View From The Bleachers

Talking Cubs Baseball Since 2003



August 2011



Game 117 – Winning One for Ron

Written by , Posted in General

Cubs 4, Nationals 2

Box Score / Highlights / Condensed Game

What Went Right

  • Boom Goes the Dynamite  The Cubs’ bats exploded for 10 hits tonight, including 2 doubles (Soriano and Barney) and 3 home runs (Soto, Johnson, and Soriano).  They also took 3 walks (Soto, Barney, and Soriano again).  Johnson went 4-4, and Soriano had one of his better nights in recent memory.  In fact, with his homer tonight he’s now got at least 20 home runs in the last ten seasons–no small accomplishment.  I’m tempted to say something here about how if he could perform like that consistently, then we might be able to move him, but who am I kidding?  Years from now, when Soriano is still playing an atrocious LF for the Cubs and swinging his bat at balls in the dirt the way old men wave metal detectors at the beach, we’ll look back on nights like this one wistfully and remember the “good ol’ days.”
  • That’ll Do, Rodrigo.  That’ll Do.  Rodrigo Lopez continues to perform about as good as you could expect from a trash-heap reclamation project.  He’s still sporting a high ERA, and he doesn’t get us very deep into games, regularly requiring a few innings of bullpen support.  But tonight, that was enough for him and the Cubs to get the win.
  • Shutting the Door  And the Cubs gave Lopez the bullpen help he needed tonight.  Samardzija, Marshall, and Marmol combined for 3.1 innings of scoreless relief.  Marmol looked particularly strong, with three strikeouts for the save.  And since I’ve highlighted Samardzija’s various failures in this space plenty of times, I suppose I should point out that he’s been pretty good lately.  In his 5 appearances in August, he hasn’t allowed any runs and only 3 hits, while striking out 7.  If Jim Hendry’s not too busy with not doing his job, he might want to put Samardzija on waivers and see if there’s a contender who needs bullpen help badly enough to part with a prospect.  And as a bonus, tonight Samardzija was even able to borrow a bat someone’s helmet to take his 4th at-bat of the season, and show us what kind of lessons he’s learned in the Carlos Zambrano School for Pitchers Who Can’t Hit Good And Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too.

What Went Wrong

  • Oops, I Did It Again  Castro had an error in the top of the 1st that allowed the Nationals to score their first run.  And in the bottom of the inning, he ran into an out at 2nd base after he tried to stretch a deflected infield single into a double.  My guess is he was hoping to make up for the error.  But even if you don’t grant him a little grace for (possibly) good intentions, I think we sometimes make too much out of Castro’s mistakes.  Cal Ripkin Jr. was in the WGN booth briefly tonight, and he talked a little about the time it takes for young players to develop.  In fact, when Cal was 21 (like Castro is now) he had 19 errors (Castro picked up his 19th tonight).  Ripkin also recorded 25 errors when he was 22, 26 Es when he was 23 and 24, 20 Es when he was 26, 21 Es when he was 27, and 22 Es when he was 36, and he still managed to make it into the Hall of Fame.  I’m inclined to say that most, if not all of Castro’s problems can be remedied by experience and repetition.
  • We Can Build On This!  Future Cubs’ building block and noted LHP-hitting dynamo Jeff Baker got the start over Carlos Pena tonight.  He went 0-3 before being replaced in the eighth inning by Pena, who also went 0 for his one at-bat.  Since June 1st, Baker’s hitting below .200, proving he’s exactly the kind of player we should be protecting for future seasons.

Game Notes

Just a word about the Santo statue ceremony–it looks good, capturing Ron at 3rd making an off-balance throw.  The unveiling ceremony, which you can view here, was classy and appropriate.  Ernie Banks, Fergie Jenkins, and Billy Williams spoke, and many of the current Cubs showed up in their PASS10N t-shirts to honor Santo.  Perhaps best of all, Ron’s widow mentioned that the Cubs had  informed him prior to his death about their plans for the statue.  So even if he didn’t live to see it, he got to enjoy the knowledge that he was going to be immortalized at Wrigley.  I can’t wait to see it in person.

The Takeaway

A win is a win, so I won’t complain–especially when it provided such a fitting end to the day.  But as the season slips closer and closer to official futility, I would like to see the young guys get some more starts.  We can make the most of the garbage time left this year by seeing what Colvin, Campana, and some of the other guys can do with some consistent playing time.  In another lost season, there’s still a lot we can accomplish.

Stars of the Game

Based on Win Probability Added (WPA)

1st Star – Alfonso Soriano (.240 WPA)

2nd Star – Sean Marshall (.177 WPA)

3rd Star – Reed Johnson (.158 WPA)

  • Buddy

    Well done JJ. I agree. Let’s find out what Colvin and Campana can do (or more likely, what they can’t do).

  • chet

    Could not agree more. How Reed Johnson and Jeff Baker see the field is beyond me. It isn’t that they are bad but we have a lot of discovery work to do….especially before september call ups.

  • Aaron Yavelberg

    I think I said this once before, but I experienced this feeling again so strongly again last night that I figured it was worth repeating. The Cubs have now won 8 of their last 10, thanks to that 7-game winning streak and last night’s win. Now, I have completely written off the Cubs as potential playoff contenders and am hoping for some major front office changes in the offseason (since they don’t appear to be coming anytime sooner). But then I see these wins and I get nervous. I’m not foolish enough to delude myself into thinking that the team has a shot (unlike those people Chet mentioned at 7-Eleven), but I am EXTREMELY worried that the recent wins will somehow continue enough to save the jobs of some of the people in charge.

    And that terrifies me.

  • chet

    Aaron, I totally agree. I feel like we are going to see “the best team on the field” scenerio for the remainder of the season in order to save some jobs. Instead of seeing what type of youth we have and letting the kids play.

    Good ol’ Hendry will tote the usual end of season company line of “We ended real strong and that bodes well for next season…we are just a piece or two away from contending for the post season” …..same crap he has delivered at the end of the last three seasons.

  • Aaron Yavelberg

    Something else that came to mind. I was listening to Waddle and Silvy on ESPN 1000 yesterday (thank you iPhone app store!) and they started talking about figures in the Chicago sports scene that nobody really knows what they’re about. The conversation started about Jay Cutler (stemming from a feature article in Sports Illustrated) but then strayed to other figures. The point was that there are some guys that we know who they are and there are some that we’re just not sure.

    For example: we all know that Alfonso Soriano has lost a step (or three), is an inconsistent left fielder and goes through extreme batting highs and lows over the course of the season, while still managing 20-25 homers. I would say we don’t know Darwin Barney. He’s still young and we’ve seen him hit mostly for average, but we don’t know yet if he’s going to be able to add anything else to the arsenal (stolen bases, Gold Glove fielding, etc.).

    One of the pair (I think it was Waddle) cited Tom Ricketts as a guy that he doesn’t really know yet. Is he a company guy and has been putting out votes of confidence for Hendry because he actually plans to keep him? Is he planning of canning Hendry and keeping others and is just waiting for the offseason? Or does he have a complete overhaul planned? He really hasn’t given any impression one way or another, which is another reason why these August and September wins scare me. We don’t know which way Ricketts will swing once everything is all over.

  • Aaron Yavelberg

    Incidentally, I apologize for my posts often being so verbose. Succinctness was never really my strong point.

  • Verbose? Succinctness? Well played….triple word score!

  • Aaron Yavelberg

    @Dusty – I’ve been playing a lot of Words With Friends lately… 🙂

  • Awesome! Lol..I use word of the day toilet tissue..lmao.

  • Jeremiah Johnson

    Thanks Buddy.

    Chet, as an organization, we seem to be completely incapable from learning from our own mistakes. I’m legitimately worried about what happens next year if we don’t clean house soon.

    Aaron, I think you’re right that we don’t really know Ricketts yet. What he does this offseason will go a long way to show us what kind of owner he’s going to be.

  • Evan

    Quade says Jackson isn’t going to get a September callup. Apparently Quade doesn’t think he’ll contribute next year. I guess he’s saving right field for Jeff Baker? Or maybe Dewitt…Cause you know, second base isn’t in the infield anymore.

  • Evan, please don’t post Quade statements like this…my heartburn and anxiety issues arre bad enough…

  • Katie

    I think we should sit the veteran (*old, lazy, washed up, etc) players and have the young guys show them how it’s done. I strongly believe that if Campana and Colvin get starts and more than 1 or 2 ABs a game, they’ll surprise a lot of people. They’ve shown glimpses of some really great things. And even if they don’t surprise anyone that reads this blog, they’ll get experience and maybe other teams will get interested in them. We’re already out of contention, so we might as well play around with line ups and stuff. It won’t hurt anything.

  • Jedi

    I actually agree with Quade about not calling Jackson up, for a host of reasons; but not for the reason that Quade seemed to suggest. The fact that Quade thinks Jackson couldn’t contribute (he suggested that Jackson wasn’t ready for the majors) but that DeWitt can be penciled in at the 3 hole…well that’s all you need to know about Quade. Where are the Quade lovers now? Who still wants this clown back?

  • Well, if Jackson isn’t called up it’s not such a big deal. However, if he’s still hitting/fielding well in 3 weeks? Eh…I’d consider getting his feet wet prepping for his arrival next season.

  • Jedi

    Yeah, but then you have to put him on the 40-man roster so that Quade can give him half a chance and everyone can criticize what he can’t do on a team full of guys who don’t really deserve playing time either. I’d rather see us give him a legit chance in Spring Training and if it works out, anoint him the Opening Day CF, move Byrd to RF.

  • Norm

    I have no problem with Brett Jackson not getting the proverbial cup of coffee. It’s nice that he’s doing well in AAA, but he’s still striking out a ridiculously high amount.
    More than Mark Reynolds ever did. Adam Dunn. Only minor leaguer I can think of that struck out more was Ryan Howard.
    I think if Jackson came up he’d be a .230 hitter and that would temper everyones excitement for seeing him next year.

  • Here I am. As much as I want to see Jackson, I think giving DeWitt some more looks is a bigger priority. Don’t let the man-beard cloud the fact that he is a 25 year old former first rounder. Lefty to boot. The 30 ABs that Jackson might see are beans, unless we decide to trade him for a legitimate starter. If DeWitt comes to play, we have an option to trade either him or Barney while they have some value…might be the motivation here.

  • I’m sorry…I thought you were getting excited about Blake DeWitt? He can’t play 2B, and he doesn’t hit enough for 3B.
    Meh….he’s got reserve written all over him.

  • Jedi

    But, but, he’s our backup in the third spot in the lineup when Aramis is out!

  • cap’n obvious

    I’m rooting for Campana. He’s living proof of what you can achieve with ONE tool and a baseball brain. His bluff steals, and ultimately stealing of 2nd after goading the Nats pitcher into 2 straight pitch outs was inspiring to me. Sure the Cubs failed to score that inning, but Campana playing hard, and thinking hard in the 8th inning of garbage time games shows me something about the individual, even if he turns into Jerome Walton next spring.

  • Eddie Von White

    @ cap’n obvious, I agree. Campana brings a high level of excitement to the game every time he is out there.

  • Doc Raker

    Campana is the Capn, that is why the Capn likes him.
    I was watching the Dbacks Astros last night, nice group of call ups on both teams. I am so glad I have the MLB package so I can watch some real baseball, if all I had to watch was Cubs
    baseball I don’t know if I would still love the greatest game.

  • Buddy

    The D’backs are fun to watch, and their announcers are fun to listen to. Not sure how the Astros gave them such a tough series, but it was interesting.


    Game 119 – Bozo the clown is at it again. The Cubs really need to unload him