Another frustrating one run loss for the Cubs, just when you thought they might be starting to win these close games today happens. It was a stiff test as the Cubs were facing off against all everything Matt Harvey, and he was as good as advertised, well, after the first inning. After falling behind 1-0 on a David Wright home run in the first the Cubs answered right back with two runs in the bottom half to take a 2-1 lead. Edwin Jackson pitched right with Harvey for the whole game until Harvey got in his way, with the bat. That’s right, not only did Harvey get the win on the mound, but he got the game winning hit in the seventh inning. The Cubs still had a chance in this one, but a questionable send by third base coach David Bell took the Cubs out of the eighth inning. Bell has been fine all year, so I’m not going to pin this on him, but it hurts to have the game tying run cut down at the plate for the second out of the inning when it could have been first and third with one out with Castro and Rizzo coming to the plate.
At The Plate – The Cubs didn’t have much going against Harvey, but did have a very good first inning, and threatened late. The Cubs could only manage six hits on the day, but were 2-for-3 with runners in scoring position. Starlin Castro had a solid day going 2-for-4 with a run scored, he’s now hitting .287 on the season. Anthony Rizzo was 1-for-4 with a double, his twelfth of the season, and a run scored. Alfonso Soriano, David DeJesus, and Darwin Barney recorded the other hits in the game.
On The Mound – Edwin Jackson was solid, but ended up registering his sixth loss of the season. Jackson worked 6.2 innings giving up three runs on seven hits while walking one and striking out four. James Russell was solid out of the pen going 1.1 scoreless innings giving up one hit while striking out two. Kyuji Fujikawa was continues to string together good outings going one scoreless inning while striking out two.
I know it sounds funny given the Cubs struggles, but they are playing their best baseball of the year right now. They have played well for the majority of games earlier this year, but now they are putting together more complete efforts and the result is more wins. With the win the Cubs take the series from the Rockies, this is the Cubs second straight series victory, both over winning ball clubs. The Cubs jumped on the Rockies right away as David DeJesus led the game off with a solo home run. After the Rockies got that run back in the second Jeff Samardzija helped his own cause in the third by launching a two run homer to give the Cubs a 3-1 lead. The Rockies pulled to within one run in the sixth but the Cubs broke it open with a three run seventh inning en route to a 6-3 victory. Samardzija earned his second win of the season, his first since opening day, hopefully he can build on that, what was most important for him was finally being able to work deep into a game and control the outcome instead of handing it over to the pen in the fifth or sixth inning.
At The Plate – The Cubs made the most of their hits as they pounded out nine while scoring six times. The top of the order did most of the damage as the Cubs one, two, three hitters were a combined 6-for-10 with three RBI’s, and three runs scored. David DeJesus was 2-for-3 with his fifth home run of the season, an RBI, and two runs scored. Starlin Castro was 2-for-4 with an RBI, and a run scored, he’s now hitting .282 on the season. Anthony Rizzo continues to produce, he was 2-for-3 with a walk, a double, and an RBI, he now has twenty-nine RBI’s on the season. Darwin Barney is starting to find a groove at the plate he was 1-for-3 with a walk, a stolen base, and two runs scored. Jeff Samardzija had a great day all around, he was 1-for-2 with his first home run of the season, two RBI’s, and a run scored.
On The Mound – Really nice to see Samardzija pitch instead of just throw and try to miss bats. He has the stuff to miss bats but also get quick outs, and that’s what he did today. Shark went eight innings giving up two runs on five hits while walking two and striking out seven to earn his second win of the season. James Russell worked just one-third of an inning striking out the only hitter he faced. Kevin Gregg took it from there, things got sketchy, but he was able to get out of the ninth to preserve the win. Gregg worked two-thirds of an inning giving up one run, unearned (on a Gregg error), on two hits.
Up Next – The Cubs welcome the Mets to Wrigley Field for a three game weekend set starting Friday. The Cubs are off tomorrow, their second straight Thursday without a game.
Samardzija goes deep
Samardzija’s strong outing
DeJesus with a sweet grab to end the game
Castro scores in the seventh
Rizzo’s RBI single
Castro with a big insurance RBI
Great defense from the Cubs
DeJesus’ lead-off homer
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.
Some good news today on the injury front, the Cubs have activated Kyuji Fujikawa from the DL and he will join the team in Washington tonight. Rafael Dolis was sent back to Iowa, and Kameron Loe refused his assignment to Iowa so he has been released. Fujikawa, assuming he is healthy should calm down a bullpen that has been shaky to say the least. With the emergence of Kevin Gregg as the new Cubs closer they now have a formidable seventh (Russell) eighth (Fujikawa) and ninth (Gregg). Wouldn’t be surprised to see Russell and Fujikawa flipped so that Fuji can ease his way back into the bullpen rotation. On paper at least it looks like the toughest spot for the bullpen will be that middle guy, sixth/seventh innings. Luckily for the Cubs their starting pitching has done a tremendous job of getting the ball to the seventh inning, if they can keep doing that they might start seeing no decisions start turning into wins.
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Carlos Villanueva can’t buy a win as he has left with a lead in five of his seven starts this year, the Cubs pen has blown the lead now in four of those five starts. Villanueva didn’t have his best stuff today but still got into the seventh inning with a 4-3 lead. The usually reliable James Russell took over in the seventh and gave up back-to-back hits which resulted in the Cardinals knotting the game up. Michael Bowden worked the eighth inning and surrendered the game winning run as the Cubs couldn’t generate anything in the final two innings. The bullpen was half the story, double plays and missed opportunities were the other half. The Cubs seemingly had men on base all day long, but grounded into four double plays to thwart any rally they might have had. The Cardinals weren’t much better, but did get the big hit in the eighth inning when they needed it, but they also grounded in to four double plays, odd game in that regard for sure. Really wanted a sweep for the Cubs, and of course they were in position to get one, eventually these blown leads have to stop…..I think.
At The Plate – The Cubs pounded out eleven hits, but could only manage four runs as they were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position, and they had that double play issue that I already mentioned. Luis Valbuena got a chance in the three spot today and delivered a solid game going 1-for-2 with two walks, and two runs scored. Anthony Rizzo continues to roll, he was 3-for-4 with a double, and a run scored, all of a sudden he is hitting .269 on the season. Cody Ransom continues to hit for the Cubs, he was 2-for-4 with two singles in the loss.
On The Mound – Carlos Villanueva wasn’t at his best, but did more than enough to pick up a win in this one, alas, a no decision for the funny facial hair guy. Villanueva went 6.2 innings giving up three runs on seven hits while walking three and striking out two. James Russell wasn’t his usual self in this one, he was asked to get the last out in the seventh, he did, but not after giving up a run on two hits. Michael Bowden worked the eighth and took the loss, he gave up one run on two hits. Kevin Gregg, the Cubs new closer (officially), worked a scoreless ninth to keep the Cubs in it, he walked one and struck out two.
Up Next – A day off tomorrow. Then a three game weekend series in Washington, the full series preview will be up tomorrow, going to be a tough series for sure.
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Those are fun games to watch, and this was the first game all year where everyone could sit back and enjoy the ride instead of worrying about how the Cubs would close it out. Scott Feldman got plenty of run support in this one as the Cubs exploded for nine runs, their largest output of the season. Feldman will gladly take the run support but really didn’t need it, he was brilliant for the second straight outing, and has really been a pleasant surprise all year-long. Tonight was a preview of what the Cubs want to be every night, solid at bats, deep counts, using the whole field, and solid starting pitching. The trick is doing this consistently, it’s not there yet, but I think it’s heading in the right direction. The Cubs were holding a tenuous 1-0 lead into the fourth inning when they exploded for five runs en route to a 9-2 victory, and a delayed series win over the Rangers..
At The Plate – So many good things tonight as the Cubs pounded out eleven hits and scored nine runs. Starlin Castro was 2-for-4 with a walk, for reals, two RBI’s and three runs scored. Anthony Rizzo is dialed in at the plate right now, and it’s fun to watch. Rizzo was 3-for-4 with a walk, his ninth home run of the season, a double, four RBI’s, and a run scored, he is now hitting .262 on the season. Luis Valbuena continues to defy logic as he went 3-for-4 with a double, and a run scored, he’s now hitting .271 on the season.
On The Mound – What else can be said about Scott Feldman, he was awesome against his former team tonight. Feldman went seven plus scoreless innings giving up two hits while walking one and striking out three. The only bad news was that Feldman had to leave the game in the eighth with a cramp in his throwing hand, after the game Sveum said that Feldman would be fine. James Russell worked two-thirds of an inning giving up one hit and no runs. Rafael Dolis, who was called up today, got some work in as well, he worked 1.1 innings giving up two runs, both unearned on two hits.
Up Next – The Cubs welcome the St. Louis Cardinals to Wrigley for a brief two game series starting tomorrow. Travis Wood will get the ball and he will be opposed by Lance Lynn who already has five wins this season. First pitch scheduled for 7:05 PM CST.
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Another game, another loss that the opponent didn’t have to earn. Jeff Samardzija battled his way through six innings in this one and thanks to a pair of Alfonso Soriano two-run homers was in a position to get a win. Then Carlos Marmol took over in the eighth inning. It was apparent right from the get go that Marmol didn’t have it, he walked the first hitter he faced on four pitches, he then walked the next batter, then he hit Brandon Phillips on a 1-2 count, that was the end of the day for Marmol. Sveum was forced to go to Hector Rondon to try to get out of it, but he allowed all three inherited runners to score, and just like that a 4-2 lead turned into a 6-4 deficit and this one was over. The Cubs probably didn’t deserve this one based on their offensive performance, but there they were late in the game with chance to steal one, and the bullpen imploded once again, frustrating loss after frustrating loss, they really are piling up.
At The Plate – I’m shocked that the Cubs scored four times in this game, I’ll tell you why. The Cubs only had three hits all day, and only had seven (3 hits, 2 walks, 2 HBP) base runners. Alfonso Soriano was a one man Army in this one as he went 2-for-3 with two home runs, four RBI’s, a walk, and two runs scored. Despite a couple of costly at bats yesterday from Alf, he seems to be getting locked in at the plate as he is now hitting .279 on the season. Another guy that has been hot recently is Anthony Rizzo, he was the only other Cubs player to register a hit, he was 1-for-3 with two runs scored, he was also hit by a pitch.
On The Mound – Jeff Samardzija saw his pitch count rise quickly in this one, but was able to bear down towards the end of his outing to get deeper then many thought today. Shark went six innings giving up two runs, one earned, on four hits while walking three and striking out five. James Russell worked a scoreless inning while walking one walk and striking out one. Carlos Marmol didn’t retire anyone in facing three hitters, he gave up three runs while walking two and hitting one. Hector Rondon struggled with his command initially out of the pen but did a solid job. Rondon went two innings out of the pen giving up one run on two hits while walking two (one intentional).
Up Next – The Reds will go for the sweep on Sunday afternoon as they send Mat Latos to the mound to face Edwin Jackson. It’s time for Jackson to turn things around for the Cubs as he has been below average in the early going for his new team. First pitch is scheduled for 1:20 PM CST on WGN, and the weather is supposed to be great.
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