View From The Bleachers

Talking Cubs Baseball Since 2003



September 2011



Game 161 – Staggering Toward the Finish Line

Written by , Posted in General

Cubs 6, Padres 2

Box Score / Highlights

What Went Right

  • Matt Garza finally collected his tenth win of the season, finishing the year with a record of 10-10.  Garza gave up two runs early, and a couple times throughout the night it looked like he might be done.  But instead of sitting down and hoping for at best a no-decision, Garza fought to stick around through seven fairly solid innings–long enough for the Cubs to take the lead and give him the win.  Garza’s win-loss record would be much better if the Cubs have given him even a little more run support throughout the season.  Tonight looked like another chapter in that same story.  Instead they held on to get the win for the Cubs’ current and future ace.
  • Starlin Castro led off the game with a hit–the first of two he recorded tonight for an NL-leading 206 on the season.  Perhaps more impressive is that he’s now reached safely in 39 consecutive games.  Castro’s been one of the few bright spots in a fairly dismal season for the Cubs.  Here’s hoping he can pick up next season where he’s leaving off now, and that rest of the lineup around him can follow his lead.
  • Aramis Ramirez hit a deep solo home run to center in the top of the fourth inning.  I can’t help thinking it’s going to be his last in a Cubs uniform.  Often in his tenure with the Cubs, he’s provided the only offensive spark, and tonight it seemed like that might happen again.  I’m glad he was able to heal up enough to play tonight, and that he got to round the bases one more time to the loud cheers of Cubs fans.
  • Alfonso Soriano provided the late-inning offense Garza was hoping for.  With one out and two on in the eighth, he belted a long home run to center to give the Cubs a 4-2 lead.  We’d add on two more runs in the ninth, but Soriano’s long bomb provided the lift the Cubs needed, allowed Garza to leave the game, and turn things over to the bullpen.

What Went Wrong

  • About the bullpen, though; it was once again less-than-great.  Marshall got out of an eighth inning jam by being his usual, stellar self.  But the jam was created by Jeff Samardzija, who walked the first batter he saw, then gave up a single to advance that runner to third base, and then gave up a stolen base to leave the game with only one out and runners on second and third.  After Marshall got out of the eighth unscathed and the Cubs added on two more insurance runs, Carlos Marmol came in to close out the game.  No surprise–he was unreliable and unwieldy, needing 31 pitches to get out of the ninth (he face five hitters in all).  When he walked his second hitter of the inning, I half expected Garza to charge out of the dugout and tackle him.  I don’t have much faith in him or Samardzija, and I wouldn’t be devastated if either (or both) of them had pitched his last game in a Cubs uniform tonight.

The Takeaway

  • Despite the meaninglessness of the outcome, it was nice to see the Cubs fight for a win again.  I wish it had been that way when the games still mattered.  And no, I’m not just talking about the early part of the season–it would have been nice to see the team put up this kind of fight as recently as this past weekend, instead of laying down for St. Louis.  And although the Cubs are only playing out the last bit of the string tomorrow, there will be meaningful baseball.  Going into the last day of the season, the Cardinals and Braves are tied for the Wild Card.  The Rays and Red Sox are tied for the AL Wild Card spot, as well.  So if you can’t stomach one final slap fight for the Cubs, flip over and cheer for the Astros and Braves to keep St. Louis out of the postseason.  That might only be a small victory, but a victory nonetheless.

Stars of the Game

Based on Win Probability Added (WPA)

1st Star – Alfonso Soriano (.508 WPA)

2nd Star – Sean Marshall (.248 WPA)

3rd Star – Cameron Maybin (.180 WPA)

  • Buddy

    Garza has been a great addition. Looking forward to watching him pitch in Chicago next year.

  • Chuck

    Garza was a great pickup by Hendry. He is a top of the rotation starter and he should be around for a long while. It will be interesting to see if any of the prospects they gave up ever pan out. Again, I would trade unproven prospects for legit young starters any day of the week and twice on Sunday.
    I hope Aramis is back next year. As much as his demeanor rubs me hte wrong way, the guy can rake. Heck, I would even offer him an extension too. The state of 3B in the majors right now is just terrible and there isn’t anybody in the minors who can step up right now anyway.


    I would at most give Ramirez 3 years so his deal runs with Soriano, that way we can get rid of both of those lazy Dominicans after 2014. Ramirez might be the best option at 3B for the next 3 years unfortunately.
    I hope Tampa, Baltimore, Atlanta, and Houston all win tonight. I don’t want the Cardinals or Red Sox in October. It sets the table perfectly for Pujols to go to Boston.

  • Randy

    It is hard to fault the bullpen in this one, those guys are tired, really tired. We were among the cellerdwellers in quality starts this year, thus Marshall and Shark have had a huge load to pitch through. However, considering the ballpark I expect them throw strikes and limit walks.

  • Norm

    Garza was better than I expected; hopefully they agree to a contract of a few years to keep him here.

    I hope there are tie’s so that there are two 1-game playoffs. Don’t care who makes it in.
    Although I wouldn’t mind seeing Tampa Bay make it just so I can see the reaction of MVP voters who say the MVP has to be on a playoff team. How many votes would Ellsbury get then?

  • Buddy

    If I’m not mistaken, Garza isn’t a free agent until 2014.

  • I hope the Red Sox lose and look forward to some great playoff baseball.

  • Buddy

    If the Red Sox lose, maybe Francona will get the boot and the Cubs can scoop him up.

  • Seymour Butts

    Shark gave up a walk, and a base hit, then struck out one. Not stellar, but not terrible. His season as a whole has been a good one, Keep him, he’s better than most of the rest.
    Carlos looks like he’s lost on an unfamiliar planet. His contract makes a trade unlikely, so he needs a self esteem coach. Kind of like those guys who tell most boxers ..”you da man”… get his head straight and he’s an asset. As he sits he’s a loaded diaper.

  • Noah

    Garza will be a free agent after the 2013 season. So it’s two more years, which will be his 3rd and 4th in arbitration. He’s going to be fairly expensive in both of those years (around $8 million or more in 2012, $10 million or more in 2013).

  • Buddy

    That’s what I meant. After the 2013 season. Thanks for clarifying.

  • Larry Sproul

    If Marmol is to close next year he has to be fixed . I am not sure if Riggins is up to it . It was however good to see Garza get the W !!