August 16th, 2007

Teams

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9   R H E
Cincinnati 0 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0   4 9 1
Chicago 4 0 0 1 0 0 7 0 X   12 20 0
W – J. Marquis (10-7)  L  - B. Livingston (3-3) S – None
Homeruns: A. Dunn (32)

Box Score

I labeled today a “must win” and the Cubs did just that. We’re 0.5 games out and it’s time to make a statement with the Cardinals coming to town. We usually play well against them, but this time it’s essential.

Jason Marquis
We needed a great start today and I’m not quite sure if we got it or not. On one hand, you can look at the box score and say that Marquis did not have a good outing and almost deserved a loss. On the other hand, there are some things that a box score doesn’t show you, like what happened inning by inning. Marquis had a really good first inning and then saw the wheels fall off in the second as he coughed up the lead the Cubs built for him in the first. After that bad inning, I was worried that this was going to be the end of a very bad sweep, but Marquis came back the next four innings and didn’t allow a run. He left with the lead in the seventh after giving up a leadoff single. Scott Eyre came in to face an ugly part of the Reds order in Griffey, Phillips and Dunn. Griffey lined out to right and Eyre got Phillips to end the inning on a strike-em-out / throw-em-out double play without having to face Adam Dunn. This makes two above average starts in a row for Marquis, including one in Colorado. I’m not saying he’s the answer for the 3rd starter, but it’s encouraging to see back to back outings where he gets 6+ innings under his belt. He also picked up his 10th win and who really thought that would happen with more than a month left to play?

Get your foot off my throat please!!!
The Reds politely asked the Cubs to do just that and for once in this series, the Cubs declined the invitation. They erupted in the 7th inning with a huge scoring outburst of 7 runs as if to give the Reds the finger for beating them in the first two games of the series. Perhaps the offense just got sick of the pitching giving the lead back and decided to do so much scoring that it would be virtually impossible to give the lead back. The craziest thing about the scoring today was the fact that Derrek Lee was a stunning 0-5 in the heart of the order.

Jacque Jones
I can’t say enough about how thankful I am that Jacque is still on this team. I wasn’t one that called for his head early last year or this year. I’ve been happy he’s here since the day Hendry signed him. Was it a contract that cost a little too much and was a little too long? Sure, you could argue that, but when you look at the numbers on the whole, Jacque Jones has been exactly the player we could have been expecting when he was brought in. Sometimes I think that people confuse him with Torii Hunter. He’s not that player. His numbers last year were right with his career averages and this year, he’s see his average steadily increase since the all-star break. In the second half of this year, Jones was hitting .343 / .404 / .500 coming into this game. That kind of production is invaluable to this team, especially with Cliff Floyd dealing not only with injuries, but with the sickness and eventual death of his father. Jones has been a bright spot as a lefty in this lineup down the stretch. It’s funny how all the haters seem to have gone into hibernation now that he’s been so hot.

1-2 Punch
Ryan Theriot and Mark DeRosa provided a great spark at the top of the order today. DeRosa had five hits and Theriot continues to make his case as to why he should be the Cubs permanent choice for leadoff man down the stretch, even when Alfonso Soriano returns. He makes a strong case in my book, and I would keep him there if I were Lou. He provides the speed at the top that Soriano will be lacking a little when he returns from his quad injury, and strikes out so much less. Coming into today’s game, Ryan Theriot had a strikeout to walk ratio of 1.08, which means he strikes out just 1.08 times for every time he walks. Alfonso Soriano on the other hand has a K/BB ratio of 3.96.

In addition to the on base ability and contact ability of Theriot, he has a much better ability to lay down a bunt and make something happen with his speed. You’d love your leadoff hitter to be able to get on base with the bunt and Theriot has that ability. As he continues to learn how to be a leadoff hitter, you’d have to imagine that his bunting ability will only improve. When you’re a feared bunter, it forces the corner infielders to respect that ability and play in a few steps. When that’s the case, it shortens their reaction time on a ball hit toward them in turn decreases not only their range, but also the likelihood that they’re going to make a play on the baseball.

Bush League Baserunning
I harped on Griffey in the first game of the series for his baserunning and was shouted down. Today, he showed me that his baserunning skills have either deteriorated or were never present to begin with. This series, he’s made three terrible baserunning plays that have hurt his team.

Trying to stretch a double into a triple – He was thrown out at third by more than 20 feet on this play, and I can’t for the life of me figure out why he even thought he might have a slight chance at even thinking about third, let alone trying for it. If the play is behind you, it’s your responsibility to pick up your third base coach as you’re nearing second base to pick up the run or hold sign. Griffey either didn’t pick it up or simply ignored it. I am leaning toward the former.

Caught in a rundown in an “attempt” to allow the runner at third to score – When I harped on this one, I was told that I was wrong and that Griffey was doing the right thing. I agree, IF that was what he was in fact doing. After today’s SNAFU, I’m not sure it was on purpose. I’m beginning to think Griffey got caught up in that rundown because he was not paying attention the play going on in front of him.

Caught off first base trying to go to second with a runner holding (today) – This was Griffey’s mess up on the basepaths for today. After launching an apparent double off the wall in the 2nd, Griffey proceeded to watch the ball the entire way as he rounded the first base bag and headed to second. Fortunately for the Cubs and Marquis, the runner at second was not advancing and Griffey realized it after he was two-thirds of the way there. He was easily tossed out and tagged by Lee at first on his retreat.

I’m not trying to bust on Ken Griffey. He’s one of my favorite players of all time. All I’m doing is pointing out what I see in the game. If Griffey doesn’t want to be called out by not only me, but bloggers and writers around the internet, he should start paying attention on the bases. On a positive note, he had a heck of a day at the plate.

Diving into the rulebook
I learned something new today. I hadn’t realized that when a batted ball hits a runner, even if it occurs with two outs in the inning, the batter is credited with a hit. It’s a combination of two different rules. I knew that the runner was called out, but I didn’t know the batter was given a hit. It came up today when Ramirez hit a grounder that Mark DeRosa tried to hurdle over on his way to third. He was struck by the ball and called out to end the inning. Ramirez was credited with a single in the box score.

Rule 10.05a – The official scorer shall credit a batter with a base hit when a fair ball that has not been touched by a fielder touches a runner or an umpire…

Rule 7.07f – Any runner is out when he is touched by a fair ball in fair territory before the ball has touched or passed an infielder. The ball is dead and no runner may score, nor runners advance, except runners forced to advance. EXCEPTION: If a runner is touching his base when touched by an Infield Fly, he is not out, although the batter is out

Misc. Notes

  • Ken Griffey put a Major League sized divot in the grass on a diving play in the 4th inning on a ball hit by Marquis. He politely replaced it and patted it down with his spikes, but I don’t remember seeing him use the sand in the hole. Perhaps this how to video will help him.
  • Have you ever noticed that when they show the Bud Light Fan Cam in the late innings, the camera men tend to show about 80-90% females, the majority of which are good looking? I wonder if this is designed to carry on the tradition of Harry Caray commenting on girls in the stands and even in the booth. Len and Bob never bite.
  • My 19 mo. old loved the Take Me Out To the Ballgame rendition by Peter Cetera. He was swaying from side to side and clapping his hands. All he needed was a lighter to hold up and it would have been a full blown rock concert in his mind.
  • In the 7th inning, Mike Fontenot came in as a pinch hitter. With the huge inning, Fontenot came around for a 2nd at bat in the inning. Len Kasper pointed it out and I’m glad he did because it came to my mind as I was keeping score. At that point, Mike Fontenot was nothing. He wasn’t a fielder or a pinch hitter. Next to his name in the position column was a blank. A player is only a pinch hitter the first time they hit in an inning. At that point, usually the inning ends and they are either removed from the game for another pitcher or take the field and are then given a position in the scorebook.
  • Carmen Pignatiello’s outing today was his Major League debut meaning that the Cubs have seen 11 rookies appear this season. The Cubs currently have 12 of the 25 guys on the roster with less than three years of ML experience.

    STARS OF THE GAME – All based on WPA

  • First Star – Mark DeRosa (16.7%)
  • Second Star – Ryan Theriot (12.3%)
  • Third Star – Jacque Jones (11.3%)
  • Turd of the Game – Bobby Livingston (-20.7%)
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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