Pirates 4 @ Cubs 14
- New Cubs’ acquisition Justin Germano pitched a solid 5 innings to earn his first win in almost 5 seasons. I didn’t get to see every pitch he threw, but from what I did see he had some interesting off-speed stuff and pretty good command of the edges of the strike zone. I’m not sure he’ll amount to much more than fifth starter or a long reliever, but he performed better than Chris Volstad or Randy Wells did when they were called upon for similar duty.
- Dale trotted out a predominantly right-handed lineup Monday night to face the Pirates’ Erik Bedard, and they did not disappoint. In fact, they collectively had one of the Cubs’ best offensive nights of the season. Darwin Barney broke open the game with 3-run homer in the 4th inning, and wound up a double shy of the cycle. Anthony Rizzo clubbed his own 3-run homer to kick off an explosive 9-run 5th inning. Yup, 9 runs. It was glorious. Alfonso Soriano, Geovanny Soto, Barney, Joe Mather, and David DeJesus all followed up with singles, and Starlin Castro–himself a triple shy of the cycle–capped off the inning with a 2-run homer to give the Cubs a 11-run advantage.
- Reed Johnson made another highlight reel play, sprinting across centerfield to catch a shallow fly ball and then doubling off Pirates’ rookie Starling Marte. Johnson’s throw came in to Starlin Castro, who had faked like it was a groundball double play, causing Marte to slide into second base. If Castro doesn’t sell the fake, I don’t think they double off the speedy Marte.
- The one down note for the Cubs in an otherwise stellar game was the “relief” performance of Jeff Beliveau. He came in for Germano in the 6th after the Cubs turned it into a laugher and tried his best to spoil the fun. He faced 7 batters, giving up 3 hits, 2 walks, and 2 runs, leaving the bases loaded. Fortunately Manny Corpas got the next batter, former Cub Casey McGehee, to ground into a double play.
- The Cubs made a couple trades in the midst of the game. The first indication came in the 5th inning, when Reed Johnson was called back before taking his second at-bat of the inning (he had already reached on an error to lead off the 5th and scored on Rizzo’s homer). The hugs he received from his teammates in the dugout were a good indication that Theo & Jed were up to something. Turns out he and Paul Maholm have been traded to the Braves for pitchers Arodys Vizcaino and Jaye Chapman. Vizcaino appears to be the prize of the deal–he was the Braves #2 prospect and the league’s #40 overal prospect coming into the season, but needed Tommy John surgery during Spring Training. It sounds like Chapman is a solid reliever who might be able to contribute soon. I’ve been a big fan of Reed Johnson in both his tours of duty with the Cubs, and would welcome him back for a third stint if he’s available next year.
- But the roster shuffle didn’t end there–Geovanny Soto was pulled in the 6th inning. The word is he’s been traded along with some cash to the Rangers for pitching prospect Jacob Brigham, but the Cubs have yet to make an official announcement about the deal.
- You may have already heard that Dale doesn’t expect Ryan Dempster to make his Tuesday night start for the Cubs. Theo & Jed have been talking to to the Dodgers about him and Matt Garza, whom the Blue Jays have also expressed interest in after his clean MRI earlier this week. Perhaps one or both of them will be gone before game time Tuesday. Or maybe they both stay–at this point, all bets are off. What you can say for sure is that plenty of playoff contenders are still looking for starting pitching, and the Cubs are eager to sell. Don’t rule anything out at this point–including Dempster murdering another sweetheart deal at the eleventh hour (for all we know he’s screaming “It rubs the lotion on its skin!” at a potential deal right now).
- In the flurry of trade activity Monday night, Brett Jackson was removed from his game for AAA Iowa. At first he was thought to be part of the apparent Reed Johnson deal–then it was rumored he had been called up to the majors. Since the big league team now needs to replace a catcher and a starting pitcher, it looks like he might not get the call up Tuesday. As usual, we’ll know more in the morning. Be sure to check VFTB for updates throughout the day.