MONDAY • MAY 4, 2015
Not much offense in this one as the Cubs and Sounds combined for three runs on just thirteen hits. The right team had more as the Cubs were able to tightrope their way to a 2-1 victory on the road.
At the Plate:
- Arismendy Alcantara is heating up, he was 1-for-4 with a double, a walk, and a run scored.
- Matt Szczur showed off his power, he was 1-for-2 with two walks, a dinger, two RBI’s, and a run scored.
- Javier Baez had another good night, he was 1-for-2 with a walk, and stolen base.
- Taylor Davis was solid, he went 2-for-4, he’s now hitting .333 on the season.
- Mike Baxter and John Andreoli each had one hit in the win.
On the Mound:
- Eric Jokisch got the start and was outstanding, he worked six innings, giving up one run on four hits while walking one, and striking out five.
- Brian Schlitter was good out of the pen tonight, he worked a scoreless inning while giving up one hit, and striking out one.
- Justin Grimm is working his way back, hooray. He worked a scoreless inning, surrendering one hit while walking one, and striking out two.
- James Russell is also doing some good things, he worked a scoreless inning as well to pick up his third save of the season.
A long one early this afternoon saw the Smokies comeback then blow a lead late in a tough loss. The Smokies only gave up six hits in thirteen innings, unfortunately that was just enough for Birmingham.
At the Plate:
- Pin-Chieh Chen was seeing the ball well today, and that’s an understatement. Chen was 2-for-2 with FIVE walks, a dinger, an RBI, a stolen base, and a run scored. That’s right, he reached base SEVEN times.
- Willson Contreras was solid, he went 3-for-5 with a walk, and two doubles.
- Stephen Bruno has been really good, he was 2-for-6, he’s now hitting .293 on the season.
- Ryan Dent had a good game from the nine spot, he was 1-for-5 with a walk, a stolen base, and two runs scored.
On the Mound:
- Felix Pena got the start and struggled with his command, he tossed 5.2 innings, giving up two runs on just two hits while walking five, and striking out four.
- Fernando Cruz bounced back today, he worked 1.1 scoreless innings, surrendering just one base hit.
- Michael Jensen was also really good, he worked two scoreless innings, giving up two hits while striking out three.
- Stephen Perakslis was brilliant, and I thought he was going to get the win, he worked three scoreless innings, surrendering zero hits while striking out three.
- Zach Cates picked up the blown save, and loss, he worked two-thirds of an inning, giving up two runs on one hit while walking one, and striking out one.
Things got a little out of hand in this one as Myrtle Beach fell behind early before racing in front late. Trailing 2-0, the Pelicans charged ahead with six runs in the fourth inning to take a 7-6 lead. The Pelicans didn’t stop there as they finished the night with fourteen runs, and seventeen hits.
At the Plate:
- Mark Zagunis was 2-for-6 with two doubles, and two runs scored.
- Wes Darvill was 1-for-3 with two walks, a triple, three RBI’s, and two runs scored.
- Billy Mckinney was 2-for-4 with a triple, three RBI’s, a walk, and a run scored.
- Jacob Rogers was 3-for-5 with a dinger, four RBI’s, a walk, and a run scored.
- Jeimer Candelario was 2-for-6 with a double, and a run scored.
- Kevin Brown was 3-for-5 with a double, and a run scored.
- Daniel Lockhart was 2-for-5 with an RBI, a stolen base, and a run scored.
- Carlos Penalver was 2-for-4 with a double, two RBI’s, a walk, and two runs scored.
- Alberto Mineo was 0-for-3 but walked twice, and scored three runs.
On the Mound:
- Jen-Ho Tseng got the start was oddly erratic, he worked three innings, giving up three runs on six hits, while walking two.
- Josh Conway was touched up as well, he worked one inning, giving up three runs on three hits while walking two, and striking out one.
- Michael Heesch was outstanding, and he picked up the win. Heesch worked three scoreless innings, surrendering two hits while striking out three.
- Jasvir Rakkar was solid once again, he worked two scoreless innings to notch his third save of the year.
Two quick runs from Great Lakes was the extent of the scoring in this one as South Bend could not get anything going in a 2-0 loss.
At the Plate:
- Charcer Burks continued his hot 2015, he was 1-for-4 with a stolen base, he’s now hitting .313 on the season.
- Chesny Young is also swinging it, he went 1-for-4 in the loss.
- Jason Volser, Justin Marra, and Rashad Crawford all finished the day with one hit.
On the Mound:
- Jake Stinnett wasn’t too bad, he worked five innings, giving up two runs on seven hits while walking one, and striking out five.
- Francisco Carrillo was dominant, he worked three scoreless innings, surrendering one hit while striking out one.
- Tyler Ihrig was also good, he worked a scoreless inning to keep the Cubs in it late.
The Cubs did some good things today, getting hits with runners in scoring position was not one of them. But about those good things, the Cubs pitching was stellar, and their defense was just as good. Jeff Samardzija loves facing the Pirates, especially in Pittsburgh, one year after going eight scoreless against the Buccos, he went seven scoreless but settled for a no decision. Pedro Strop, Justin Grimm, and James Russell all did their job out of the bullpen, Carlos Villanueva, not so much. Villanueva faced one batter, and that was it, Neil Walker blasted a walk-off home run to move the Cubs to 0-1 on the young season.
The Cubs struggles were front and center at the plate as they went 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position, yikes. They also struck out a lot, eleven times to be exact as they were baffled by Francisco Liriano all day long. I did like the Cubs approach today though, as they worked deep counts and were able to get to the Pirates pen by the 7th inning, it just didn’t work out. Emilio Bonifacio had a big day at the plate in his debut as he went 4-for-5 with a double, the Cubs as a whole only had six hits in the loss.
* Photo credit: GENE PUSKAR/AP
Welcome to deadline day, the MLB non waiver deadline is 3:00 PM CST, so we have just about three and a half hours to go. Rumors today are that Nate Schierholtz and or David DeJesus could be moved, we will be tracking everything here so keep check back!
11:40 AM – The Pirates were breathing down the White Sox necks to get Alex Rios, well he fouled a ball off his foot last night and is now day-to-day. That has some people thinking that the Pirates are now going to go hard after Nate Schierholtz or David DeJesus. The Pirates are also looking for bullpen help and James Russell and or Kevin Gregg would fit nicely there.
11:46 AM – Per Ken Rosenthal, the Rangers are listening to offers for everyone, including recently acquired Matt Garza, wait, what?
11:57 AM – Ken Rosenthal reports that David DeJesus has the best chance to get traded today, even better than Schierholtz.
12:03 PM – The Cubs have been linked to Ian Kennedy of the Diamondbacks, sounds like Arizona is looking for relief help and have their eye on Luke Gregerson of the Padres. Cubs still a possible destination, but looking less likely.
12:13 PM – There is an awful lot of chatter surrounding Jeff Samardzija being dealt. I don’t see this happening but where there is smoke there is fire, I know Jed and Theo are listening to offers for him, and it would have to be a whopper of a return. That said, the Pirates are in play on this, and have the prospects to get something done, doubt they go as high as the Cubs want them to.
12:26 PM – Buster Olney is reporting that the Cubs could wait to deal Gregg, as in before the August waiver deadline. Says that the Cubs might want to hang on to him and see if a team develops a need for a guy like Gregg later in the season.
1:24 PM – Gordon Wittenmeyer confirms that Navarro could be a target of the Cardinals. Also confirmed that trading within the division is not a concern.
1:37 PM – Jayson Stark says that a Navarro to the Cardinals deal is possible but “not close” … seems to be gaining some steam.
2:06 PM – Per Nick Cafardo it sounds like Nate Schierholtz will be staying with the Cubs, kind of surprising.
July 31st is awfully close, here come the Soriano bombs! Alfonso Soriano padded his trade value today while also helping the Cubs dispatch a team they haven’t been able to buy a win against, the Pirates. Soriano blasted two, two-run homers in back to back innings, one in the fourth and another in the fifth. That was all the Cubs needed as Edwin Jackson was stellar, again. Jackson went 5.2 innings giving up one run on four hits while walking two and striking out three to earn his fifth win of the season. The Cubs pen was outstanding today, try to contain your shock and enthusiasm, actually let it run wild, this is a rare occurrence. James Russell, Matt Guerrier, and Kevin Gregg all had scoreless appearances with Gregg picking up his fifteenth save of the year, speaking of trade value.
PICTURE OF THE GAME
Tale of two games in this one for the Cubs as they fell behind 4-1 in the fourth inning then went to work. Cody Ransom just barely snuck a three-run homer inside the left field foul pole to tie the game at four in the fifth. The Cubs jumped ahead in the sixth inning as Ryan Sweeney came through with a big RBI single. The Cubs hung onto that one run lead until the eighth inning when Mark Trumbo took James Russell deep to tie things up. It stayed that way until the tenth inning when the Cubs loaded the bases with two out for Anthony Rizzo. Up until that at bat Rizzo was scuffling, but that’s the great thing about baseball, always a chance to turn the day around. That’s exactly what Rizzo did as he laced a two-out bases clearing double to give the Cubs an 8-5 lead, and they held off the Angels in the bottom half to take this one 8-6.
PICTURE OF THE GAME
I’ve never been one to call for a managers head, or question a manager openly, unless their first name is Mike, and last name is Quade, that’s not what this is. I’ve played the game, nowhere near the MLB level, and I’ve never been a manager so I cannot relate to what Sveum goes through on a daily basis with one eye on his team, one eye on his future, and one eye on the organizations future, wait, that’s too many eyes, I digress. Sveum has been a popular target on social media, specifically twitter the last week, and really all the season when the Cubs flame out, but rarely receives any credit when he does make the right move and it pays off. Now, I understand that this is usually the case with managers, but it’s worth pointing out that Cubs fans are slowly turning their hate and ire towards Sveum. Last night didn’t help, and it added fuel to the fire of the keeping Shawn Camp decision, more on that later.
I don’t care what word you want to use, disaster, debacle, mismanaged, I think they all apply to last night. After Matt Garza made a successful return to the mound going five scoreless innings giving up one hit while walking three and striking out five he was lifted by Sveum, this was after 82 pitches, and it was the RIGHT move. Sveum screwed up last night, but one of the things he did right was lift Garza, Garza means more to the Cubs healthy with a no decision, then hurt again, and 1-0 on the season. The head scratching came after he lifted Garza. Shawn Camp was warming up in the pen during the fifth inning in case Garza couldn’t get out of some trouble, Garza did get out of the trouble, then Camp sat down. Hector Rondon got up instead and was slated to come in for the sixth, that was the first issue I had. Shawn Camp has been awful this year, Shawn Camp has shown signs of a dead arm this year, you don’t get him up to come in then sit him down, doesn’t work, usually doesn’t. Rondon struggled, which can happen, then Sveum reached a new level of second guessing by bringing in James Russell, arguably the best arm in the pen…. in the sixth. Sure, one could argue that this was a turning point in the game, but what happens after the sixth if Russell gets out of it? Who’s left out of the pen to work the seventh, Camp? The same Camp that just sat down an inning ago? Marmol would probably come in for the seventh, but as you will read Sveum had no intentions of letting Russell get out of the sixth.
Let’s stop there for a second to discuss something else. When Garza’s return to the rotation was announced, last week, Sveum said that Villanueva was going to go to the pen. Okay, given that Garza was on a strict pitch count last night, Sveum had a day or so to figure out what he wanted to do when Garza was lifted, and he was most likely going to be lifted early. So one would think that it would have made perfect sense to bring in Villanueva to not only get through the sixth, but piece together the game and have Villanueva get the ball to the ninth assuming he was effective. But Villanueva was nowhere to be found, and I do understand that he might not have been available, but for argument’s sake I figured I would at least bring it up as another possible option for Sveum in the sixth.
Okay, back to what actually happened last night. So in comes Russell in the sixth inning with the bases loaded and one out to face Pedro Alvarez. I get the lefty/lefty match up thing in a big spot but after Russell walked Alvarez Sveum removed him. The best arm in the pen faced one batter in the sixth and that was it. If you are going to bring Russel in for that situation let him get out of it, or at least attempt to. I don’t care if it’s a righty or lefty at the plate, Russell can get both out, instead he faces one guy, and leaves the game in the same situation as he entered it. Now comes the decision to bring in Shawn Camp with the bases loaded and one out, he gets the first guy, but then is left in to face a lefty in Travis Snider, why? If Russell is being lifted after one hitter because of matchup’s why is Camp being left in the game for an unfavorable matchup? Probably because he was the third pitcher of the inning already. But if this was the most important spot in the game, important enough to use Russell, why wasn’t Fujikawa brought in, or Marmol, both have been better than Camp, and that’s alarming given Marmol’s struggles. Dale completely botched this whole situation as he then was forced to stick with Camp the rest of the inning because no one was left out of the pen if he went to a fourth pitcher in the inning.
So, what could have been done differently? Garza had to come out, no question, I absolutely agree with that move. I’m indifferent on bringing in Rondon in that situation, but I would have went with Marmol, but have a quick hook ready if he can’t find the zone. Ideally, Marmol works the sixth inning, Russell works the seventh, Fujikawa works the eighth, and Gregg closes it out. I don’t see any reason why Rondon HAD to be used, when in the past Sveum has shied away from using him late with a lead, but my biggest complaint is Russell for one hitter, makes no sense. Now, this is the scenario if Villanueva was not available, if he was available then this game was the perfect spot for a former starter easing into the pen. Use him for as long as he is effective then go from there, we’ve already seen our fair share of bullpen disasters, but I think this one could have been avoided with better decision-making from Sveum.
That brings us to the other question, why was Camp still available to be used in the first place? To make room for Garza one pitcher had to be designated for assignment, and that pitcher was Michael Bowden. Bowden was having a solid season on the heels of having a really good finish to 2012, but now the Cubs risk losing him completely, and he’s only 26, why? I can’t really answer that question, and ultimately that decision comes down to the front office. Both Theo and Jed said that all decisions regarding the roster are made with a large input from Dale, so my guess is that he lobbied hard for Camp, and the front office showed faith in their manager and player by keeping Camp around. The Cubs had options here, they could have placed Rondon on the DL with a “middle body” injury to by some time before making a decision, or they could have released Camp who looks done, there is nothing telling me that he is going to bounce back in any way, shape or form. Let’s not forget the only reason the Cubs got him was that he was released by Seattle during spring training the year before. He’s also 37 years old, all of these things just don’t add up in regards to keeping him, so Sveum and the front office have to share the blame on that one, and if I had to guess Camp won’t be on the Cubs by the All-Star break. Been a while since I’ve been able to share my thoughts in this space, felt I needed to after last night, today’s another game, let’s get a win!
Scott Feldman is pitching every bit like a man trying to prove himself to the rest of the league, and the Cubs are reaping the benefits. Feldman, who was signed to a one year deal in the off-season has been nothing short of brilliant, especially in his last five starts sporting a 4-0 record with a 1.28 ERA. Feldman got plenty of help from his offense in this one after it looked like it could be a day of missed opportunities again. After squandering a few chances early the Cubs broke through in the fourth inning as they scored four times, highlighted by a two-out, two-run double by Feldman, he does it all! The Cubs added one in the fifth on an Anthony Rizzo solo shot, and three in the eighth to put this one well out of reach. The Mets spoiled the shut out bid in the ninth inning, the Cubs still don’t have a shut out this year, but more importantly they got another victory, an 8-2 rout. Tomorrow brings an opportunity for the Cubs to win their third straight series, something that hasn’t been seen around these parts in a while.
At The Plate – An efficient, productive day at the plate for the Cubs as they pounded out eleven hits while scoring eight times. David DeJesus got things started at the top of the order going 1-for-4 with a walk, and two RBI’s, he’s now hitting .288 on the season. Anthony Rizzo had been locked in for a while now, he hasn’t struck out in thirty-four at bats and was 2-for-4 with his tenth home run of the season, an RBI, and a two runs scored. Nate Schierholtz had a solid day going 2-for-4 with his fifth home run of the season, an RBI, and two runs scored. The Cubs had three doubles in this one, giving them 97 for the season which is best in baseball.
On The Mound – Scott Feldman was outstanding again, he worked 6.2 scoreless innings giving up seven hits while walking one and striking out six. The win improved Feldman’s record to 4-3 on the season, coupled with a 2.19 ERA and wow, couldn’t ask for better. James Russell was solid out of the pen as usual, he worked 1.1 scoreless innings to lower his ERA to 0.54 on the season. Hector Rondon struggled a bit, he worked one inning giving up two runs on two hits, including a two run homer.
Up Next – The rubber game of the series as the Cubs go for their third straight series win. The Cubs send Travis Wood to the mound, he’s been just as good as Feldman if not better. The Mets will counter with Dillon Gee, first pitch scheduled for 1:20 PM CST on WGN.