The Cubs are usually on the other end of these games, I like winning these games WAY more than losing them. The Cubs had nothing going all day as they were being no hit through five innings, then they started to chip away at Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez. The Cubs loaded the bases in the sixth only to come up empty, but it signaled that the Cubs might be ready to make things difficult for the Nats. Gonzalez rebounded nicely in the seventh inning, but Nats manager Davey Johnson decided to pull Gio after only 86 pitches on the day, the Cubs thank you Davey. The Cubs went to work in the eighth as they played some small ball. Navarro singled to lead off the eighth, he was then moved to second on a sac bunt by Barney. Travis Wood pinch ran for Navarro and made a great base running play to tag up on a foul ball behind first base to make it to third with two outs. Starlin Castro delivered as he took a Drew Storen pitch back up the middle for game tying base hit. The Cubs used some aggressiveness in the ninth to take the lead an ultimately win the game. They put the first two guys on in the ninth then Ryan Sweeney struck out, I know I’m not the only Cubs fan to think here we go again. But on the very next pitch Soriano and Borbon executed a double steal and the Cubs finally got a break. Kurt Suzuki‘s throw to third hit Welington Castillo‘s bat and went down the third base line allowing Soriano to score the game winning run. Kevin Gregg was perfect in the ninth to secure the Cubs win, and the series win over the Nats.
At The Plate – As I mentioned the Cubs had nothing going all day long, but woke up just in time. Starlin Castro was 1-for-3 with a walk, and a game tying RBI from the lead-off spot. Cody Ransom had a solid day from the two spot going 2-for-4 with two singles. Dioner Navarro was one of the few guys who were locked in at the plate, he was 2-for-3 in the win.
On The Mound – Another really solid start for Scott Feldman, he had to settle for a no decision but that was better than an undeserved loss. Feldman went six innings giving up one run on five hits while walking three and striking out six. Kyuji Fujikawa was solid, and healthy for the second time this series. Fujikawa worked a scoreless inning while striking out one, very encouraging to see his velocity up near 93-94 MPH. James Russell worked a scoreless eighth inning while walking one to earn his first win of the season. Kevin Gregg was lights out yet again, what else would you expect? Gregg worked a scoreless ninth while striking out two earning his sixth save of the season.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mom’s out there! Today the Cubs look to win the series from the Nationals as they continue to play right with the National League contenders despite their record. Scott Feldman has been outstanding as of late and he will try to build on that today as he opposes Gio Gonzalez who has struggled in the early going this year. Starlin Castro is back in the lead-off spot for the Cubs and Bryce Harper makes his return to the Nats lineup, here is how both teams will line up today.
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 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.
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Dale Sveum said it best after the game, “That’s just men playing against boys right now.” For the second straight night the Cubs gave up six home runs to the Nationals, at least they didn’t use as many pitchers tonight as they did last night. Volstad was the one serving up long balls tonight, but at least he was able to give the Cubs some innings. Volstad’s night came to an end after five innings, he gave up five runs on nine hits while walking four and striking out two. Volstad gave up three home runs, Michael Bowden gave up one, and Blake Parker gave up two more. Bryce Harper had two home runs tonight, and Adam LaRoche hit another home run in this one, LaRoche has been amazing against the Cubs, and will continue to be awesome until someone decides to pitch him inside off the plate. I mentioned it yesterday, opponents are way too comfortable in the box against Cubs pitchers, until they go inside with a purpose balls will continue to leave the park. Speaking of comfortable at the plate, the Cubs are anything but as they were carved up by now 18 game winner Gio Gonzalez. The Cubs could only manage four hits in the 9-1 defeat, one of which was an Anthony Rizzo solo home run in the ninth inning. Dale Sveum was ejected tonight after he took exception to home plate umpire Larry Vanover “eyeballing” the Cubs bench after a couple of close calls. The Cubs will try to avoid the four game sweep tomorrow night.
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Hopefully the Cubs can keep the pitchers used tonight somewhere around 3-4, I don’t want to see seven trot out there again like last nights Spring Training B game. The way Chris Volstad starts is going to have a lot to do with that tonight. Volstad has been outstanding as of late winning his last two starts. Here is how the Cubs will line up behind Volstad tonight as they face 17 game winner Gio Gonzalez.
1. Mather – CF
2. Sappelt – RF
3. Rizzo – 1B
4. Soriano – LF
5. Castro – SS
6. Castillo – C
7. Vitters – 3B
8. Barney – 2B
9. Volstad – P
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Long time no see as the Cubs travel to Washington to take on the Nationals. When the two teams last met it was the opening series of the 2012 season, the Cubs were unsure of what the beginning of the build would look like, and the Nationals were a young upstart bunch. Fast forward five months and the Cubs are now feeling what’s it’s like to begin the process of building a perennial contender and the Nationals sit atop Major League baseball as the best team in the land. The Nationals are hurtling towards the finish, but the focus is on what or should I say who will not be with them as they descend on the postseason. I’m talking about Stephen Strasburg, the Nationals ace, who will make his last start on September 12, and miss the postseason because the organization wants to be cautious with him. To each their own, not sure I agree with it, but I understand it, I guess. The Cubs will miss Strasburg but will have to deal with the rest of a pitching staff that has buzzed its way through the National League. They will also have to deal with a Washington offensive attack that now features a rookie that won’t turn twenty years old until the playoffs are in progress. Bryce Harper has given the Nats a jolt and made them one of the most exciting teams in baseball, it’s up to the Cubs to temper that enthusiasm and slow down this well oiled machine.
Here are the four game series pitching matchups.
Season Series: Nationals lead 2-1
Prediction: Nationals Win Series 3-1
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