June 25th, 2007

Teams

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9   R H E
Colorado 1 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 6   9 13 1
Chicago 4 0 1 0 1 1 0 1 2   10 18 1
W -  B. Howry (4-4)  L  - B. Fuentes (0-2) S – None
Homeruns: A. Pagan (3) T. Tulowitzki (7)

Box Score

I don’t think I can remember a game that the Cubs won so thrillingly, yet I wanted it to be over more than this one. I came into the game with a slight headache and an upset stomach. I figured that with the way the Cubs were playing, it was worth staying up and watching, instead of taking an early exit to the bed. I had my clipboard and scoring software fired up and was really enjoying the. Then I read a post by Mark in the late innings and all hell broke loose. The Cubs gave up 6 runs in the 9th and I was e-mailing his sorry butt to blame him. Obviously it wasn’t his fault, and I can’t stand it when people are superstitious like that. In fact, I’ve even debated taking down commandment number nine. We all know the rest of the story, so let me break down my thoughts on one of the biggest games of the year as best I can (stupid headache still remains).

Jason Marquis was really good at doing the little things that don’t show up in the box score last night. For example, he routinely got ahead of the Colorado hitters with strike one. It may not sound like much, but take a look at some of the Rockies best hitters and their averages in the various counts.

Name 0-0 0-1
K. Matsui .346 .345
M. Holliday .473 .313
T. Helton .393 .389
G. Atkins .364 .138
B. Hawpe .330 .283

Every single one of the Rockies 2-6 hitters last night see their average drop when hitting in an 0-1 count. Jason Marquis was very good last night, I believe, because he routinely was up in the count. When he did miss with strike one, he usually came right back to even it up. If he can do this consistently, he’ll find a lot more success. He was unfortunate to get a no decision in the game, but I came away from the outing encouraged by the performance of Jason Marquis. It wasn’t an out of this world performance, but from the lower end of the rotation, it’s exactly the kind of outing we can hope for.

Scott Eyre and Bobby Howry will probably be remembered in this game for giving up the lead, but let’s take a look at the rest of their outings first starting with Scott Eyre. When Lou brought in Eyre, it was to get Michael Wuertz out of a jam, which he promptly did by striking out Brad Hawpe swinging. That’s a big situation right there that he extinguished, yet won’t get any credit for from people that want him DFA’d or released. He hasn’t been able to come through in those types of situations in the past and should get credit for it. In the eighth inning, he started out rough with a double and a walk, but settled himself down and induced a double play and got a strikeout to end it. In my opinion, that should have been the end of his outing, though I can see why Lou would trot him out there for the ninth. With a shorthanded bullpen, at least in the eyes of Lou, he wanted to get as much out of his lowest rated reliever as possible. It’s not really fair to Eyre, but sometimes you do what you have to do. In my mind, Lou set Eyre up for failure by sending him out there for a third straight inning. It’s not something a setup man is used to. Obviously you have to put some of the blame on Eyre, but not as much as people will do in their comments or recaps. That’s not fair.

As for Bobby Howry, how can you all of a sudden call for hoarse head on a platter with how well he has been pitching? I’m sorry Mark and everyone else, but you people flip flop more than a fish out of water. First it’s the Cubs are good, then they lose a game and everyone needs to be shipped out. Tonight, Howry will come in and pitch big and you won’t say anything about dumping them. The fact is, a bullpen is always and will always be a crapshoot. Spending tons of money to address it is foolish. Just ask Baltimore who spent a lot of money to revamp their pen in the free agent market only to see their bullpen ERA have them ranked 28th in the Majors. 5.28 sounds great when you spend a lot of money doesn’t it? Last year Scott Eyre and Bobby Howry were outstanding and everyone was praising Jim Hendry for getting the players he did, when he did. This year, those same moves are being bashed, by the same people. Have some backbone people. Stick with one side for once. I’m still supporting Eyre and Howry, because right now, what are the options? You can’t go around releasing people and signing new players in the middle of the season. There is a reason those players are available, and it’s because they’re not any good. Give me the name of one free agent out there that you’d want. Just one. I dare you.

Mike Fontenot continued to play well in the game, but let me explain to you why he’s not one of the stars of the game. When you look at the WPA, Fontenot would not even be one of the top 3 if you only looked at the Cubs from last night. How can that be, you say? He went 5-5 with 2 RBI. Let’s take a look at his at bats to figure out why.

  • First Inning – He singles, but it’s with a tie game in the 1st inning with an out already in the inning. That isn’t much of a game changing play. Then he gets caught stealing and loses most of what he gained for the single in the first place.
  • Third Inning – Here he leads off with a single and eventually scores a run. Great, but the Cubs already had a 4-0 lead, so at that point, you’re not gaining that much momentum.
  • 5th Inning – Hits a double and scores a run to lead off the game, but again, the Cubs had a nice lead and it was getting later in the game, which means their probability for winning was already pretty high.
  • 6th Inning – Singles in a run, but again, the Cubs WPA was already in the 90% range. There isn’t much room to improve that.
  • 8th Inning – Hits another double, but at this point the game was all but won, or so we thought.

    As you can see, it’s not necessarily what you hit, but rather what situations you hit in. Mike Fontenot continues to play well for us, but today just didn’t get the big opportunities to shine.

    Alfonso Soriano finally came up with some big RBI’s. I’m tired of the fact that his RBI totals are not what they should be for the amount of power he has. Last night he came up really big with a big time hit when it really mattered. I’ll lay off him for a day, but I would really like to see more RBI’s out of him in the future.

    Lou Piniella was really close to getting raked over the coals today. If the Cubs lose this game, he gets killed for not using Marmol and for not bringing Jacque Jones in to pinch run for Rob Bowen earlier than he did. If Jones it pinch running from the beginning, there is a good chance he scores on the error by Matsui. It’s easy to second guess after the fact, so I’m not really going to do that. I wouldn’t want Lou’s job for one day. I’m just really glad we won, because Lou may have had a Lee Elia type tirade with the media had we lost.

    Misc. Notes

  • Willie Tavares has 24 bunt hits and the next closest to him has 7.
  • Mark DeRosa’s daughter has walking pneumonia.
  • I’m not a big fan of pitchers trying to stop the ball with their bare hand like Marquis did in the 4th.
  • Mike Fontenot was seen taking ground balls at short yesterday before the game.
  • Wade Miller is close to returning. (Do you care?)
  • In the 4th inning, Comcast went to commercial break in the middle of an at bat. How bush league is that?
  • In the White Sox game, Mike Quade made the right call to not send Pie home on the DeRosa single. In a tight game like that, why run into an out with 0 outs in the inning? It was the right call.

    STARS OF THE GAME – All based on WPA

  • First Star – Alfonso Soriano (67.9%)
  • Second Star – Troy Tulowitzki (56.8%)
  • Third Star – Mark DeRosa (26.1%)
  • Turd of the Game – Brian Fuentes (-79.0%)

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    Joe Aiello is the founder of View From the Bleachers and one of the lead writers as well as host of VFTB Radio. Growing up in Chicago, he fondly remembers attending games in the bleachers before that was the popular thing to do. Currently Joe resides in North Carolina with his wife and three kids. Connect with Joe via Twitter / Facebook / E-mail