3 of 4 in St. Louis
Nail, Meet Coffin.
W- Zambrano(16-12), Industrial-size antacid bottles, sparing the life of a perfectly good wooden bat, quick games, clutch pinch-hits.L- Wainwright (13-11), closers in non-save situations, defending your World Series title. S - Howry (8), Ward, Zambrano's "ace" reputation, the season? Things to Take from the Game 1. A quickie. Before Isringhausen and Dempster stumbled through the ninth, this game was on pace to finish in just over two hours. Zambrano and Wainwright just mowed 'em down, each walking just two and striking out just three. A very, very effective game by Z. 2. The biggest pinch-hit of the year? With the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the ninth in a 2-1 game, the Cubs took down Zambrano for pinch-hitter Daryle Ward. Ward cleared the bases with a double, and some insurance runs that we wound up needing, because.... 3. A Very Scary Finish Dempster gave up solo HRs to Edmonds and Ludwick, bringing the game to 5-3, then a single to Molina, and exited the game for Howry, who then loaded the bases with two more singles. Miles grounded out on a very softly hit, slow roller towards the second base bag, which Theriot fielded for the out at first. The Reds have just beaten the Brewers, putting the Cubs 1.5 up on Milwaukee, and 6 up on the cards, with just over two weeks left in the season. Your first-place details, below.
Living in Zeno's Paradox - just a half-step away...
W- Marquis (10-7) , the Pignatiello clan, division pennant races, Peter Cetera.
L- Livingston (3-3)Things to Take from This Game: 1. The Big O Derosa went 5-5, Ramirez and Jones had 4 hits, and Theriot 3. D, J and T in particular were smacking the ball all over the yard. Theriot excelled from the leadoff spot, and Len and Bob noted on several occassions his aggressive baserunning. We ended the game with 20 hits, a high for the year. 2. Marquis settles down Marquis looked terrific in the first and horrid in the second, giving up our early four-run lead. But he shut the door from the third onward, and with the relievers gave the bats a chance to stake the team to an authoritative lead with a 7-run 8th inning. Nice work by Marquis today. 3. Pignatiello's debut I can't say that it looked pretty, but Pignatiello pitched an effective eighth inning in his major league debut. His family seemed very excited for the long-time Cubs fan. Congratulations to Carmen. With the Cards clobbering the Brewers, the Cubs are once more a half-game out of first place. Like Zeno traversing the stadium, will we ever take the final half-step? Details, details, details, below.
Jonesing for First Place
W - Marquis (9-7), corner outfielders
L - Cook (8-7), scary beaningsThings to take from this game: 1. Hope Jeff Baker is OK. As detailed below, Baker took a Marquis fastball off of the side of the face. It clearly was a pitch that just got away from Marquis, and let's hope that there are no serious after effects, either for Baker or for the remaining games in this series. 2. Second verse, same as the first Much like the first game of the series, the Cubs were led by Jacques Jones who had an RBI double in the fourth and HR in the sixth, as well as a bunt base hit. Once again Murton added a solo HR and Kendall also threw in some nice hitting as well. Remind you a bit of previous playoff chases where we'd get lifts from odd sources like Marvelle Wynne or Randal Simon? Maybe just a bit. 3. A great Coors Performance by Marquis Marquis really pitched well through six, before coming out of the game after the Baker beaning in the seventh. Good command, using the slider for a few strikeouts and getting a ton of ground balls. 4. Howry escapes the eighth Marmol loaded the bases with no outs in the eighth. Howry came in, and a weak popup, groundout, and flyout later, and the Rockies left with only one run scored. Great relief. The thrilling details, below.
W -Lilly (13-5), The Role-players Guild, Curveballs
L -Jimenez (1-2), Drama, late-night plansThings to Take from This Game 1. Winning without the Big Three No Soriano, No Ramirez, and no hits from Lee. Ten runs later, and the Cubs offense showed that it could pick up some slack when it is needed the most. Everyone in the lineup, save Lee, could call it a good night. Jones in particular led the early offensive attack, with 4 hits and RBI, total. 2. Lilly goes Six It might not sound like much, but Lilly really labored through four innings. Completing even the fifth inning seemed like an accomplishment, and then Lilly also made it through the six with just two runs allowed on 127 pitches. Definitely earned his paycheck, tonight. 3. That Power Pen Wood, Marmol and Howry went three IP with no hits, not runs, five K's, and two Wood-walks. Could this be the sort of pen that works its way deep into the playoffs? 4. The better defensive team won. The usually sure-handed Rockies struggled a bit on D - in particular an error by Atkins, but also a fly ball just beyond Holliday's reach, and a throwing error on a pickoff attempt to start the game. All of the first four Cubs runs were unearned. The Cubs, by contrast, had a couple of stellar plays by Fontenot and Murton, and generally were solid all night. The half-game-out-of-first details, below.
Don't Call it a Comeback
W-Rich Hill (6-6), Aramis Ramirez's MVP candidacy. L- Correia (1-5), Sutcliffe's Thesaurus. S- Howry (6) Things to take from this game: 1. Starting Pitching Showcase On points, I gave the contest of the starting pitchers to Lincecum - Soriano and Lee both whiffed for strike three on the high heat, very impressive. But both he and Hill pitched great games. It appeared that LouPa might have left Hill in one inning too many, as he gave up an unfortunate run in the 8th (with help from a bad Soriano boot in the outfield), but Hill wound up with the win because... 2. Aramis Ramirez Rules This World With two outs in the bottom of the eighth, Theriot had a broken-bat infield single. Lee singled through a hole on the right side created by the hit-and-run call, and Aramis hit one to the bottom of the left field ivy, scoring the tying and winning runs. 3. A Shout-out to Koyie Hill The dude deserves acknowledgement for his early solo HR, given that he will now lose ABs to the newly aquired Jason Kendall. You go, Koyie. 4. No Bonds Needing to score a run in the top of the ninth, we never saw Bonds as a pinch-hitter. Instead, Winn, Durham, and Molina go down with a whimper. A really, really weak offensive lineup tonight for the Giants. The rest of the goodness can be found down below.
W- Howry (4-4) Wrigley security workers. Former LSU tigers. Soriano. Derosa. Pagan. Saving potential scapegoats from scapegoatdom. Fans who stayed for the bottom of the ninth. Darn near everyone.
L- Fuentes (0-2 ) Doom and Gloom. Loser fanatics who think being famous and tough is all about trying to blindside a pro athlete in the middle of game.Things to take from this game Where to start..... 1. The 9th inning. (part 1) 8 runs crossed the plate in the ninth. Six of there were for Colorado, but the final two to cross were the ones that mattered most. In a questionable effort to relieve a strained bullpen, Eyre came out to start the ninth, up 8-3, after pitching an effective 1.1 innings. The first three batters reached,Howry came in, three more batters reached, capped by a go-ahead home run by Troy Tulowitzki. Six batters, six runs, without an out registered. 2. The Ninth Inning (part 2) Some jackass got within a couple feet of blind-siding Howry with a full head-on sprint, after the home run. Some member of the Wrigley security crew earned his paycheck, spearing the clown at just about the last possible moment. Len reminds us it's a felony charge, not to mention, I presume, permanent banishment from Wrigley. 3. The Ninth Inning (part 3) They weren't rockets, but Derosa and Koyie Hill singled. By the time we exchanged pinch runners and runners forced, you have Jacques Jones standing on second, Hill on first, with two outs. Theriot hits the game-ending grounder to second, which Kaz Matsui boots into a game-continuing error. Bases loaded for Soriano, who delivers the come-from-behind, game-winning, two-run single. 4. That Scrappy LSU Middle Infield and other Heroes. Fontenot went 5 for 5 and now has hits in seven consecutive at bats. Theriort, entering the game on a double-switch, went 2 for 3, with the one "out" being the Matsui boot. They also turned a nice double-play. They scored 4 runs, total, while Derosa scratched out the ugliest 3 RBI you could hope to get, and Angel Pagan smoked a three run HR, back when this looked like it would be an easy victory.... 5. The Response The fans booed Eyre as he was pulled in the ninth, unfortunate given that he'd had a solid outing, until being left in for another inning. By the time Howry was done giving up the lead after that, the mood was predictably glum. But wow, the reaction when Soriano hit that single.... The comedy-free details, below!
Well, it's time once again to dip into the mailbag and answer questions submitted by you, the fine readers and commenters at TCR. Let's see what's on your mind, and what I can do about it.
For the last three and a half years, I was involved in an emotionally intense relationship with another man. You could cut the tension between us with a knife, but we always made it work, thanks to some wild but truly epic games of pitch and catch. In the last few months, however, well, it wasn't so good anymore. He'd go out when I'd want in, or I'd go down when he was expecting up. Things came to blows a few weeks ago, and while I've always had a temper, this was the first time that I ever hit him! I feel horrible about what I've done, but now, I'm afraid that I've driven him away for good. I think I've even driven him to "switch teams." Please help me, Trans, I'd do anything to get him back.
Buddy Is Gone, i'm a Zero.
Dear "BIG Z,"
When we played the Reds with Chapman, I always thought of it as an eight-inning game. So now other teams have eight innings to try to get a lead against the Cubs. Should be a challenge, assuming three or four Cubs ever start hitting again.
I don't really try to get to know and like these players personally. I'm rooting for laundry, for the most part. Exceptions might be when a player makes trouble in the clubhouse or in the dugout. (Zambrano and Bradley come to mind. Also Papelbon.) But I don't think Chapman is one of those jerks.
Unfortunately, a pretty good summary. It looks like next year Heyward will be getting yet another batting stance adjustment.
The recent good news has been Baez. I'm afraid about the next league adjustment on him, though, which is probably right around the corner.
Bryant I don't worry about too much. Just not seeing the ball well right now. He'll turn it around. Russell's been good with men in scoring position all year and he's 22ish. He'll be fine but next year is likely to be his breakout year.
If Travis' back-to-back-to-back walks cost Hendricks the ERA title, that would really suck.
Edit: "A lifeless loss to a lousy Sox team."
This place is a real downer after a loss to the Sox.
I expect they will go 5-9 games above .500 the rest of the year. 96-98 wins will win the Division.
They should have one more 2-3 week hot streak in them.
However, several players are just "average" for the last month: Zobrist, Ross, Russell, Ceasar. Montero is terrible, plus he cannot throw anyone out. -WAR. Heyward is abysmal at the plate, but a plus in the OF. Still with RISP he has been terrible. KB has not been driving in runs as of late. But Apparently the team is still above average with RISP according to S Sahadev.
I came to that realization tonight. I kept expecting them to play better, but now I realize they aren't going to. They are a .500 team now.
- They have one reliable starting pitcher. Jake's magic is gone, and it doesn't look like it's coming back. Lester has been lousy recently. Lackey's ERA goes up every time he pitches.
- Heyward has been dead weight all year. I can't remember a single series where he was a significant offensive contributor. Not one. Great defense, but but if he were hitting .270 with 10 HR and played average defense, the Cubs would be better off.
new rule...no one's allowed to throw k.bryant a changeup
Team is .500 since early May and is playing like a .500 team. Lack of offense seems to be putting a lot of pressure on the pitchers...and they aren't handling it terribly well.
.500 the rest of the way still may win the division though.
...i hate espn.
nothing like settling into a cubs game to get a few minutes cutaway for an ortiz AB in the 6th inning of the det/bos game.
oh, at least they're doing split screen now...i guess.
I'm liking this rookie Nathan.
Richard DFA'd. Meh...
Throwbacks with fashionable cutouts would be a nice touch.
The next 2 games are nationally televised. I think we dominate tonight, hitting 3 HRs off Shields. Great night for KB to end HR drought facing HR prone pitcher in one of the most hitter friendly parks in the league.
If the ball didn't deflect off the pitcher's mound, the game wouldn't have ended. Montgomery did miss his location though, but if that same contact was made and went in any of direction, good chance of ground out if it doesn't get through.
If it was 1 night later, Chapman would be out there and we probably would be going to extras.
Also, If KB wasn't robbed of a HR, perhaps we would have won. We will never know. Nice play by Melky though.
The comparison isn't Chapman replacing Rondon. It's Chapman replacing Richard (hopefully) in the pen. Chapman's better.