Archive for May, 2009

Cubs June Confidence Survey

Sunday, May 31st, 2009
.!.

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Last month I ran a quick survey to guage people’s confidence in the various members of the team to see where we stand. It’s that time again. We’ll run this survey over the course of the week and announce the results on Friday.

Click here to take the survey and please spread the word.

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Two Down, Four to Go

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

I’m looking at my 2009 Cubs Baseball Schedule. There are 6 full months of baseball in the season, and two of them are gone. Two down, four to go. Excluding October, of course.

So how are things going, 1/3 of the way through the calendar season?

The Cubbies are two games above .500 (25 and 23), with a .521 winning percentage.

Overall, the starting pitching is looking good. When Carlos is not taking a baseball bat to the Gatorade cooler, that is. Randy Wells is a welcome addition to the rotation. Rich Harden’s back may get better. I’d love to see Jake Peavy in a Cubs uniform, but I can live without it.

The Cubs sluggers are batting above .200. Milton Bradley’s three hits yesterday raised his batting average to .223 (although it was under .200 as recently as Tuesday). Derrek Lee and Alfonso Soriano are both hitting .246 at the moment. I feel like all three guys are about to go on a hitting tear in June which will be fun to watch. And if not, there’s always next year.

The relief pitching corps is shaping up. We know who we can count on, and we know who we cannot count on.

The minor league guys are providing some excitement and have been carrying the team at times.

Lou is in a relaxed mode this year. He got his left handed and/or switch hitting influenced lineup, and now he’s cruising along.

Where will this all end? I have good news. The Cubbies will play in October this year! They have one scheduled game with the Pirates and three with Arizona through the 4th of October. So we’ve got that going for us.

Enjoy the rest of the season.

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Hey Chicago waddaya say

Friday, May 29th, 2009

The Cubs are gonna win today! Today’s game was the normal Cubs roller-coaster. Real frustration through the first two-thirds, particularly the sixth. How in the world did we put a guy on third with nobody out and not get him in?

My big frustration with the 2009 Cubs is that we don’t do too well if we don’t: 1. Have a lead in the 9th or 2. Score at least 4 runs.

So there we went into the 7th inning with a big old goose egg on the scoreboard. Things were not looking good at all. Fortunately things took a right turn in the seventh; the Cubs won and we got to sing the song.

That notwithstanding I have a question for some of the more learned readers of this site. In the 8th inning there was an interesting interference call at the plate – the ball struck Pierre in the left knee and it was called a strike. Pierre squared up to bunt and his left leg was clearly out of the box and in the strikezone. I felt it was a bad call – my understanding of the interference call on a pitch in play is similar to what Wikipedia has posted under “catcher interference:”

The most common incidence of interference is when a member of the offensive team physically hinders the defensive team, decreasing their chances to make an out or increasing the chance that a baserunner will advance. Whenever this offensive interference occurs, the ball becomes dead. If the interference was committed by a batter or a baserunner, that player is called out and all other runners must return to the bases they occupied at the time of the interference.

Pierre was given a strike after being hit and he was thrown out at first afterwards on a questionable call (of course there is no such thing as a make-up call.) But is my understanding of this call correct pursuant to the rulebook? I’m hoping somebody such as Dave or MJ can check this out and clarify it for me as well as other readers.

I also want to tip my hat to the Dodgers on their aggressive baseball style and pitching. Billingsley was a bad boy and the Dodgers remind me of the 2003 Cubs. It’s gonna be a real fight against LA and they are the best team in the NL right now.

Hopefully we can take take 3 out of 4 against these guys – tomorrow we face Randy Stutz and his 4-1 record. Three out of four since the losing streak isn’t bad, we just have to keep the streak going.

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GirlieView (05/29/2009)

Friday, May 29th, 2009

Interesting week. I’m not feeling very good yet about how things are going, but I’m not feeling as bad as earlier in the week (long about losses 7 and 8). Let’s clock in at fair to midland and call it a week.

Recap:

Date

Opponent

W/L – Score

Notes

Friday
05/23

@ San Diego

L (4-0)

I liked this Zambrano vs. Peavy matchup. Guess who won? Yep, Peavy. No offense yet again, too many strikeouts to count, lots of stranded runners. Ugh.

Saturday
05/24

@ San Diego

L (3-1)

Randy Wells pitched yet another strong game. Needs to take his buddies out to dinner or something, maybe
buy some hits! Pitiful offense.

Sunday
05/25

@ San Diego

L (7-2)

Ted Lilly takes the 7th-in-a-row loss. No offense.

Monday
05/26

Pittsburgh

L (10-8)

Finally, some hitting! Sadly Pittsburgh did too. Nice Memorial Day hats though! Loss for Cotts and although he’s a cutie I hope it’s the last I see of him for at least a little while.

Tuesday
05/27

Pittsburgh

W (6-1)

Marshall pitched well and had a hit with an RBI in a six-inning game (rain). My Cub-loving nephew-in-law-twice-removed (or something like that) suggested maybe all Cubs games should be six innings long, like Little League. At least it would solve the bullpen problem!

Wednesday
05/28

Pittsburgh

W (5-2)

Well, what to say. Zambrano threw a tantrum, Marmol got himself a win (thanks to Reed), Gregg scared me again, but it’s a win and we’ll take it!

Thursday
05/29

LA Dodgers

L (2-1)

Joe said it all … “Randy Wells Gets the Shaft …. Again


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(Did you notice that GirlieView is still evolving? Every week I seem to try something new. I’ll find something I’m happy with eventually, and hopefully y’all will like it too. Or, maybe I’ll have a different feature every week!) Anyway, for now, each week I’ll nominate “Best Week” and “Worst Week” (meaning who had the best week and who had the worst week) and you can tell me whether you agree or disagree, and why, and if you disagree who would you pick?

Best Week:

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Hmmmm … let’s see … Reed? Marshall? Hoffpauir? Fukudome? Guzman? By the way I’m not picking these based on stats. Just gut. You can choose and defend yours however you like. I’m just deciding who gives me the warm ‘n’ fuzzies when I see them come up to the plate or makes me happy when they are pitching. My instincts might not stand up to the statistics but sometimes they’re worth something. Or at least I like to think so! I’m going with Reed. He seemed to make the most of his opportunities and I like that.

Worst Week: Hands down the Gatorade cooler had the worst week of anyone. He’s counting the minutes til the team goes on the road again.

I’m happy to entertain other nominees in either category. What are your thoughts?

Speaking of the Gatorade cooler, earlier in the season I wondered about Carlos Zambrano’s temper and tried to decide which comes first, the meltdown or the stink. Does a bad inning cause him to go bonkers, or does the emotional part come first and then his pitching come unglued afterwards. I still have the same question. Does anyone have an opinion? It was a close call at home, but everyone wins some close calls and everyone loses some and most folks don’t swing bats around the dugout when it doesn’t go their way. On first look it would seem the bad call caused the tantrum. Or, was he (first) disgusted with himself for making the pitch which caused the play which resulted in the bad call which (then) caused the tantrum? Or maybe he’s just a spoiled punk. (I’m still a fan when he’s good though! And I’m glad he’s not disputing the suspension … he apologized and is moving on. Best choice IMO.)

That’ll do it for now unless something groundbreaking happens in Thursday night’s game (it’s Thursday afternoon as I write this!)

Well, now it’s Friday, and nothing groundbreaking happened last night. Nothing that I want to talk about, anyway. Here on VFTB it seems a Dodger fan has too much time on his hands. Props to Kris for the Best Week Thought … that it takes a troll to unite the troops here. I try to remember that we all want the same thing, even if we say so differently. That’s what makes it great. Even when we piss each other off. xxoo

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Randy Wells Gets the Shaft….Again

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

I decided to do something a little different tonight and score the fight like a boxing match by inning. In case you don’t know how that works, here is a decent explaination.

1st Inning: 10-8 Dodgers

  • Juan Pierre stole 2nd and scored on a bunt by Furcal. The problem I noticed was that Randy Wells has no slide step at all. He’s going to need to try to develop something or runners are going to steal all over the place on him. He was able to get out of the inning with just the one run allowed by pitching out of a 1st and 3rd jam with just one out.
  • Between the top and bottom of the inning, MLB Network ran two 2k9 commercials. The first had the game tonight played with the video game. Cubs win 3-2 thanks to a winning single by Milton Bradley. It’s a dumb concept in the sense that it shows nothing in terms of prediction accuracy, but it’s kind of fun to see Fontenot at SS, which is what happened in the commercial.
  • Leadoff single by Soriano is wasted thanks to a double play by Theriot with Milton striking out to end the inning.

2nd Inning: 10-10 Push

  • Randy Wolf had a terrible at bat trying to get a sacrifice down. He tried swinging for strike one and then missed the bunt on an outside pitch for strike two. He closed the at bad with a K on a fouled bunt attempt.
  • Matt Kemp gets a steal of 2B even with the pitchout in play. That shouldn’t be happening. It didn’t hurt us, but if you’re allowing guys to move around the bases for free, it’s going to bite you.
  • Another leadoff base runner, this time thanks to a nice at bat by Lee that resulted in a double to the opposite field, goes wasted as Reed Johnson can’t advance the runner and then both Geo and Fontenot go down swinging.

3rd Inning: 10-8 Dodgers

  • Bob Costas mentions that the Dodgers are doing things the right way tonight. With a bunch of singles, walks and steals, they’re doing the little things and have put a couple of runs on the board as a result. Heads up base running to take 2nd by Loney after his single.
  • Cubs down 1-2-3 and Randy Wolf is in the zone through the order the first time.

4th Inning: 10-10 Push

  • Wells gives up a leadoff single to Martin but makes a great pitch with an inside fastball to induce a 6-4-3 double play and inevitably, Costas brings up Tinker to Evers to Chance. You knew he was going to do it. It was just a matter of when.
  • Milton gets a walk, but we can’t do anything with it. Good at bat, despite the groundout by Theriot. He started off 0-2, but worked the count to 3-2 before hitting the ball 2nd.

5th Inning: 10-9 Dodgers

  • Great diving stab by Blanco to try to keep Pierre from an IF single, but JP is just too fast and beats the throw for a leadoff single.
  • With Pierre running on the play, Furcal lines to Reed Johnson and we get a non-traditional double play to push the Dodgers back after a good start to the inning. Running on the pitch, there really wasn’t anything JP could do on that play and the best move was to keep running and hope it drops.
  • Leadoff single goes to waste as Randy Wolf overpowers with three straight K’s to get out of the inning.

6th Inning: 10-9 Dodgers

  • Randy Wells has been pretty solid through six innings of work and really deserves some run support.
  • Another double play, this one off the bat of Milton Bradley and I’m getting frustrated. Thankfully I just saw the Tim Lincecum commercial where he’s mentoring his video game clone. That always amuses me, even the 9th time around this game.

7th Inning: 10-9 Cubs

  • Another quick inning for Wells and he’s probably done for the night. At this point, we’ve not won a single inning of this game. Just like in boxing, its time to go for the knockout late and try to pull this out.
  • Three Doors Down has a song that serves as the backdrop for the Geico caveman commercial. Is that a wise move? For me, that ruins a song for me because I think of the product when I hear it.
  • Another long drive to the opposite field for Lee turns into another long loud out. Another freaking double play ends the chance in the 7th.

8th Inning: Behind the Wall hd 10-8 Cubs

  • Prior to the start of the inning, Hampton Inn had a commercial in which a patron of a hotel went to the front desk to voice his concern that there were no towels in the room. The guy at the desk stops him, reaches down and pulls up a violin and then asks the patron to continue, while he plays for him. It has to be one of the funnier commercials I’ve seen in awhile.
  • Good stab at 3B by Fontenot keeps Orlando Hudson off the base paths.
  • Great inning for Aaron Heilman has Sherm smiling with pride.
  • B-Skillz pinch hits and works back from a 0-2 count to hit a 3-2 pitch into the left centerfield bleachers. Welcome Back Bobby!!! That HR knocks Wolf out of the ballgame, thank God.
  • Jake Fox and Kosuke Fukudome both come in as pinch hitters (three in a row) and get on base to give Soriano a shot to drive home some runs. He blows his chance and Theriot grounds into yet another freaking double play

9th Inning: 10-9 Cubs

  • Jose Ascanio on to try to hold the Dodgers at bay and give the 3-4-5 part of our lineup a chance.
  • Ascanio gets pulled after 0.1 IP and leaves 2 men on for Angel Guzman who was great. Awesome job by Angel and props to Fox for making a nice snag at 3rd to get the force at 2nd.
  • Wow, what a bunt by Bradley to get on base to start the 9th. If he didn’t fool the Dodgers, he sure caught me by surprise.
  • Clutch single by Lee and the Cubs are in business. Now we just need to stay out of the double play.
  • Johnson gets the runners advanced with 1 out and I wonder aloud if it wouldn’t be a better move to pinch hit with Koyie Hill for Soto. Then again, it looks like they’re walking Soto, so that would have been a bad call. Had they not walked him, would it have been better to give Hill a shot, considering Fox would be able to fill in behind the plate on an emergency basis if needed? It’s probably not the best move, considering the bench is thin, but I can wonder.
  • B-Skillz and Jake Fox strike out with bases loaded and the Dodgers hold on. GRRRRRR

Final Decision: Dodgers 86 / Cubs 84

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Piniella's new "nasty boys?"

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

Have the Cubs become the new bad boys of baseball?  Sure looks that way, Carlos Zambrano got ejected in colorful fashion today as the Cubs won their second in a row.  Z’s departure came after throwing a wild pitch only to lose a close call at the plate (from my angle the runner was safe by a hair, getting his left hand around Zambrano’s block and tag.)   After that was the ensuing argument, Carlos and the umpire made incidental contact and the ejection occurred; Zambrano earned a likely suspension by symbolically ejecting the umpire, throwing the ball to the left field warning track and slamming his mitt on the way to the dugout.  After reaching the dugout it was time to take his fury out on the Gatorade dispenser and go to the clubhouse for a debriefing with Cubs’ anger management counselor Lou Piniella.

This makes two days this week where the Gatorade machine has come out on the short end of a disagreement with a Cubs pitcher (the first being with Ryan Dempster.)  The Cubs are still waiting to hear from MLB’s chief disciplinarian Bob Watson about Ted Lilly’s ejection and comments earlier this week.  And we all know about Milton Bradley’s recent suspension and comments about the quality of officiating.

  • So my first question to the readership is simple:  Are the recent spate of incidents constructive or destructive to the team’s morale and performance?

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I do not want to see an ongoing string of Cubs being tossed but I think the outbursts come at a time when the Cubs can benefit from a little excitement.  A few games into the losing streak it appeared as though they were sleep-walking; they’re sure not now!

  • My second question involves whether or not Zambrano should or will get a suspension.

From what I saw the ump made incidental contact first but Z’s actions after the ejection will probably cost him a start (and rightly so.)  And some fines.  And some repair costs on what looks to be a rather expensive Gatorade dispenser – PepsiCo can’t be too happy with the abuse that their Gatorade brand is getting from the Cubs starters…perhaps they should move that machine away from the clubhouse entrance and put a traditional water cooler in it’s place.  This Cubs team is starting to show some spunk!

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Jake Fox Gets His Chance and Neal Cotts to AAA

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

From the Cubs Media Department:

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CHICAGO

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– The Chicago Cubs today recalled infielder Jake Fox and selected the contracts of infielder Andres Blanco and left-handed pitcher Jason Waddell from Triple-A Iowa. The Cubs optioned left-handed pitcher Neal Cotts and infielder Bobby Scales to Triple-A Iowa. Additionally, the club placed infielder Aaron Miles on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to May 26, with a right shoulder strain.

Blanco will wear uniform number 13, Fox will wear number 5 and Waddell will wear number 43. All three are available for this afternoon’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Wrigley Field. Chicago’s 40-man roster now stands at 38 players.

Fox, 26, is leading all minor league players this year in the “Triple Crown” categories with a .423 batting average (63-for-149), 17 home runs and 50 RBI in 40 games for Iowa. The right-handed batter also has 40 runs, 14 doubles, two triples, a .503 on-base percentage, a .886 slugging percentage and a 1.389 OPS this season. He has seen action at first base, third base, left field, right field, catcher and designated hitter this season. Fox has twice earned Pacific Coast League Player of the Week honors for the periods ending April 19 and May 17.

Originally selected by the Cubs in the third round of the 2003 Draft, Fox joins the Cubs riding a 17-game hitting streak during which he batted .453 (29-for-64) with five home runs and 19 RBI.

Spider ipod Fox last appeared in the big leagues in 2007 when he made his major league debut and batted .143 (2-for-14) with two doubles, three runs scored and one RBI in seven games for the Cubs.

Blanco, 25, is batting .314 (48-for-153) with nine doubles, four home runs and 25 RBI in 43 games for Iowa this season. The switch-hitter is batting .342 (39-for-114) against right-handed pitching and has a .364 mark (16-for-44) with runners in scoring position. Blanco has played exclusively at shortstop in the field this season.

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Signed by the Cubs as a minor league free agent following the 2007 and 2008 seasons, Blanco has played in 78 career major league games with the Kansas City Royals covering parts of three campaigns (2004-06), batting .252 (57-for-226) with six doubles, four triples and 19 RBI. Blanco has played shortstop (51 games) and second base (31 games) at the major league level.

Waddell, 27, joins the first major league roster in his nine-year professional career. He is 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA (10 ER/16.2 IP) in 18 relief appearances, limiting right-handed batters to a .205 average (8-for-39) while lefties have batted .346 (9-for-26) off the southpaw. The 2009 campaign marks his first pitching above the Double-A level. He had 270 minor league appearances, all but 13 in relief, prior to his call-up today. He was originally selected by San Francisco in the eighth round of the 2001 Draft and spent his first eight professional seasons in the Giants minor league system.

Signed by the Cubs as a minor league free agent last November 21, Waddell attended camp as a non-roster invitee and spent nearly the entire spring training season with the major league club. He posted a 0.90 ERA (1 ER/10.0 IP) in 11 Cactus League relief appearances.

Cotts was a member of Chicago’s Opening Day roster and is 0-2 with a 7.36 ERA (9 ER/11.0 IP) in 19 relief appearances this season.

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Miles is batting .204 (20-for-98) with six doubles and four RBI in 37 games for the Cubs this year.

Scales is hitting .257 (9-for-35) with two doubles, one triple, one home run and five RBI in 14 games for the Cubs this season. The 31-year-old had his contract selected from Iowa on May 4 and made his major league debut the next day, collecting his first big league hit off Tim Lincecum. Scales is batting .303 (23-for-76) with five doubles, a triple, three homers and 10 RBI in 21 games for Iowa this season

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About Last Night: Finally

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

Chi Cubs 6, Pittsburgh 1

  • I went to bed after the 2nd rain delay and I’m glad I did. I didn’t think they would wait too long to make a decision with today being a day game. We got on top early and reaped the benefits. Sometimes I wonder if the umps take the score into account when making the call to end a game due to rain. For example, would they have been more patient if Pittsburgh had bases loaded and down one run?
  • Micah Hoffpauir looked good at the plate. He hit a long double to drive in a run and went the other way for a single to drive in the 2nd run. There is little I enjoy more than seeing a guy go the other way with a runner in scoring position. Good game for Hoff. Let’s see him in there again today.
  • Mike Fontenot grabbed two hits, including a double down the right field line. We really need his bat to be the kind of bat we expected when he was given the starting job. Imagine how much better this lineup would be if he’s producing.
  • Milton Bradley worked a couple walks, which I’m OK with. Sometimes walks are the sign that the hitter is seeing the ball well and is coming out of a funk.
  • Kudos to Sean Marshall for a complete game, though it makes me laugh when he’s given credit for that with only five innings of work. He was really good on the mound, except for a few minor hiccups, great in the field, and helpful at the plate as well. He’s a favorite of mine, and I really want to see him stay in the rotation despite the lefty need in the pen.

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  • For some reason, Blake Lalli got into the game in relief again. He pitched 0.1 innings and got the out to end the inning.
  • Marquez Smith was named today by the Southern League as the Southern League “Hitter of the Week,” for the week of May 18-24. The award is the first one given to a Smokies player this year. Smith led the Southern League last week with nine runs scored. He started off the week in Chattanooga combining for six hits, five runs, two home runs and four RBIs. He would add another home run and two RBIs in games later in the week against the Birmingham Barons. During the week he had three multi-hit games and three games where he scored multiple runs. The Ocala, Fla. native was promoted to the Smokies in April 30 following a 15-game stint to start the season with High-A Daytona. Through May 25, Smith is hitting .294 (25-85) for Tennessee with three home runs and nine RBIs. His eight doubles are tied for third on the team. Since May 9, Smith is hitting at a .344 clip.

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  • Tony Campana went 3-for-5 with a double out of the leadoff spot.
  • Andrew Cashner had one of his best outings of the young season, extending to 5 IP, allowing 3 H and 1 ER with 5 K and 0 BB. (10 GB / 2 FB) “Cashner’s previous high for innings pitched this year was 3.1 and he had not had a performance without a walk all year. He lowered his ERA to 2.41 and he has struck out 19 while walking 8 in 18.2 innings of work. He has held hitters to a .225 AVG and has not yet given up a HR. The walks are really the only problem with his game at this point. He is keeping his ERA down by not giving up many hits and if you are going to walk people you better not also get hit hard. This was an encouraging outing to say the least for Cashner and hopefully he can continue to build on this. Maybe the almost week-long lay-off for Daytona allowed him to work on his mechanics and find a flaw in his delivery to caused him to be so wild. Either way it is a great sign; his control is the only thing that is holding him back from moving through the system quickly.” ~ Young Cubs World

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  • The Chiefs were within one at 4-3 through five innings but Clinton busted it wide open with a five-run sixth.
  • Starter Chris Carpenter threw one inning spotless inning but was pulled after a 49 minute rain delay.
  • Josh Vitters

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    went 2-for-4 on the night, hitting his eleventh home run of the season. In total he scored two runs and walked. Vitters home run was his fourth in the first inning this season and second in a row. Vitters now has ten home runs in the month of May. He was announced as the MWL player of the week.

  • Wednesday is another Wacky Wednesday at O’Brien Field when all fans can enjoy free hot dogs and peanuts through the seventh inning. There will also be a salute to competitive eating with numerous eating contests throughout the game.

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Well how about that

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

It was a rain-out but I’ll take it – at this point I’ll take any kind of win at all.  We got some more hitting tonight, some great stuff from Hoffpauir and Fontenot and Marshall looked real good on the mound.   No defensive miscues, ugly weather, lots of wet Cubs fans but we’ll take it!  Saint Louis appears destined to take down the Brew Crew tonight so that will put the Cubs four games out.  It also appears that Milwaukee has another big injury to deal with – Ryan Braun was hit in the wrist by a pitch.  This could be as devastating to them as our injury was to Ramirez – things have a way of evening out.  Let’s hope we can string together some victories and put this terrible period behind us.  Good win Cubs fans!

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