I’ve never been one to call for a managers head, or question a manager openly, unless their first name is Mike, and last name is Quade, that’s not what this is. I’ve played the game, nowhere near the MLB level, and I’ve never been a manager so I cannot relate to what Sveum goes through on a daily basis with one eye on his team, one eye on his future, and one eye on the organizations future, wait, that’s too many eyes, I digress. Sveum has been a popular target on social media, specifically twitter the last week, and really all the season when the Cubs flame out, but rarely receives any credit when he does make the right move and it pays off. Now, I understand that this is usually the case with managers, but it’s worth pointing out that Cubs fans are slowly turning their hate and ire towards Sveum. Last night didn’t help, and it added fuel to the fire of the keeping Shawn Camp decision, more on that later.
I don’t care what word you want to use, disaster, debacle, mismanaged, I think they all apply to last night. After Matt Garza made a successful return to the mound going five scoreless innings giving up one hit while walking three and striking out five he was lifted by Sveum, this was after 82 pitches, and it was the RIGHT move. Sveum screwed up last night, but one of the things he did right was lift Garza, Garza means more to the Cubs healthy with a no decision, then hurt again, and 1-0 on the season. The head scratching came after he lifted Garza. Shawn Camp was warming up in the pen during the fifth inning in case Garza couldn’t get out of some trouble, Garza did get out of the trouble, then Camp sat down. Hector Rondon got up instead and was slated to come in for the sixth, that was the first issue I had. Shawn Camp has been awful this year, Shawn Camp has shown signs of a dead arm this year, you don’t get him up to come in then sit him down, doesn’t work, usually doesn’t. Rondon struggled, which can happen, then Sveum reached a new level of second guessing by bringing in James Russell, arguably the best arm in the pen…. in the sixth. Sure, one could argue that this was a turning point in the game, but what happens after the sixth if Russell gets out of it? Who’s left out of the pen to work the seventh, Camp? The same Camp that just sat down an inning ago? Marmol would probably come in for the seventh, but as you will read Sveum had no intentions of letting Russell get out of the sixth.
Let’s stop there for a second to discuss something else. When Garza’s return to the rotation was announced, last week, Sveum said that Villanueva was going to go to the pen. Okay, given that Garza was on a strict pitch count last night, Sveum had a day or so to figure out what he wanted to do when Garza was lifted, and he was most likely going to be lifted early. So one would think that it would have made perfect sense to bring in Villanueva to not only get through the sixth, but piece together the game and have Villanueva get the ball to the ninth assuming he was effective. But Villanueva was nowhere to be found, and I do understand that he might not have been available, but for argument’s sake I figured I would at least bring it up as another possible option for Sveum in the sixth.
Okay, back to what actually happened last night. So in comes Russell in the sixth inning with the bases loaded and one out to face Pedro Alvarez. I get the lefty/lefty match up thing in a big spot but after Russell walked Alvarez Sveum removed him. The best arm in the pen faced one batter in the sixth and that was it. If you are going to bring Russel in for that situation let him get out of it, or at least attempt to. I don’t care if it’s a righty or lefty at the plate, Russell can get both out, instead he faces one guy, and leaves the game in the same situation as he entered it. Now comes the decision to bring in Shawn Camp with the bases loaded and one out, he gets the first guy, but then is left in to face a lefty in Travis Snider, why? If Russell is being lifted after one hitter because of matchup’s why is Camp being left in the game for an unfavorable matchup? Probably because he was the third pitcher of the inning already. But if this was the most important spot in the game, important enough to use Russell, why wasn’t Fujikawa brought in, or Marmol, both have been better than Camp, and that’s alarming given Marmol’s struggles. Dale completely botched this whole situation as he then was forced to stick with Camp the rest of the inning because no one was left out of the pen if he went to a fourth pitcher in the inning.
So, what could have been done differently? Garza had to come out, no question, I absolutely agree with that move. I’m indifferent on bringing in Rondon in that situation, but I would have went with Marmol, but have a quick hook ready if he can’t find the zone. Ideally, Marmol works the sixth inning, Russell works the seventh, Fujikawa works the eighth, and Gregg closes it out. I don’t see any reason why Rondon HAD to be used, when in the past Sveum has shied away from using him late with a lead, but my biggest complaint is Russell for one hitter, makes no sense. Now, this is the scenario if Villanueva was not available, if he was available then this game was the perfect spot for a former starter easing into the pen. Use him for as long as he is effective then go from there, we’ve already seen our fair share of bullpen disasters, but I think this one could have been avoided with better decision-making from Sveum.
That brings us to the other question, why was Camp still available to be used in the first place? To make room for Garza one pitcher had to be designated for assignment, and that pitcher was Michael Bowden. Bowden was having a solid season on the heels of having a really good finish to 2012, but now the Cubs risk losing him completely, and he’s only 26, why? I can’t really answer that question, and ultimately that decision comes down to the front office. Both Theo and Jed said that all decisions regarding the roster are made with a large input from Dale, so my guess is that he lobbied hard for Camp, and the front office showed faith in their manager and player by keeping Camp around. The Cubs had options here, they could have placed Rondon on the DL with a “middle body” injury to by some time before making a decision, or they could have released Camp who looks done, there is nothing telling me that he is going to bounce back in any way, shape or form. Let’s not forget the only reason the Cubs got him was that he was released by Seattle during spring training the year before. He’s also 37 years old, all of these things just don’t add up in regards to keeping him, so Sveum and the front office have to share the blame on that one, and if I had to guess Camp won’t be on the Cubs by the All-Star break. Been a while since I’ve been able to share my thoughts in this space, felt I needed to after last night, today’s another game, let’s get a win!
Another frustrating loss, as I mentioned in the series preview the Cubs had an opportunity to take another step forward with a series win, instead they take a step back, as they have all year. Travis Wood was brilliant again, but the Cubs wasted multiple opportunities until the fifth inning when Wood took things into his own hands. With the game scoreless and the Cubs threatening to waste another lead-off double Travis Wood launched a two run homer out on to Waveland to give the Cubs a 2-0 lead. After the Mets got one run back in the sixth the Cubs answered right back in the bottom half to regain their two run lead. That’s when things unraveled as Wood gave up a two-out, two-run homer to Juan Lagares, yeah, the noted home run hitter, Juan Lagares. It was Lagares first home run of his career and it tied the game at three and seemingly took all the fight out of the Cubs. Kyuji Fujikawa quickly gave the Mets the lead in the eight giving up a lead-off homer to Daniel Murphy and just like that a series win turned into a series loss. If this loss doesn’t sum up 2013 I don’t know what does, a quality start wasted, a bunch of wasted opportunities offensively, and the bullpen took the loss, yep, your 2013 Chicago Cubs, so frustrating.
At The Plate – The Cubs problems with runners in scoring position came back to bite them again in this one as they were 1-for-10, yuck. David DeJesus was 2-for-4 from the lead-off spot with a double, he’s now hitting .294 on the season. Ryan Sweeney got the start in left for Soriano and produced just about as well as Soriano has. Sweeney was 2-for-3 with a double, his first home run of the season, a walk, an RBI, and a run scored. Welington Castillo was 2-for-4 with his tenth double of the season and a run scored. Travis Wood did all he could to get the win today, he was 1-for-2 with his first home run of the season with two RBI’s and a run scored.
On The Mound – Travis Wood delivered with his ninth straight quality start, and didn’t factor in the decision, again. Wood worked seven innings giving up three runs on five hits while walking two and striking out three. Kyuji Fujikawa didn’t take long to record his first loss of the season, he worked one inning giving up one run on a solo shot to lead off the inning while striking out two. Carlos Marmol worked a scoreless ninth because it wasn’t a save situation giving up one hit while striking out two.
Up Next – The Cubs are off tomorrow then they open an eight game road trip starting with a three game set in Pittsburgh on Tuesday. Matt Garza will make his first start in ten months for the Cubs, I’m sure he will be more than ready to go.
At The Plate – Iowa didn’t really have a lot going offensively, but they didn’t need it as the one run they scored in the second inning was enough for the win. Brent Lillibridge was 1-for-3 with a walk in the win. Dave Sappelt, Brian Bogusevic, and Josh Vitters all had base hits in this one. Donnie Muphy had the biggest one, a run scoring single in the second, he finished the night 1-for-2 with said RBI.
On The Mound – Matt Garza is just about ready to return to the Cubs and he showed it tonight. Garza was brilliant going six scoreless innings giving up two hits while striking out six, he threw 75 pitches, 53 for strikes. Brooks Raley took it from there as he worked three scoreless inning out of the pen for his first save of the year, he gave up two hits while walking one and striking out three.
At The Plate – The Smokies broke through with two runs in the sixth inning to break a 4-4 tie, and eventually win 6-4, the win pushes them one game over .500 on the season. Arismendy Alcantara was 2-for-4 with a double and a runs scored in the win. Ty Wright had a huge night for the Smokies going 2-for-4 with two home runs, four RBI’s, and two runs scored, Wright came into this one with no home runs on the season. Jonathan Mota was 2-for-4 with a run scored, while Rafael Lopez was 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored.
On The Mound – Matt Loosen never really found his command in this one as he worked four innings giving up four runs on three hits while walking six(!), and striking out five. Then the bullpen took over for the Smokies and won the game. A.J. Morris was perfect going three scoreless innings while striking out three to get his second win of the season. Marcus Hatley worked a scoreless eighth inning giving up one hit. Frank Batista worked a scoreless ninth to earn his fifth save of the season while striking out one.
At The Plate – The Daytona bats finally woke up, unfortunately that wasn’t enough to win tonight as they drop another disappointing one to Charlotte. Daytona scored seven times but left a lot out there as they were only 3-for-15 with runners in scoring position. Dustin Geiger is putting together a solid season and had another good night going 3-for-5 with his fourth home run of the season, a double, an RBI, and two runs scored, he is now hitting .298 on the season. Ben Carhart was 1-for-4 with a walk, and two runs scored in the loss. Huge night for Chadd Krist, he went 3-for-3 with a walk, two doubles, and five RBI’s, not bad for his second game with Daytona.
On The Mound – Probably the worst outing you will ever see P.J. Francescon have, he had nothing. Francescon went five innings giving up ten runs, eight earned, on nine hits while walking five and striking out three, his record fell to 3-3 on the season. Jeffrey Lorick was decent out of the pen going 1.2 innings giving up one run, unearned, on one hit while walking one and striking out one. David Cales was okay out of the pen going 1.1 innings giving up one run on one hit while walking one and striking out one. Hunter Cervenka worked a scoreless inning giving up one hit, he has a sparkling 1.62 ERA on the season.
At The Plate – Game one was all Cougars, they didn’t break it open until late but they only needed one as they beat the Chiefs in game one 5-0. Pin-Chieh Chen was 2-for-3 with a walk, an RBI, and a run scored from the lead-off spot. Gioskar Amaya had a big game going 3-for-4 with a double, three RBI’s, and a run scored. Dan Vogelbach was 1-for-4 with a double, and an RBI in the win. Willson Contreras is locked in right now, he was 2-for-3 with a walk, he is now hitting .307 on the season. Marco Hernandez was perfect in game one going 3-for-3 with a double, and two runs scored.
On The Mound – Brian Smith was awesome for the Cougars, in fact he was almost perfect. Smith worked four scoreless, and hit-less innings while walking two and striking out two. Eddie Orozco took over and was very good, he worked two scoreless innings giving up one hit while striking out one to earn his second win of the season. Jeffry Antigua came on to close this one out, he worked a scoreless inning while striking out one.
At The Plate – The Chiefs got payback in game two as they routed the Cougars 8-2, the Cougars could only manage three hits in this one. What’s worse is they committed six errors in seven innings, that usually doesn’t end well. Jeimer Candelario was one of the few Cougars who had a strong game two at the plate, he was 2-for-3 with two doubles, he also committed three errors. Marco Hernandez proved to be the only offense for the Cougars going 1-for-3 with his first home run of the season, two RBI’s, a run scored, and you guessed it, an error.
On The Mound – As you could imagine the Cougars pitching didn’t get a lot of help from their defense. Michael Heesch got the start and took the loss, he worked three innings giving up six runs, two earned, on four hits while walking two. Steve Perakslis was solid out of the pen working three scoreless innings giving up three hits while striking out two. Bijan Rademacher, the Cougars starting right fielder, worked one inning giving up two runs, unearned, on two hits while walking one.
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.
At The Plate – The Cubs left some runs out on the bases in this one but they found just enough offense to come away with a win. Brett Jackson was 2-for-5 with a double, two RBI’s, and his fourth stolen base of the season. Dave Sappelt had a good day going 2-for-4 with his first home run of the season, two RBI’s, and a run scored. J.C. Boscan was 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored in the win. I mentioned that Iowa left some runs out there, they were 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position, and left nine guys on base.
On The Mound – Guillermo Moscoso was brilliant in this one for the Cubs as he improved his record to 2-0 on the season. Moscoso went seven innings giving up one run, unearned, on six hits while walking one and striking out seven. Zach Putnam worked a scoreless inning out of the pen giving up one hit while walking one. Blake Parker was solid again for his fifth save of the season, he worked a scoreless ninth while striking out one.
At The Plate – The Smokies finally found a way to beat the Barons, and almost blew the lead late before hanging on to a 5-4 victory. Matt Szczur was good again at the top of the order going 2-for-4 with two RBI’s, two runs scored, and two stolen bases, he now has twelve stolen bases on the season. Ty Wright was 2-for-3 with a walk, and a double in the win. Christian Villanueva had another solid day going 3-for-4 with two doubles, and an RBI, he’s hitting .294 over his last ten games.
On The Mound – Matt Garza had a solid outing for the Smokies, and more importantly came out of it healthy again. Garza went 3.1 scoreless innings giving up three hits while walking two and striking out two. Matt Loosen struggled with his command out of the pen but managed to get the win. Loosen went four innings giving up three runs on two hits while walking four and striking out six. Marcus Hatley struggled a little bit but earned his first save of the season going 1.2 innings giving up one run on two hits while walking two and striking out one.
At The Plate – After falling behind 3-1 early the Cougars went to work at the plate scoring six times over the final six innings en route to a 7-4 victory. Pin-Chieh Chen was solid at the top of the order going 2-for-5 with a double. Dan Vogelbach was 1-for-4 with a walk, a double, and a run scored, he’s now hitting .292 on the season. Willson Contreras had a huge day going 3-for-5 with a double, his fourth home run of the season, two RBI’s, and two runs scored. Gioskar Amaya only had one hit in this one (1-for-5) but he had two huge RBI’s.
On The Mound – Michael Heesch flirted with disaster all day long but pitched out of trouble for the most part. Heesch worked six innings giving up four runs on twelve hits while walking one to earn his second win of the season. Brian Smith was outstanding out of the pen, he worked three scoreless inning giving up two hits while striking out three to earn his first save of the season.
NOTES: Daytona had a double-header scheduled, and both games were postponed.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mom’s out there, including mine, the best one there is!
At The Plate – The Iowa Cubs are playing much better baseball of late and they are being rewarded with wins. Brian Bogusevic just hits, that’s all, he was 1-for-2 with two walks, a triple, an RBI, and two runs scored. Josh Vitters was 1-for-4 with his second home run in as many days, two RBI’s and a run scored. Brad Nelson was 2-for-4 with two singles in the win. Edwin Maysonet was 2-for-4 with his first home run of the season, a double, three RBI’s, and a run scored.
On The Mound – Matt Garza made his first appearance with Iowa in his rehab tour of the minor leagues tonight. Garza was solid tonight, working 3.1 innings giving up four runs while striking out three, and emerging healthy. Cory Wade worked two-thirds of an inning giving up a hit while striking out two. Chris Rusin was tremendous out of the pen to get the win, he worked five scoreless innings giving up three hits while striking out two.
At The Plate – Daytona seems to be in a funk at the plate as of late, they were only able to score twice on six hits tonight. John Andreoli hasn’t missed a beat however as he was 2-for-4 with a double, and his tenth stolen base of the seaoson. Jorge Soler had a big night going 2-for-4 with his fourth home run of the season, a triple, an RBI, and two runs scored.
On The Mound – Zach Cates was knocked around quite a bit this one as he worked four innings giving up six runs on eleven hits while walking one and striking out two. Frank Del Valle was great out of the pen going two scoreless innings giving up one hit while striking out three. Austin Reed was just as good going two scoreless innings giving up one hit while striking out one.
At The Plate – Kane County’s six game winning streak came to an end tonight, but not without some fight from the Cougars. After falling behind 11-1 the Cougars scored seven times over the final five innings to make it a game but fell just short. Pin-Chieh Chen was 2-for-3 with two walks, two RBI’s, and two runs scored. Dan Vogelbach was 1-for-4 with a walk, a double, two RBI’s and a run scored. Jeimer Candelario was 1-for-3 with a double, two walks, an RBI, and a run scored. Bijan Rademacher has been out of his mind lately, he was 3-for-5 with an RBI, a stolen base, and a run scored in the loss.
On The Mound – Some good and some bad for the Cougars in this one. Lendy Castillo got the start and the loss as he went four innings giving up eight runs, six earned, on eight hits while walking one and striking out two. Jeffry Antigua wasn’t much better as he worked an inning giving up three runs on four hits while walking one and striking out one. Now the good, Eddie Orozco went two scoreless, hit-less innings while striking out two. Brian Smith worked a scoreless inning as well giving up two hits while walking one and striking out one. Bijan Rademacher not only had three hits in this one, he also pitched a scoreless inning, ah, minor league baseball with loads of double-headers.
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At The Plate – The Cubs couldn’t scratch out a run in this one as they could only manage four hits in a 1-0 loss. Logan Watkins did nearly all the work today for Iowa as he was 3-for-3 with a walk, Ryan Sweeney was the only other Iowa player with a hit. The Cubs were 1-for-4 with runners in scoring position but that one hit did not result in a run.
On The Mound – Chris Rusin was outstanding in this one, but saw his record fall to 1-3 with the loss. Rusin went seven innings giving up one run on six hits while striking out five. Hisanori Takahashi, and Zach Putnam each tossed a scoreless inning out of the bullpen to keep things close.
At The Plate – Yeah, only five innings as this one was shortened by rain. In those five innings the Smokies did nothing, well almost nothing, they did get singles, yep that’s it. The Smokies didn’t even have a chance to hit with anyone in scoring position in this one. Rubi Silva and Rafael Lopez were each 1-for-2 in the loss.
On The Mound – Much more important things taking place on the mound in this one as Matt Garza made his first rehab start. That’s the other part of minor league baseball, sometimes it’s not for development, it’s for getting healthy, and Garza took his first step towards that today. Garza went 2.2 innings giving up one run on one hit while walking two, but more importantly made it out of today seemingly healthy, so that’s good news. Kevin Rhoderick tossed 1.1 scoreless innings while walking two and striking out one. Matt Loosen couldn’t keep things close “late” as he worked two-thirds of an inning giving up two runs on two hits while walking one.
At The Plate – Really solid game all around from the D-Cubs in this one as they found just enough offense to knock off the Cardinals. Jorge Soler was 1-for-3 with a double, and a stolen base, nice to see Soler starting to get a few hits here and there after slumping, his average is back up to .275 on the season. Ben Carhart is on fire of late, that continued tonight as he went 2-for-3 with two doubles, two RBI’s, and a run scored, he’s now hitting .312 on the season. Anthony Giansanti was 2-for-3 with an RBI in the win.
On The Mound – Ben Wells was outstanding today, and really has been good all year. Wells went seven innings giving up one run on three hits while walking one and striking out three. Eduardo Figueroa took it from there as he worked two scoreless innings giving up two hits while walking one and striking out three to earn his first save of the season.
At The Plate – Looked like the Cougars were going to cruise to a victory, but as we have learned so far this season, nothing is easy for the Cougars and they needed ten innings to get the win. Pin-Chieh Chen was 2-for-5 with a double, a stolen base, and two runs scored. Gioskar Amaya was 2-for-3 with a double, a walk, and a run scored. Daniel Vogelbach played the hero tonight as he was 1-for-5 with two RBI’s, that one was a huge one, a walk-off single in the tenth inning.
On The Mound – Pierce Johnson has been disgusting (in a good way) as of late, and tonight was no different. Johnson went 6.2 innings giving up one run on four hits while walking one and striking out four. Eddie Orozco did a solid job out of the pen tossing a scoreless inning while giving up one hit while walking two and striking out two. Jeffry Antigua had a rough go of it as he blew the save, but also got the win, he went 2.1 innings giving up three runs on five hits while striking out four.
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