Cubs 2, Cardinals 6
What Went Right
Hot Corner – Aramis Ramirez was the lone standout for the Cubs on an otherwise rough night against the Cards, driving in the team’s only two runs in the game. In the 3rd inning, he came to the plate with two runners on and delivered a single that allowed Geovany Soto to score from second. In his next appearance, Ramirez hit a long fly ball on the first pitch that, while not quite finding the bleachers, was more than deep enough to get Starlin Castro in from third. Overall, A-Ram was 2-3 and has now hit at a torrid .487 clip over the last ten games.
Bullpen (mostly) – Aside from James Russell’s brief appearance that saw him give up a run on two hits in just 1/3-inning, the bullpen once again looked sharp. Jeff Samardzija, John Grabow and Ramon Ortiz stopped the bleeding and kept the Cardinals off the board for the final 3 2/3 innings.
What Went Wrong
Meatballs – Rodrigo Lopez got absolutely hammered, pretty much from the start of the game. Four of the first seven batters hit the ball either two the wall or over it, the latter being the case on two consecutive pitches to John Jay and Yadier Molina in the second inning. Lopez grooved pitch after pitch and should consider himself lucky to have only surrendered four home runs (numbers three and four came off the bats of Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina, again – not in that order).
El Hombre – I’m sure fans of most National League teams feel like Albert Pujols kills their team every time he faces them…but man, it sure seems like Pujols kills the Cubs every time he faces them. Pujols had a routine 4-5 night, including the fourth home run of the night off Lopez in the sixth.
The Molina Brother – St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina isn’t exactly known for being a power hitter (he has just 52 home runs in 7+ seasons in the Majors), but reputation doesn’t matter when Lopez is throwing fastballs over the heart of the plate. Molina put two of Lopez’s offerings into the bleachers in just his second career multi-home run game.
E6 – Starlin Castro added to his season error tally and very nearly had a second later in the game. In both cases the Cubs’ shortstop make great grabs deep into the hole only to deliver less than ideal throws – one that nearly ended up in the stands and another that ate up Carlos Peña at first as he tried to dig it out of the dirt. His biggest sin, however, was the crucial role that he played in Bobby Valentine’s inning-long diatribe about Castro not playing the game correctly. He may have been right, but pretty much just repeated himself over and over and over for about 20 minutes.
- Bobby Valentine – I almost put Bobby V. into the “What Went Wrong” category. I tend to complain quite a bit about announcers, but Bobby Valentine may get on my nerves more than anyone else in the business not named Joe Buck. His burying of Castro was overbearing and repetitive and actually caused me to mute the TV briefly.
- Pujols ain’t coming – Can we stop with the “The Cubs would really like Pujols” storyline? Of course they would, as would pretty much every other team in Major League Baseball. I don’t think there is any chance he ends up as a Cub next year though. I’m looking at you Mr. “Custom Pujols Cubs Jersey Wearing Guy”…he’s not coming, move along.
In the long run, it really doesn’t matter if the Cubs won this game or not. A sweep against the Cardinals would have been great, but at this point, I’m ready for September to get here so we can get some MLB at-bats for guys like Brett Jackson and see what happens. Sunday night was pretty much the same performance as the previous night, with the notable exception being the quality of the starting pitching.
Speaking of starting pitching, Tom Ricketts made an appearance on the ESPN broadcast for a half-inning and was asked if he could see Carlos Zambrano pitching for the Cubs again. He admitted that he would “have a hard time seeing it”, which pretty much says all you need to know about the future of Big Z in Chicago.
Stars of the Game
Base on Win Probability Added (WPA)
1st Star – Yadier Molina (.256WPA)
2nd Star – John Jay (.178WPA)
3rd Star – Albert Pujols (.172 WPA)