September 10 – 12, 2012; @ Astros – Series Preview

The Cubs are heading into this series on a high note coming off a three game sweep in Pittsburgh, a sweep that put a major dent in the Pirates playoff hopes.  It will be quite the different atmosphere in Houston as this three game set will be a battle for the first pick in the draft.  Huge crowds usually don’t turn out for these types of series, couple that with the NFL season getting underway and it could be a very empty ballpark.  The Cubs shouldn’t worry about that, they should worry about going out there and getting better with each game, and trying to win a job for next year.  Two guys that have jobs locked up for next year, Starlin Castro, and Anthony Rizzo, are leading the Cubs charge as both are red-hot at the plate.  Castro is hitting .333 in September, and Rizzo is hitting a whopping .382 during the month, unfortunately that hasn’t translated to many win as the Cubs are a less than stellar 3-6.  If the Cubs want to extend their winning streak this week they are going to need the starting staff to step up as it will now be without Samardzija for the rest of 2012.

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Here are the pitching matchups for the four game series.

Monday September  10, 2012
Cubs: Chris Volstad (2-10, 6.23 ERA)
Houston: Dallas Keuchel (1-7, 5.54 ERA)

Tuesday September 11, 2012
Cubs: Justin Germano (2-6, 6.95 ERA)
Houston: Jordan Lyles (3-11, 5.55 ERA)

Wednesday September 12, 2012
Cubs: Travis Wood (5-11, 4.42 ERA)
Houston: Fernando Abad (0-3, 5.30 ERA)

Season Series:  Chicago leads 5-4

Prediction:  Cubs win series 2-1

Thanks for reading,
– George

Samardzija Saves His Best for Last

Talk about an exclamation point on a season, Jeff Samardzija went the distance in his final 2012 start in a 4-3 victory over the Pirates.  It was known for a couple of days that Samardzija would be making his last start of the season tonight, so he was ready to empty the tank tonight, and he did.  Samardzija gave up three runs, two earned, on four hits while walking one and striking out nine in his first career complete game.  A fantastic season for Shark as he was not guaranteed a spot in the rotation until the last week of spring training, he finished the year 9-13 with a 3.81 ERA, and 174.2 innings.  The Cubs did just enough with the bats to help Samardzija get his ninth win of the season and put another dent in the Pirates playoff hopes.  Four runs was just enough, but the Cubs could have had so much more tonight as they were 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left ten guys on base.  Tony Campana, hitting ninth tonight, was 2-for-3 with two runs scored, a walk, and a stolen base, the Cubs had four stolen bases in all.  Alfonso Soriano went deep again tonight, his 27th home run of the season, David DeJesus and Welington Castillo each had two hits in the victory.  Two in a row, the Cubs go for the sweep tomorrow afternoon.

FULL BOX SCORE

Game Highlights:
Samardzija Goes the Distance
Castro Hit by Pitch
RBI Single from DeJesus
Soriano’s 27th Home Run

Thanks for reading,
– George

Cubs Can’t Overcome Early Giant Surge

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.

FULL BOX SCORE     

 

  

Game Highlights:
Barney With a Slick Play
DeJesus’ Great Play
Massive Two-Run Homer From DeJesus

Thanks for reading,
– George

 

August 31 – September 2, 2012; vs. Giants – Series Preview

Time to play spoiler as the West Division leading Giants roll into town for a weekend series.  Ever since the Giants got the news that Melky Cabrera was going to be suspended they have taken off, and now hold a four game lead over the Dodgers in a race for the Western Division crown.  The Giants are getting it done with a balanced attack as they are right in the middle of the pack in runs scored and ERA in the National League.  The Cubs are going to need to have a solid offensive approach against the Giants if they want to take this series.  The Giants are a baseball team in every sense of the word, they play, and win as a team.  If the Cubs can do the same thing, and have an approach like they did in the series finale against the Brewers they might be able to play spoiler.  The team could look rather different come Saturday as the rosters will expand, Sveum has cautioned that there might only be six or so call ups, we’ll see, and of course keep you updated.

August 31, 2012 – September 2, 2012; Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL

Here are this weekends pitching matchups.

Friday August 31, 2012
San Francisco: Madison Bumgarner (14-8, 2.93 ERA)
Cubs: Chris Volstad (1-9, 6.28 ERA)

Saturday September 1, 2012
San Francisco: Tim Lincecum (7-14, 5.30 ERA)
Cubs: Justin Germano (2-4, 5.91 ERA)

Sunday September 2, 2012
San Francisco: Matt Cain (13-5, 2.82 ERA)
Cubs: Travis Wood (4-11, 4.71 ERA)

Season Series:  Giants lead series 4-0

Prediction:  Giants sweep series 3-0

Thanks for reading,
– George

Cubs Win Wild One at Wrigley

I mentioned while watching the end of the game, it really doesn’t matter what the Cubs record is, seeing them win a game like that is fun and gets you pumped for what this team could be one day.  What a crazy day at Wrigley, haven’t seen one of these summer day games in a while.  This one started out well enough as the Cubs jumped out to an early 3-0 lead behind a Starlin Castro triple and Anthony Rizzo double, then things got familiar.  By familiar I mean bad, as in the Brewers started beating the crap out of Cubs pitching, again.  The Brewers scored five times in the 3rd, and two more times in the fourth to take a 7-3 lead.  They weren’t done there as they plated two more in the 6th to make it 9-3 and all but assured themselves of a four game sweep.  Not so fast, the Cubs came roaring back in the bottom of the sixth inning, they scored six times on four hits to even the game at nine.  It didn’t take long for the Brewers to grab the lead back as they scored once in the 7th and once in the 8th to build an 11-9 lead heading to the ninth.  That’s when the Cubs of 2012 turned into the Cubs of 2015, okay I’m getting ahead of myself, but the Cubs ninth inning is exactly what everyone is hoping to see on a daily basis on the Northside of Chicago.  Each guy worked the count and made sure that the pitcher was the one in trouble, the end result was a thrilling 12-11 walk off victory, the 50th of the season.  The Cubs walked 11 times this afternoon, that is outstanding, a number of guys had tremendous days, too many to mention here, the box score can do the talking.  I will say this, Starlin Castro had an outstanding day at the plate, not just because of the results, but because he worked every at bat especially in the ninth when he got down 0-2 before working the count to 3-2 and singling up the middle.  Great win!

FULL BOX SCORE

Sveum Postgame

Game Highlights:
Full Video Recap
Rizzo’s Game Tying Double
Castro’s Big Hit in the Ninth
Cubs Six Run Sixth
Jackson’s Big Double
Rizzo Just Misses a HR
Castro Legs Out a Triple

Thanks for reading,
– George

Cubs Collapse Late Against Brewers

For whatever reason the Cubs can’t solve the Brewers, they not only lose to the Brewers, they get blown out by them.  The Cubs raced to an early 3-1 lead last night but couldn’t hold it as Aramis Ramirez and company pushed across three runs in the 5th to take a 4-3 lead.  A Brett Jackson home run in the bottom of the sixth made it 5-4 Brewers, but that was as close as the Cubs would get as the bullpen exploded late.  After giving up one run in the 8th the Cubs pen put on a show in the ninth surrendering nine runs on eight hits.  The best performance on the mound in the ninth inning belonged to Cubs utility outfielder Joe Mather who tossed one-third of an inning giving up only a single.  No word yet if Mather will have a shot to make the team next year out of the bullpen  It was more of the same for the Cubs at the plate against Brewers pitching.  By  more of the same I mean striking out, a lot, as the Cubs fanned 15 times last night, this coming on the heels of striking out 39 times in the three game series in Milwaukee last week.  As I mentioned Brett Jackson went deep, he is locked in right now, he finished the night 1-for-3 with his fourth home run, two walks, an RBI, and a run scored.

FULL BOX SCORE

Game Highlights:
DeJesus Adventure
Castro Turns a Nice Double Play
Jackson Solo Shot
Soriano’s RBI Double

Thanks for reading,
– George

 

 

Cubs go quietly as Reds take the series

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.

FULL BOX SCORE

 

Game Highlights:
DeJesus Makes a Nice Catch
Barney with the Bare Hand

Thanks for reading,
– George