View From The Bleachers

July 19, 2011

Game 97 – He’s Not A Machine!

Filed under: Featured,General — Buddy @ 7:38 am

Cubs 6, Phillies 1

Box Score / Highlights / Condensed Game


  • Rodrigo Lopez looked sharp early, retiring the first nine batters he faced. He even managed to scratch out a single against Phillies’ ace Roy Halladay. Lopez beat the heat and turned in a solid outing: 6.2 IP, 5 hits, 1 run, 3 K’s, NO WALKS.
  • Aramis Ramirez kept his power bat going with a solo shot in the bottom of the 1st.
  • Kosuke Fukudome had a text-book at bat in the 3rd inning, working a walk against Halladay. Fukudome saw 28 pitches in tonight’s game.
  • Ramirez knocked in the Cubs second run with a sac fly in the 3rd. Carlos Pena followed with an RBI single to make it 3-0 good guys.
  • Starlin Castro chipped in with two hits. His second hit in the 5th inning knocked out Halladay, who looked completely whipped by the hot, muggy weather.
  • Alfonso Soriano actually made a nice running catch in LF.
  • If that isn’t strange enough, Koyie Hill walked and swiped a base. It truly was a weird night at Wrigley Field.
  • Darwin Barney drove home the Cubs fourth run with an RBI double in the 6th. Fukudome drilled a double down the line to plate Barney and make it 5-1.
  • Pena crushed his 20th homer, an absolute bomb to center.
  • James Russell retired a righty! James Russell retired a righty!
  • Carlos Marmol tossed a scoreless 9th. Of course he walked two batters. It’s never easy for Marmol, or those who have to watch him pitch.


  • Not much, for a change.
  • Castro was cut down trying to steal third in the 5th. Naturally, Marlon Byrd followed the caught stealing with a single.
  • The Cubs defensive woes continue. Two more errors tonight.
  • Jim Belushi ended up on my television.


Recently I was chatting with a friend who I would describe as a casual baseball fan. He brought up the Phillies and said something like “It must be nice to win every year.” Of course no team wins every year, and all franchises have ugly stretches that sometimes last for a decade or more.

Let’s take Philadelphia. After reaching the World Series in 1993, the fighting Phillies didn’t sniff the post season again until 2007. From 1994 to 2006, Philly fans endured eight losing seasons, including three campaigns of 90+ losses.

By no means am I comparing the Cubs legendary misfortune to a 12-year blip on the Phillies’ radar screen. However, it’s a decent reminder that all franchises have down periods. Even the mighty Yankees missed the playoffs from 1982 to 1993.

How quickly will the Cubs turn it around? I wish I knew. You don’t have to be Nostradamus to see that it won’t be next year. Maybe 2013 will be the beginning of better days. By that time a lot of dead weight should be trimmed off the roster.

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

1st Star – Rodrigo Lopez (.287 WPA)

2nd Star – Carlos Pena (.083 WPA)

3rd Star – Aramis Ramirez (.070 WPA)

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  • Dustin Godsey

    It was fun to see a convincing win for a change…this one was especially sweet being a Cubs transplant living in Philly.

    Good point on the relative ups and downs of the franchises. Let’s not forget, that as great as things seem for the Phillies now, they are still the only professional sports team with over 10,000 losses (for a little while longer anyway) and an all-time winning percentage that is below .500.

  • Randy

    This was a fun game to watch. I hope Roy Halladay is OK, he looked very ill on the mound. Despite the fireworks from the big guys, I want to point out Koyie Hill as my player of the game. This guy is a perfect example of a role player preparing and doing his job well. Lopez pitched a great game, but it was Hill’s pitch selection that really did the job. I don’t remember Lopez calling off a sign even a single time. When leading off an inning, knowing he doesn’t have the bat to knock in runs, he worked a walk to generate a base runner. Then in one of the ballsiest moves of the year, startles the Phills with a straight steal, which eventually generated a run. He still stinks as a player, but as a backup catcher we could do a whole lot worse.

  • lizzie

    Can always count on an enjoyable read when Buddy’s at the helm. Even if he doesn’t take many walks. :-) Makes me wish I watched the game!
    Serious question here: do you (all) think Koyie and even Geo call their own games? I don’t. Too many long stares into the dugout before pitches. Or maybe I’m just imagining? What are your thoughts?

  • Joe Aiello

    @Lizzie – Very few catchers get assistance from the dugout with pitch selection. Long stares usually are strategy related.

  • Norm

    One thing to note was that Castro’s “caught stealing” looked like another bad call by the ump.

  • Eddie Von White

    This was a great game. The only two mistakes I can think of is Starlin trying to steal third and take us out of a rally, and our favorite left fielder dropping that foul ball. I think what gets me the most about him is that his facial expression communicates an I don’t care attitude.

    Also, I don’t really see a whole lot of difference between Koyie and Geo. Take away Geo’s rookie year and he doesn’t give us a whole lot to be excited about.

    Buddy makes a good point about all franchises having down years. I don’t care if I to wait another 103 years, I love the Cubbies.

    Note to Jim Hendry: Time to sign Rodrigo to a long term extention; have the media nickname him “R Lop” and we’ll call him “Big R”.

  • Buddy

    I saw the replay several times, and the Castro play was indeed very close. A coin-toss call in my book. As for the dropped foul ball, my heart sank. I thought for sure Howard would jack the next pitch out of the park. Luckily that error didn’t come back to hurt the Cubs.

  • Yavelberg

    From ESPN’s game recap: “Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena homered to back a dominant start by Rodrigo Lopez…” Now there’s something you don’t expect to read every day.

    On a slightly related note, I have some ambivalence about Lopez doing well. Yes, I always want the Cubs to win every single game, no matter how it happens or who is pitching or who turns out to be a hero. On the other hand, I worry about these veteran pitchers having success because of the effect it would have on Hendry. Lopez has a 1.84 ERA over his last four starts (3.55 overall) and while he hasn’t been spectacular, he definitely hasn’t been horrible. I worry that Hendry ends up saying to himself, “Wow, Lopez worked out really well. Maybe it’s not so bad that I took those fliers on Davis and Ortiz. Maybe I should be open to taking on more veteran pitchers.” I certainly don’t want the Cubs to keep losing, but I’m also worried about how success will fog up Hendry’s already compromised decision-making skills.

    Incidentally, is there anyone else who, when reading about athletes, automatically translates the word “veteran” as “old?”

  • Eddie Von White

    I watched the game on Direct TV and the Comcast broadcast was with the Phillies announcers. They replayed the caught stealing from every angle several times. Of course, they wanted the ump to be correct. The final conclusion was that when Castro slid in he held his fingers up and the tag was made before he touched them down on the base. It seemed to me like a correct call. In the bigger picture, as the announcer said, if you\’re going to steal third you better be positive sure you\’re going to get there. On the plus side, at least somebody on the team was trying to make something happen. I\’d rather see an out by someone being over aggressive than runners being left on base at the end of the inning.

  • Buddy

    I have that same veteran = old thought from time to time. I also think that steady or scrappy usually means not talented. “That Spike Owen sure was a steady shortstop” for instance. Or, “That Augie Ojeda sure is a scrappy ballplayer.” You never hear somebody say “Albert Pujols is as steady as they come,” and you never hear the best players in the game described as “scrappy.” For all I know Jose Bautista is the “scrappiest” player in the AL. Whatever the hell that means. And don’t even get me started on the word “moxy!”

  • chet

    It’s funny what one win can do. We actually watched the Cubs play good baseball last night against a superior team and low and behold Koyie Hill is looking like a great catcher and Rodrigo Lopez a future starter. What’s next Mike Quade & Jim Hendry signing an extension?

    One win is enough to cloud anybody’s judgment….now if they sweep the Phillies with Halladay and Lee pitching….we have something to talk about.

  • Yavelberg

    @Eddie – the nickname for Lopez is RoLo. Not just a fantastic caramel-filled chocolate candy, now also an emerging veteran starter for the Chicago Cubs!

    “Emerging veteran” sounds like an oxymoron…

  • Norm

    Too big a deal is made for signing these veterans. Every team does it hoping to catch lightning in a bottle.

    Eddie, Geo’s rookie year was fantastic, but his second year was strictly bad luck (babip) and his 2010 was better than his rookie year, just fewer games played.

  • Buddy

    I’m afraid we don’t have anything to talk about even if the Cubs sweep the Phillies. This is a rotten team with a bad manager. Koyie Hill had a nice game yesterday, but he’s a fraction of the player that Geo Soto is, and Soto isn’t exactly Johnny Bench. Lopez is pitching well right now, but he’s 35 and throws in the 80s. No need to bring him back next year either.

  • Doug S.

    What a nice win!!!!
    No way I saw that coming.

  • Eddie Von White

    I can see the promotional now:

    $1 RoLo candy night and $3 Soto pop.

  • Mark

    I actually have no problem with Castro being thrown out at third. It’s a gutsy move on a team that is 20 games below 500. Who cares if he gets thrown out? At least he’s trying.

  • chet

    Buddy, I almost added “actually, it wont matter if we sweep the Phillies” but refrained as I felt I was being too negative.

    Best thing we could get out of Rodrigo Lopez is a trade at this point. He is bound to come back to earth. Maybe, just maybe.

  • Jedi

    Nice recap Buddy, great win! But kinda sad how we need so much to go right for a comfortable win like this.

  • Larry Sproul

    RoLo looked good he had command of his pitches . Halliday looked sick or maybe the heat got to him . Its a W but too little way too late . Cubs got some key hits that helped secure the much needed win .

  • Josh

    Always an enjoyable read Buddy.

    So you’re telling me the Cubs can’t win 27 in a row like the Rockies did in 08?

  • Buddy

    I once saw Neifi Perez walk, so anything is possible!

  • Rich Beckman

    I’m sorry I was unable to see this game. I followed along at ESPN’s Gamecast. I thought the pitch locations the Gamecast gave for Marmol’s two walks were interesting.

    I took screen shots:

    The first pitch to Ruiz is shown to be smack dab right in the center of the strike zone. The second walk is on Marmol, but the first walk was the umpire’s fault (assuming the Gamecast pitch location is accurate at all.

  • Norm

    Brenly pointed something like that out to. Pitch 1 was called a strike (it was a ball) and Pitch 2 was called a ball (it was a strike).
    Bring on the computerized strike zone!

  • Mark in Toronto

    Go figure this was one of the few games a year that was not televised on my MLB extra innings package. :(

  • greg

    Stupid Jim Belushi! Your not funny!

  • Jeremiah Johnson

    While Marmol wasn’t really what I’d call solid last night, the inconsistent strike zone didn’t give him any help. Looked to me like it moved between pitches a couple times. At least he hung on to get the last out–it was nice to see him out on the mound at the end of a win again. Here’s hoping last night was a step in the right direction for him.

    Nice job, Buddy.

  • Doc Raker

    With 40 or so more episodes of heat stroke in the opposing dugout we can contend in this thing. Turn up the heat in the visitors lockeroom, I think we found an edge.

  • Buddy

    Thanks Jeremiah. And speaking of a moving strike zone, I actually felt bad for Halladay. He was getting squeezed left and right. Maybe the umpire was the one suffering from dehydration and heat exhaustion.

  • Doc Raker

    I listened to Keith in the car and then the Phillies broadcast at home on the MLB package where Sarge was broadcasting, two 1984 Cubs in one day. Couple of comments from the Phillies broadcast booth.
    After the impressive double play that quickly went from Barney-Castro-Pena “Barney has been impressive for the Cubs, the two bright spots for the Cubs are right there on that play, Castro and Barney.”
    During an Aramis at bat- “Ramirez said he would consider a trade to a team with a chance to win and waive his no trade clause.”
    Commenting on Soriano’s effort for a catchable foul ball near the bullpen area. “He (Soriano) is running on his heels, you have to run on the balls of your feet or else your eyes move (up and down)and it makes catching the ball very difficult. Hustling the entire way would help also, he was jogging most of the way.”
    During a Pena AB- “$10M after a horrendous year in Tampa Bay, my times have changed.”

  • flyslinger2

    Since I so adeptly wrote in yesterdays blog that the #1 team in BB was playing basically the worst team in BB, statistically last night’s game would be an “L” for the Cubs and since the Phils don’t loose two in a row tonight would be an “L” also. I’m happy I was wrong. Being stuck in a DC market I didn’t have an opportunity to watch the game. I’m sorry I missed it. I would have liked to watched some good baseball.

    One win doesn’t a season make nor is it ANYTHING to base next years roster off of. What it does do is give us faithful a reason to smile for a moment.

  • PackerCubBull

    No team wins every year, but the perennial contenders are in playoff contention almost every year. We haven’t had that kind of sustained success. We make the 1945 World Series, no playoffs again until 1984. Then 1989. 1998. 2003. 2007. 2008. Even when the Red Sox couldn’t win a WS, I remember them in the playoffs on a regular basis.

  • Doc Raker

    The braodcast also commented on Jim Riggleman and Steve Balboni (remember him) being in the stands as scouts for the Giants. No comment on whom they were scouting or if they were just scouting the Phil’s as potential playoff foes.
    Sarge then commented on his dinner with Seymour at fantasy camp. Sarge was shocked and concerned about Seymour’s cholesterol after ordering both the Foie Gras and the Toulose Cassoulet.

  • Buddy

    I know he wasn’t a very good player, but I loved Steve “Bye Bye” Balboni.

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