Cubs 2, Royals 3

Box Score / Highlights / Condensed Game

WHAT WENT RIGHT

  • Today was Aramis Ramirez’s 33rd birthday.  He celebrated with two hits–including a solo home run in the top of the 6th–and a great catch in foul territory, leaning deep into the third base camera well.  Not an extraordinary day for the veteran, but he definitely did his part.   In what might be his last year in a Cubs uniform, his performance will do a lot to set the tone for the second half of the season.  As he goes, so go the Cubs.
  • Geovany Soto followed Ramirez’s solo homer with one of his own.  I don’t want to overestimate the importance of one home run, but I’m hopeful Soto is getting his swing back.  Since his return from the DL in late May, he’s hitting only .188.  What he does with the rest of this season will determine whether he’s a building block or trade bait.
  • Starlin Castro is still a Cub.  Maybe that’s a small consolation, but you find me a better reason to tune in day after day as the team slips closer to irrelevance.  Watching a gifted player like Castro develop his game is a rare privilege.

WHAT WENT WRONG

  • Mike Quade remains steadfast in his refusal to let Alfonso Soriano take advantage of the interleague games to play his natural position: DH.  Instead of hiding Soriano’s atrocious glove, he decided to once again use Jeff Baker–he of the vaunted (and dwindling) average against lefties.  Later in the game after a Royals’ pitching change, Quade went on to pinch-hit for his own DH with Kosuke Fukudome.  In 11 interleague games so far this season, Soriano has DH’d only 3 times.  The whole thing makes me think Mike Quade is an idiot unclear on the concept.
  • Reed Johnson was thrown out trying to score in the top of the 3rd.  That’s Alex Gordon’s third assist in two games. Somewhere on the wall in Ivan DeJesus’ home office hangs a diploma from The Wendell Kim School of Third Base Coaching.
  • Jeff Samardzija is still a Cub.  Here’s what he contributed tonight when he was brought in to the bottom of the 8th with the game tied: walk, stolen base, walk, wild pitch, strike out, infield hit (deflected off Samardzija’s pitching hand), hit-by-pitch.  It’s time to call it–the Jeff Samardzija experiment is officially dead.  John Grabow was visibly frustrated to find out he was being pulled after facing one batter to give way to Samardzija.  Cubs fans echoed his frustration.

GAME NOTES

  • Carlos Zambrano did not have his best stuff tonight, but he held it together and kept the Cubs in it through seven innings.  Most Chicago sports writers and fans are quick to point out when he does or says something immature, but I think keeping it together on nights like tonight is a sign that he’s grown up somewhat in the last few years.  Especially in the bottom of the 5th, when five consecutive Royals reached base and he gave up two runs–that would have been all it took for him to melt down in past seasons.  That he held on to get the next two hitters out was a small glimpse of the maturity we’ve wanted to see from him for a while.
  • I keep seeing those Pepsi Field of Dreams commercials and I have a question–is that really Lou Piniella?  I feel like we would have seen his face at least once if it was him, right?  But if it’s not him, and Pepsi just had some guy in a Cubs uniform, why would they pick Piniella’s jersey?  These are the things I wonder about when the Cubs season is spiraling down the drain.
  • I’m thoroughly on board with Joe’s #FireMikeQuade campaign.  Tonight his misuse of the DH and his misplaced trust in Samardzija were both good reasons call for his dismissal.  Or to borrow from his favorite recurring metaphor, it’s time for the Cubs to change horses.  Please, #FireMikeQuade.

 

Stars of the Game

Base on Win Probability Added (WPA)

1st Star – Jeff Francoeur (.196 WPA)

2nd Star – Danny Duffy (.174 WPA)

3rd Star – Chris Getz (.169 WPA)

Cubs Hitting: -.451 WPA

Cubs Pitching: -.o49 WPA

 

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