This should have happened a month ago, but because of rain Cubs fans had to wait another month for full bragging rights. The Cubs pounded the White Sox for the fourth straight game the result was a four game season sweep. The Cubs offense had it going late as they pounded out thirteen hits and scored eight runs, six of those runs coming in the eighth and ninth inning to break it open. Alfonso Soriano is putting on a show for the rest of baseball, he was 3-for-4 with his thirteenth home run of the season, a walk, two stolen bases, a double, and three runs scored. Soriano’s trade value is climbing with each passing day, and a game like last night shows teams that are interested that this guy isn’t done. Speaking of trade value, Matt Garza got the start and was brilliant once again going seven innings giving up two runs, one earned, on five hits while striking out six to pick up his fifth win of the season.
PICTURE OF THE GAME
Carlos Villanueva gets the start today for the Cubs as they try to take the series from the Pirates this afternoon in the rubber game. The Pirates will counter with A.J. Burnett who has been outstanding against the Cubs this year. Villanueva was really good as a starter earlier this year but was relegated to bullpen duties when Matt Garza returned to the rotation, now that Feldman is gone his spot in the rotation is Villanueva’s.
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
This is starting to resemble a real winning streak, not just a few games, but an actual legitimate winning streak. The Cubs had everything working for them today as they pitched, hit, and played solid defense, that usually wins a lot of games. The Cubs only needed one inning in this one as they scored five times in the third inning to take a 7-0 lead en route to a 7-2 victory, their fifth straight. The big blow came from Scott Hairston, who must have been taking pointers from Travis Wood before the game as he mashed a grand slam, just like Wood did a day earlier. After the third inning the Cubs didn’t do much with the bats, but they didn’t need to as Matt Garza was outstanding in picking up his first win of the season. Garza worked seven strong innings giving up two runs on six hits while striking out four, he didn’t walk anybody. Over the last five games, the Cubs are 15-for-38 with runners in scoring position, that is mind-boggling for a team that hasn’t been above .200 as a team in what seems like forever.
PICTURE OF THE GAME
No fake rally today boys and girls as the Cubs finally showed some life and came through with a successful rally, no, really! The Cubs were being owned by Johnny Cueto all day and thanks to some questionable behavior from Cueto, the Cubs woke up. Now, I’m not going to get into the problem with waiting to be woke up by the opponent versus being ready at first pitch right now, the point is Cueto woke the Cubs up, and paid for it. Trailing 4-0, the Cubs got one run back in the seventh, and scored three times in the eighth inning, the big blow was an Alfonso Soriano two-run homer to tie the game at four, all the damage was done with two outs. The Cubs went on top for good in then tenth inning as Welington Castillo‘s two out double scored Scott Hairston, and Kevin Gregg shut the door in the bottom half. The bullpen was outstanding in this one, as they worked a combined 5.2 scoreless innings giving up only one hit after Matt Garza left after four.
PICTURE OF THE GAME
I think I mentioned that it was imperative for the Cubs to get off to a good start on this road trip to avoid a disaster, well that didn’t happen. The Cubs limp into this weekend series against the Reds after getting swept by the Pirates and losing five out of their last six. That’s why I said that the Mets series would have either been a step forward or a big step back, they lost that series and spiraled since, that would be a step back as they sit ten games under .500 now which is a low water mark. Things aren’t going to get any easier as the Cubs start a three game series in Cincinnati tonight, a place where the Reds are 16-6 on the season, and have won eight of their last ten overall. If there is any good news heading into this series it’s that the Cubs have played the Reds tough all year-long, that doesn’t necessarily mean wins, guess we’ll have to rely on moral victories at this point. The Reds are back to scoring runs in bunches again and have scored 225 on the season, that’s good for sixth in the majors. They hold a huge edge in the department over the Cubs and the 179 runs they have scored this season. Scoring runs isn’t the only thing the Reds do well, they are pretty good at preventing the other team from doing so. They have a 3.31 team ERA which is third best in the Majors, you add up that kind of offense, and pitching and you get a team that is 29-18 on the season. The Cubs will need a perfect series in order to take two out of three this weekend.
The Cubs were swept in Pittsburgh, three games that we should all just forget about.
The Reds are rolling as they have won three straight, and eight out of their last ten. They are coming off a three game sweep of the Mets in New York.
Game Times and Broadcast Information:
- Friday, May 24, 2013 – 6:10 PM CST on WGN
- Saturday, May 25, 2013 – 3:10 PM CST on WGN
- Sunday, May 26, 2013 – 12:10 PM CST on CSN Chicago
Starting Pitchers Scheduled:
Game One – Scott Feldman (4-3, 2.19)
– Career vs. Reds (first appearance)
Game Two – Travis Wood (4-2, 2.24)
– Career vs. Reds (3 GS) (0-1, 4.42)
Game Three – Matt Garza (0-0, 0.00)
– Career vs. Reds (4 GS) (1-2, 3.80)
Game One – Bronson Arroyo (4-2, 3.25)
– Career vs. Cubs (28 appearances, 26 GS) (11-9, 2.99)
Game Two – Homer Bailey (2-3, 3.09)
– Career vs. Cubs (10 GS) (5-2, 5.12)
Game Three – Johnny Cueto (2-0, 3.22)
– Career vs. Cubs (18 GS) (8-6, 3.01)
The Cubs send their number four, five, and one starters to the mound in this series, and oddly enough that might be their best chance to win. Travis Wood, and Scott Feldman have been as good as any pitcher this year, not just on the Cubs either. With that said, the Reds are finding their groove and the Cubs look disinterested so I think they lose two out of three this weekend. HOWEVER, of course there is a however, I think if they can steal the first game tonight they could win two out of three, fingers crossed.
Cub to Watch:
Time for Anthony Rizzo to get back on track as he has struggled since signing his big contract extension. Could that be a product of Rizzo trying to justify his contract, I don’t think so, I think he is just pressing at the moment knowing he is a big part of this offense and is struggling. Rizzo has had success against Arroyo in the past (3-for-8), if he has a big night tonight then expect a big series as Rizzo usually parlays one big game into a torrid week or so.