View From The Bleachers

Talking Cubs Baseball Since 2003



September 2011



Game 150 – Just Walk It Off

Written by , Posted in General

Cubs 6, Reds 8

Box Score / Highlights

What Went Right

  • There are long home runs in baseball, and then there’s the home run Carlos Pena hit in the top of the first.  At The Great American Ballpark, there’s a party area for fans above the batter’s eye in center field.  It’s easily three full stories above the field level.  Tonight, Pena deposited a ball there.  The distance he hit it was so shocking that the cameramen couldn’t initially find it.  Every angle I saw followed the supposed trajectory of the ball into the blacked-out wall and lawn that constitutes the batter’s eye–it took them all at least a second to realize Pena had launched one into such rare territory.  Put it this way: he hit it so deep, Aramis Ramirez–who was on first base, and himself no stranger to long home runs–rounded second looking over his right shoulder in amazement.
  • Starlin Castro got another hit tonight–his 193rd of the season.  He’s had 54 multi-hit games (although tonight was not one of them), including 21 three-hit games.  It seems now, barring injury, that it’s a question of when, not if he will get 200 hits this season.  And when he does, he’ll become the youngest Cub ever to reach that mark.  Say what you will–and some of you often do–about the rest of his game; his hitting prowess, especially this early in his career, puts him in elite company.  Heading into what looks to be a tumultuous offseason, I’m glad he’s a Cub.
  • Bryan LaHair has a nine-game hitting streak going, which might not be terribly impressive until you factor in that his only plate appearances this season have come in those nine games.  I know almost anyone can play well in garbage time, but so far LaHair is making the most of his opportunity.  Now if we could just get him some regular time at first base, we might get a sense of what he’s capable of.
  • For a team not used to late-inning heroics, it was nice to see Tony Campana and Alfonso Soriano come off the bench in the 9th and put up back-to-back pinch hits to help temporarily fight off the loss.  Darwin Barney also pitched in late with a hit to take a win away from Homer Bailey and a save from Francisco Cordero.  It didn’t last long, but any fight from this team is still appreciated.

What Went Wrong

  • Randy Wells is who we thought he was!  HE IS WHO WE THOUGHT HE WAS!  Two-run homers from Pena and Byrd spotted him a rare four-run lead in the 1st, but it wasn’t enough tonight.  I’m not inclined to tear into him too bad, but entering a game with a four-run lead and not making it out of the 5th inning is a frustratingly Cub-tastic outing.
  • The bullpen didn’t do much to help, but my real beef here is with Quade.  He didn’t get a great start from Wells, and needed a lot of work from the pen, but why burn Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol in the 7th and 8th innings, respectively?  In both those innings the Cubs were still down by two runs, and even if he didn’t expect to score again and take the game to extra innings, why use up all your guys with late-inning experience?  Sean Marshall came out to pitch the 9th and 10th innings, leaving James Russell to surrender the walk-off homer to Jay Bruce in the 11th.  I know Russell has greatly improved throughout the course of the season, but is he really the guy you’re holding onto for that kind of late-inning duty?  I just don’t get… I can’t understand… you know what?  Forget it.  The season’s almost over, and Quade will probably be fired soon after we hire a new GM.  I’m done trying to figure out why he does the things he does.
  • After that 1st inning, the Cubs really let Homer Bailey off the hook.  The closest we came to scoring against him again came in the 3rd, when we loaded the bases with no outs and couldn’t get anything out of it.  The secrets of hitting with runners on base is as mysterious to this Cubs team as the mechanics of time travel, the meaning of the Sphinx, and the Colonel’s eleven secret herbs and spices.

The Takeaway

Not a lot left we can take away from this season.  Mostly it’s about preparing for next year.  So please pardon me for shouting, but PLAY THE KIDS, MIKE! PLAY THE DADGUM KIDS!!!

Stars of the Game

Based on Win Probability Added (WPA)

1st Star – Sean Marshall (.280 WPA)

2nd Star – Alfonso Soriano (.211 WPA)

3rd Star – Joey Votto (.206 WPA)

  • Buddy

    As long as LaHair gets four at bats per game the rest of the year, I don’t care if he plays 1B, LF, or RF. And for the record, he’s not a “kid.” He’ll be 29 in November. Even so, I’d like to see more of him. Let’s find out if he’s any good. Maybe he’ll be next year’s Michael Morse.

  • Norm

    Castro is definitely in elite company as a hitter. Complete list of players with as many hits as Castro right now, age 21 or younger:

    Lloyd Waner 223
    Alex Rodriguez 215
    Ty Cobb 212
    Buddy Lewis 210
    Joe DiMaggio 206
    Hal Trosky 206
    Vada Pinson 205
    Garry Templeton 200
    Al Kaline 200
    Frank Robinson 197
    Albert Pujols 194
    Al Kaline 194
    Buddy Lewis 194
    Ted Williams 193
    Starlin Castro 192
    Orlando Cepeda 192

  • Buddy

    Nice work on the list. Hopefully Castro is closer to A-Rod than Templeton when it’s all said and done.

  • Norm

    Templeton is a odd case.
    307 hitter his first 5 years until age 24.
    253 the rest of his career.

  • Dusty Baylor

    Also interesting….Templeton’s hitting tanked after he got traded to San Diego.

  • Garry Templeton? Totally juicing. Vada Pinson? Yep. Juicing. Buddy Lewis…juicer.

  • Doc Raker

    Dimaggio juiced, he was originally from the bay area and he was one of Balco’s first clients. The NY Times buried the story for obvious reasons.
    * LaHair has a 9 game hitting streak with some of those games being 1AB pinch hit games.
    * I am confused on what I thought Randy Wells was.

  • Norm

    Those guys were on greenies, for sure.

  • Katie

    Nice recap, Jeremiah. You’re funny. But I don’t think anybody really knew who Randy Wells was.
    I’m also glad Castro is a Cub and more than relieved that Hendry isn’t the GM anymore. There was always that little nagging voice in my head, “Hendry’s gonna trade Castro. Just wait.” Thank goodness he’s gone.

  • Chuck

    Wells is a #4 or #5 SP and that is about it. You do not have a good rotation if he would be in your 3-man rotation for the playoffs.
    My only issue with Castro is that he may have to move off of SS because of his glove. That being said, he absolutely is part of the future and he needs to be in the lineup as much as possible.

  • Jeremiah Johnson

    Apologies for the strained Dennis Green reference, everyone. All I meant was that despite his recent successes, he’s not a great pitcher, and that he’s still very capable of giving back a four-run lead. It comes down to this–it was late, and it seemed funny at the time (it’s alarming how often I come back to those excuses).


    Adam Dunn once hit a HR there that landed in a part of the Ohio River that is considered part of Kentucky…with a broken hand. He is the only player to ever hit a home run that landed in another state. Did I mention that he did it with a broken hand?

  • Chuck

    The scary thing is that if you put Wells on the Brewers, he would win 15-20 games. He will pitch well enough to keep a high-scoring team in the game. He is a 4.5 to 5.0 ERA guy.

  • Norm

    Lets not forget the home run that was just hit against the Cubs this past week

  • meh.

  • I was under the impression that Castro’s fielding has improved quite a bit over the year.

  • I’m with Beckman…that bare-handed play from last week was unreal. His issue is the good type; he has the raw skill, and needs time and coaching to put it all together. Unless he really starts cramming deep dish and Old Style, he will be at short.

  • Jeremiah Johnson

    Rich & J – Word.

  • Jedi

    Yep…Castro needs to stay at short; unless we manage to get Troy Tulowitzki or someone equally ridiculous.

  • Buddy

    In the not-too-distant future I’d love to see Baez at 3B, Castro at SS, somebody new at 2B, and Vogelbach at 1B. Hopefully they all develop into impact hitters!

  • Vogelbach is going to weigh nine hundred and seventy three pounds by the time he is ready for the league…and that is before Unos and Old Style.

  • Jedi

    Vogelbach has John Kruk’s body before he has any of John Kruk’s accomplishments…I’m not holding my breath.

  • Buddy

    Vogelbach already has more power than Kruk ever did, but the weight concerns are certainly valid. Hopefully he’s serious about his conditioning.

  • Norm

    The odds of him making it are very slim, but he’ll be fun to watch!

    Why organization’s don’t hire a nutritionist and chef for each level is something that I don’t understand. These kids get very little food money and little access to good food.

  • Buddy

    Big Dan got $1.6 million, so he should be OK for cash.

  • Jedi

    Anyone listening/watching the game? WHY ON EARTH IS PENA STILL AT 2B RUNNING? Quade realizes he’s what some people call “the winning run” right?

  • Noah

    $1.6 million – paying about 40 percent of that back in taxes brings him to about $960,000. Since odds are he doesn’t make the Show (most people don’t) he’s eventually going to have to get a real job or stay in baseball through another facet that’s more like a real job without great pay. I know these kids are young and it would be amazing to be given $960,000 after taxes at age 18, but I know I’d stash away about $800,000 of that somewhere it’s making a good amount of interest. Not that these kids are thinking about that, but they aren’t thinking about fine dining either, and it’s not the sort of money that lets them do anything they want. Most of these guys are thinking about the same things we would if we were given that sort of money at 18: Cars, parties, girls and electronics.

  • Buddy

    He should put it all in Amway!

  • Buddy

    Or, he could buy billboards demanding that Tim Tebow starts at QB in Denver!

  • There’s a great future in plastics…

  • Buddy

    “Blue Horshoe loves Anacott Steel.”