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 doesn’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.
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It’s really quite disappointing that the Cubs come into the series on the heels of just losing one at home to the Mets. That was the whole step back thing I was talking about before that series even started, and the Cubs went out and did just that as they fell back into bad habits, or trends, and lost the series. The Cubs get a chance at redemption and to start another series winning streak starting tonight in Pittsburgh, and it’s a very important series. Why, you ask. I’ll tell you, my inquisitive friend, this marks the beginning of an eight game road trip, and I really think if they can get through this no worse than .500 they will be seeing .500 on the season sooner than later. Tonight also marks the return of Mr. Pie to the face, Matt Garza. All kidding aside this is huge for the Cubs and Garza for so many reasons, one of those reasons is contract status, the other is trade value. The Pirates come into this series with the pedal to the metal as they find themselves just two games out of first in the Central. They also pose a challenge in their home ballpark where they are 15-9 on the season. Both the Pirates and Cubs come into this series as equals as far as scoring runs is concerned, the Pirates have scored 176, the Cubs have scored 173. Wait, so why do the Pirates have a better record, well, they have better pitching then the Cubs, specifically in the pen. The Buccos boast the third best team ERA (3.33)in all of baseball, and their bullpen is a huge reason why as they have a bullpen ERA of 2.81, which is second best in the Majors. The Cubs currently sit twenty-third in the Majors with a 4.11 bullpen ERA, and that boys and girls is why the Pirates are eight games over .500 and the Cubs are seven games under.
The Cubs lost two out of three to the Mets at Wrigley, and of course could have, and maybe should have won all three, which seems to happen a lot this year.
The Pirates won two out of three from the Astros in Pittsburgh over the weekend, and have won eight of their last ten games.
Game Times and Broadcast Information:
- Tuesday, May 21, 2013 – 6:05 PM CST on CSN Chicago
- Wednesday, May 22, 2013 – 6:05 PM CST on WGN
- Thursday, May 23, 2013 – 11:35 AM CST on CSN Chicago
Starting Pitchers Scheduled:
Game One – Matt Garza (0-0, -.–)
– Career vs. Pirates (3 GS) (1-1, 3.79)
Game Two – Jeff Samardzija (2-5, 3.59)
– Career vs. Pirates (14 appearances, 3 GS) (4-0, 0.92)
Game Three – Edwin Jackson (1-6, 5.76)
– Career vs. Pirates (7 GS) (4-1, 3.09)
Game One – Wandy Rodriguez (4-2, 3.25)
– Career vs. Cubs (23 GS) (8-7, 3.56)
Game Two – Francisco Liriano (2-0, 1.64)
– Career vs. Cubs (1 GS) (0-1, 6.35)
Game Three – Jeanmar Gómez (2-0, 2.78)
– Career vs. Cubs (first appearance)
This will be the first time all season that the Cubs will trot out their number one, two and three starters. Okay, Jackson is not quite performing like a number three yet, and Wood and Feldman have been much better, but on paper going into this year it was Garza, Samardzija, Jackson. Garza’s return to the rotation should only make the pitching staff, bullpen included, better. With that said, I think the Cubs lose two out of three to the Pirates. I think Garza will be way too amped up to make his first start so I forsee command issues and a loss tonight. Now if Garza can harness that emotion the Cubs have a great shot to win the series, but given how hot the Pirates are, and Garza “easing” back into things I think the Buccos get the best of the him tonight, and then the Cubs splitting the next two.
Cub to Watch:
I expect a big series from Starlin Castro. Castro has had his ups and downs this year, but not too high or too low. He has hovered around .280 for the better part of a month, I think this series is the jumping off point to a really hot stretch.
The Cubs welcome the Mets to Wrigley for a three game set starting today at 1:20 PM CST on WGN TV. Edwin Jackson will look to build on probably his best start the last time out against the Nats, the Mets will counter with young phenom Matt Harvey who has been pretty much unhittable this season. Here is how both teams will line up, there are scattered thunderstorms in the forecast, hopefully those stay away.
The Cubs are coming into this series playing their best baseball of 2013, and maybe of the last three years. They have won two series in a row, both against contending teams in the Nationals, on the road, and the Rockies. The Mets on the other hand are floundering as they are 3-7 in their last ten games and have fallen to 15-23 on the season. Despite boasting one, if not the best young arm in baseball in Matt Harvey, the Mets pitching is what is doing them in. They come into this series with a team ERA of 4.50, which is twenty-sixth best in all of baseball. The Cubs hold the advantage here as they come into this series with a 3.72 team ERA which is good for twelfth in the Majors. If you break it down even further you can see that the Mets bullpen has been a real issue in the early going, they have a bullpen ERA of 4.85, which is twenty-eighth in baseball, that won’t help you win a lot of games. Slowly but surely the Cubs have improved offensively, they still aren’t a juggernaut but they are now twenty-third in baseball with 160 runs scored on the season. The Mets aren’t much better as they have scored 165 runs which is good for twentieth in baseball. The key to this series for the Cubs will be to get to the Mets pen as early as possible, not always an easy task but it would go a long way towards winning the series if they could exploit that weakness as they hold the starting pitching edge and should be able to limit the Mets offense. To recap, get an early lead, Cubs starters shut down the Mets lineup, and exploit the Mets pen, ta-da!
The Cubs took two out of three from the Rockies at Wrigley earlier this week.
The Mets lost three out of four to the Cardinals in St. Louis.
Game Times and Broadcast Information:
- Friday, May 17, 2013 – 1:20 PM CST on WGN
- Saturday, May 18 2013 – 12:05 PM CST on WGN
- Sunday, May 19, 2013 – 1:20 PM CST on WGN
Starting Pitchers Scheduled:
Game One – Edwin Jackson (1-5, 6.02)
– Career vs. Mets (4 GS) (1-1, 4.50)
Game Two – Scott Feldman (3-3, 2.53)
– Career vs. Mets (1 GS) (0-1, 10.80)
Game Three – Travis Wood (4-2, 2.03)
– Career vs. Mets (3 GS) (2-0, 2.55)
Game One – Matt Harvey (4-0, 1.44)
– Career vs. Cubs (first appearance)
Game Two – Jeremy Hefner (0-4, 4.61)
– Career vs. Cubs (1 appearance, 0 GS) (0-0, 0.00)
Game Three – Dillon Gee (2-5, 6.13)
– Career vs. Cubs (3 GS) (2-1, 4.26)
As I mentioned, the Cubs are playing well and I think this series is extremely important as we move forward in 2013. I know that sounds odd considering we have just reached the quarter pole of the season, but hear me out. The Cubs have shown flashes of great baseball, followed by huge let downs, it seems they take one step forward and two steps back. The first goal is to get back to .500 and winning this series goes a long way towards that in my opinion, if they lose this series we will see more of the same as they team hovers around 5-10 games under .500, which isn’t terrible for this group I guess. But winning this series could put them on a really nice run, I think the Cubs will win this series, take two out of three at least, a sweep isn’t out of the question, but that all depends on what happens today as the Mets have a clear advantage on the mound. If the Cubs win today, they sweep, if not, they take two out of three. GO CUBS!
Edwin Jackson match all everything Stephen Strasburg pitch for pitch for the first four innings, then the Cubs got a gift. With two outs and nobody on in the top of the 5th Welington Castillo hit what looked like an inning ending ground out to Ryan Zimmerman. Then Zimmerman’s horrible mechanics took over and he made an awful throw to keep the Cubs alive in the inning. The next five Cubs hitters reached base, and when it was all said and done the Cubs led 4-0, with all four runs being unearned. Not only did they take the lead but they knocked Strasburg out of the game after five then added on in the sixth. Leading 4-1 the Cubs scored four more times in the sixth to take an 8-1 lead en route to an 8-2 victory. Edwin Jackson earned his first win of the season, and the Cubs were outstanding with runners in scoring position, bizarro world, but I’ll take it.
At The Plate – The Cubs did get some help from Ryan Zimmerman and his awkwardness in the field, but they also took advantage. The Cubs pounded out twelve hits and scored eight runs, six of those twelve hits were doubles, that gives the Cubs thirteen doubles in the last two games. If that wasn’t enough, the Cubs were also 6-for-12 with runners in scoring position, that usually bodes well. David DeJesus was 1-for-4 with a double, two RBI’s, a walk, and a run scored. Anthony Rizzo has found his 2012 form, he was 3-for-5 with two RBI’s, he’s now hitting .288 on the season, he was hitting .173 on April 26th, think about that. Alfonso Soriano was 2-for-5 with two doubles, and a run score in the victory. One of the biggest hits came off the bat of Edwin Jackson, he laced a two-out, two-run double off of Strasburg to give the Cubs a 2-0 lead in the fifth.
On The Mound – Edwin Jackson was much better in this one, he worked 5.1 innings giving up two runs on four hits while walking two and striking out three to earn his first win as a member of the Cubs. The bullpen was solid as well as they worked the final 3.2 innings to close this one out. Shawn Camp went 1.2 scoreless innings giving up two hits while striking out two. Hector Rondon continues to impress as he went two scoreless innings while striking out two.
Up Next – The rubber game of the series on Mother’s Day as Scott Feldman looks to keep things rolling and get a series win for the Cubs. He will be opposed by left hander Gio Gonzalez, who has uncharacteristically struggled in the early going. First pitch is scheduled for 12:35 PM CST on WGN TV.
The same old things keep plaguing the Cubs, not hitting with runners in scoring position, pitchers making errors, unearned runs, wasted doubles, all were present and accounted for in this one. Samardzija has no one to thank but himself for the Nationals taking a 2-1 lead in the second as he botched a ball right back at him then gave up a two out double. Then Samardzija just lost the feeling for everything in the fourth and fifth innings as the Nationals scored twice in the fourth and three times in the fifth to put this one to bed. For a game that featured ten total runs on nineteen total hits it was played at a breakneck pace, ending in just over two and a half hours. More on the Cubs misery with runners in scoring position below, they definitely had plenty of chances to keep this one close. I mentioned in the series preview that the Cubs would have to play mistake free baseball and capitalize on chances when they present themselves to win, the Cubs proved that true tonight.
At The Plate – The Cubs pounded out ten hits, one more than the Nats, but were only able to score three times. Of those ten hits seven were doubles, think about that for a second, and the Cubs only scored three times. Starlin Castro was given a chance to lead off for the first time this year and had a solid game going 2-for-5 with two doubles, an RBI, and a run scored. Anthony Rizzo turned in another solid performance going 2-for-4 with an RBI, he’s now hitting .276 on the season. Ryan Sweeney had a solid day getting the start in center, he went 2-for-3 with a double, a walk, and a run scored.
On The Mound – Jeff Samardzija needs to find a way to get through the fifth inning, or at least avoid the mind numbing innings that make his pitch count explode. Samardzija’s record fell to 1-5 with the loss, he went five innings giving up seven runs, five earned, on eight hits while walking two and striking out five. Hector Rondon, Kyuji Fujikawa, and Shawn Camp each worked a scoreless inning in relief to keep the deficit somewhat respectable.
Up Next – Game two of the series as Edwin Jackson takes the ball for the Cubs to face one of his former teams. Jackson needs a good outing, I’m not saying his spot in the rotation is in jeopardy, yet, but a good performance could go a long way. Stephen Strasburg will oppose Jackson and the Cubs at 3:05 PM CST.
The stretch of facing contenders continues for the Cubs this weekend in Washington as they take on the exciting Nationals. The Cubs last trip to Washington didn’t go so well as they were swept in a four game series, well swept is to kind of a word, they were embarrassed in a four game series. There was also a bench clearing incident between the two clubs which centered around Steve Clevenger and at the time third base coach of the Nats Bo Porter, neither will be in Washington this weekend. Here’s a fun fact that you probably were not aware of, the Cubs have actually scored more runs this year than the Nationals. That’s right, the Cubs have scored 128 runs, and the Nats have scored 121, both teams are near the bottom of baseball in that category, however the Nats are above .500 and the Cubs, well, aren’t. The Nationals get it done with pitching, but still are not that much better than the Cubs. The Nats have a team ERA of 3.47 which is good for seventh in the Majors while the Cubs sit at thirteenth with a 3.77 ERA. The difference is the Nationals bullpen more times than not gets the job done, they have a team ERA of 3.57 which is fifteenth best in baseball while the Cubs are twenty-fifth best with a 4.57 bullpen ERA. Too many game this year have been lost by the Cubs pen, a failing bullpen will not be good enough against good teams, as evidenced by the Reds, and Cardinals series. Should be a fun weekend, and hopefully we see a better showing than last year, nothing could be worse really.
The Cubs split a two game series with the Cardinals at Wrigley.
The Nats swept a two game series at home against Detroit, they have won four straight heading into tonights game.
Game Times and Broadcast Information:
- Friday, May 10, 2013 – 6:05 PM CST on WGN TV
- Saturday, May 11, 2013 – 3:05 PM CST on CSN Chicago
- Sunday May 12, 2013 – 12:05 PM CST on WGN TV
Starting Pitchers Scheduled:
Game One – Jeff Samardzija (1-4, 3.09)
– Career vs. Nationals (9 appearances, 2 GS) (1-1, 1.48)
Game Two – Edwin Jackson (0-5, 6.39)
– Career vs. Nationals (2 appearances, 1 GS) (0-0, 1.13)
Game Three – Scott Feldman (3-3, 2.70)
– Career vs. Nationals (First appearance)
Game One – Ross Detwiler (1-3, 2.50)
– Career vs. Cubs (3 GS) (2-1, 2.60)
Game Two – Stephen Strasburg (1-4, 3.45)
– Career vs. Cubs (1 GS) (0-0, 1.29)
Game Three – Gio Gonzalez (3-2, 4.97)
– Career vs. Cubs (3 GS) (1-1, 5.74)
The Nationals have gotten hot recently, winning four straight games heading into this series. The Cubs will need to play error free baseball and get improved performances from their bullpen if they want to compete in this series. I still think the Nationals will take two out of three this weekend.
Thanks for reading,