View From The Bleachers

Talking Cubs Baseball Since 2003



August 2011



Game 136 – Giant Killers?

Written by , Posted in General

Cubs 5, Giants 2

Box Score / Highlights

What Went Right

  • Matt Garza pitched another solid game tonight, going 6.2 innings and surrendering just 2 runs.  While he did give up 9 hits, he didn’t walk anyone until the 7th inning.  He even had 2 hits of his own.  And since he lives not far away in Fresno, he was pitching in front of plenty of friends and family.  Tonight they had plenty to cheer about.
  • Especially since the Cubs provided Garza with some rare (when he pitches) run support.  The suddenly hot-hitting Alfonso Soriano staked the Cubs to an early lead with a solo homer that appeared to go much deeper into the left field bleachers than the reported 445 ft.  From there they added on with a sacrifice fly from Barney, a single by Soriano, and a clutch, two-out ground rule double from Soto that should have cleared the bases (if not for the vague nuances of the fan-interference rules).
  • Our well-rested bullpen helped successfully shut the door on the Giants.  With Garza showing a little shakiness near the end of the 7th, Marshall came in and needed just one pitch to get the third out.  He and Wood split the 8th inning duties, and Marmol came on to close out the 9th and earn his 31st save.  Altogether, they held the Giants hitless after the departure of Garza in the 7th.
  • A few of the Cubs also flashed the leather in the field tonight.  Colvin dove to stop a bouncing ball that was ticketed for the right field corner and would have been an easy double.  Pena made a smooth spinning dig on a ball down the first base line and sprinted to first for the last out of the 6th.  Barney in particular had a good night.  First, he made a nice grab on a line drive and doubled off Pablo Sandoval in the 4th inning.  Then in the 9th he briefly became an outfielder to make a circus catch on a lazy fly ball in short center field for the final out.
  • In simple terms, everybody did their jobs tonight.  How many times have we been able to say that this season?

What Went Wrong

  • I’ll never understand what goes on in Mike Quade’s head, and I’m fine with that.  With the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the 7th, Soto hit a liner that touched down near the third base line in shallow left field and bounced into foul territory along the wall, where a fan scooped up the live ball.  The umpire ruled (incorrectly) that Colvin had to return to third base, so we had men on second and third, still with two outs.  I thought it would be a perfect spot to bring in a pinch hitter and turn the game over to the aforementioned well-rested bullpen.  While Garza had only thrown 73 pitches up to that point, he had pitched well enough to earn the win, and deserved whatever run support the Cubs could provide.  Instead, Quade opted to let Garza (who already had two hits) bat for himself.  He struck out, threw 22 pitches in the 7th, giving up a couple singles, a double, and the Giants’ second run before he was removed with 2 out and 2 on.  It didn’t cost us anything in the long run, so maybe I’m just nitpicking here, but it seems to me like one more example of Quade and Riggins mismanaging their pitching staff.
  • Carlos Marmol was his usual, effectively-wild self tonight.  No, the walk he gave up tonight didn’t hurt the Cubs.  But we probably ought to get used to his particular brand of roller-coaster performances.  For the foreseeable future, the Cubs will be preaching patience to us fans.  At least a portion of that patience will need to go to Marmol, as it doesn’t appear that his contract is a priority to move.

The Takeaway

  • It’s hard to believe these Cubs are the same team that was getting pantsed by the Brewers just days ago.  In spurts, the casual fan might even be persuaded to think we were competitive.
  • Here’s a fun fact: as of tonight, Soriano, Pena, and Ramirez each have 24 home runs.  Think back to the early weeks of the season–did it seem like even one of them might reach that number?  If nothing else, it should be worth watching for the last month of the season to see how each of them finishes their mercurial seasons.

Stars of the Game

Based on Win Probability Added (WPA)

1st Star – Matt Garza (.168 WPA)

2nd Star – Jeff Keppinger (.158 WPA)

3rd Star – Alfonso Soriano (.123 WPA)

  • CubbieDude

    JJ: Great game and another great recap.
    I agree, Colvin should have been allowed to score on Soto’s big hit. I don’t know what the SF ground rules dictate in that situation, but the interpretation by the umpires left me shaking my head.

  • Buddy

    The Giants are sinking like a stone, which is fine by me. Go D-backs!

  • Norm

    Game was too late for me…but sounds like same old garbage with Quade leaving in a pitcher to hit in a crucial spot. Glad he won’t be here next season.

  • Randy

    Soriano’s HR looked like it went much further than 445ft, heck the replay showed it landing on the concourse just in front of the 501 sign. Garza had electric stuff, but looked a little nervous. Playing for the home town for the first time jitters maybe? On a broadcasting note, you can tell Bob Brenley loves San Francisco, he’s much more entertaining when the Cubs play there.

  • Buddy

    I’m not convinced that Quade gets his walking papers just yet. I could see the new GM pulling what Mike Holmgren did after taking over the Browns front office. Basically, he said it wasn’t fair to evaluate the coaching staff on past performance when he wasn’t even around. So, he gave Mangini and company a one-year audition. Then he dropped the ax the following season. To be clear, I’m not rooting for this approach. I’m just saying it wouldn’t surprise me if it happened.

  • Buddy


  • mrbaseball2usa

    @Buddy I have not hoped someone was wrong as much since my ex threatening a DNA test…

  • Katie

    I’ve been an avid Marmol supporter since the beginning, but I’m starting to question my devotion. Don’t get me wrong, he’s got some good stuff, but his control is absurd. It seems like he gets tired when he doesn’t get 3 outs right away. Maybe it’s an issue of conditioning. On another note, we have a couple of decent-looking young guys in the ‘pen. Not that I’m a huge of Samardzija, but his numbers that past couple months have been pretty good. He started the season off rough, but he’s settled down a little. Maybe he’ll turn into something good for us.

  • Buddy

    I don’t think it’s conditioning Katie. Some pitchers simply don’t have the ability to throw strikes. I can certainly understand how pitching coaches and managers think they can “fix” guys like Marmol. After all, his stuff is crazy good. The reality is, if he could be “fixed” by a mechanical tweak or some other simple process, it would have already happened. I say trade the guy while he still has value. Relievers like Marmol tend to flame out pretty fast, so don’t get stuck holdingn the bag…again.

  • Buddy


  • Norm

    Marmol is owed nearly $17 million over the next two years…that was the mistake; signing him to an expensive multiyear deal.
    It’s a very rare occurrence that an expensive multiyear deal works out for relief pitchers. Hopefully the new GM will avoid that practice.

  • Aaron Yavelberg

    I think I’ve said this before, but Marmol reminds me a lot of Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams – the kind of guy who would walk the bases loaded and then strike out the side. The bigger problem with Marmol is that, all too often, he’ll strike out the first guy or two, then walk the bases loaded or worse, then get the third out. Just too much drama. A closer should be someone who you know will come in and shut the door.

  • Buddy

    Not physically, but how about Armando Benitez as a comp?

  • Norm

    Courtesy of Baseball-Reference’s play index:

    Relief pitchers with seasons of K/9 greater than 11 and BB/9 greater than 4:

    Carlos Marmol: 5
    Armando Benitez: 4
    Brad Lidge: 4
    Change it to more than 5 BB/9 you get Marmol, Matt Mantei, and Chad Fox with 3 seasons each

  • Buddy

    Interesting stuff Norm. I would have bet money on Rob Dibble for that list.

  • Doc Raker

    It amazes me that the Giants can be World Champs and contend this season with such an anemic offense. The Giants make the worst pitching staff in the bigs look pretty good.

  • Buddy

    A team ERA of 3.16 is the only thing keeping the Giants above water.

  • Chuck

    I find it hard to rip on Quade for not pinth hitting for Garza. The game was not into the late innings yet, Garza looked good, Garza had not thrown that many pitches, the Giants have the most pathetic offense in MLB and you always want to save the bullpen for when you really need it. All signs pointed to the Cubs not really “needing” an extra run.
    Marmol, Marshall and any other reliever should be traded as soon as anybody is willing to give you anything of value for them. Most relievers are just failed starters anyway. You just take a starter with good stuff that can’t physically handle starting (stamina, injury, whatever) and he can be a great bullpen guy. To me Marmol is a ticking time-bomb. Throwing that many sliders with that type of arm action is just begging for a blowout. Get what you can for or out of him and when he pops find somebody else. Don’t sign him long-term.

  • chris in illinois

    The day Marmol begins to throw more strikes is the day he starts giving up a hit an inning. He’s hard to hit because know one on Earth knows where his pitches will end up. Agree with Buddy here, let’s find out if some desperate team needs a closer in the off-season…maybe Ned Colleti still is running the Dodgers next year.

  • lizzie

    Hey, Chuck, good to see you! I’m with you on all but one point. Our Cubs ALWAYS need an extra run. 🙂

  • Buddy

    We know the Tigers and Yankees like to overpay for relievers!

  • Jedi

    Marmol’s extension was such a mistake that he was one of the players that we could’ve traded at the deadline – Texas wanted him, and I bet if we made it known that we were willing to deal him we’d hear from several other teams as well…can’t wait until we get a new GM.

  • Chuck

    I guess my point was that if you are up by 5 in the 5th to 6th inning against one of the worst offenses in baseball, your probability of winning is pretty high and saving the bullpen becomes more of a priority. It’s not like the back end of the Cubs bullpen is terrible (again, should have traded them) so they can lock it down.
    I was away for a while because my schedule did not allow for commenting during the day. I would read often in the wee hours, but could not actively participate.