July 1st, 2007
| W - J. Marquis (6-4) L - D> Bush (6-7) S – None
Homeruns: C. Hart (11)
(AP Photo/Jerry Lai)
If you had told me at the beginning of the season that this team would be at .500 at this point in the season, I wouldn’t have believed you. I would have thought they would have been better. If you had told me at the beginning of June that this team would be .500 at this point, I wouldn’t have believed you. I would have thought they would be farther below. It’s funny how quickly our impressions and expectations of a team can change so quickly. Last year, I didn’t read many of the comments, but this year I’ve seen readers go from excited to bummed and back to excited in a matter of minutes. Baseball, and sports in general, is funny like that. One day you’re down in the dumps and the next day, you’re back in the saddle again, a la Gene Autry. That was the case today as the Cubs rebounded from a terrible game yesterday to play dominant baseball in a win that brings them back to .500 and secures their third straight series win. With seven to play before the break and all of them against the Nats and Pirates, it’s not out of the question to think this team could be well above .500 at the break.
Jason Marquis was great today. The Cubs needed a huge outing from him because of the shoddy starts we’ve received over the past two days. A total of five innings out of Hill and Marshall meant that Marquis needed to go a minimum of six and preferably seven to give this beleaguered bullpen a chance to watch from the sidelines. Billy Petrick was recalled once again after Rocky Cherry saw an injury land him on the DL. I don’t know how serious this injury is, as it reminds me a lot of the Mike Remlinger La-Z-Boy episode. I hope it is a phantom injury and Rocky will be back soon. In the meantime, Jason gave us just what we needed and the bullpen did the rest. Check that. Carlos Marmol did the rest. I was actually a little surprised to see Lou pull Marquis after just seven innings after only throwing 76 pitches, but you can’t argue with the win. Marquis had his sinker working well today and stayed right around the plate all game, getting hitters to swing early in the count. He was the recipient of a 12-4 groundball to flyball ratio and got five strikeouts to cap off his 6th win of the season. He made some big pitches in big situations to keep this game out of reach from the first inning on. He got a big double play to get out of the 4th inning unblemished and struck out Dave Bush in the 5th to strand Geoff Jenkins at third. All of those clutch plays and I haven’t even mentioned the Budweiser play of the game on WGN, which was his courage under fire on a grounder in the first inning off the bat of Ryan Braun. The ball and the barrel of the bat both found their way to Jason and he stayed in there and made the play, despite taking a bat off the face. Granted, it only grazed him, but you’ve got to give him a lot of credit for staying with a play like that without so much as a flinch and not let it rattle him the rest of the way. Pitchers are a crazy breed. I couldn’t stand in there that close and risk getting hit with anything.
Ryan Theriot had a big day at the plate with three doubles after Lou put him back in the second spot in the order. Personally, I like Theriot in that spot more than Fontenot, assuming he can hit well enough to be there. Theriot has more speed than Fontenot and better plate discipline, which is essential out of that spot in the order. I’d like to see Fontenot become more of a six or seven hitter where he can have runners on base to drive in. He has more power than Theriot and would be better suited for that spot. Lou has told the players that if they want to play, they need to hit the baseball. Pie and Theriot have not been doing that of late and have found themselves on the bench more often than not in favor of hot hands. Theriot got his chance today and made the most of it. I’d like to see Lou throw him right back in there in the same spot tomorrow against Washington and let him get some of that confidence back up.
Carlos Marmol is cash money. This guy reminds me of Francisco Rodriguez minus the foreign substances on the bill of the cap. It’s hard to think that he was signed as a catcher. I’m wondering if, in a pinch, he’d be called on to strap on the gear and get behind the plate. Perhaps that’s why Lou uses both of his catchers so liberally in late inning situations. Usually you will see a manager keep that backup catcher out of the game in case of injury. Lou routinely uses his as a pinch hitter in an effort to win the ballgame. With the All Star game on it’s way, would it be out of the question to say Carlos has an outside chance of being selected? I think it is, but you can’t argue with his numbers and clutch performance. I’d really like to see him get a look.
Left-handed starter: Donald Veal, Cubs. Veal still has control problems, but the fact that he’s suddenly giving up hits (76 in 75 innings) has his ERA at 5.64 as he’s hasn’t shown the breaking ball that he made such sizable progress with last year. Good news: he had his best start of the year on Wednesday, striking out 11 while giving up just two hits in five innings.
Right-handed starter: Jeff Samardzija, Cubs. A disturbing double-dip for the North Side. After giving him a record deal to buy him away from an NFL career, the big righthander from Notre Dame has been far worse than his 5.22 ERA would indicate–allowing 93 hits in 69 innings with a ridiculously low 25 strikeouts. He could be on the way to being one of the biggest bonus mistakes in draft history.Baseball Prospectus – 6/29/2007
STARS OF THE GAME – All based on WPA