Jason Berken takes the ball for the Cubs today as they look to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Reds. I see that accountability, actually I should say the LACK of accountability is on full display today as Valbuena is playing a night after getting picked off while playing with his batting gloves. Here is how the rest of the Cubs will line up.
1. DeJesus – CF
2. Barney – 2B
3. Rizzo – 1B
4. LaHair – RF
5. Castro – SS
6. Valbuena – 3B
7. Castillo – C
8. Sappelt – RF
9. Berken – P
It was a valiant effort from the Cubs, coming back from a 5-1 deficit against the soon to be Central Division champs, unfortunately the Cubs couldn’t close the deal and lost to the Reds 6-5 in eleven innings. The outcome looked like it was going to be much different in the bottom of the 10th when the Cubs had 2nd and 3rd with only one out but couldn’t push across the winning run. Welington Castillo struck out, Brett Jackson walked, and Steve Clevenger grounded out to leave the bases loaded and ned the threat. Things got worse for the Cubs in the 11th after the first two hitters were retired, Brandon Phillips reached on a David DeJesus error and of course came around to score the winning run, unearned. On a tough night to pitch with the wind howling straight out all game Chris Rusin did his best to keep his team in it. He lasted five innings giving up five runs on ten hits while walking two and striking out two, not the greatest outing but not terrible given the conditions. The Cubs pen did a solid job the final six innings, as they allowed only three hits the rest of the way. Anthony Rizzo, and Luis Valbuena each has two hits in this one, but Valbuena was picked off second in spectacular fashion to end a Cubs threat in the 6th so I’m not too thrilled with anything else he did last night, terrible. Starlin Castro had a great night at the plate going 4-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored to raise his average to .283 on the season. The Cubs look to avoid the sweep this afternoon as Jason Berken makes his second start as a Cub.
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No doubt about this one, as the Nationals pounded out 19 hits, six of which were home runs, and 11 runs en route to an 11-5 victory over the Cubs. This one was ugly from the get go as Chris Rusin couldn’t command anything and was awesome at finding the barrel of the Nationals bats. Rusin only lasted an inning plus giving up five runs on eight hits while walking one and striking out one. The Cubs used seven pitchers in this one, and everyone one of them gave up at least two hits except for Jaye Chapman who pitched a hitless, scoreless inning in his major league debut. This one was basically a spring training game, Sveum threw out almost every pitcher possible to see what they had, most of them didn’t have much. Offensively it was a weird night for the Cubs, hitters two through five were 8-14 with a triple, a home run, two walks, five RBI’s and five runs scored. The rest of the Cubs were 0-for-19 with two walks, yikes. Luis Valbuena, Anthony Rizzo, Alfsonso Soriano, and Starlin Castro all had two hits in the loss. Soriano had a great night at the plate going 2-for-4 with a home run, a triple, and three RBI’s. The Cubs set a franchise record tonight by playing their 51st player of the year, not really sure if that’s something to be happy about, probably not.
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Chad Billingsley had his way with the Cubs lineup, as he usually does, and the Dodgers knocked around Jeff Samardzija en route to a 6-1 victory in Los Angeles. Samardzija was repeatedly beat tonight ahead in the count, which is rare for him. Shark just couldn’t put any one away, he lasted 5.1 innings giving up five runs on eight hits while walking none and striking out three on the way to his ninth loss of the season. As I mentioned the Cubs offense was nothing to write home about as they seemed to sleep walk their way through this one. They only managed four hits on the night, and finished 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position. Luis Valbuena was the only Cubs player to register an RBI as he knocked in Darwin Barney with an RBI double in the 5th to tie the game at one. Unfortunately the Dodgers poured it on from there, scoring twice in the 5th and 6th to make it 5-1 on their way to the victory. There was a bright side tonight, I promise. Scott Maine, Alberto Cabrera, and Jeff Beliveau all had scoreless outings, nice to see some success out of the bullpen by guys not named Russell and Camp. Small change to the rotation as Chris Volstad will get the start against Clayton Kershaw tomorrow night instead of Justin Germano. Full box score and highlights after the jump.
It was one of those nights where you would expect to see a shoot-out, and that’s what happened tonight at Wrigley. Couple Travis Wood’s poor command with the 100 degree heat index and it was a recipe for disaster. The Marlins scored three runs in the fourth and five runs in the fifth to take an 8-0 lead. Wood ended his night after 4.2 innings giving up eight runs on eight hits while walking two and striking out six. The Cubs tried to get back in the game by getting single runs in the 5th and 6th to make it 8-2. With the game seemingly over in the 8th, the Cubs tried to mount a rally. The tying run was on deck when Anthony Rizzo grounded into an inning ending double play and that is as close as the Cubs would get in a 9-5 loss. David DeJesus, Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo, Luis Valbuena, and Jeff Baker who wasn’t even starting the game, all came through with two hits in the loss. It’s not like the Cubs didn’t have their chances in this one. They scored five runs in the loss but finished the night 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position and left 10 guys on base. I guess the Cubs were bound to have a bad one here as they have been so good as of late, and it was probably time to get Dolis and Asencio into a game, so forget this one and move on. Full box score, and highlights after the jump.
Maybe Ryan Dempster doesn’t want to leave? Pitching in front of a packed house at Wrigley Field for maybe the last time, Dempster shut down the Diamondbacks en route to a 4-1 victory. For the fifth start in a row Dempster did not allow a run and earned the victory, according to Elias, Dempster is only the 5th pitcher in the last 100 years to accomplish that feat. Dempster also tied Kenny Holtzman’s club record for scoreless innings in a season with 33 straight, Holtzman tossed 33 scoreless innings in a row during the 1969 season. Dempster was on a pitch count again this afternoon so he was lifted after six innings, he allowed no runs on four hits while walking three and striking out five. The bottom of the Cubs order did most of the damage today as both Luis Valbuena and Geovany Soto had two hits, Valbuena added an RBI. Reed Johnson had a solid day at the top of the order going 2-for-4 with his 8th double of the season. Carlos Marmol came on to get the save and made it as difficult as you could imagine. Marmol put the first two guys on in the ninth before getting a game saving catch from Reed Johnson as he crashed into the bricks in right. Anthony Rizzo started a slick 3-6-1 double play to end the game giving the Cubs a series victory. Don’t look now, but the Cubs are playing baseball worthy of a contender as they have won 11 of their last 15 games, an impressive run, sure it is probably too late but this is must watch TV. Full box score and highlights after the jump.
I can get used to this type of baseball from the Cubs, Jeff Samardzija pitches a gem, Anthony Rizzo goes deep, and the Cubs win their fourth straight game. The four game winning streak is the longest of the season, sad I know, but it’s something at least. It’s also the Cubs sixth win in their last seven games, an impressive feat for sure. With the game scoreless in fourth inning Anthony Rizzo took a first pitch fastball from Tommy Hanson and hit a no-doubter just to the left of center field to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead. For the most part that was enough for Samardzija, but thanks to a two-out rally in the sixth the Braves tied the game at one. The tie didn’t last long as the Cubs loaded the bases with no outs in the seventh and Luis Valbuena busted it wide open. Valbuena jumped on the first pitch from Hanson lining it down the right field line into the corner to clear the bases and give the Cubs a 4-1 lead which is how this one would end. Samardzija was the story of the night as he bounced back from a few rough outings to go seven innings giving up one run on four hits while walking one guy, and striking out 11, a career high. Rizzo finished the night 2-for-4 at the plate with his second home run of the season, he’s now hitting .304 in the six games since being called up, the Cubs are now 5-1 in those games. Steve Clevenger and Luis Valbuena each finished the night with two hits each, full box score and highlights after the jump.