Archive for June, 2011

Game 72 – Going Deep

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

Cubs 6, White Sox 3

Box Score / Highlights / Condensed Game


  • Soriano DH’ed! Soriano DH’ed!
  • The Cubs put together a two-out rally in the 3rd, scoring twice on a solid single by Starlin Castro. Castro then swiped second on a pitch out.
  • The Castro Show continued in the 6th with a solo shot to tie the game. A few minutes later, Carlos Pena gave the Cubs the lead with a three-run bomb.
  • Carlos Zambrano battled through eight innings for his sixth win of the season. Zambrano struck out five, including Adam Dunn three times.
  • Aramis Ramirez had his glove working tonight. He made two excellent plays on hard-hit grounders, turning one of them into a double play.
  • Carlos Marmol navigated some 9th inning trouble to notch his 15th save.


  • The Cubs gave up a cheap run in the bottom of the 1st when Carlos Quentin cued a weak RBI single to RF. The next two runs certainly weren’t cheap, as Paul Konerko jacked yet another homer. That’s 20 for Konerko if you’re scoring at home.
  • The Cubs knocked out starter Gavin Floyd, but did next to nothing against the Sox bullpen.
  • D.J. LeMahieu continues to look overmatched at the plate.
  • Comcast gave us Len and Bob instead of Hawk and Steve. In the 3rd inning we were treated to a vanilla interview with GM Jim Hendry. Len and Bob tossed him a few softball questions that weren’t even worthy of a high school broadcaster.  For example: “What do general managers talk about when they get together before a game?” “Can you think of a faster player than Tony Campana?” Riveting.


The annual Cubs-Sox series usually gets me thinking about players who have suited up for both Chicago teams. We all remember the obvious two-timers (George Bell, Lance Johnson, Vance Law, Ron Santo, Sammy Sosa, Steve Stone, and Steve Trout), but here’s a quick look at a few you may have forgotten:

  • Jaime Navarro—Navarro racked up lots of innings, but most of them were bad. As a Cub in 1996, he led the NL in hits allowed. The next year he did the same thing for the Sox (in the AL of course). Navarro frequently looked like he was throwing batting practice.
  • Ron Hassey—A spare part in the Rick Sutcliffe deal, Hassey was a nice weapon off the bench in 1984, hitting .333 in limited action. The portly C/1B moved to the south side in 1986 and racked up even better numbers that season. One year later, he was straddling the Mendoza Line.
  • Tom Gordon—“Flash” was a hammer out of the Cubs 2001 bullpen, punching out 67 batters in only 45 innings. Unfortunately, an injury cut his season short. In 2003, he took his arsenal across town and logged 74 solid innings for the Sox. Did you know that Gordon hung around the Majors for 21 seasons?
  • Jay Johnstone—When we were kids, Johnstone was my neighbor’s favorite player. Looking at his career, I’m not sure why. Johnstone didn’t hit a lick for the Cubs or the Sox. For what it’s worth, he did have a couple decent seasons for the Phillies in the 1970s.
  • Matt Karchner—In 1998, the Cubs were looking for bullpen help to solidify their playoff run. They decided to acquire Karchner from the White Sox in exchange for prospect pitcher Jon Garland. As I’m sure you remember, the Cubs got the short straw in this deal. Karchner was completely rotten, and Garland has gone on to a respectable ML career. He spent eight seasons in the Sox rotation and piled up a ton of league-average innings, which isn’t too bad.
  • Steve Christmas—How can you not love that name? Too bad Luke Easter wasn’t available.


I have to admit, the “Crosstown Classic” does very little for me. It really brings out the worst in both fan bases, and I simply can’t stand watching Juan Pierre play baseball. Seriously, how can a Major League team play such a crappy hitter in LF? It isn’t 1963.

In case you were wondering, the Cubs were 82-80 in 1963. Ron Santo and Billy Williams tied for the team lead with 25 homers. Dick Ellsworth went 22-10 with a 2.11 ERA. I’d give my left arm for 82 wins this year.

OK, maybe not.

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

1st Star – Starlin Castro (.282 WPA)

2nd Star – Alfonso Soriano (.242 WPA)

3rd Star – Carlos Zambrano (.131 WPA)

Cubs Hitting: +.323 WPA

Cubs Pitching: +.177 WPA

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Monday, June 20th, 2011

by Rachel Wisinski

Happy Monday everyone! And happy belated Father’s Day to all you dads! I took a few moments out of my day to thank my lucky stars for all I have, as I know I couldn’t have done any of it without my dad cheering me on from the sidelines.

I hope you didn’t spend too much time cursing your dad for introducing you to the Cubs. I will never forget that day in 2003 I asked my dad how the playoffs work. He drew me a bracket, explained the divisions and I was hooked. I know I wouldn’t be the person I am without the boys in blue. No matter how ugly the play on the field becomes, I take pride in the loyalty I have for my club and I hope you do too.

On another note, I’m convinced we need to keep our lips sealed next time the Cubs have a two-game winning streak. The anticipation and speculation about if it is going to finally happen hasn’t done anything but disappoint. I’m declaring it no-hitter territory—don’t touch it.

Without further ado, here is the week in a nutshell. Glad to finally see that W flag flying!

  • I just pulled a double take on those pitching match-ups. Seeing our 1-4 guys back in the rotation gave me a flashback to better days in the Spring…when I was delusional in trying to figure out whether the Cubs would be battling the Crew or Cards for the Central title.
  • Stay positive everyone, stay positive. The Cubs positively need to get better.
  • I’m going to the game on Saturday vs. the Yankees. I foresee a bloodbath.
  • I should be feeling better after the Mavs’ win last night, but as one more sports season draws to a close I’m getting painted in a corner. How am I supposed to ignore the Cubs’ now?! Thank goodness I like women’s basketball and that I discovered the women’s softball team moved and is fairly close to home now. This is the first time I can remember not even wanting to pay attention the Cubs. I fail at it miserably, of course.
  • I am looking forward to my weekend of the 4TH in West BY God Virginia where I will be in such a remote place that I can’t get cell, Internet or TV. Truly then, while I’m eating my famous smoked ribs by day and washing it down with ice cold bottles of Sam Adams cherry wheat and launching mortar after mortar at night, will I be able to remove this horrible half season from my mind. I hope that the owner can take his long weekend and evaluate what is going on with the team and surface with a plan that can make the fan base happily reach into their pockets and heap many likenesses of George Washington’s on the counter for beer, pretzels, tshirts and more tickets. Right now my baseball budget is buying a second patio, outdoor wood smoker and a new HD stereo unit.
  • These guys are unwatchable at this point…
  • So, the Cubs suck. A lot. But it’s not the end of the world. There is still half a season left. It could get better, or it could get worse. The trade deadline is a month and a half away, and hopefully they can get some decent acquisitions for the bullpen and rotation. But the only way that will happen is if Hendry gets his head out of his butt (or gets fired – please?) and looks at the state of the team he’s supposed to be the GM for. I mean, seriously, how can you trade players like DeRosa (and even Theriot – look at his numbers for STL) and pass up players like Lance Berkman (or managers like Girardi) for players like Pena and Sorryano. It’s frustrating. How many managers have we gone through (and fired/had resign) and not even looked deeper into the issue? It’s time for some changes in the franchise. Specifically a new GM (and – I hate to say it, because I like Q – a new manager with some experience).
  • I also am looking for 3 of 4…just not sure who has the 3. Could we play a game with teams composed of Cubs on the DL against those not on the DL? Might be a tighter game than you think.
  • I want to see wins. If I can’t see wins, I want to see effort. I don’t care who’s playing, I just want to see a hard-fought game.
  • I care if he’s a Theriot clone because Theriot is a bad hitter. I remember the orginal, so I sure don’t want to see the sequel.
  • The best thing to come out of the Theriot era was the ‘Theriot fishing’ bobble-head. I still think that is one of the most bizarre things I have ever seen.
  • For me, Castro is the only untouchable. Deal anybody else, especially relievers, if you can get a good haul. As Norm said, 70-inning pitchers (or probably less in Wood’s case) aren’t essential pieces of the puzzle.
  • So fine, I don’t get to watch a lot of the games. But I had a rare chance tonight to use my brother’s subscription and tuned in just in time to see the bottom of the 8th when the Cubbies tied it up. In the top of the ninth I got my first real good look at Tony Campana. Does anyone else think he looks like he just had his bar mitzvah?
  • Clean house and get rid of everyone sans Castro, Colvin, Wood, Dempster, and Byrd. lol, I almost typed Zambrano instead of Byrd. Put them all on the trading block. I would love to sucker the White Sox into taking on Ramirez. The last time we traded a good 3B to them, we got Steve Stone. I am on the Ramirez hate-wagon, but let’s face it. He will go down as our best 3B since Santo. 3B was a revolving door until we got him. And everyone can rip on Hendry for all the NTCs, but by now they are a moot point, as those guys have the 10-5 veto at this point. I remember reading that about Ramirez’s contract, and I thought to myself, once his NTC expires, he’ll have the 10-5 veto.
  • Tell us how you REALLY feel Mark! Seriously it’s easy to armchair manage a MLB team, but reality is what it is and we’re kinda stuck. I disagree with your assessment of DeWitt in the left field. Campana has a soft bat and is crazy useful off the bench, just look what happened last night as an example. He disrupts defenses and builds rallies, and is better used in that role. I’m not quite willing to turn the Cubs into the Pittsburg Pirates v2.0 just yet, no fire sale needed. Get the kids work while the vets are injured, play for pride and next year!
  • Byrd and Wood should not be traded, Byrd hustles and is a good example for the youngsters and Wood took a home town discount to stay in Chicago- keep Wood in Chicago. Soriano is untradeable and Aram is a difficult trade with the 2012 option vesting with a trade. On the bright side of things the Cubs put a quality come back together with help from Aram and the youngsters. Campana made that a double out of the box, he was hustling fanny right out of the box. That kind of hustle gives the team energy, let the kids play.
  • I’ll bite. The reason our record is so goddamn putrid is wholly due to playing non-professional-caliber athletes in a professional league. Having any success in 2011 was completely dependent upon having bounce-back seasons from fragile players, which has proven to be the mess we speculated it may be. The answer sure doesn’t lie in a role playing guy like Campana, and we are unlikely to find another Castro in the minor leagues, let alone within our farm system. This whole thing is contract driven…blathering on about cleaning house is a joke. If last night’s game sparked a guttural negative reaction towards the Cubs, you are on the wrong site.
  • If last night’s game sparked a guttural negative reaction towards the Cubs, you are on the wrong site. Yay for the most sensible thing any of us has said! I may be feeling crappy about this season, but I can’t helped but be cheered a little by a nice comeback and two wins in a row. (This is how they suck me back in!) I think that’s part of why I was surprised to find a fire-sale post today.
  • I’m with you Chet, a 2 game winning streak is enough to get me interested again. I may be a cheap ho, but at least I am interested in the action.
  • CWL- But I wonder about July, August and Sept. The Red Sox started the season with a 7 game losing streak and are now contending. I am just wondering what if we string a 15 out of 18 together…just wondering if the bats become wonderful Batman………….just wondering if a wonderous reversal of fortune of Cubs youth is possible. I wonder if Cub youth can energize the old cranky vets……… could be wonderific………Boy Wonder
  • Direct TV’s MLB package is easing my pain this summer.
  • Cubs show off thier inner BEAST today. Who’s got a one game winning streak?
  • I thought I was watching a game from 2008 !! Good offense and defense . Good game for Dome his best as a Cub. Lets hope this sets the stage for the weekend . The Brew Crew heads north a bit wounded !!
  • Anything is possible. Washington just swept St. Louis. It’s a weird game sometimes.
  • 4 out of 5, I wonder if the kids have energized this team, 92 games left just wondering if they continue could it be wonderous. Is Campana the most wonderful runner, Quade managed a wonderful game today, he made wonderful changes at just the right time of wonderment- going to Marshall after 7 and a 3rd was wonderific, as was going to Marmol for 4 and inserting RJ in the 9th to make that wonderful catch. Wonderastic Manager Quade! Wondering wondering can it keep going………………wondering
  • I hope they can. Let’s make it 9 of 10, sweep the Yankees, and then invade the White Sox’s home and sweep them. I really want to talk some smack to all my White Sox friends on FB. And then go into work on Thursday wearing my Cubs hat loud and proud and pissing off my supervisors even more than I do when I walk in everyday with my Packers hat.
  • Its been a fun homestand so far…let’s keep it going today!
  • That was amazing! At the end of the seventh I was thinking that in the Yankee’s dugout they were thinking “We’ve got ‘em right where we want them.” And I prepared myself for a Yankees late inning charge that never came! I had to laugh when Moreland talked about how Rothschild probably gave the Yankee hitters some insights into Cubs pitchers. “He told them that Marmol throws sliders.” (not necessarily an exact quote). Really? The Yankee hitters needed Rothschild to tell them to expect sliders from Marmol?? Rothschild would have thought that the Yankee hitters needed to be told this? Keith redeemed himself a bit in the ninth when he pointed out that Reed Johnson had just been inserted as a defensive replacement just before he made that great diving catch. Given the overall team records, Burnett’s and Dempster’s numbers are not much different. Could today be the first three in a row?!?
  • Reed Johnson is the man. That catch was incredible. He needs to be playing more often, if his back cooperates. What a beautiful game. Davis was fantastic. Glad that he finally got a win! It was weird hearing Pat and Keith announce Mark Texeiria and Alex Rodriguez when they came up to bat. For some reason, beating the Yankees is more exciting than beating the Cards or Brewers.
  • I know hind sight is 20/20, but I really have to question some of Quade’s decisions…letting Dempster hit in the bottom of the 5th when he’d already walked 6 and thrown over 100 pitches (I know the bullpen has been used a lot lately, but still…)? Keeping Samardzija on in the 9th after he struggled in the 8th (again, I know the bullpen has been taxed…)? And why didn’t he have Geo lay down a bunt in the 9th to get the tying run in scoring position? Geo’s been struggling all season, and of course he hit into a rally killing double play. And oh yeah, why is Blake Dewitt still batting 3rd?!?! I know these are tough decisions for a manager, and maybe I’m being too hard on Quade…but he managed in the minor leagues for 17(?) years, maybe there’s a reason why he never got a shot in the big leagues before…
  • Was silently screaming at my TV yesterday when Dempster surpassed the 115 pitch count. I don’t care what inning it is, start a shower for this man at 100 pitches and at the very first sign of trouble after that hand him a bar of soap.
  • Pretty sure Northwestern, or even North Park has a leftfielder I’d choose over Soriano or Pierre.

And your updated standings are as follows:



Seymour Butts-8

Doc Raker-8


Doug S.-5




Larry Sproul-3


Mark in Toronto-2










Doug Bagley-1

Rich Beckman-1

Cap’n obvious-1

Tony E-1

Chris in Illinois-1

Brad Brewer-1

Question of the week:

Realistically, how many games back do you see the Cubs at the All-Star break? Keep in mind players returning from injury could add a much needed boost, and you just never know what could happen to the other teams in this shoddy division. All I know is it sure felt good to see St. Louis go on a 7-game skid.

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Game 71 – Bullpen Suckage

Monday, June 20th, 2011

Cubs 4, Yankees 10

Box Score / Highlights / Condensed Game

What Went Right

  • Randy Wells – If you look at the box score, it’s hard to put Wells in this spot, but if you watched the game it may be different. I came away a little encouraged. After giving up a run in the top of the 1st on a homerun to Brett Gardner on an 0-2 pitch, he settled in a little until the 4th. He finished the day giving up four runs, but I felt like he pitched better than that. Maybe I’m crazy.
  • Aramis Ramirez – He didn’t really have a game of a cleanup hitter from a run production standpoint, but he had three hits, including an infield hit (how often do we ever type those words with Ramirez), and made a really nice diving play at third. Good effort by Rammy tonight.
  • Alfonso Soriano – He came into the game with good numbers against CC Sabathia and he didn’t fail to disappoint by putting the Cubs up three runs early with a three run bomb in the 3rd. At that point, it was looking like a series win for sure.

What Went Wrong

  • Starlin Castro’s Fielding – It didn’t make a difference in the grand sceme of things, but Castro was not on his game. There was a play on a Cano grounder that had potential double play, but not sure double play written on it. Castro rushed it, took his foot off the bad too early and didn’t get any outs. Later, he forced a throw to Jeff Baker at first that got by him. It was ruled a hit, but it was one of those balls you need to put in your pocket and not make the throw. He’s a kid, so I’m going to continue to give him slack, but I wanna see improvement in the field.
  • Bullpen – If you can summarize in one word: UGLY. Chris Carpenter came into the game in a big situation, we’ll get into that later, and promptly gave up the farm with the three run homerun to Nick Swisher. The 9th inning was more of the same with James Russell and Rodrigo Lopez both giving up runs to turn the game into a laugher.


  • I really like the pitch counter for the pitchers. It’s something that I usually track myself batter by batter to know where a starting pitcher is in the game. ESPN does it for me, which makes the job so much easier. It’s a simple addition that I think needs to be in every broadcast.
  • Brett Gardner showed bunt in at least two at bats. Why don’t more hitters, especially speedy ones, do this more often? It automatically forces the infield to respect it, especially if you actually lay it down every once in a while.

The Takeaway

I had my hopes up for this one and instead came away with two things. First, I’m not sure why Rodrigo Lopez and James Russell are in the bullpen. When Kerry Wood comes back, one of them must go. Second, I am beginning to question Mike Quade’s ability as a manager. I can’t stand his lineup choices, today hitting Jeff Baker in the 3rd spot, and I hate that he doesn’t have the balls to go to his best reliever in a pinch. Last night Chris Carpenter had no business being out there in that type of situation on national television. That was a spot, with the game tied, that you bring in Carlos Marmol. I don’t care if it’s the 9th inning. You bring Marmol in to put out the fire. If he gets out of that inning, the game is still within reach. I’m done with Mike Quade.

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

1st Star – Nick Swisher (.356 WPA)

2nd Star – Alfonso Soriano (.251 WPA)

3rd Star – Robinson Cano (.161 WPA)

Cubs Hitting: -.085 WPA

Cubs Pitching: -.415 WPA

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Game 70 – Questionable Send of Pena Leaves Cubs Short

Sunday, June 19th, 2011

Cubs 3, Yankees 4

Box Score / Highlights / Condensed Game

Guest post contributed by Katie Cernek

What Went Right:

  • Dempster managed to pitch his way out of a bases-loaded jam in the first, without surrendering any runs. He kept the Cubs in the game by striking out 6 and holding the Yankees to 3 runs over 5 1/3 innings.
  • Soto’s arm was on point to 2nd base today. He threw out Granderson, and should have thrown out Martinez if DeWitt had been ready.
  • Peña hit his 11th HR of the season. It was a 2 run blast to right, to tie the game at 2 in the fourth inning.
  • Reed Johnson has been an excellent clutch player since coming off the DL, with a sensational game-saving catch in the 9th inning yesterday, threw a bullet to home to nail Swisher at the plate today, and electrified the crowd with a solo shot off future Hall of Famer, Mariano Rivera, to pull the Cubs within a run in the bottom of the 9th.

What Went Wrong:

  • Pitching. Dempster had control issues. He walked 6 batters in just 5 1/3 innings pitched. His first-inning ERA is over 11.0 this season. In typical fashion, he loaded the bases with a single sandwiched between two walks in the first.
  • Samardzija had his usual problems: he walked 3 in 1 1/3 innings pitched, and gave up a run, which was the difference in the loss.
  • Sloppy defense on the Gardner rundown (1-3-4-3-4-2-6). Also, DeWitt was apparently snoozing when Soto tried to gun down Martinez’s steal attempt, and he was late covering second base.
  • It was a poor coaching decision to send Peña on a shallow fly ball by Soto, which ended up being an inning-ending double play.
  • DeWitt was unproductive, once again, in the 3-hole, going 0-3.
  • The only RBIs came from home runs.


  • Castro is the only regular in the lineup not to be sidelined by an injury this season


Despite the loss, the Cubs are playing their best ball of the season. They have yet to win 3 in a row, but they won the last series, and they have an opportunity to win this series tomorrow. If they cut back on DeWitt- and Peña-type mental errors, it would change the outcome of the games. We need a good, quality start from Zambrano tomorrow, and the bullpen needs to come through in the clutch. It would also be nice to see Campana in the lineup, not just as a pinch hitter, because he tends get on base and manages to score. If Castro and Soriano keep hitting well, and the Yankees keep making errors, we should be able to come away with a win tomorrow.

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

1st Star – Alfonso Soriano (.236 WPA)

2nd Star – Carlos Pena (.198 WPA)

3rd Star – Cory Wade (.154 WPA)

Cubs Hitting: -.499 WPA

Cubs Pitching: -.001 WPA

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Stat of the Week: A New Pitching Stat

Saturday, June 18th, 2011

Last week, we evaluated the definition of a Quality Start and concluded that, while still useful, it is seriously flawed.  This week, we’re going to introduce an alternative: Gem.

In the baseball vernacular, broadcasters and writers use the term “Gem” regularly to describe a pitching masterpiece: “Felix Hernandez pitched a gem last night in the Mariners’ 2-1 victory over the Tigers.”  Bill James took that term and gave it a definition.  The end result is an improvement on Quality Start and a way to highlight the best pitching performances.

A Gem is a game in which the starting pitcher earns a Game Score of at least 65 or throws six or more innings of shutout baseball.  For the mathematically inclined, we’ll go over the definition of Game Score at the end of the Stat of the Week, but first let’s show some examples of what a 65 looks like.  Shaun Marcum earned a Game Score of exactly 65 in his start last Tuesday against the Mets.  He went 6.0 innings, struck out one and allowed two hits, no earned runs, and four walks.  Kyle Kendrick’s start against the Braves on May 7 also earned a Game Score of exactly 65.  He threw 5.0 innings, struck out three and allowed two hits, no earned runs and one walk.  Both of those games qualify as gems, albeit at the lowest end of the Game Score spectrum.

On the higher end of the spectrum is Justin Verlander’s no-hitter earlier this year.  On May 7 against the Blue Jays, he went the distance with no hits, no runs, a walk and four strikeouts.  His performance earned a game score of 90, but that was not the top pitching performance of 2011.  Here are the top Gems of the season:

Top Five Gems of the 2011 Season
Pitcher Date Opponent IP H ER BB

SO Game Score
James Shields 5/22 Marlins 9.0 3 0 1 13 93
Clayton Kershaw 5/29 Marlins 9.0 2 0 1 10 92
Cliff Lee 4/14 Nationals 9.0 3 0 1 12 92
Dan Haren 4/12 Indians 9.0 1 0 2 8 91
Ian Kennedy 4/25 Phillies 9.0 3 0 0 10 91

In a Major League season there are 2,420 games.  Over the last ten years there have been an average of over 2,300 Quality Starts per year.  That’s almost one per game. There are about 1,000 Gems per year.  Just under 50 percent of MLB games are a Gem.

Gems and Quality Starts – Last 10 Years
Through June 12, 2011
Quality Starts 22,438
Team Winning Percentage in a Quality Start .679
Gems 9,213
Team Winning Percentage in a Gem .815

Teams win two-thirds of the time when the pitcher has a Quality Start, but while there are fewer Gems, the winning percentage is much higher at .815.  As we saw last week, when a pitcher throws a Quality Start of eight innings or fewer with exactly three earned runs, the team winning percentage is only .500.  While there aren’t that many Gems with three earned runs, the winning percentage in the 164 games over the last ten years is .689.

The 2011 leaders in Quality Starts and Gems are:

Quality Start Leaders   Gem Leaders
Pitcher, Team Quality Starts   Pitcher, Team Gems
Justin Verlander, Tigers 13   Justin Verlander, Tigers 9
Jered Weaver, Angels 12   Shaun Marcum, Brewers 8
Roy Halladay, Phillies 12   Roy Halladay, Phillies 8
Cole Hamels, Phillies 11   Randy Wolf, Brewers 7
Dan Haren, Angels 11   Jered Weaver, Angels 7
Jair Jurrjens, Braves 11   Felix Hernandez, Mariners 7
James Shields, Rays 11   Cole Hamels, Phillies 7

For more on Gems, visit

Below is the formula for Game Score, the foundation for Gems, and here is the link for the Wikipedia article on Game Score.

Start with 50.
Add 1 point for each out recorded by the starting pitcher.
Add 2 points for each inning the pitcher completes after the fourth inning.
Add 1 point for each strikeout.
Subtract 2 points for each hit allowed.
Subtract 4 points for each earned run allowed.
Subtract 2 points for an unearned run.
Subtract 1 point for each walk.

The 12-point penalty for allowing three earned runs reduces the chance that a pitcher can reach a game score of 65, the benchmark for a gem.  As I said last week, only allowing three earned runs keeps the team in the game, but it is far from the quality suggested by the term Quality Stat.  Gems are a much better way of recognizing superb pitching performances.

Used with permission from John Dewan’s Stat of the Week®,”

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Game 69 – Masterpiece Theater: Doug Davis Edition

Saturday, June 18th, 2011

Cubs 3, Yankees 1

Box Score / Highlights / Condensed Game

Guest post provided by Tony English


  • Doug Davis finally got his first win as a Chicago Cub by pitching a 3 hit gem over 7 and a third. Davis didn’t give up his first hit until 2 outs in the 4th. The Yankees couldn’t seem to figure out Davis which might be the strangest sentence anyone has ever written. EVER! The only hard hit ball was the last hitter he faced; Nick Swisher crushed a double that was close to being a home run.
  • Starlin Castro and Aramis Ramirez both went 2 for 4. Castro hit two doubles and Aramis knocked him in twice with two singles. Castro is looking locked back in at the plate. Hit the ball hard 3 times and on the third ball he absolutely crushed but lined to left. It would have been long gone in yesterday’s game
  • Defense Aramis had a great bare handed play that he makes look so easy and Reed Johnson inserted in left in the 9th made a great diving play that Soriano never could make if he tried a thousand times .


  • Mike Quade’s decision to not pinch hit for Davis in the bottom of the 7th. With only one out it was basically giving up on the inning by hitting Davis, Cubs could have gotten something started with Kosuke and Starlin after a pinch hitter. Davis was already over 100 pitches. Bad decision that I’m glad didn’t come back to haunt Quade.
  • Blake DeWitt hit third again, I’m sure it didn’t make VFTB head honcho Joe Aiello pleased; this move is puzzling to say the least. Hit Blake 6th and go with Ramirez, Pena and Soriano 3rd, 4th and 5th respectfully.


  • Today’s game was the highest paid crowd of the season with 42,219 in attendance on an absolute perfect day to be at Wrigley. Someone toss me a beer.
  • Seth Meyers from SNL fame and noted Red Sox fan sang the 7th inning stretch; apparently he was just in town. Seth Meyers afterwards said on Twitter he wasn’t expecting any record deals from his performance.
  • Starlin Castro first 2 hits were doubles. Making it 7 straight at bat he reached base going back to yesterday’s game where he reached base five times


Cubs got off to great start in today’s game with a scoreless first and similar to yesterday’s game Kosuke got on and Castro knocked him in with a double, the ball was misplayed ball from Curtis Granderson. The Cubs have won 4 out of 5 and against good teams too. They’ve been hitting the ball hard, pitching better and hey the Cubs are only 9.5 back, 5 days ago it was 12 games. Tomorrow the Cubs try for the 8th time this year to win three games in a row and as we all know they are 0-7 after winning two in a row.

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

1st Star – Doug Davis (.344 WPA)

2nd Star – Starlin Castro (.136 WPA)

3rd Star – Aramis Ramirez (.095 WPA)

Cubs Hitting: +.053 WPA

Cubs Pitching: -.447 WPA

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Cubs / Yankees – Series Preview

Friday, June 17th, 2011

Series Pitching Matchups

Doug Davis vs. Freddy Garcia

Davis threw 108 pitches over five innings in his last start against the Phillies and walked five. He admitted he made things harder on himself by trying to be too picky with his pitch selection. He can’t afford to do that vs. the Yankees. Garcia bounced back from a 1 2/3-inning outing against Boston to pitch 6 2/3 strong innings in a win Sunday against Cleveland. He is holding opposing hitters to a .231 average with runners in scoring position on the season.

Ryan Dempster vs. A.J. Burnett

Dempster pitched a gem in his last start against the Brewers, throwing seven shutout innings. He also struck out seven. Dempster is 0-2 in three career starts against the Yankees. Burnett went 7 2/3 innings, giving up just one run on five hits in a 1-0 loss to the Indians in his last start. It was his third outing allowing just one run, and he has not been the winning pitcher in any of them.

Randy Wells vs. C.C. Sabathia

Wells did not get a decision in his last start against the Brewers, giving up three runs on eight hits over six innings and striking out two. This will be his fifth start since coming off the disabled list, and first ever against the Yankees. Sabathia followed the trend of bouncing back after a rough outing against Boston and held Texas to four runs over seven innings in his last start, his fifth win in his last six starts.

Jason Rosenberg Scouts the Yankees

Who’s Hot – It seems as if the entire lineup is hitting these days as the entire lineup is batting a robust .289 / .372 / .480 with 21 home runs and averaging 5.6 runs per game in the month of June.Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira are tied with Jose Bautista for the AL lead in home runs with 21 each. The hottest Yankee right now, however, might come as a surprise as Brett Gardner is posting a ridiculous .425 / .489 / .600 for the month (thanks to a crazy high BABIP of .486). Likewise, once-cold Jorge Posada is also having a strong June with an eerie similar line as Gardner: .415 / .432 / .512 (and an identical BABIP of .486).

Who’s Not – The Yankee backstops. Russell Martin, who has been better than Yanks fans could have hoped, has been struggling with injuries the last week or two, forcing manager Joe Girardi to give Francisco Cervelli more playing time than he rightly deserves, much to the chagrin of Brien Jackson. Martin has played in only six games this month and hasn’t been effective even when playing. A DL stint is not out of the question. Speaking of which, Derek Jeter’s chase to 3,000 hits remains on hold as he recovers from a Grade 1 calf strain.

News / Notes – The Yanks pitching staff has taken a few hits lately as rotation savior (yeah, I said it) Bartolo Colon is on the DL and Ivan Nova has been varying degrees of erratic and mediocre. However, that’s not an issue as the Yanks will be able to trot out CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett and Freddy Garcia. Coming off an impressive sweep of the Texas Rangers, the Yanks are feeling good and ready to invade friendly confines of Wrigley Field.

Prediction for the series – The Yanks are rolling right now, having won six of their last seven, and get to face off against Doug Davis (0-5), Ryan Dempster (5-5) and Randy Wells (0-1). For the Yanks, winning two of these three is almost expected. Anything less would be a disappointment.

Follow Jason at It’s All About the Money, part of the ESPN SweetSpot Network

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Weekly Prediction Contest Update

Friday, June 17th, 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:
Andy Steinberg

Here are the top 5:
Andy Steinberg – 47
Jerry Wachs – 59
PackerCubBull – 63
Odie – 68
Dragon – 69

Enter to Play This Week

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Game 68 – The Fukudome Show

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

Cubs 12, Brewers 7

Box Score / Highlights


  • Offense – It’s a new season high for the Cubs offense today with 12 runs scored. In particular, it was the top of the order that shone the brightest today, with Kosuke Fukudome missing the cycle by a double and Starlin Castro reaching base in all five plate appearances. The offense as a whole just kept pouring it on all game despite falling behind in both of the first two innings.
  • Garza Getting Through Six – It’s hard to believe that after giving up five runs through three innings of work that not only was Matt Garza able to get the win, but was also able to get through the 6th inning with less than 100 pitches. He settled in and stopped the bleeding after the 3rd inning to get his third win of the season. It was a bullpen saver as we head into the series with the Yankees.
  • Brewers Boners – The Brewers just didn’t seem like a first place team today. It starts at the top of the order, with Ricky Weeks getting thrown out badly trying to stretch out a single to a double not once, but twice. I have no idea what was going through his mind in both instances, because they were both equally boneheaded in a different way. In the 4th he was thrown on a throw from Fukudome by a mile. No idea why he was running. The very next time up, late in the game with his team down four he did the same thing. Couple that with sloppy defense by the pitcher / catcher combo that allowed Cubs runs on a couple occasions and you’ve got a major reason why the Cubs were able to win.


  • Blake DeWitt hitting third – I actually thought it was a misprint when they were showing the lineup on the screen. I couldn’t figure out any rational reason why he’d ever be hitting in that spot….EVER. As expected, he went 0-for-4 and saw a total of nine pitches. Way to be a run producer, Blake.
  • John Grabow forgot who he played for – 1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER. Yuck. Why did we sign him again


  • Before the game started, the Cubs had been out homered 22-3 in games at Wrigley Field when the wind is blowing out.
  • Ed Rapuano was the proud recipient of a “ding-dong” moment in the 4th. If you didn’t see it, he took a ball that bounced in the dirt and caught it flat in the treasure chest. Props to him for finishing the game because I’d have been done.


I’m not going to blow smoke up your butt and tell you the Cubs are going to be turning it around. By the way, if you like people blowing smoke up your butt, I’m sure there are clubs out there that can satisfy your need. What I will tell you is that I came away from the game with a smile on my face. It was a nice, enjoyable game to watch. I enjoyed it fully. Overall, the series was enjoyable as well, but we can’t forget that the next opponent is the Yankees. Let’s enjoy this win and go from there. I will say this. I question Mike Quade’s rational for how he manages the players he is given, particularly his use of DeWitt. Why he’s played him in LF and hit him in the third spot in the order is beyond me.

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

1st Star – Kosuke Fukudome (.258 WPA)

2nd Star – Starlin Castro (.229 WPA)

3rd Star – George Kattaras (.142 WPA)

Cubs Hitting: +.586 WPA

Cubs Pitching: -.086 WPA

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