 6.1 innings giving up three runs, two earned, on seven hits while walking three and striking out six.  Hector Rondon continued his spotless work out of the bullpen as he worked two-thirds of an inning giving up nothing.  Carlos Marmol entered the game in eighth, and I’m guessing I wasn’t the only one holding my breath.  Marmol was effective, he worked one inning giving up a triple and the was it, he was bailed out by a spectacular play by Castro to end the eighth and keep the game tied at three.  Marmol ended up getting the win as Kyuji Fujikawa earned the save, Kyuji worked the ninth giving up one hit and striking out two to earn his second save of the season.

Up Next – The rubber game of the series as Scott Feldman makes his Wrigley Field debut against Brewers newcomer Kyle Lohse.  The weather is supposed to be craptastic, we’ll see if this one gets in, scheduled first pitch is 7:05 PM CST.

Stat Of The Night – David DeJesus had two hits on the season coming into this one, he had three hits tonight.

Cubs April 9 box

Cubs April 9 Box 1

Game Highlights:

Castro’s RBI groundout
Hairston’s sac fly puts Cubs in front
Game saving play by Castro
Rizzo’s RBI groundout
Rizzo’s huge RBI double to tie the game
DeJesus pads the lead

Thanks for reading,
– George

Samardzija’s Dominance Not Enough as Cubs Get Swept

April 6 line

Full Box Score

Jeff Samardzija was about as dominant as a pitcher could be today, unfortunately the final score really doesn’t tell the story.  The Cubs offense got back to normal as they could only manage five hits and one run against Braves starter Tim Hudson in the loss.  Samardzija 4-7The game changed in the sixth as the Braves looked to get a break as the home plate umpire ruled that Chris Johnson was hit by a pitch, it looked like it missed him on the replay but it was a close call.  That loaded the bases and Ramiro Pena followed with a ground ball base hit, which arguably could have been had by a Major League second baseman, unfortunately the Cubs had Alberto Gonzalez there.  Just like that it was 3-1 Braves and basically over given the Cubs lack of offensive anything.  Home opener tomorrow!

At The Plate – Nothing good really.  After yesterday’s “explosion” the Cubs could only manage five hits, and only one extra base hit.  Starlin Castro might be on the verge of getting hot as he was 2-for-4 with two singles.  Anthony Rizzo provided the only RBI of the game and finished the day 1-for-4, and David DeJesus doubled for his only hit of the game.  The Cubs left seven guys on base and were o-for-4 with runners in scoring position today.

On The Mound – It was the Jeff Samardzija show, and it’s really unfortunate that he didn’t get a win, or a no decision and was hung with a loss because he really didn’t deserve it.  Samardzija went 5.2 innings giving up four runs on four hits while walking four and striking out thirteen.  Hector Rondon had a solid inning of work out of the pen as he allowed nothing while striking out two.  Hisanori Takahashi gave up a run in his inning of work, a solo home run to Dan Uggla, he also struck out one.

Up Next – The home opener!  Something to get excited about after two mind numbing losses.  Edwin Jackson gets the honors and will face off against Marco Estrada and the Brewers.

Stat Of The Night – Jeff Samardzija set a career high with thirteen strikeouts in only 5.2 innings, besting his previous high of eleven.

Cubs April 7 box

Cubs April 7 box 1

Game Highlights:

Check back later

Thanks for reading,
– George

There You Have It, 100 Losses for the Cubs

That didn’t take very long, as the Cubs record their 100th loss of the season in a shade under three hours at Wrigley tonight.  For the second straight time, Lucas Harrell absolutely dominated the Cubs on their home field.  The Cubs could only manage two hits all night, and had a number of quick, thoughtless at bats, maybe they wanted to make sure they were done in time for the second half of the Bears game.  Jason Berken got the start for the Cubs tonight and pitched well enough given the fact he wasn’t allowed to go very deep into the game.  Berken lasted 4.2 innings giving up two runs on four hits while walking one and striking out two.  The loss drops Berken to 0-3 with the Cubs and ends his 2012 season.  David DeJesus led the game off with a single, then Anthony Rizzo got a hit, and that was it, nothing else happened tonight.  The Cubs could only manage one walk, and struck out 11 times, I can’t think of a more perfect game to lose for number 100.  Meaningless baseball for most continues tomorrow, where the Cubs look to avoid loss number 101.

FULL BOX SCORE

Game Highlights:
It was the 100th loss of the season, there are no highlights.

Thanks for reading,
– George

Cubs Finally Win Out West

It took all year, but the Cubs finally managed to register a victory on the road against a National League West opponent, yikes.  For five innings today it was much of the same for the Cubs as they trailed 2-1 and couldn’t get anything going offensively.  That changed in the sixth as the Cubs found some clutch hits, but received a whole lot of help from the D-backs as they committed three errors in the game.  The Cubs scored four times in the sixth to take a 5-2 lead and never looked back, taking this one 7-2 to win their final road game of the season.  Chris Rusin made his final start of 2012 and it was a solid one.  Rusin went five strong innings giving up two runs, only one earned, on three hits while walking two and striking out four to earn his second career victory.  The Cubs bullpen was lights out over the final four innings to preserve the victory.  Anthony Rizzo, who hasn’t that great of a road trip had a solid day at the plate going 3-for-5 with two doubles, an RBI, and a run scored.  Starlin Castro joined the fun as well going 2-for-4 at the plate as he continues his strong finish to the season.  The Cubs return home to finally put the 2012 season out of its misery and need a sweep of the Astros to avoid the dreaded 100 loss mark.

FULL BOX SCORE

Game Highlights:
LaHair’s Two-Run Single
Rusin’s Solid Outing
DeJesus Goes Deep
Sappelt’s Great Hustle

Thanks for reading,
– George

Cubs Shock Cards; Walk-Off in 11th

Shortly after Pat Hughes said on WGN Radio that it was nearly impossible to hit a home run to left field given the wind shift and intensity, little Darwin Barney said not so fast, blasting a two-out, two-strike homer to tie the game at four in the bottom of the ninth.  Two innings later David DeJesus laced his fourth hit of the day into right field to score pinch runner Brett Jackson and give the Cubs a thrilling 5-4 victory.  If the Cardinals somehow miss the playoffs they might point to this game as a big reason why.  Chris Carpenter made his 2012 debut for the Cardinals and pitched well enough to win, Chris Volstad countered for the Cubs and found himself in trouble all day long.  All you had to do was look at his pitch count at the end of the 5th inning, it told the troublesome story for Volstad, 116 pitches.  Volstad bent but never really broke, he gave up three runs on six hits while walking three with no strikeouts.  Volstad gave his team a chance to win, which is really all you can ask a back of the rotation starter to do.  The Cubs bullpen was once again outstanding today as they pitched the final six innings giving up only one run on two hits while walking three and striking out seven.  As I mentioned, David DeJesus had a huge day at the plate, he finished the day 4-for-6 with a triple, an RBI, and two runs scored.  Darwin Barney, Luis Valbuena, and Welington Castillo all had two hits in the victory, none bigger than Barney’s two-run shot in the ninth.  Great win!

FULL BOX SCORE 

Sveum Postgame

Game Highlights:
Cubs Walk-Off
Barney and Rizzo Team Up
Barney’s Game-Tying Blast
Soriano’s RBI Double

Thanks for reading,
– George