Archive for May, 2011

Cubs / Reds Series Preview

Monday, May 16th, 2011

Carlos Zambrano vs. Homer Bailey

Zambrano is winless at home, going 4-0 on the road. He did not get a decision in his last start against the Cardinals. Big Z has pitched six or more innings in six of his eight starts, including his last three. Bailey has put together a pair of strong outings to start his season, most recently tossing seven shutout innings vs. the Astros. Bailey has allowed only one run in 13 innings and struck out 12 since returning from a right shoulder impingement.

Matt Garza vs. Edinson Volquez

Garza finally got a win at home as he held the Cardinals to one run over five innings in his last outing. He leads the NL in strikeouts per nine innings. He lost to the Reds on May 6 at Wrigley Field, giving up five runs on six hits. Volquez’s control continued to be an issue in his last start against Houston on Wednesday. He allowed three earned runs on three hits, but his pitch count had already hit 88 when he was pulled after four innings. He walked five.

Brian Erts scouts the Reds

Who’s Hot – No Red is hotter than Ramon Hernandez. The Reds catcher is hitting every fastball in the zone and hitting them hard, and far. In his last 25 AB, Ramon has compiled 21 TB with a slash line of .440./462/.840. For the season, Hernandez has compiled a 1.020 OPS and 52 total bases.

Another pleasant surprise the last couple of weeks has been the performance of some of the young guys. Homer Bailey has won his first two starts of the season (after beginning the year on the DL) with a 12/1 K/bb ratio. Johnny Cueto, who came off the DL at the same time) has matched that 2-0 record, and has yet to give up an earned run.

Who’s Not – Aroldis Chapman is in a major funk; in the past two weeks, he’s either lost his release point or is suddenly possessed by Mitch Williams. Since the first of May, Chapman has thrown 92 pitches and recorded only four outs in four appearances, walking 12 men. In Chapman’s last three appearances, he has completed 1/3rd of an inning and been charged with 8 earned runs on 9 walks and one hit.

Jonny Gomes has seen 541 pitches this season and taken 352 (65%). When Gomes swings, he has missed 55 (29%), fouled off 53 (28%), and put in play 81 (43%) of those pitches. Out of the 15% of pitches that Gomes has hit into fair territory, he’s collected five doubles, six homers, and ten singles. His current slash line is a miserable .186/.329/.389, about as bad as you can expect for a left fielder. Gomes’ BABIP is .208, so he has been unlucky, but still…. Tuesday, unfortunately, will be the one month anniversary of his last home run.

News / Notes – The offense received a boost this past week with the activation of Fred Lewis and the return of Scott Rolen. Both played large roles in the sweep against the Cardinals and Lewis’s presence lends the Reds another option in LF if Gomes finally is shuttled down the line by Dusty and crew.

With the Reds re-taking the Central division lead over the weekend and the team playing very well lately, it’s a good time to be a Reds fan.

Prediction for the series (Written before the pitching matchups were changed) – Monday night will see Matt Garza against Homer Bailey. Bailey is finally performing the way most Reds fans had hoped to see one day, and many will be watching intently to see if he can continue his current trend of being a strike-heavy pitcher on a team that sorely needs a pitcher to limit the free passes.

The second game has the chance to be a long one, as both pitchers have issues finding the zone. Coleman’s wildness rivals Volquez, with a 20/18 k/bb, but he comes by it naturally, as his grandfather Joe pitched for the A’s in the late 40′s. During that walk-heavy era, he once had a K/BB of 109/127. Edison still has more strikeouts than walks, but as with Chapman (of late), he has issues with limiting runners. This game could take a while if both guys have issues with the strike zone.

It’s a short series and the Reds are on a high; they can take both games if current trends continue and Volquez turns in a cleaner start than we have been accustomed to.

Brian is a contributing editor at Redleg Nation, part of the ESPN SweetSpot Network

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GirlieView (05/16/2011)

Monday, May 16th, 2011

Happy Monday! Hope you had a great weekend, and a fantastic week to come! Let’s have a look at the week in review!

Lizzies

  • Samardzija hasn’t let up a run in 14 innings, that’s like a game and a half. I think I saw him give up 14 runs in a game once…
  • I’ll put a moratorium on buying shirts until the end of the season, I guess
  • no lineup change will magically change a hitter’s ability to hit the right pitch because a man happens to be on 2nd or 3rd base.
  • It simply is not enough to have various players taking turns showing flashes of offensive ability.
  • Currently the Cubs are 12th in the NL in runs scored. It’s tough to win when you can’t score.
  • There are simply too many out-makers on this roster.
  • I suppose I can see the resemblance between Seymour and Beeker.
  • maybe we could offset some of Silva’s wasted salary by selling the Cards the rest of the ‘Theriot Fishing’ bobble-heads. Or to the Giants…they could glue little blond mullets on the things and call it good.
  • First I see Cubbiedude on a video and now I hear Mr VFTB voice, what’s next Lizzie guest starring on Desperate Housewives?
  • Happy Milton Bradley Designated for Assignment Day! HMBDFAD for short…
  • if I put Packers and Butts in the same sentence it would have to be for an entirely different kind of blog.
  • It’s a nice sign to see Zambrano keep the focus and do what it takes to wiggle off the hook.
  • Clutch hitting…meet the Cubs. Cubs….meet clutch hitting.
  • If you are projecting an aura of defeat, surrender and lethargy your players will do the same. If you are upbeat, positive and full of energy your players will be the same.
  • Join us now for the exciting adventures of Soriano in Left! Watch as he makes sliding catches with all the grace of a six foot twelve year old.
  • I love that Garza is into the games that he’s not pitching. Baseball is a kids sport and I enjoy watching the players that still are able to treat is as such. If it bothers any of the other bench players, maybe they should find another line of work.
  • Clearly, when he went to the outfield, no one ever bothered to explain how it might be different out there.
  • Shed no tears for Mr. Pujols.
  • You’re right. No one else will have Cub gear on in the ballpark. You should stick out like a sore thumb.
  • It is Beef time. Mmmmmmmmmm… Beef…
  • Of topic, but I wonder if the staff has the capacity to handle a Trey McNutt groin injury.
  • “Take five…I’ve got this.”
  • Lizzie, I’m now picturing you warming your hands up ala Mr. Miyagi in the Karate Kid, while you walk around Wrigley calling out for Geo.
  • I’m more interested in how a manager runs a pitching staff, how a manager constructs the best possible lineup, how a manager maximizes opportunities to score runs, how a manager motivates his team, deals with giant egos, etc.
  • Koyie Hill looks drunk out there tonight.

Lizard

  • we wait around for the 3 run homers that never come…MANUFACTURE a freakin’ run

Lizzie Standings

Each week I’ll post the cumulative standings for the Lizzie contest. Remember you get one point for each Lizzie and three points for a Lizard. We currently have 32 commenters with points! Great job everyone!

1. Buddy
2. jswanson
3. Doc Raker
4. Chet
5. cap’n
5. Seymour
7. Rich Beckman
8. Aaron
8. Chuck
10. JoeA
11. DavidMBeyer
12. chris in Illinois
12. Dragon
12. Kris
15. MJ
16. Deezer
17. Benjamin
17. Doug Bagley
17. Doug S
17. Jesse
21. Eric
21. Mark
21. Randy
21. walterj
25. BLC
25. DannyB
25. greg
25. Larry Sproul
25. Mac
25. Mark in Toronto
25. Ryno
25. Tim

The Weekly Aura

Our weekly aura remained at a solid C. Each week I’ll tell you the previous week’s aura, and ask you to rate how you are feeling this week. The graph is still boring with only five data points so we’ll hold off on the visual.

How are you feeling about the Cubs right now?
a.) Good. We’re on the right track.
b.) Ok. I’m still confident.
c.) Fair. I’m concerned.
d.) Poor. We’re in trouble.


Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter (VFTB and/or Chet’s Corner and/or GirlieView ) and Facebook (VFTB and/or GirlieView)

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Game 38 – A Terrible Night for a Ballgame

Saturday, May 14th, 2011

Giants 3, Cubs 0 (6 innings)

Box Score / Video Highlights

What Went Wrong

  • This game was played despite poor field conditions, cold weather and constant rain.  If this wasn’t a nationally televised game on FOX, it probably would never have been played.  Luckily, no players were injured.  The rain finally started coming down hard enough for a delay to be called in the top of the seventh inning.  Play was never resumed and it was an official six inning game.
  • The Cubs continued their season long theme of leaving men in scoring position.  They left the bags loaded in the first, and failed to score after having two men on base in the third, fourth and fifth.
  • Carlos Pena and Koyie Hill both grounded into inning ending double plays.  Both men continue do very little at the plate.  Hill, who has taken over starting duties with Geovany Soto sidelined with a groin injury, is hitting just .154 .  Pena’s average is not much better at .208.
  • The Cubs played sloppy defense in the third inning as Hill and Blake DeWitt committed back-to-back two out throwing errors, both of which allow unearned runs to score.  Hill’s miscue was his second of the game and his third since taking over for Geo.

What Went Right

  • Doug Davis pitched well in his Cubs debut.  He worked five inning and allowed three runs, but only one of them was earned.  Davis did his job by giving the team a chance to win the game.
  • After allowing the first two men to reach, Jeff Samardzija worked himself out of a jam in the sixth.  He did a nice job bouncing back from his poor outing against St. Louis on Wednesday.  Samardzija’s ERA is at 3.27.
  • The two most exciting players in the Cubs lineup, Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney, led the way with two hits each.

News and Notes

  • This was the first scheduled Saturday night game at Wrigley Field since 1998.  A neighborhood ban prevents Friday and Saturday night games except when they are being nationally televised.
  • Justin Berg was optioned to Triple-A Iowa before the game to make room for Davis on the active roster.  Thomas Diamond has been removed from the 40-man roster.
  • Aramis Ramirez returned from his trip to the Dominican Republic, but he did not arrive in time to start the game due to a delayed flight.  Ramirez was forced to leave the team to attend to a family situation.  He was in the dugout by the end of the game and should return to Quade’s starting nine tomorrow.
  • The Cubs outhit the Giants 7-5 but could not cash in.  According to Carrie Muskat, they have now had more hits than their opponents in 12 of the last 14 games.

Stars of the Game
Based on Win Probability Added (WPA)

1st Star– Ryan Vogelsong (.330 WPA)

2nd Star – Starlin Castro (.124 WPA)

3rd Star– Buster Posey (.105 WPA)

Official Recap Standings

Guest Blogger 1-0 (1.000)

Buddy 3-2 (.600)

Mark 3-3 (.500)

Joe 8-9 (.471)

Brandon 1-4 (.200)

Chet 0-2 (.000)

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Cubs / Giants Preview

Friday, May 13th, 2011

Probable Pitching Matchups
by MLB.com

Ryan Dempster vs. Madison Bumgarner

Dempster is on a little roll after putting together his second straight quality start in his last outing, against the Reds. He has a 1.93 ERA in those two games after posting a 9.58 ERA in his first six starts. The key? Better pitch execution. Bumgarner will take the mound seeking his first win of the season. After a rough start to the year, the young lefty has put together three straight quality starts, allowing two runs and striking out 19 batters over his last 19 innings.

Doug Davis vs. Ryan Vogelsong

Davis, 35, will be making his first start in the Majors since July 9, 2010. He was 1-4 with a 7.51 ERA in eight starts last year with the Brewers, and signed with the Cubs in April. On Tuesday, he tuned up by throwing 59 pitches for Triple-A Iowa. Vogelsong is coming off a dominant outing against the Rockies in which he threw five perfect innings, finishing with no runs on one hit and a walk after 6 1/3 frames. The righty has picked up two wins in three starts since returning to the rotation.

Carlos Zambrano vs. Tim Lincecum

Zambrano is winless at home, going 4-0 on the road. He did not get a decision in his last start against the Cardinals. Big Z has pitched six or more innings in six of his eight starts, including his last three. Lincecum carried a no-hitter through 5 1/3 innings in his start Tuesday night against Arizona, finishing with nine strikeouts while scattering four hits and two walks over eight innings. Lincecum also extended his scoreless-innings streak to 17.

Chris Quick Scouts the Giants

Who’s Hot: Would you believe former Cub, Mike Fontenot? No, really, I’m not kidding. Though he’s cooled off in the last couple of games, Mike Fontenot has been a nice stopgap to fill SS while Miguel Tejada continues to struggle. His .773 OPS isn’t the stuff of legend, but he’s been socking the ball pretty hard lately. His wRC+ of 111 has made him the 3rd best hitter on the Giants not named Pablo Sandoval (currently on the DL) or Pat Burrell. Bruce Bochy even hit him at the three spot for a series or two.

Who’s Not: It pains me to say, but Buster Posey has really struggled lately. His batting line of .244/.336/.361 is quite the drop off from his 2010 batting line of .305/.357/.505. I don’t think it’s time to panic, but the Giants could really use a rejuvenated Posey. The team as a whole has largely struggled to hit, but people expect a lot out of Posey, so he’s my pick for this spot.

News / Notes: The Giants are on a bit of a roll — winning their last six games in a row, eight of their last nine — as they enter Chicago to play the Cubs. Like most Giants fans have come to expect, the wins are close games where the offense manages to eke out enough runs to support the stellar pitching. The losses are close games where the offense manages to not eke out enough runs to support the stellar pitching. Pablo Sandoval — the Giants best hitter so far in 2011 — is currently side-lined with a broken hamate bone in his right hand. He won’t return for at least another 4 weeks or so. The team has been banged up in the early going, but Cody Ross (calf strain), Andres Torres (left Achilles tendon), and Brian Wilson (oblique) are all back in action. Maybe the biggest re-addition is Andres Torres, the fleet-footed CF that has surprising power. He’s really a catalyst at the top of the lineup and it’s great to have him back.

Prediction for the series: I think the Giants should be able to take two out of three from the Cubs. Madison Bumgarner has been in a groove over his last three starts — 19 IP, 14 H, 2 ER, 19 SO, 0.94 ERA — and he matches up nicely with Ryan Dempster in the series opener. I’ll give game two — Vogelsong vs. Doug Davis — to the Cubs. Davis, as soft-throwing junk-tosser, is exactly the kind of pitcher that will blank the Giants for nine innings while throwing just 78 pitches. Game three is Lincecum vs. Zambrano; as much as I respect Zambrano’s ability to shut down the free-swinging Giants, I’m unable to bet against Lincecum right now. Should be a great series.

Chris blogs about the Giants on the Bay City Blog, part of the SweetSpot Network.

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VFTB Weekly Prediction Contest

Friday, May 13th, 2011

The VFTB Weekly Prediction Contest
Official Rules

  • Each week, on Friday morning, we will open the ballot for predictions on five questions for the games running that Mon – Fri. Questions will, for the most part, be Cubs related but may vary based on what is going on in the season. Each entry must be completed in full with guesses for each of the five questions. Ballot locks Monday morning at 7am Eastern time.
  • Stats will be compiled based on the total number someone is off on each of the five questions. The entrant deemed to be the closest cumulatively among the five questions will be awarded the weekly prize from the VFTB prize pool and be entered to compete in the playoff edition come October for the grand prize, a $100 gift certificate to the Wrigleyville Sports online store.
  • You may win more than once over the course of the season, so continue to play. Each time you win it gives you that many more chances to play come playoff time for the grand prize.
  • Winners and questions will be announced in the Friday post each week, with winners being notified via e-mail to confirm and claim their prize.

Update From Last Week

The winner is:
Mark Balsdon

Here are the top 10 (actually 11 because there’s a tie for 10th):

Mark Balsdon – 30
Mike Mahon – 31
Doug Bagley – 41
Michael S. – 41
cap’n obvious – 45
jerry gross – 46
Benjamin – 55
Adam Levine – 73
John R Santoro – 81
Buddy – 82
Steve – 82

Here is the link to the full report: http://jptechcon.com/vftb/prediction/winnerrpt05.pdf

Enter to Play This Week

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Interview with Lou Piniella

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

Lou Pinella was very kind the other day and took some time out of his day to answer a few of our questions. Enjoy!!!

1.       When you came to Chicago, you had a goal of winning the World Series. While that didn’t end up happening, how do you think the culture of Cub fans has changed in terms of a expectation for winning baseball?

I think we established a will to win, a necessity to win and we had three winning seasons in a row. We had two division titles in a row and although we fell short of our goal, we changed the culture. Cubs fans expect a winner and rightfully so.

2.       What did the Cubs lose when Larry Rothschild left for the Yankees?

They lost a very experienced pitching coach that was very familiar with not only the Major League pitchers, but knew the farm system quite well. He had a lot of success, he did a real nice job for the Cubs and I consider him one of the top pitching coaches in all of baseball. He loved Chicago and the Cubs, but wanted to get closer to his home in Tampa, which he can do during spring training and when the NYY play in Tampa during the season.

3.       What does your current position with the Giants entail, and was anything ever offered by the Cubs?

No, the Cubs didn’t offer, and I don’t know if they knew I had an interest in doing something in baseball this year. A few clubs called to see if I was interested in doing something. And, I could have done some television work, but I didn’t want to be away from home. The Giants were persistent and they allowed me to do the bulk of my work here in the Tampa area.

4.       What philosophy differences have you seen with the Cubs and the Giants that stand out from an organizational standpoint?

I haven’t seen any.

5.       How much involvement do you have with the Montgomery Biscuits and their operations?

None. I have never been to Montgomery. A few friends and I own a small percentage of the Biscuits. That began when I was managing Tampa Bay. It’s been a good investment. In fact, I’m going to try to visit the ballpark sometime this summer for the first time. The general partners, Tom Dickson and Sherrie Myers, are from Chicago and do a real nice job.

6.       In the new Pepsi Max campaign, you are apologizing to an ump. You took a lot of heat for a “lack of fire” in Chicago. Do you feel your style in Chicago was more / less effective with the players than your “fiery” days in Seattle?

Look, that commercial was a Field of Dreams parody. I think that arguing with umpires, what people have to realize is that Major League Baseball doesn’t want that anymore. When I played, Billy Martin, Earl Weaver, just to name a couple, put on good shows and entertained the fans. When I managed the Yankees, Mr. Steinbrenner said my job as manager was to put fannies in the seats and told me that if I was going to get kicked out, to put on a show. So I did. Look, I’ve always respected the umpires. If you look at my ejections, I got kicked out less than most managers, I just put on good shows. Now, with the Cubs, I didn’t argue as much because Major League Baseball discouraged me from doing so with some pretty hefty fines. I didn’t lose my intensity.

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Game 35 – Garza, Bats and Rain Overwhelm the Cards

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

Cubs 11, Cardinals 4

Box Score / Video Highlights / Condensed Game

BuckeyeLakerCub was in attendance at the game last night and provided these notes on the win over the Cardinals to even the series at a game a piece.

What went right:

  • Ramirez had an RBI single and Pena had an RBI double in the Cubs 6-run 3rd inning when the Cubs batted around. It was good to see a sustained rally like that.
  • The Cubs hang another crooked number, scoring 4 more runs in the 5th inning with another sustained rally.
  • Light-hitting Koyie Hill had a double and a triple, and 2 RBIs.
  • Starlin Castro went 4 for 4.
  • Pujols, Holliday, and Berkman combined to go 1-8 with a walk. Always a good thing when you can do that to a potent 3-4-5.
  • The Cubs pounded out 17 hits.
  • The Cubs beat the Cardinals and are now 4 games out of first place.

What went wrong:

  • In the 2nd inning, the Cubs had runners at 1st and 2nd with no outs and failed to cash in. And after Theriot drove in a run in the top of the 3rd, I thought we were in for another lousy game and another L.
  • Ramirez was thrown out at home in that 2nd inning. That was a bad decision by DeJesus to send him home. Ramirez had just gotten to 3rd when Rasmus fielded the ball.
  • A 53-minute rain delay after the top of the 3rd left me soaked. I was sitting the bleachers, took me 20 minutes before I could get out of the rain because of all the idiots just standing around. By that time me shirt, shoes, and socks were all soaked, and would stay that way the rest of the game. Not fun.
  • Fukudome was thrown out at home in the 4th. Got to give credit to Holliday though. Got over to the ball quickly and fired a laser beam to the catcher.
  • Jeff Samardzidja gave up 3 runs in 1 and 2/3 innings. I really wanted to list him as a positive for tonight, but that 7th inning was bad. He gave the Cardinals every chance he could to get back into the game. Thankfully Berg slammed it shut.
  • Another error in the field from Soriano.

Stars of the Game
Based on Win Probability Added (WPA)

1st Star – Carlos Pena (.220 WPA)

2nd Star – Aramis Ramirez (.133 WPA)

3rd Star– Nick Punto (.099 WPA)

Official Recap Standings

Guest Blogger 1-0 (1.000)

Buddy 3-2 (.600)

Mark 3-3 (.500)

Joe 8-9 (.471)

Brandon 1-3 (.250)

Chet 0-2 (.000)

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Chet’s Corner: A Review: Out of the Park 2011 for iPhone

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

I’m not a gamer per say.   I play games on my IPhone when I need to burn a few minutes.  While I sit on the toilet I play Angry Birds.  When I am in a waiting room I play Alchemy.  Occasionally, when I ride the train I play poker.  Solitaire is fun for a long trip.

It will be a while before I figure out where Out of the Park Baseball fits in the “time suck” portion of my daily life.  These things take time and every app has it’s place, you just need to find it.

iOOTP is basically a baseball sim game.  From what I can tell, the developers compiled a group of stats for each player/team and add in the probability of said player to make a hit, strike out a batter, or catch a ball.   Where the gamer makes a difference is the strategy chosen for each pitch , at bat , inning, or even a whole game sim.  You have control of starting pitcher, lineups, whether you want the infield to shift or the corners to come in.  All matter of minutiae to control at your finger tips.

*A cool bonus

One of the best features this game offers is a sim of historical seasons.  I played as the Detroit Tigers in the 1926 season and sure enough Heinie Manush and Ty Cobb were on the roster.  It is by far my favorite part of the app.  I actually wish more decades were represented as there is only 1926 , 1964, and 2004.

Below, I give a grade to iOOTP2011 in three different categories: graphics user interface (AKA GUI), game content, and overall game play.  The grading scale is based on a simple 1-5 scale with 5 being best and 1 worst.

GUI: 4

I like the layout.  One thing that can drive down a simple iPhone app is the interface.  Too much and the screen looks jumbled with useless info, too little and you can hunt forever looking for what you want.  Each screen in iOOTP2011 has purpose and is very easy to navigate.  This game makes no assumptions other then the user knowing what baseball is and how it is played.   It’s an easy game to navigate and figure out…..I did it in about 3 minutes……and I am sort of slow.  No five rating here because I was not blown away, but I’m like that A-Hole teacher who never gives an A.

Game Content: 4

From what I could tell (I did not play with every team in the game) the rosters are all quite accurate and up to date.  In my opinion, this makes and breaks baseball video games.  It also shows that the developers want to make sure the details are there.  Kudos to the iOOTP team for keeping these rosters legit.  They get a four instead of a five for the cheesy logo’s representing each team.  I know the licensing costs bucks in order to use a team logo, and I am not even sure the rights are there to buy, but you lose a point for that.

As a side note, I also noticed that when I played the Cubs first game of this season they hit 4 home runs.  The Cubs may not have hit that many HR’s in all of April….just saying and from what I understand the stats even out in the end to a realistic number for each player.

Game Play: 3.5

Overall, the actual game play is a little slow and involved for an iPhone app game.  I want to fling birds at a hut made out of bricks when I go into my time suck.  This game is almost too much for a simple iPhone app.  However, at $4.99 can you really lose much, especially if you are one of the many followers this sim has attracted over the years on the full PC version.  This may be the perfect little escape for those of you.  I think the iPad version will be better and of course the full PC version is probably the complete package and fits the gameplay best.  I am yet to play the full PC version, but the app was enough to peak my interest.

Overall, a good effort and well worth the $4.99 purchase price.

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Game 34 – Theriot Come Back, Pujols Breaks Out and Down Goes Geo

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Cubs 4, Cardinals 6

Box Score / Video Highlights / Condensed Game

What Went Right

  • Carlos Zambrano was able to limit the damage in the 1st inning to just one run by inducing a ground ball double play to get out of it. It had the making of a big inning for the Cardinals which could have caused Zambrano to implode early from an emotional standpoint. It’s a nice sign to see Zambrano keep the focus and do what it takes to wiggle off the hook.
  • The Cubs got the leadoff first three hitters on base in the first after falling down one run and instead of coming away with no runs or just one run, we were able to put up a crooked number with Ramirez doing what he’s supposed to, driving in runs.
  • Real nice at bat by Carlos Pena in the 2nd inning. He fell behind in the count 0-2 and the past would dictate that he was due for a wild swing and a miss to strike out. Instead, he shortened up the swing, went with the outside pitch after working the count a little and blooped one to the opposite field. It was as encouraging as possible. It just shows up as a normal single and will probably go unnoticed unless you were watching, but it showed me he’s at least trying.
  • Big break in the 4th as Nick Punto is called out for leaving third base early on a tag up. When WGN came back from commercial they showed the replay and the Cardinals got the shaft on the call.
  • Pujols led off the 6th inning with a double. That put the four, five, six hitters at the plate. Zambrano was able to get out of it without a run allowed to keep the Cubs down one run.
  • Pena came up with the bases loaded in the 7th and knocked in a run on a sac fly. Starlin Castro, hitting in the seven spot in the order, hit a blooper with two outs to tie the game. Clutch hitting…meet the Cubs. Cubs….meet clutch hitting. Now that we know each other, let’s not be so shy that we don’t get together more often.

What Went Wrong

  • Fielding was not Soriano’s friend tonight. In the first inning, a mental error allowed Albert Pujols to advance from second to third when he had no business advancing. Soriano had him hung up between the bases and instead of throwing to third right away to keep him honest, he walked the ball in and forces Pujols’ hand. Albert his bluff and forced Sori to throw off his back foot late to the bag at third. It was a bigtime mental error. Later in the game, on a line drive out to left he simply fell down and had the ball go right over him to the wall that resulted in a triple.
  • Geovany Soto strained a groin and had to leave the game early.
  • Top of the 7th, with runners on second and third and one out, Fukudome makes a catch on a line drive to right and comes up throwing to homeplate with a perfect throw that bounces nicely in front of the catcher on the roster for his defense who promptly drops the throw and allows Nick Punto to score to put the Cardinals up two. If you’re gonna be on this roster for intangibles then you need to excel in those areas. I’m not saying you can’t make errors, but you better be able to make up for them at the plate. Koyie Hill can’t do that.

Miscellaneous Notes

  • Coming into the game, Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman were first and second in the league in batting average
  • The cameras panned to a shot of Matt Garza in the dugout when Pena got his opposite field hit in the 2nd. He’s a maniac when it comes to cheering for the team. Every game he’s not pitching he stands and cheers his head off. I wonder if that annoys the teammates that are sitting in the dugout.
  • Albert Pujols is having a non-Pujols type start to the season so far from a numbers standpoint. He’s due for free agency this year. I have to wonder if he made a big mistake by taking a pretty weak contract back in 2004 that put him a little older before he hit free agency again. It seems to me that the time to really cash in was the first crack at free agency.

Stars of the Game
Based on Win Probability Added (WPA)

1st Star – Daniel Descalso (.265 WPA)

2nd Star – Albert Pujols (.178 WPA)

3rd Star– Starlin Castro (.154 WPA)

Official Recap Standings

Buddy 3-2 (.600)

Mark 3-3 (.500)

Joe 8-9 (.471)

Brandon 1-3 (.250)

Chet 0-2 (.000)

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