Jeff Samardzija gets the ball in game one against the Sox, he will be opposed by Jose Quintana as the Cubs and Sox resume hostilities tonight on the south side. The Sox are playing much better as of late so it will be extra gratifying to beat them tonight, here is how both teams will line up.
1. Borbon – CF
2. Castro – SS
3. Rizzo – 1B
4. Soriano – LF
5. Hairston – DH
6. Castillo – C
7. Ransom – 3B
8. Sweeney – RF
9. Barney – 2B
1. De Aza – CF
2. Ramirez – SS
3. Rios – RF
4. Dunn – DH
5. Konerko – 1B
6. Viciedo – RF
7. Gillaspie – 3B
8. Keppinger – 2B
9. Flowers – C
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.
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
Carlos Villanueva was so very good for parts of this season, but the last few times out have not gone so well. With the recent struggles it wouldn’t be surprising to see Villanueva head to the bullpen when Matt Garza returns. I know who he can replace, Shawn Camp , more on him later, he didn’t help his or the Cubs cause tonight. The Cubs were never in this one and it was over before it started it seemed as the Rockies jumped out to a 5-0 lead by the third inning. Things got worse in the fifth as the Rockies added two more to take a 7-0 lead, that’s when the Cubs woke up, with some help from the Rockies. The Cubs scored once in the fifth, and twice in the eighth to make it 7-3 but they wouldn’t get any closer. The Rockies tacked on two more runs in the ninth thanks to Carlos Gonzalez putting an exclamation point on his night with his second home run, he ended is evening 5-for-5 with two home runs, and three RBI’s. Seems about right when it comes to Car-Go and the Cubs. Two games in this series and two blow outs, one each way, wonder what tomorrow will bring.
At The Plate – The Cubs could only manage seven hits in this one, but they had their chances to score more than the four runs they did. The Cubs were only 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position in this one, and they left seven men on. David DeJesus was 2-for-5 with a run scored as he raised his average to .281 on the season. Darwin Barney found some magic in this one, he was 3-for-4 with a double, a home run, and two RBI’s, that performance raised his average to .186, going to need a few more of those from Darwin.
On The Mound – Carlos Villanueva was hit hard all night, even the outs were loud outs. Villanueva worked five innings giving up seven runs on twelve hits while striking out one, the loss dropped his record to 1-3 on the season. Hector Rondon continues to prove he belongs out of the pen as he worked a scoreless inning while walking one and striking out one to lower his ERA to 3.68 on the season. Michael Bowden also seems to be finding a comfort zone out of the pen, he worked two scoreless inning giving up two hits while striking out one. The only thing comfortable about Shawn Camp is how opposing hitters feel in the box against him. Camp is getting really close to be designated for assignment, he worked one inning tonight giving up two runs on three hits while striking out one, his ERA climbed to a robust 7.31 for the season.
The Cubs are ready to go on a run, I really believe that considering it’s been about two years since they put together an honest to God winning streak. I think they have the opportunity to build on their last two wins in Washington, the next test won’t be easy, but the chance is there for the Cubs to reel off some wins here. The Rockies come to town for a three game series starting tonight, and it all starts with their offensive attack. The Rockies have scored 177 runs, that’s good for seventh best in the Majors, yeah I know, the Rockies always score runs as they play in a launching pad. While that’s true the Rockies have been equally as good on the road this year as they have scored 86 runs on the road compared to 91 at home, that’s not a normal Rockies attack. The Cubs starters will be tasked with shutting down that Rockies attack, and that plays a huge role in whether or not the Cubs will be successful in this series. The Cubs starters have an ERA of 3.50 which is sixth best in the Majors, that is where the Cubs hold the advantage in this series as the Rockies have a team starters ERA of 4.20 which is nineteenth best in baseball. Based on the numbers the Cubs have a really good chance to get late into the game with a lead, that is where the Cubs pen has to step up because if the Rockies have a lead late they usually don’t let it go. The Cubs bullpen ERA is 4.13 which is twenty-fourth best in baseball, the Rockies on the other hand have a bullpen ERA of 2.73, which is third in all of baseball. The Cubs need to get out to a quick lead, and hope their starters get deep enough to eliminate as much of their own bullpen as possible, if they do that it could be a very successful series.
The Cubs took two out of three games from the Nationals in Washington over the weekend.
The Rockies lost two out of three to the Cardinals in St. Louis, and have lost four out their last five.
Game Times and Broadcast Information:
- Monday, May 13, 2013 – 7:05 PM CST on WCIU
- Tuesday, May 14, 2013 – 7:05 PM CST on CSN Chicago
- Wednesday, May 15, 2013 – 7:05 PM CST on CSN Chicago
Starting Pitchers Scheduled:
Game One – Travis Wood (3-2, 2.33)
– Career vs. Rockies (3 appearances, 2 GS) (0-1, 2.77)
Game Two – Carlos Villanueva (1-2, 3.02)
– Career vs. Rockies (11 appearances, 0 GS) (0-1, 10.05)
Game Three – Jeff Samardzija (1-5, 3.70)
– Career vs. Rockies (5 appearances, 1 GS) (0-0, 2.25)
Game One – Juan Nicasio (3-0, 4.72)
– Career vs. Cubs (first appearance)
Game Two – Jeff Francis (1-3, 6.90)
– Career vs. Cubs (6 GS) (1-0, 7.67)
Game Three – Jon Garland (3-3, 4.83)
– Career vs. Cubs (12 appearances, 8 GS) (4-4, 3.61)
The Cubs should carry the momentum they generated in Washington over the weekend into this series, at least I hope so. I really think they will, and I like the match ups on the mound to favor the Cubs. As long as the Cubs can play solid defense they have an outside shot to sweep this series, and I think that’s what they will do, sweep the Rockies. As in Washington, the only game the Cubs dropped was the one where they shot themselves in the foot defensively, that’s the only way I see the Cubs losing a game in this series.