View From The Bleachers

August 22, 2011

Game 127 – Sweepless in Chicago

Filed under: Featured,General — Dustin Godsey @ 12:07 am

Cubs 2, Cardinals 6

Box Score / Highlights 

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.

 Misc. Notes

  • 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.

 The Takeaway

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)


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  • Buddy

    I think we all saw this loss coming. As for Bobby V., he’s almost as annoying as Joe Morgan was. I wish ESPN would just assign Dan and Orel for the Sunday night broadcast.

  • Aaron Yavelberg

    Nice step-by-step directions for how to fix the Cubs from ESPN’s Sweetspot:

  • wax_eagle

    Bobby V’s criticism of Castro was annoying, even if correct and I am right with you on muting the TV for a few minutes last night. I couldn’t stand it, why call out one player when the whole team sucks right now. This is equivalent to Quade’s continual criticism of Castro earlier in the season despite several of his other players dogging it. I realize the guy obviously had attention issues last night (And it doesn’t appear to be the first time), but what young kid on a bad team isn’t going to get bored in the middle of a fairly big loss?

  • Buddy

    From the Trib:

    “Andrew Cashner will report to Double-A Tennessee on Monday to begin his rehab stint on Tuesday. He will have three or four outings before going to Triple-A Iowa, and should be back with the Cubs by Sept. 4-7.”

  • Norm

    Not paying attention is different from just sucking or not getting it done.
    I didn’t listen to Bobby Valentine, maybe he was over the top. But Castro needs to focus.

  • Eddie Von White

    I agree Bobby V. is annoying, but so is Orel.

  • Dustin Godsey

    @Norm – you’re right on, Castro definitely needs to mature and show as much focus in the field as he does at the plate…

    Now, imagine I repeated that sentence for the next 20 minutes, pretty much verbatim. That was Bobby V. last night.

  • chet

    While I don’t need to hear Bobby Valentine comment on anything, I have to agree with his assessment of Castro. For a young guy still honing his craft in the field he has the body language of a disinterested 10 year old at times.

    Then again his mentor is supposedly Soriano, so he has that going for him.

    On a side note, Please, please, please hire Mark Grace for the booth!

  • Doc Raker

    I hope Pujols is not a Cub next year, he isn’t putting up $30M per numbers and his numbers will decline over the life of the contract, it would be another albatross contract for the Cubs. Gracey broadcast the Saturday game and speculated the Cubs could be a player for Pujols or Fielder based on ruling out suitors that can afford them. Rule out the Phillies, Yankees and Red Sox since they have first baseman. Rule out the Mets and Dodgers because they can no longer afford big contracts. Cubs, Texas, Angels, Mariners and Giants become the viable suitors. Let’s hope the Cubs pass on both. Gracey is hoping both players stay put, me to.

  • Doc Raker

    More good news for the Ocean View Little League crew at Williamsport, they mercied a team from Kentucky 10-0 in 4 innings and will look to take on Montana Wednesday at 8PM EST. If they beat Montana they advance to the US Championship game, win that and they play for all the marbles vs the winners of the international bracket. Go OVLL!

  • Buddy

    Where did you hear that Soriano is Castro’s mentor?

  • Randy

    Lopez is terrible, but at least he was throwing strikes. 83mph fastballs over the heart of the plate. In fact I think I heard Bobby call them “hanging fastballs” ugh at this point shouldn’t we stretch out Marshall or Shark? I didn’t like Bobby V’s rant on Castro for a couple of reasons. First it seemed overly harsh, and second because he was entirely right. Watching him call out Castro for getting into position late, being in the wrong spots, grabbing sunflower seeds after the pitcher has started his windup, etc. If his coaches/managers aren’t going to get his head in the game, his veteran teammates need to step up.

  • Buddy

    Good luck Doc!

  • chet


    it had been referenced many times on broadcasts and print last year and into this year that Soriano was mentoring Castro. See below as an example….about 4 paragraphs down.

    Apparently last year when Castro first came up he lived with Soriano too. I don’t think any of this was by design on the Cubs part (maybe, but I hope not)….

  • http://BEAST Doug S.

    Buddy, yeah that loss wasn’t a surprise.
    I’ll take 2 out of 3 vs. Cards anyday.

  • jswanson

    I’m pitted against my friend Raker. Keep in mind that we have equally three months that are conducive to playing baseball in this fine state. Give some kids from the high desert some of that air at sea level…watch out. Go MT.

  • jswanson

    Oh, and somebody should mentor Castro, with respect to how to eat a sunflower seed.

  • Dustin Godsey
  • Seymour Butts

    Listening to Bobby’s rant made me want to call some one to tell him to shut up, but I don’t have that kind of pull. That was a point that should have been made in private, not on national TV.
    I clicked on the “how to fix the Cubs” link, and most of the ideas made sense. The scouting department , by almost all accounts, is already pretty good.
    Orel is doing the LLWS. Raker’s boys are shinning.

  • Norm

    I disagree it should have been made in private…he’s not a Cub employee, he’s an analyst of baseball games. He did what he is paid to do.

  • Jedi

    He should analyze the game then – pitching, pitching, and more pitching is the problem that has us fighting for fourth place. Oddly enough, it’s also the reason we lost last night – as Dustin very ably pointed out, even though it seems to escape nearly every broadcaster. Castro was probably trying to work out the crick in his neck from watching everything sail into the stands, or one-hop the wall all night long.

  • flyslinger2

    spam word = heroin(!)

    I am luxuriating on my patio in the burbs of DC in one of those rare 80 degree days in the heart of August. Just finished my salad and my Sam Adams Double Bock. I was waiting from my daily VFTB email to arrive so that I could review the poignant article of lasts nights game before I commented.

    I got to watch and listen to the game on ESPN’s Sunday night broadcast. Dang is Valentine good and bad. He knows his stuff but he sure majors on the majors. He should have made a 30 second speech about the immaturity of Castro at the SS position, grabbed his cell phone and texted Rickets to listen to his speech and then moved on. I am also surprised that the ESPN producer didn’t say something in his ear about moving on.

    IMHO Castro sux. I told my 8 year old daughter, who was watching with me, that a batting practice pitching machine could have served up better pitches then what he did. And the Cubs could save more money.

    It was nice to watch Cubs baseball. On T.V.

  • chet

    I assume you meant “in my opinion Lopez sucks”…..while Castro’s defense is not up to par I would not say he “sucks”….

  • jswanson

    @Norm…kswanson and I just got back from the baby-doc. Turns out I’ll be buying a pink baby Cubs hat! Did you guys find out gender yet?

  • flyslinger2

    Correction-lopez…lopez sux. Sorry, must have been the tickling bubbles in my beer that distracted me.

    IMHO=in my humble opinion in tech speak.

  • Norm

    No, I want to find out, but the wifey does not…she wins. So we’ll have a little surprise come December.
    Congrats on the girl!

  • jswanson

    Thanks man…I picked it up during the ultrasound way before the tech let us know. It (didn’t) show up as she was taking a length measurement of the femur, and once as she was trying to get the heart into a rough focus. I can be more descriptive, but that would surely violate one of Joe’s commandments. Good luck bud…our due date remains 12/31, so you should be there first.

  • flyslinger2

    I just found out on my birthday that I am going to be a grandpa for the first time. My little grandson, don’t know the gender yet but one can only hope, will wear cubbies shirts from the get go and have a fishing rod all to himself.

  • Jeremiah Johnson

    Congratulations all around, guys.

  • Norm

    Castro not in today’s lineup…

  • Lando87

    AVClub did a review of last night’s telecast, they don’t really like ESPN’s Sunday Night crew either..,60704/

  • Buddy

    Castro sitting. Punishment or coincidence?

  • lizzie

    Awww, a little pinkswanson just in time for the New Year (and full year tax deduction might I add. There is some benefit to getting busy during Spring Training). BTW in case you need any suggestions Elizabeth is a lovely name. :-)
    In all seriousness congratulations, my friend, can’t wait to welcome her!

  • jswanson

    Thanks Lizzie! I have spent the last four plus months planting the seed for “Gus.” I had a dream that we had a dirty little kid with that name…but gained no traction on that front. Back to the drawing board, completely. For the record, I dig Elizabeth. My little sister already has Elizabeth Swanson spoken for however.

  • lizzie

    Yeah I can’t come up with too many variations on Gus for when “it” doesn’t show up so I’m guessing your baby girl as well as your wife will be happy to start afresh!

  • Katie

    “Sweepless in Chicago”… Ha. So corny.
    @jswanson – Congrats! You should name her Addison :)

  • Seymour Butts

    @jswan… I know it’s Montana but, might your sister have a different last name to give her child?

  • jswanson

    @Butts…kid sister, age 20…and touche
    @Katie…short listed; very cool, and subtly awesome …thanks!
    @Lizzie…Geovana? Geavani?

  • lizzie

    @jswanson simpler … Gia

  • Eddie Von White

    @ jswanson – Congratulation Big Guy! Baby girls make me cry. I have one who just turned 20! She is awesome.

    @ Katie – you are a genius – Addison is the coolest name.

    @ Lizzie – you gotta get over Geo!

  • Doc Raker

    Congrats on the pending baby’s! Keep in mind 12/31 is the worst hockey birthday, 1/1 is the best. Don’t deliver early, keep the baby gestating until the new year this way your baby is the oldest on the team not the youngest.

  • Doc Raker

    @jswanson- have you seen the Vegas line for the CA vs MT? Good luck, I will be watching.

  • Lizzie

    @Eddie you are right, it is a guilty pleasure and I’m hooked. I’ll quit cold turkey once he gets traded. ;-)

  • Lizzie

    I forgot to say I also think Addison is brilliant! Especially in Montana. There are a few too many Addisons running around North Chicago right now but Montana is far enough away to make it subtle and not trendy!

  • Doc Raker

    Forget subtle, name them Wrigley, boy or girl.

  • Doc Raker

    Why is redneck an anti spam word? More specifically, why is it OK to use certain epithets and not others? Don’t get me wrong, redneck doesn’t offend me but neither do a bunch of other epithets. If we are going to use epithets lets be an equal opportunity epitheters and use them all. The original Bad News Bears has a few if you need some ideas.

  • Seymour Butts

    Aren’t epithets those things Captain Kangaroo had on his shoulders?

  • Katie

    Hmm. Maybe I should be a baby name advisor. But I’ll save all the cool ones for my kids.

  • Buddy

    PAULIE: “Paulie’s a great name!”
    ROCKY: “Yeah, Paulie’s a pretty good name.”
    ADRIAN: “What about after the father?”
    ROCKY: “Rocky Jr.? Are you sure you wanna do that?”

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