Cubs 7, Rockies 3

Box Score / Highlights / Condensed Game

What Went Right

A-Ram and Peña – Just like it should be, the Cubs got great production out of the third and fourth holes in their line-up. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case for much of the season, but the Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Peña turned it on with the wind blowing out to left-center field. The corner infielders each put two balls into the bleachers, driving in 6 of the team’s 7 runs on the day.

Good Garza – After giving up a lead-off home run to Carlos Gonzalez to start the game and then hitting Jonathan Herrera in the ankle on the next at-bat, Matt Garza settled in to pitch one of his best games of the season. Garza improved to 4-6 on the season, scattering 5 hits over 7 1/3 innings. His two biggest mistake pitches of the game ended up in the bleachers, courtesy of Gonzalez’s bat.

Starlin’s Streak – He’s nowhere near DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak, in fact he’s just more than 1/3 of the way to Jerome Walton’s 30-game tear, but Stalin Castro’s bat continues to be a bright spot in an otherwise dismal Cubs season. The second-year shortstop extended his to 11-games with a first inning triple.

Chasing Chacin’ – Coming into the game, Rockies starter Jhoulys Chacin hadn’t given up more than one run in any of his previous four June starts. By the end of the first inning, he’d already given up two en route to a season high six earned runs in five innings pitched.

What Went Wrong

Car-Gone – As mentioned, Matt Garza didn’t do much wrong today…but when he did, you could probably guess that Carlos Gonzalez was at the plate. The Rockies’ centerfielder led of the game with a basket shot over Soriano’s head, then followed up with another solo shot in the 8th that signaled the end of Garza’s day. Luckily for the Cubs, he wasn’t able to do damage with players on base in front of him.

Mental mistakes continue – Geovany Soto just decided not to catch a foul ball. Len and Bob tried to convince us that, perhaps, Carlos Peña was calling him off but it really looked like Geo just gave up. Luckily neither of the Cubs errors in this game came back to haunt them.

Misc. Notes

  • Nick Jonas took batting practice with the Cubs prior to the game. According to reports, he Willie May Hayes-ed seven of the first eight pitches into the top of the screen, but by the third round he was making solid contact. Jim Hendry immediately gave him a vote of confidence.
  • Miss World, aka Alexandria Mills, had the honors of singing the seventh inning stretch. Judging from her performance, singing was not her talent at the pageant. Listening to Len and Bob try to make conversation with her for ½ an inning was as uncomfortable as you would expect.
  • Can we get a round of applause for Blake DeWitt’s beard? Getting to see that thing of beauty every day is the only thing that makes me hope that Darwin Barney takes his time on his road to recovery.

The Takeaway

Listening to Mike Quade’s post-game press conference would have made you think that the Cubs had finally turned a corner on the season. The first-year skipper was down right ecstatic following the game, buying in completely to the media’s excitement over the Cubs recent penchant for winning the first games of series (never mind that this was actually the conclusion to an April series in which the Cubs got pounded in games one and two).

That’s as negative as I’m going to be about this game though, as aside from the first at-bat, this game was a joy to watch – which has been rare this season. Despite the two deep balls given up to Gonzalez, Garza did exactly what he needed to do by pitching into the 8th-inning and giving the bullpen a breather before entering a double-header tomorrow. His command was spot-on, delivering six strike outs while walking none in his most dominant performance of the season.

Despite how well Garza pitched, the Cubs still needed four or more runs to win the game, which is far from a given with this team in 2011. As the temperatures have finally started warming up, so has Aramis Ramirez who has now hit six home runs in June after hitting just one each in the months of April and May.

Mike Quade addressed the team after the game, which he claimed is notable because he usually only talks to them when things badly. Let’s hope the Cubs like the carrot more than the stick and channel the positive reinforcement into a prosperous July.

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

1st Star – Matt Garza (.204 WPA)

2nd Star – Carlos Pena (.153 WPA)

3rd Star – Aramis Ramirez (.126 WPA)

Cubs Hitting: +.268 WPA

Cubs Pitching: +.232 WPA

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