As I mentioned in the series preview the Cubs look to be finding a groove and riding the momentum of some nice wins lately. Tonight was pure domination from beginning to end as the Cubs had a 5-0 lead after two innings en route to a 9-1 victory, their third straight win. These wins are coming against good teams as well, and they held their own in their most recent losses against the Reds, and Cardinals. I’m not saying the Cubs are going to be contenders next week, but they are playing some of the best baseball they have played in the last three years. Okay, I know, that really doesn’t take much, but watching this team every night I can see the change. Lost in the offensive awesomeness, say that five times fast, was the performance of Travis Wood. He was brilliant again, and is pitching like a true number one, this is the Travis Wood the Cubs’ brass was hoping they got when they traded Sean Marshall to the Reds. Actually this is probably more than what they expected this soon, just outstanding.
At The Plate – The best offensive night for the Cubs this year, they pounded out fourteen hits and scored nine runs. They were an impressive 6-for-18 with runners in scoring position and had eight extra base hits, six doubles, a triple, and a home run. David DeJesus was 2-for-4 with a walk, a double, two RBI’s, and two runs scored. Starlin Castro was on base all night going 2-for-3 with a walk, a double, two RBI’s, and a run scored. Alfonso Soriano padded his slugging numbers in this one going 2-for-4 with his fourth home run of the season, a double, two RBI’s and a run scored. Nate Schierholtz was 2-for-4 with a triple, and two RBI’s, he is now hitting .299 on the season. Welington Castillo and Travis Wood also had two hits in the victory, both of Castillo’s hits were doubles, what else is new, the Cubs lead the Majors in doubles.
On The Mound – Travis Wood was brilliant, what else can be said, he has been all year. Wood worked seven scoreless innings giving up two hits while walking three and striking out two. This was his eighth straight quality start to begin the season, he improved his record to 4-2, and lowered his ERA to 2.03 as well. Kyuji Fujikawa had another solid performance out of the pen tossing a scoreless inning while striking out two. Carlos Marmol worked the ninth inning giving up one run on one hit while striking out three.
Up Next – The Cubs go for their fourth straight win as Carlos Villanueva looks to get things back on track. The Rockies counter with Jeff Francis, first pitch scheduled for 7:05 PM CST, and the weather is supposed to be very summer like.
Wood’s scoreless outing
DeJesus two-run single
Schierholtz two-run triple
Cubs turn two to end the fifth
Castro turns two
Castro’s two run double
Travis Wood helps himself with a double
Alfonso Soriano launches one out onto Waveland
The Cubs are usually on the other end of these games, I like winning these games WAY more than losing them. The Cubs had nothing going all day as they were being no hit through five innings, then they started to chip away at Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez. The Cubs loaded the bases in the sixth only to come up empty, but it signaled that the Cubs might be ready to make things difficult for the Nats. Gonzalez rebounded nicely in the seventh inning, but Nats manager Davey Johnson decided to pull Gio after only 86 pitches on the day, the Cubs thank you Davey. The Cubs went to work in the eighth as they played some small ball. Navarro singled to lead off the eighth, he was then moved to second on a sac bunt by Barney. Travis Wood pinch ran for Navarro and made a great base running play to tag up on a foul ball behind first base to make it to third with two outs. Starlin Castro delivered as he took a Drew Storen pitch back up the middle for game tying base hit. The Cubs used some aggressiveness in the ninth to take the lead an ultimately win the game. They put the first two guys on in the ninth then Ryan Sweeney struck out, I know I’m not the only Cubs fan to think here we go again. But on the very next pitch Soriano and Borbon executed a double steal and the Cubs finally got a break. Kurt Suzuki‘s throw to third hit Welington Castillo‘s bat and went down the third base line allowing Soriano to score the game winning run. Kevin Gregg was perfect in the ninth to secure the Cubs win, and the series win over the Nats.
At The Plate – As I mentioned the Cubs had nothing going all day long, but woke up just in time. Starlin Castro was 1-for-3 with a walk, and a game tying RBI from the lead-off spot. Cody Ransom had a solid day from the two spot going 2-for-4 with two singles. Dioner Navarro was one of the few guys who were locked in at the plate, he was 2-for-3 in the win.
On The Mound – Another really solid start for Scott Feldman, he had to settle for a no decision but that was better than an undeserved loss. Feldman went six innings giving up one run on five hits while walking three and striking out six. Kyuji Fujikawa was solid, and healthy for the second time this series. Fujikawa worked a scoreless inning while striking out one, very encouraging to see his velocity up near 93-94 MPH. James Russell worked a scoreless eighth inning while walking one to earn his first win of the season. Kevin Gregg was lights out yet again, what else would you expect? Gregg worked a scoreless ninth while striking out two earning his sixth save of the season.
Edwin Jackson match all everything Stephen Strasburg pitch for pitch for the first four innings, then the Cubs got a gift. With two outs and nobody on in the top of the 5th Welington Castillo hit what looked like an inning ending ground out to Ryan Zimmerman. Then Zimmerman’s horrible mechanics took over and he made an awful throw to keep the Cubs alive in the inning. The next five Cubs hitters reached base, and when it was all said and done the Cubs led 4-0, with all four runs being unearned. Not only did they take the lead but they knocked Strasburg out of the game after five then added on in the sixth. Leading 4-1 the Cubs scored four more times in the sixth to take an 8-1 lead en route to an 8-2 victory. Edwin Jackson earned his first win of the season, and the Cubs were outstanding with runners in scoring position, bizarro world, but I’ll take it.
At The Plate – The Cubs did get some help from Ryan Zimmerman and his awkwardness in the field, but they also took advantage. The Cubs pounded out twelve hits and scored eight runs, six of those twelve hits were doubles, that gives the Cubs thirteen doubles in the last two games. If that wasn’t enough, the Cubs were also 6-for-12 with runners in scoring position, that usually bodes well. David DeJesus was 1-for-4 with a double, two RBI’s, a walk, and a run scored. Anthony Rizzo has found his 2012 form, he was 3-for-5 with two RBI’s, he’s now hitting .288 on the season, he was hitting .173 on April 26th, think about that. Alfonso Soriano was 2-for-5 with two doubles, and a run score in the victory. One of the biggest hits came off the bat of Edwin Jackson, he laced a two-out, two-run double off of Strasburg to give the Cubs a 2-0 lead in the fifth.
On The Mound – Edwin Jackson was much better in this one, he worked 5.1 innings giving up two runs on four hits while walking two and striking out three to earn his first win as a member of the Cubs. The bullpen was solid as well as they worked the final 3.2 innings to close this one out. Shawn Camp went 1.2 scoreless innings giving up two hits while striking out two. Hector Rondon continues to impress as he went two scoreless innings while striking out two.
Up Next – The rubber game of the series on Mother’s Day as Scott Feldman looks to keep things rolling and get a series win for the Cubs. He will be opposed by left hander Gio Gonzalez, who has uncharacteristically struggled in the early going. First pitch is scheduled for 12:35 PM CST on WGN TV.
Just when you think that the Cubs have lost every way possible they go and gives us another disaster. At this point it seems as though the only thing that is holding the Cubs back, is the Cubs themselves. Travis Wood was outstanding in this one, as he has been so often this year, and yet again, somehow, the Cubs found a way to lose. After taking a late 2-0 lead on a clutch Scott Hairston home run the wheels fell of in the eighth. With two outs and two guys on it looked like the Cubs were going to get out of it, then the wind took over. Yonder Alonso, who had the day off until the eighth inning, hit a fly ball to right field, it turned into more of a pop up in short right field because of the wind. Julio Borbon, who made a spectacular catch to retire the previous batter charged in and called off Barney, then flat-out missed the ball, that allowed the Padres to score and make it 2-1, and extended the inning. That marked the end of the day for Wood, but not the end of the misery. Shawn Camp came in and Welington Castillo completed boxed the first pitch from Camp to allow the game tying run to score, not only was it a passed ball on Castillo, but he completely dogged it while “chasing” the ball down. The Padres runner didn’t break right away, and if Castillo hustles they have a great chance to get him at the plate, he didn’t, and when the dust finally settled the Padres led 4-2 and the Cubs were done. Yet again, a series the Cubs should have won, ends in a split, so very frustrating.
At The Plate – The familiar issues were there once again for the Cubs as they tallied nine hits in this one but could only score twice as they were o-for-7 with runners in scoring position. Scott Hairston had the big blow for the Cubs, a two run homer in the seventh that looked like it would be the difference. Hairston finished the day going 1-for-3 with two RBI’s, said home run, and a run scored. Welington Castillo at least had a solid day at the plate going 2-for-4 with a run scored.
On The Mound – For the second straight game the Cubs starting pitching was the story, or should have been the story as Travis Wood was brilliant. Wood carried a perfect game through four and two-thirds, giving up a hit to Kyle Blanks with two outs in the fifth. Wood ended up going 7.2 innings giving up three runs on four hits while walking one and striking out three, and was tagged with the loss, mind numbing. Shawn Camp was charged with an earned run, and didn’t retire anyone as he walked the only batter he faced. James Russell didn’t have it today either as he gave up the difference making hit in two-thirds of an inning. Carlos Marmol pitched a scoreless ninth inning, he hit a batter, and gave up a hit, but kept the Padres off the scoreboard.
Up Next – The Cubs welcome the Reds to Wrigley for a three game weekend set. Carlos Villanueva will get the ball for the Cubs in game one and the Reds will counter with Mike Leake, first pitch scheduled at 1:20 PM CST, weather permitting.
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As far as team wins go this one might be at the top of the list. For really the first time all year the Cubs put everything together for a solid victory that included clutch hits, outstanding pitching, and a handful of tremendous defensive plays. Yes, this is the 2013 Cubs we are talking about here, and it was a pleasure to watch. The Cubs jumped in front early again in this one taking a 1-0 lead in the first and a 2-1 lead in the second, both times they allowed the Marlins to tie it up. The game stayed tied at two into the seventh inning and that’s where the Cubs came up clutch. The Marlins went to Mike Dunn, a lefty specialist to take care of Julio Borbon, Borbon drew a walk, then Dunn was tasked with retiring DeJesus, he couldn’t do that either. With Castillo at second DeJesus smacked a ground ball base hit back up the middle to give the Cubs a 3-2 lead. The Cubs pen did the job the rest of the way to secure their third straight win, with a whole bunch of help from Starlin Castro and his glove.
At The Plate – The Cubs finally found some clutch hitting in this one as they were 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position. David DeJesus was 2-for-4 with a double, an RBI, and a run scored. Welington Castillo was also right in the middle of the action going 2-for-4, and scored the game winning run. Luis Valbuena has been in a good stretch as well, he went 2-for-4 with an RBI in the victory. Loved the Cubs approach tonight as they walked four times and struck out only five times.
On The Mound – Travis Wood was outstanding once again in this one as he earned his second win of the season. Wood went six innings giving up two runs on just three hits while walking one and striking out five, he is now 2-1 on the season with a 2.25 ERA. The bullpen then took over as they shut down the Marlins over the last three innings to preserve the win. Kameron Loe worked a scoreless inning giving up a hit while walking one. James Russell and Carlos Marmol teamed up to work a scoreless eighth inning, surrendering one hit and one walk. Kevin Gregg once again pitched a flawless ninth inning for his third save of the season.
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How was that for exciting, for the second time in the last week Luis Valbuena belted a clutch home run to put the Cubs up late, this time they actually won the game. Things weren’t looking so good early on as Edwin Jackson was struggling with his command and the Marlins jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the second inning. Usually that spells the end of the game for the Cubs given their offensive woes, but not tonight. The Cubs scored once in the fourth on back to back doubles by Nate Schierholtz and Welington Castillo, and then tied it in the sixth on a home run by you guessed it, Schierholtz again. Jackson settled in, and the Cubs pen did a great job to get the game tied at three and then Valbuena delivered the game winning shot in the top of the ninth. Carlos Marmol came on to get the save, and of course made it very interesting for everyone involved by putting the first two men on before escaping the jam, Cubs win!
At The Plate – The Cubs were only able to manage six hits in this one, but they made them count as they were 2-for-6 with runners in scoring position. David DeJesus was 1-for-4 with a double, and a run scored from the lead-off spot. Starlin Castro got the Cubs on the board early with an RBI single, he finished the day 1-for-4. Nate Schierholtz was 2-for-4 with a double, a home run, an RBI, and two runs scored. Luis Valbuena, the hero on this night went 1-for-4 with a home run, an RBI, and a run scored.
On The Mound – It didn’t look like Edwin Jackson was going to make it through four innings in this one but he battled his way to a quality start. Jackson went six innings giving up three runs on five hits while walking four and striking out four. The Cubs pen shined in this one as Hector Rondon, Shawn Camp, and Carlos Marmol all tossed scoreless innings in the victory. Impressive job by Marmol after it looked like things were going to unravel, he walked the first guy, gave up a hit to the next guy then settled in as he struck out the Marlins best hitter Giancarlo Stanton with the tying run in scoring position to end this one.
Valbuena’s game winner
Great defensive play in the ninth
Marmol gets the save
Schierholtz ties it with a home run
Castro’s RBI single
Great catch by Barney
Castillo’s RBI double
Slick play by Barney and Castro
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No rain outs this weekend! It seems as though the Brewers have found a groove since playing the Cubs as they are playing better of late. Yesterday’s Cubs game was very encouraging as far as the offense goes, it was some of the best contact of the year, and they will see the best weather they have all year in Milwaukee, thanks roof. I really think the bats want to take off, Anthony Rizzo hit the ball hard in almost every at bat yesterday, Soriano hit his first home run yesterday, and Castro walked twice yesterday, all good things. Always a fun series in Milwaukee as a lot of Cubs fans usually make the trip up there, and it is rather important that the Cubs get off to a good start to this trip in Milwaukee or this ten game trip might not turn out so great.
The Cubs split a rain shortened two game set with the Rangers at home.
The Brewers swept a three game series against the Giants in Milwaukee.
Game Times and Broadcast Information:
- Friday, April 19, 2013 – 7:10 PM CST on WCIU
- Saturday, April 20, 2013 – 6:10 PM CST on CSN Chicago
- Sunday, April 21, 2013 – 1:10 PM CST on CSN Chicago
Starting Pitchers Scheduled:
Game One – Jeff Samardzija (1-2, 2.75)
– Career vs. Brewers (17 appearances, 3 GS) (2-3, 3.93)
Game Two – Edwin Jackson (0-2, 6.06)
– Career vs. Brewers (8 GS) (3-3, 3.57)
Game Three – Scott Feldman (0-2, 6.00)
– Career vs. Brewers (1 GS) (1-0, 0.00)
Game One – Marco Estrada (1-0, 4.50)
– Career vs. Cubs (9 appearances, 4 GS) (3-0, 3.56)
Game Two – Hiram Burgos (0-1, 4.50)
– Career vs. Cubs (First appearance, Major League Debut)
Game Three – Wily Peralta (0-1, 6.19)
– Career vs. Cubs (1 GS) (0-0, 2.70)
Who’s Hot / Who’s Not:
The Cubs hitting seems to be picking things up, sure it’s really only one game, but at this point I’ll take it. The Cubs could be considered to be falling on some back luck recently, especially in the Giants series. The Cubs went 3-6 on the rain shortened home stand and the record could have been the exact opposite if they could just close games out. Welington Castillo has been red-hot really all season long, as he is hitting .425 on the season with three double, a home run, and four RBI’s. Starlin Castro is also gaining traction at the plate as he has his average up to .311 with four doubles, a triple, two home runs, and six RBI’s. Anthony Rizzo has been struggling a bit, but found some bad luck recently with line outs, I think he has a big series in Milwaukee, he looks better at the plate of late. The Cubs starting pitching has been outstanding this year, the cumulative ERA is 3.15 which is sixth best in the Majors, conversely the bullpen ERA is 5.73 which is 29th in the Majors. Obviously, if that number is just a little bit lower the Cubs could have four or five more wins.
The Brewers are coming off an impressive showing against the defending champion Giants sweeping the three game set and outscoring them 21 to 13. Carlos Gomez is scorching hot for the Brewers, over the last five games he’s hitting .556 (10-for18) with a triple, home run, and two RBI’s. Jonathan Lucroy seems to have snapped out of his early season slump as well, he is hitting .350 (7-for-20) in his last five games with two home runs and five RBI’s. Ryan Braun has gone ice-cold, some are blaming a neck injury that he is coming off of because you just don’t see these types of numbers from him, he’s hitting .091 (2-for-22) in his last six games, those two hits were home runs. Milwaukee’s pitching is what is holding them back right now, and it’s been a mix of starters not getting the job done, and the bullpen being very unpredictable. Their team ERA is 4.75 which is good for 26th in the Majors.
I like the way the Cubs swung the bats against the Rangers yesterday and I think the warm weather (inside) in Milwaukee will continue that trend. I think the Cubs win two out of three this weekend, and might have an opportunity to sweep on Sunday.
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