Cubs Blow it, Then Walk-Off a Winner

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Baseball is a funny game, it’s also infuriating and thrilling, today had a little bit of everything.  Carlos Villanueva battled Matt Cain today, and got the best of him as he was brilliant all afternoon.  Villanueva left in the seventh inning with a 2-0 lead, things looked great!  Then the ninth inning rolled around, and that clearly has been a problem this year, and it’s not just Marmol either.  Kyuji Fujikawa struggled with his command and got hit Castro 4-12pretty hard as he gave up three runs to blow the save and put himself and the Cubs in line for the loss.  That’s when for the fourth straight game the Cubs showed some fight.  Dioner Navarro tied the game at three with a pinch hit home run off Sergio Romo, David DeJesus came up with a two-out single then Starlin Castro played hero.  Castro drove a 2-1 pitch off the center field wall for a walk-off double, just like that the Cubs were winners, as I said infuriating and thrilling all in one game, gotta love baseball.  My head hurts.

At The Plate – Top of the order magic again for the Cubs.  David DeJesus was 3-for-5 with a home run, a double, an RBI, and two runs scored.  Starlin Castro was the hero, he finished the day 2-for-5 with a double, a home run, two RBI’s, and a run scored.  Welington Castillo continued his torrid start to the season going 2-for-4.  Dioner Navarro came up large off the bench in the ninth delivering a game-tying solo home run, he finished 1-for-1.

On The Mound – What can be said about Carlos Villanueva?  He was absolutely outstanding today, and unfortunately for the second straight game he had to settle for a no decision.  Villanueva tossed 7.1 scoreless innings, he gave up three hits while walking one and striking out three.  James Russell worked tow-thirds of an inning and only allowed one hit.  Kyuji Fujikawa really struggled, he worked one inning giving up three runs on three hits, he earned the blown save, and the win, go figure.

Up Next – Game three of the series and it’s a good one.  Jeff Samardzija takes on Madison Bumgarner at 12:05 PM CST on Fox.

Cubs box 4-12

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Game Highlights:

Castro’s solo shot
DeJesus goes deep
Navarro ties the game in the ninth
Castro wins it!

Thanks for reading,
– George

Comeback Successful! Cubs Even Series With Brewers

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One day after the Cubs teased us all with the possibility of a thrilling comeback they actually delivered.  Trailing 3-0 early because of mostly defensive miscues the Cubs pitching shut the door and for the first time all year the offense sprung to life when the team needed it the Schierholtz 4-9most.  After inching closer on RBI ground outs from Rizzo in the 5th and Castro in the 7th the Cubs found a new level of clutch tying the game in the seventh then breaking it open in the eighth inning.  The last two games the Cubs have shown some fight with two comebacks, well one and a half, and at this point that’s all you can ask for, a team that fights.

At The Plate – Finally some production from the top of the order, after two listless at bats David DeJesus broke out.  DeJesus was 3-for-5 with a double, two RBI’s, and two runs scored.  Anthony Rizzo showed a much better approach tonight as he went 1-for-2 with a huge game tying single off of lefty Michael Gonzalez (previously 0-for-6 vs LHP), he also had two walks, and two RBI’s.  Scott Hairston registered the game winning RBI with a sac fly in the eighth inning to give the Cubs a 4-3 lead.

On The Mound – Another outstanding effort from Travis Wood who could have easily mailed it in after a rough second inning in which his defense let him down.  Wood ended up going 6.1 innings giving up three runs, two earned, on seven hits while walking three and striking out six.  Hector Rondon continued his spotless work out of the bullpen as he worked two-thirds of an inning giving up nothing.  Carlos Marmol entered the game in eighth, and I’m guessing I wasn’t the only one holding my breath.  Marmol was effective, he worked one inning giving up a triple and the was it, he was bailed out by a spectacular play by Castro to end the eighth and keep the game tied at three.  Marmol ended up getting the win as Kyuji Fujikawa earned the save, Kyuji worked the ninth giving up one hit and striking out two to earn his second save of the season.

Up Next – The rubber game of the series as Scott Feldman makes his Wrigley Field debut against Brewers newcomer Kyle Lohse.  The weather is supposed to be craptastic, we’ll see if this one gets in, scheduled first pitch is 7:05 PM CST.

Stat Of The Night – David DeJesus had two hits on the season coming into this one, he had three hits tonight.

Cubs April 9 box

Cubs April 9 Box 1

Game Highlights:

Castro’s RBI groundout
Hairston’s sac fly puts Cubs in front
Game saving play by Castro
Rizzo’s RBI groundout
Rizzo’s huge RBI double to tie the game
DeJesus pads the lead

Thanks for reading,
– George

Marmol Coaster Comes Off Tracks in Loss to Braves

April 6 line score

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Over the course of 162 games there will be losses that are harder to take than others, this is one of those losses, in fact this might be the toughest one of the season.  After an outstanding performance from Carlos Villanueva the Cubs held a 5-1 Braves Walk off 4-6lead in the 8th inning.  A poor outing from Kyuji Fujikawa made the game close and another Carlos Marmol meltdown gave the Braves a walk-off victory.  All of this could have been avoided if the Cubs capitalized on a golden opportunity in the top of the 8th.  The Cubs loaded the bases with no outs and failed to push across a run, that usually comes back to haunt you, and tonight is definitely did.

At The Plate – The Cubs finally found some offense, unfortunately it was the failed opportunities that will be remembered in this one.  The Cubs pounded out thirteen hits, a season high by far, but unfortunately that wasn’t enough.  Every Cubs hitter in the starting lineup registered at least one hit, even starting pitcher Carlos Villanueva.  Anthony Rizzo got things going as he was 2-for-5 with a home run, two RBI’s, and a run scored.  Nate Schierholtz had another solid game going 2-for-5 with a double, an RBI, and a run scored.  Welington Castillo and Luis Valbuena also had two hits with Valbuena hitting his first home run of the season.

On The Mound – A tale of two games for sure, Carlos Villanueva got the start and was outstanding.  Villanueva went 6.2 innings giving up one run on six hits while walking two and striking out six.  Kyuji Fujikawa had a rough inning as he could only throw his fastball for strikes.  Fujikawa gave up three runs in one inning of work on four hits while walking one and striking out one.  Carlos Marmol was a disaster, he entered the ninth with a lead and could only record one out before the game was over.  Marmol gave up two runs, on two hits, a solo home run to B.J. Upton and a solo home run to Justin Upton.  Look for Marmol to be officially removed from the closer roll as early as before first pitch tomorrow.

Up Next – Jeff Samardzija takes the hill for the Cubs in the series finale against Tim Hudson at 12:35 PM CST.  Samardzija looks to build off his dominant performance in the season opener.

Stat Of The Night – Coming into the night the Cubs had 16 hits on the season, they registered 13 tonight.

April 6 box score

 

April 6 box score 1

 

Game Highlights:

Schierholtz RBI Single
Luis Valbuena goes deep
Rizzo’s two-run shot

Thanks for reading,
– George

Wood Brilliant as Cubs Take Series From Pirates, Barely

April 4 line score

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Marmol coaster!  It’s too early in the year for this kind of drama.  The Cubs once again couldn’t find much offense, but managed just enough to get the win with Nate Travis Wood 4-4Scheirhioltz providing the big blow, a two-run homer in the ninth inning which the Cubs ended up needing.  Travis Wood was outstanding in his first start of 2013 but had to sit on the edge of his seat with the rest of us as Carlos Marmol came within a small unit of measurement of blowing it.  After allowing the Pirates to score twice in the ninth, Marmol got Alvarez to strikeout, and Walker to hit into a double play, never a doubt, Cubs win three to two……  Nice series win for the Cubs to start the season.

At The Plate – The Cubs only had two hits last night, today they had three, at least the result was different.  Starling Castro was 1-for-4 with an RBI on the day and has the honor of being the first Cubs player to get a hit with a runner in scoring position this year, yep.  Nate Schierholtz was the offensive hero going 1-for-3 with a walk, a run, and two RBI’s which came on a huge two-run homer in the top of the ninth to give the Cubs a three run cushion.

On The Mound – Travis Wood was outstanding this morning/afternoon, Wood went six scoreless innings, giving up one hit while walking two and striking out four to earn his first win of the season, barely.  Shawn Camp, James Russell, and Kyuji Fujikawa were very good out of the bullpen as they tossed a combined two scoreless innings, giving up no hits, no walks, and struck out three.  Cue the circus music… enter Carlos Marmol.  Marmol wasn’t very good, again, as he gave up two runs on three hits while walking one and striking out one, but battled and ended up “earning” his first save of the season.

Up Next – The Cubs head to Atlanta for a weekend series against the high-powered Braves.  Scott Feldman will make his Cubs debut against Atlanta lefty Mike Minor at 6:30 PM CST.

Stat Of The Night – The Cubs team ERA is 2.08, Carlos Marmol’s ERA is 20.25

April 4 box score 1

April 4 box score 2

Game Highlights:

Nice diving catch by Schierholtz
Russell gets a big strikeout
Starlin Castro puts the Cubs on the board
Schierholtz goes deep in the ninth

Thanks for reading,
– George

Cubs Edge A’s Behind 12 Hit Attack

Cactus League Header

Cubs-Athletics Line Score 2-28-13

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  The Cubs got back to basics this afternoon and also back into the win column, that’s not a coincidence.  After yesterdays game, which was one to forget, the Cubs pitching shut the A’s down all day while the offense pounded out twelve hits, and the defense was solid making no errors, a complete ballgame.  Scott Feldman got the start for the Cubs, his first as a North Sider, and 2-28-13 picturestruggled a bit with his command but was able to pitch around some self-imposed trouble.  Feldman worked two innings giving up one run on two hits while walking two and striking out two.  Travis Wood followed Feldman out of the pen, and ended up with the victory as he also went two innings, he gave up one run on two hits while walking none and striking out two.  Kyuji Fujikawa had his second straight strong outing as he worked a scoreless inning giving up one hit and striking out one, he now has three strikeouts in two innings of work this Spring.  Jensen Lewis made things interesting in the ninth inning as he allowed one run on three hits, but got a couple of clutch strikeouts to earn the save.

   The Cubs sprayed the ball all over the field offensively today, registering twelve hits with zero leaving the ballpark.  Junior Lake had an impressive day at the plate going 2-for-3 with a double, and an RBI, he is now hitting .300 on the Spring (3-for-10).  Darnell McDonald had a strong day at the plate as well going 2-for-3 with a double, an RBI, and a run scored.  Jorge Soler flashed some of his tools in the game today, he finished 1-for-3 at the plate with two strikeouts, but gunned down Josh Reddick at 3rd base from right field.  Javier Baez got the start at shortstop today while Starlin Castro nurses a tight hamstring, and went 1-for-3 with a run scored, he didn’t endanger any infielders’ lives today, which is good I guess.  I know it’s early, and it’s only Spring, but it’s nice to see a Cubs team competitive from the start.

Cubs-Athletics Box Score 2-28-13

Cubs-Athletics Pitchers Box Score 2-28-13

Thanks for reading,
– George

Cubs Reach Agreement with Kyuji Fujikawa

As reported by Ken Rosenthal the Cubs have reached an agreement pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa.  The 32- year- old closer has pitched the last six years for the Hanshin Tigers in Japan where he has 202 career saves with a 1.36 ERA.  The deal is for two years with a vesting option worth 9.5 million.  According to Rosenthal the deal breaks down as follows:  $1M signing bonus, $4M for both 2013 and 2014 seasons, plus $5.5M or $6M based on games finished.  If the option does not vest their is a $500K buyout.

It was speculated that Fujikawa was going to sign with the Angels, but the Cubs swooped in and grabbed him.  The Cubs will now have a decision to make, whether Carlos Marmol or Fujikawa will close.  I am sure the Cubs will still actively be trying to move Marmol, so we will just have to wait and see what happens.  Even if Marmol does not get moved I would not be surprised to see Fujikawa as the closer.

Thanks for reading,
-Mark