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Game 47: Garza & the Cubs Torched by the Pirates

Sunday, May 27th, 2012

Cubs 4 @ Pirates 10

Box Score / Highlights / Condensed Game

What Went Wrong?

  • The Cubs could not take advantage of a hitter’s day at PNC Park.  It was 88 degrees but Erik Bedard had the Cubs number on a difficult day to pitch.  They did end up with seven hits but most of those came late after the game was already decided.
  • Rafael Dolis continued to struggle.  The hopes of Dolis being the closer of the future have been subdued by his recent performance.  He did not retire a single batter and was charged with two earned runs on no hits and two walks.  The control issues are a major concern.
  • Matt Garza had a bad outing.  He now holds an ERA of 4.22 on the year after giving up six runs (five earned) over five innings on seven hits, three of which left the ballpark.  Pedro Alvarez started the scoring with a three run homer in the first followed by long balls by Andrew McCutchen in the fifth and Garrett Jones just before Garza was pulled in the sixth.  It is very concerning to have two of the only players that could be in the Cubs plans 2-3 years down the road struggle mightily today.
  • No Cubs had multihit games, while Alfonso Soriano and Reed Johnson both went hitless.

What Went Right?

  • The offense showed some signs of life late in the game, scoring three in the eighth and one more in the ninth.  Stalin Castro drilled a much needed two run homer.
  • Blake Parker and Randy Wells each worked scoreless innings.  Although the game was decided at that point, it is important that the Cubs have some middle relievers to count on.  It is especially good to see Parker having success early on in his big league career.

Random Notes

  • Today’s loss to the Pirates was the Cubs 12th straight.  This is now the Cubs longest losing streak since dropping 14 straight in 1997.
  • Cubs radio broadcaster Pat Hughes celebrated his birthday today.
  • Rafael Dolis is now out as the Cubs closer.  Dale Sveum will now lean on James Russell in that role, with Shawn Camp expected to share late inning duties.
  • The Cubs are now 1-9 against left handed starting pitchers this year.
  • The Cubs try to snap the skid tomorrow as they return to Wrigley for a Memorial Day game with the Padres.
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Game 141 – Marmol Bounces Back, Cubs Bounce Reds

Monday, September 5th, 2011

 Cubs 4, Reds 3

Box Score / Highlights

What Went Right

  • Matt Garza pitched another strong game.  He has been very impressive throughout the second half of the season, serving as one of the team’s only bright spots.  Today he hurled 7.2 innings allowing just three total runs, two of which were unearned.
  • James Russell has emerged as one of the most underrated players on the Cubs.  He did his job today, retiring the only man he faced to escape the eighth inning.
  • An Aramis Ramirez single with two outs in the fifth to drive in two was the turning point in the game.  Starlin Castro and Reed Johnson scampered home on that play to give the Cubs the lead, before Ramirez scored on a wild pitch to add an insurance tally.
  • Carlos Marmol bounced back from his blown save Saturday by working a perfect ninth.  He notched his 32nd save.

What Went Wrong

  • The Cubs had a chance to add to the lead in the bottom of the eighth but they failed to do it.  Bryan LaHair launched a double, but Geovany Soto was cut down at the plate trying to score on the play.  Darwin Barney struck out with LaHair at third to end the inning.
  • Starlin Castro committed his 26th error of the season.  Reed Johnson was also charged with an error on a bobble.
  • Marlon Byrd went 0-for-4, as did Geovany Soto, whose average dropped to .227.

Roster Moves

Right handed pitcher Andrew Cashner was activated from the 60-day disabled list today.  Cashner will be in uniform tomorrow, but he will not pitch until Wednesday at the earliest.  Infielder DJ LeMahieu and pitcher John Gaub are expected to be called up from Triple-A Iowa tomorrow.  More callups will be made after the Double-A postseason, but Brett Jackson is not expected to make his big league debut this season.

The Takeaway

The Cubs were able to win a fairly normal game today.  Carlos Marmol received the ball in a one run game and quickly sent the Reds down in order.  The Cubs offense was able to do just enough to get Garza a well-deserved win.  This series has no impact on the playoff picture, but both teams are hoping to put together some wins in the final month.

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

1st Star – Aramis Ramirez (.321 WPA)

2nd Star – Carlos Marmol (.172 WPA)

3rd Star – Matt Garza (.118 WPA)

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Game 128 – Cubs Can’t Cash In

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

 

Braves 3, Cubs 0

Box Score / Video Highlights

What Went Wrong

  • Usually whenever I do a recap I include “missed opportunities” on the what went wrong list.  Failing to score with runners in scoring position seems to be a recurring theme for the Chicago Cubs.  Tonight they loaded the bags with one out in the first, but Marlon Byrd bounced into a double play.  In the fifth, the Cubs got three straight singles, but no runs.
  • Dan Uggla and Freddie Freeman both went deep against Ryan Dempster.
  • Jair Jurrjens shutout the Cubs in 6.1 innings even though he allowed eight hits.
  • The theme of the night continued when the Cubs worked back-to-back walks to start the ninth inning before strike outs by Carlos Pena and Marlon Byrd.  Alfonso Soriano hit a fielder’s choice bouncer up the middle to end it.

What Went Right

  • Ryan Dempster turned in another solid outing but once again did not earn a W.  He was sharp through six innings, with two of the three Braves runs scoring on solo bombs.
  • Tony Campana picked up a pinch hit bunt single.
  • James Russell worked a perfect inning.  I enjoy seeing Russell pitch well because I think he has a chance to be a part of the Cubs future.  If it weren’t for the Cubs trying to make him into a starter he would have much better numbers this season.
  • Jeff Samardzija also continued a good year (3.25 ERA) by retiring the side in order in his frame.  Kerry Wood struck out the side in the ninth.  Cub relievers did not allow a base runner in three innings tonight.
  • Aramis Ramirez reached base four times via three singles and a walk.

Other Notes

  • Starlin Castro was not in the Cubs lineup tonight.  He received a “mental day” off.  Mike Quade said before the game that he was disappointed with Castro’s lapse of attention during yesterday’s game.  He also said that youth is no longer and excuse for Starlin.  Blake DeWitt played second base and Darwin Barney moved over to shortstop.
  • Pat Hughes was not in the broadcast booth tonight.  He took a scheduled day off, the fourth time he has missed this season after missing just three games (all due to illness) in his first 15 years as the voice of the Cubs.  Dave Eanet filled in tonight and called the game with Keith Moreland.  This was Pat’s final scheduled day off this season.
  • One year ago today the Cubs and Braves were playing each other at Wrigley, just like tonight.  That game was Lou Piniella’s last one as the manager of the Chicago Cubs.
  • Koyie Hill has become a personal catcher for Ryan Dempster.  Hill caught Dempster the fifth straight time tonight.
  • The Chicago Tribune issued a report before the game that said that the Cubs have been trying to contact Greg Maddux since Friday but he has not returned their calls.  They would like to keep him in the organization, but he was very close to Jim Hendry.
  • Carlos Pena is rumored to be among the Cubs placed on waivers.

The Takeaway

The Cubs continued to struggle in RBI spots tonight.  They stranded 15 on base and wasted a good effort by the pitching staff.  The Cubs had men in scoring position in seven different innings, but they failed to scratch out a tally.  Jurrjens has good stuff, so tonight you just have to tip your cap to him and go back at it tomorrow.

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

1st Star – Jair Jurrgens (.353 WPA)

2nd Star – Aramis Ramirez (.154 WPA)

3rd Star – Freddie Freeman (.112 WPA)

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Game 110 – Tape Measure Time

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

Cubs 11, Pirates 6

Box Score / Video Highlights

What Went Right

  • Not only did the Cub offense put 11 runs on the board, but it also tied a franchise record with six home runs in an away game.  This was by far the best the Cubs hitters have looked all season long.
  • Tyler Colvin launched a tape measure shot that bounced into Allegheny River.  It was the 28th ball to be hit on a bounce into the drink at PNC, and the only man ever to reach the Allegheny on the fly was Daryle Ward in 2002
  • Aramis Ramirez’s run scoring single in the first inning put the Cubs on the board.  In his second at bat, Ramirez drilled a three run homer to put the Cubs in the lead for good.
  • Geovany Soto and Alfonso Soriano connected on back-to-back jacks in the third inning to break the game wide open.  Soriano later homered again.
  • Carlos Pena, Tyler Colvin and Starlin Castro all made great defensive plays.
  • Randy Wells held on to the Cubs lead, putting five consecutive zeros on the board after the first inning.
  • Tyler Colvin, whose average is still just over .100, got into the act with three hits tonight.  He was a triple shy of the cycle.

What Went Wrong

  • Randy Wells continued to sing the first inning blues.  Ever since the start of last season, he has struggled in the opening frame.  Wells has an 11.25 first inning ERA this season.  Garrett Jones launched a two-run homer tonight in the first.
  • Wells made a base running mistake in the second inning, failing to advance to third to block Starlin Castro from reaching second while the outfielder bobbled the ball.  However, Ramirez picked him up with the three run bomb.
  • The first pitch Ramon Ortiz threw in the eighth inning left the yard for Jones’ second homer of  the game.  Brandon Wood hit a two run blast later in the inning against Ortiz to cut the lead to six.
  • Geovany Soto made an error in the bottom of the first inning, throwing to second base when nobody was covering and there was no runner stealing.  Andrew McCutchen had bluffed to second, and ended up advancing when Geo’s throw sailed into center. 

The Takeaway

The Cubs totaled 11 runs on 21 hits and six home runs, by far the most productive offensive night of the season.  Although the win does not mean much, the offensive outburst was good to see.  It goes to show you that hitting is contagious.  Hopefully they will extend the winning streak to four games tomorrow night.

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

1st Star – Aramis Ramirez (.297 WPA)

2nd Star – Garrett Jones (.122 WPA)

3rd Star – Tyler Colvin (.100 WPA)

 

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Game 103 – The Winning Streak is History

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

 

Brewers 3, Cubs 2

Box Score / Video Highlights

What Went Wrong

  • The Cubs loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth inning and failed to score.  Alfonso Soriano bounced one to third that could have easily been a double play, but the Brewers ended up only getting the force at the plate.  Then, Darwin Barney went ahead and hit another infield bouncer.  This time, the Crew turned two to end the inning.
  • The Cubs continue to give up runs in the first inning.  Ryan Dempster was hit pretty hard in the first and the Brewers plated three.
  • Chris Narveson settled in and pitched five strong innings after allowing two runs in the first. 
  • The Cubs did nothing against the Brewers bullpen all night long.
  • Blake DeWitt struck out in the ninth to end it with the tying run in scoring position.
  • Mike Quade’s options were limited because Kerry Wood, Koyie Hill and Reed Johnson are all still fighting illness.

What Went Right

  • Aramis Ramirez stayed hot with a first inning two-run homer. 
  • Ryan Dempster settled down after the first inning as well.  He pitched a solid game to keep his team in it.
  • The Cubs’ bullpen was equally as strong as the Brewers’ pen.  Sean Marshall and Jeff Samardzija both posted zeros on the board.
  • Starlin Castro had three hits and Jeff Baker posted two, including a lead-off single to setup the Ramirez homer.
  • Tony Campana pinch ran in the ninth inning and stole second despite the Brewers pitching out.

The Takeaway

The deciding factor in the game was the sixth inning in which the Cubs failed to score.  This was a frutrating game to watch, but many of the Cubs fans are growing used to it this season.  The loss snapped the Cubs first streak of three straight wins this season.  This was the first game of a difficult ten game road trip.

 

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

1st Star – Kameron Loe (.339 WPA)

2nd Star – John Axford (.171 WPA)

3rd Star – Casey McGehee (.150 WPA)

 

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