July 8th, 2007

Teams

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9   R H E
Chicago 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0   2 7 0
Pittsburgh 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 3 X   6 8 0
W -  S. Youman (2-0)  L  - C. Zambrano (10-7) S – None
Homeruns: J. Bay (13)

Box Score

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for the All-Star break. As a baseball blogger, my life is constantly focused on writing and producing things for the site each and every day. Even off days have something to talk about and report about. It seems like every day I am watching a game and writing a recap, so to have the next four days off from recaps is a welcome relief. I plan on putting up the farm report each day and posting something in the event that a Cubs move takes place, but other than that, taking a nice four days off of baseball.

I’m a little disappointed on the whole with how we came away from this 7 game stretch, but overall, we picked up some ground on the Brewers and enter the break playing pretty good baseball of late. Would I have liked to win this series? Sure, but when you look at this Pirate team, they really aren’t as bad as I think I assumed they were. They played some good baseball this weekend, and probably deserved a series win. They’re slowly chipping away in the Central and are on the heels of the Cardinals for third place. Who would have thought that could be the case this year?

Carlos Zambrano tossed another good game, but just didn’t get the run support he probably deserved. He went a lot deeper than I thought he would get after 60+ pitches through three innings of work. At that point, Zambrano buckled down and kept his total in the teens each inning the rest of the way. For a good portion of the second half of the game, he went to the stretch in an effort to get the ball over the plate and pitch to contact. I really liked that adjustment a lot, because he was pitching well and was a good guy to have out there today. He gets a tough luck loss, and it’s probably good that he’s not going to the All-Star game. Hopefully not going will serve as a motivation for him to work his butt off down the stretch in an effort to win that Cy Young he has been predicting for the past two seasons. He’s got a legit chance to win 20 games, which would be the first time that has happened since Jon Lieber did it in 2001. Before that, Greg Maddux did it way back in 1992. It doesn’t happen often for us and it would be a nice thing to see this season from Zambrano. It could be death on the pocketbook, though.

Wasted Opportunities jammed us today. In the first inning, Soriano gets on base on a first pitch single and goes to 2nd on a sac bunt from Theriot. Things looked great with Lee and Ramirez coming up. Instead, Soriano gets himself caught stealing and Lee is robbed on a leaping grab by one of my favorite shortstops in the game, Jack Wilson. There is something about those glove men that I like. Maybe Matt and I are suckers like that. That inning produces nothing, when it probably should have produced one. We came right back in the 2nd, loading the bases with no one out and it looked like we could really break out early. Instead, Angel Pagan hits a Sac Fly, which would be our only run in the inning. Koyie Hill hits a shallow fly ball and Zambrano grounds out. I don’t mean to totally bash Pagan, because he did get a run in. However, when you’re in the 7th spot, you’ve really got to get a hit in that situation and not a Sac Fly. Save the sacrifices for the eight and nine spots. Pagan needed to get a hit and didn’t deliver. Potential for at least two only yields one. The final big opportunity for us was in the 6th. With the 2,3,4 part of the lineup coming to the plate for the third time around, it looked to be a good inning to get some runs. After Theriot and Lee got on base to start, it began to look real good for some runs. Instead, Ramirez hits into a double-play, which all but solidified his spot as the turd of the game. At that point, we had to just hope for a run with two down and a man on second, which we got thanks to DeRosa. If you look at those three innings, we really never fully took advantage of what the Pirates were giving us and as a result, probably didn’t deserve to win this game. The best thing for us to do right now is to enjoy the break, thank Washington for taking two of three from the Brewers and prepare to make a legit run down the stretch. My goal would be to see this team within a game of first by the deadline.

Misc. Notes

  • The Pirates ran a really cool promotion today at the game. It was Irish Day, which was part of their nationality days promos. During the day, fans could purchase a ticket and participate in Irish culture that included food, decorations, and dancing. What a really cool idea. Sometimes I think the Cub fans miss out on things like this because the team doesn’t need to work near as hard as they used to in an effort to get fans into the part. The team and part pretty much take care of itself. Want proof? What is the last Cubs season slogan you remember the team promoting? I can’t think of one.
  • We haven’t thrown out a baserunner since June 29th against the Brewers when Rob Bowen caught Corey Hart.
  • Why was Lou playing the IF in with a lead in the 3rd inning?
  • Mark DeRosa made a great throw to gun down Nate McLouth in the 4th trying to stretch a single to a double. The play would not have been possible had it not been for a great leaping tag that could McLouth on the helmet by Theriot. I like DeRosa more and more each day.
  • Is it just me, or does it seem like our fielders struggle with communicating to each other who is going to catch a baseball on fly balls and popups? It hasn’t hurt us in awhile, but it makes me nervous.
  • Shane Youman, today’s starter was also a member of the LSU national championship team that included Ryan Theriot, Mike Fontenot, and Brad Hawpe.

    STARS OF THE GAME – All based on WPA

  • First Star – Shawn Chacon (22.1%)
  • Second Star – Jason Bay (18.4%)
  • Third Star – Xavier Nady (14.8%)
  • Turd of the Game – Aramis Ramirez (-12.7%)

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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