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Game 74 – Another One Run Defeat

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

 

White Sox 4, Cubs 3

Box Score / Highlights

What Went Wrong

  • Mike Quade made a strange managerial decision that may have cost the Cubs the game.  The Cubs had a run at third base (the speedy Tony Campana) with one out in the top of the eighth.  Koyie Hill, whose hitting ability is similar to that of a pitcher, was due up with Geovany Soto available on the bench.  Q elected to leave Hill in the game.  He struck out, as did Kosuke Fukudome to end the inning.  Soto would have been the best candidate to at least come up with a sacrifice fly to allow Campana to scamper home.
  • The Cubs gave the White Sox an insurance run in the fifth inning that proved to be the difference in the game.  Blake DeWitt committed a costly error and Doug Davis walked a man.  Then,with the bases loaded Davis hit a batter to force in a run.  The South Siders scored with just one hit in the inning.
  • Starlin Castro grounded out to end a Cubs rally in the sixth inning.  The Cubs had the bases loaded.  Starlin also bounced out for the first out of the ninth inning.
  • Aramis Ramirez went 0-for-5.

What Went Right

  • The Cubs bullpen was perfect.  Sean Marshall, Jeff Samardzija and Chris Carpenter all tossed scoreless frames.
  • Doug Davis did a nice job to keep his team in the game.  The Sox lineup is packed with thunder, and Davis allowed just three earned runs (four total) in five innings.
  • Paul Konerko did not beat the Cubs.  The Cubs finally worked around him for most of the night and brought his five game  home run streak to an end.
  • Carlos Pena stayed red hot.  Although Konerko’s homer streak snapped, Pena went deep to extend his to three. 

The Takeaway

During the last three series, the Cubs have played their best ball of the year.  The bad news?  The Cubs have lost two of those series at the hands of the Yankees and White Sox.  It is frustrating that the Cubs can’t seem to get over the hump and put some Ws together.  Still, the team played fairly well tonight outside of the fifth inning. 

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

1st Star– A.J. Pierzyski (.197 WPA)

2nd Star – Sergio Santos (.172 WPA)

3rd Star – Chris Sale (.144 WPA)

Cubs Hitting: -.463 WPA

Cubs Pitching: -.037 WPA

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Book Review – Ron Santo A Perfect 10

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

Ron Santo’s longtime WGN Radio broadcast partner Pat Hughes teamed up with author Rich Wolfe to put together a great book on legendary third baseman Ron Santo, who played for the Cubs from 1960 to 1973 before spending his final season with the White Sox.

The title of the novel is Ron Santo A Perfect Ten, referring to the number that Ronnie sported for most of his career, which is now retired by the organization.  After speeding through the book in just three days, I would give it a perfect ten as well.

The forward, titled Namesakes are People Two, is by Ron Santo, Jr.  He describes what is was like to grow up around the ballpark with Ron Santo as a father.  Instead of simply writing about Ron themselves, Hughes and Wolfe talked to the people that knew him best and divided the book into sections with stories from different people.  The first chapter contains Pat’s memories about working with the Cubs legend for 15 years on WGN Radio.  He tells his favorite stories, including the burning hairpiece at Shea Stadium, the frozen yogurt machine in Arizona, the Brant Brown dropped fly ball and more.  In addition to all of the hilarious Pat & Ron stories that most of us have heard many times, Pat includes several new ones that will make you laugh.  The end of the first chapter includes a brief section by the only current Cub to contribute to the book, Kerry Wood.  He was always one of Santo’s favorite Cubs and the story about Jim Hendry and Wood talking about a deal at the funeral gives him even more of a connection to #10.  Wood writes about the phone call he made to Ron, who was in the hospital at the time, just after the Cubs won the NLDS in 2003.

The second chapter is stories from Ron’s family members.  His wife Vicki has a section titled “Living with a Legend,” while his son Jeff and daughter Kelly also share their stories.  Kelly wrote about how important Ronnie’s relationship with his grandsons (her two boys) was.  Jeff tells about the time he spent with his father gathering footage for his documentary “This Old Cub.”

The next chapter “Let’s Skedaddle to Seattle” focuses on Santo’s childhood.  His sister Adielene, high school sweetheart and ex-wife Judy and friends Frank Savelli and Bill Chatalas all contributed their memories.  Adielene’s section included some great stories of growing up in the same house as Ron Santo.  Savelli was one of Ronnie’s best friends, dating back to second grade.

Chapter four features Santo’s baseball friends.  Commissioner Bud Selig, Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts, former Cubs front office man John McDonough, Dodgers GM Ned Colletti and Cubs president Crane Kenney were all included in this chapter.  Colletti grew up as a huge fan of Ron.  McDonough came up with the idea to retire #10 in 2003.

Media members such as  radio personality Mike Murphy, Fred Mitchell of the Chicago Tribune, Cubs beat writer Bruce Miles and TV/Radio host David Kaplan collaborated on a chapter.  Kaplan had some stories of pranks that he and John McDonough played on Ronnie in the 1990s when Kap served as the pregame show host on WGN Radio.  Murphy remembered the relationship that he and the bleacher bums had with Santo and the rest of the 1969 team.  Miles talked about how special Ron’s broadcast style was.

Speaking of broadcasting, one of the best chapters in the book included most of Ronnie’s ex-booth mates.  His first partner (1990-1995 on WGN Radio) Thom Brennaman told his favorite Santo story about how the first two words heard on the air at the start of their first season with the Cubs were profanity.  Bob Brenly, who is currently the Cubs TV color man, shared the booth with Thom and Ron on radio for two seasons.  Brenly and Santo were originally pitted against one another for the gig but the station decided to hire them both.  TV play-by-play man Len Kasper and producer Marc Brady also contributed to the chapter.  Ronnie’s trusty producer for ten seasons on 720-AM, Matt Boltz, wrote one of the best sections of the book.  Boltzy talked about how Ronnie was a father figure for him.  Andy Masur, Cory Provus and Judd Sirott, all of whom joined Pat, Matt and Ron in the booth at various times, all wrote sections.

The book also includes several great photos of the Cubs legend.  The final chapter, titled “Santopalooza,” included a unique section by Tom Lill, who played on the same men’s softball team as Ronnie for two years.  There is also a section in the final chapter filled with different stories about Ron’s hairpieces.

There were over 20 people who were interviewed for the novel whose stories did not make it, including teammates such as Ernie Banks, Randy Hundley, Glenn Beckert, Fergie Jenkins and Don Kessinger.  Their stories will be included in Rich Wolfe’s next book, For Cub Fans Only, Volume III.

Ron Santo A Perfect Ten is available on ronsantobook.com, at Chicagoland Jewel stores, Cubs.com and Binny’s Beverage Depot.  For any fan of Ron Santo, this book is a must read.  It is a great way to remember Ronnie with a smile on your face.

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Game 67 – Long Balls Not Enough to Lift Cubs

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

Brewers 9, Cubs 5

Box Score / Highlights

What Went Wrong

  • Carlos Zambrano struggled in this middle part of the game, allowing the Brewers to score twice in the fourth and three more in the fifth.  Z ended up going six innings and was charged with five earned runs on nine hits to take the loss.
  • Chris Carpenter allowed a key two-run single to Yuniesky Betancourt with two outs in the seventh inning to extend the Milwaukee edge to three.  Carpenter has allowed the Brewers to score against him in each of the first two appearances of his big league career.
  • James Russell, who was actually charged with the two runs that scored on the Betancourt single, only retired one man and allowed two to reach.
  • The middle part of the order (Ramirez and Soto) failed to come up with big hits tonight.  Geovano Soto suffered an 0-for-4 night to see his average dip to .213.
  • Alfonso Soriano struck out in his return from the DL in a pinch hit appearance.
  • Starlin Castro made a costly error that eventually led to a pair of unearned tallies in the top of the seventh. 
  • The Cubs still do not have a three game winning streak all season.   They are the only squad in the big leagues that has not yet put together a string of three victories.   The Cubs had a chance to pull within nine games of the top in the NL Central, but instead they fall to 11 back as the Brewers take over sole possession of first place.
  • John Grabow entered the game in the eighth and allowed Rickie Weeks to blast one on to Waveland Avenue to extend the lead.  The Cubs left handed middle relievers (Grabow and Russell) have not been very effective.
  • Kosuke Fukudome did not take the bat off his shoulder when he was pinch hitting with two on and two out in the ninth.  He was caught looking at strike three.

What Went Right

  • Jeff Baker, who was hitting in the three spot in the lineup tonight, homered in the first inning to put the Cubs on the board.
  • Reed Johnson drilled a long three run homer in the fifth inning to cut the Brewer lead back to one.  Johnson and Baker both came off the disabled list earlier in the week.
  • DJ LeMahieu notched his first career RBI in the eighth inning when he singled to drive in Blake DeWitt.

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

1st Star – Reed Johnson (.157 WPA)

2nd Star – Corey Hart (.149 WPA)

3rd Star – Yuniesky Betancourt (.096 WPA)

Cubs Hitting: -.061 WPA

Cubs Pitching: -.423 WPA

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Game 62 – Winning Streak Denied

Friday, June 10th, 2011

Phillies 7, Cubs 5

Box Score / Highlights

What Went Wrong

  • The Cubs had a chance to pull out an exciting win in the ninth inning when they trailed by just two with Darwin Barney at first and nobody out.  Castro swung and missed for strike three on a pitch in the dirt, and Barney was cut down trying to advance to second for a double play.
  • Control issues plagued Carlos Zambrano Friday night.  Big Z walked seven men and allowed a total of seven earned runs in 6.1 innings.  Four of those runs came on a grand slam by Placido Polanco in the seventh inning to put the game away.
  • Zambrano failed to “walk the walk” after calling out his teammates after a recent Carlos Marmol blown save.
  • Roy Halladay owned the Cubs.  Halladay struck out nine and did not walk a man in seven innings.

What Went Right

  • Kosuke Fukudome had no trouble reaching base, picking up two hits plus a walk.  Fukudome’s production is extremely important at this time with most of the regular outfielders disabled due to injuries.
  • Aramis Ramirez put together a solid at bat in the eighth inning, which resulted in a two run single to put the Cubs on the board.
  • Geovany Soto contributed to the Cubs eighth inning rally with a run scoring single.  Soto homered last night and could be heating up after a slow start that included a stint on the DL.
  • Louis Montanez entered the game and came up with a huge pinch hit single to drive in the fifth run of the eighth inning.
  • The Cubs offense showed some signs of life.  The Cubs trailed 7-0 in the seventh, but they plated five in the eighth to make a game of it.

News and Notes

  • Angel Guzman made his first appearance for the Peoria Chiefs tonight.  He retired all six men he faced.
  • Jeff Baker and Reed Johnson are also both on the road to recovery.  They are rehabbing in Iowa and hope to return to the club on Monday.
  • Zambrano recorded his 1,500th strike out tonight.  He is second on the Cubs all time Ks list behind Fergie Jenkins.

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

1st Star – Roy Halladay (.322 WPA)

2nd Star – Mike Stutes (.208 WPA)

3rd Star – Domonic Brown (.114 WPA)

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Game 50 – Wells Return Goes Not So Well

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

Pirates 10, Cubs 0

Box Score / Highlights

What Went Wrong

  • Randy Wells was bombed in his return to the rotation.  In his first start since early April and just his second start of the season, he allowed five earned runs in four innings.  The big blow was a long three run homer by former Cub Ronny Cedeno.
  • The Cubs made Paul Maholm, who entered the game with a 1-7 record, look like Cy Young.  The Cubs did not get a baserunner until Alfonso Soriano doubled in the fourth.  They totaled just three hits against the veteran lefty, who turned in a complete game shutout.
  • Four Buccos homered to lead the rout of the Cubs.  James Russell struggled again, serving up two home runs in the sixth inning.
  • The Pirates scored twice more against Scott Maine to turn it into a blowout before tacking on a ninth inning tally against John Grabow.  The pitching staff has been terrible as of late.
  • The Cubs are now 1-4 against the Pirates at Wrigley Field this season entering tomorrow’s series finale.  In order to climb their way back into contention, the Cubs must find a way to beat fellow bottom dwellers such as Houston and Pittsburgh.

What Went Right

  • After homering in the ninth yesterday, Alfonso Soriano notched the only Cub extra base knock today.
  • Jeff Baker pinch hit for the Cubs in the ninth inning.  Although he was retired, it is still good to see some of the injured Cubs back in action.

News and Notes

  • Before the game, the Cubs sent Casey Coleman to Triple-A Iowa to make room for Wells on the roster.
  • Rodrigo Lopez, who was acquired on Thursday from Atlanta, will enter the Cubs rotation.  He will start against the Astros on Monday.
  • Geovany Soto will catch at Double-A Tennessee in a rehab game tonight.  If all goes well, he could be activated tomorrow.
  • Top prospect Brett Jackson is rehabbing from an injury in Mesa.  He will rejoin the Tennessee Smokies on Monday, but Oneri Fleita has said that Jackson is not far away from the big leagues.

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

1st Star– Paul Maholm (.234 WPA)

2nd Star –Neil Walker (.153 WPA)

3rd Star– Ronny Cedeno (.111 WPA)

Official Recap Standing

Mark 6-3 (.667)

Buddy 3-3 (.500)

Joe 10-10 (.500)

Brandon 1-5 (.167)

Chet 0-2 (.000)

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Game 38 – A Terrible Night for a Ballgame

Saturday, May 14th, 2011

Giants 3, Cubs 0 (6 innings)

Box Score / Video Highlights

What Went Wrong

  • This game was played despite poor field conditions, cold weather and constant rain.  If this wasn’t a nationally televised game on FOX, it probably would never have been played.  Luckily, no players were injured.  The rain finally started coming down hard enough for a delay to be called in the top of the seventh inning.  Play was never resumed and it was an official six inning game.
  • The Cubs continued their season long theme of leaving men in scoring position.  They left the bags loaded in the first, and failed to score after having two men on base in the third, fourth and fifth.
  • Carlos Pena and Koyie Hill both grounded into inning ending double plays.  Both men continue do very little at the plate.  Hill, who has taken over starting duties with Geovany Soto sidelined with a groin injury, is hitting just .154 .  Pena’s average is not much better at .208.
  • The Cubs played sloppy defense in the third inning as Hill and Blake DeWitt committed back-to-back two out throwing errors, both of which allow unearned runs to score.  Hill’s miscue was his second of the game and his third since taking over for Geo.

What Went Right

  • Doug Davis pitched well in his Cubs debut.  He worked five inning and allowed three runs, but only one of them was earned.  Davis did his job by giving the team a chance to win the game.
  • After allowing the first two men to reach, Jeff Samardzija worked himself out of a jam in the sixth.  He did a nice job bouncing back from his poor outing against St. Louis on Wednesday.  Samardzija’s ERA is at 3.27.
  • The two most exciting players in the Cubs lineup, Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney, led the way with two hits each.

News and Notes

  • This was the first scheduled Saturday night game at Wrigley Field since 1998.  A neighborhood ban prevents Friday and Saturday night games except when they are being nationally televised.
  • Justin Berg was optioned to Triple-A Iowa before the game to make room for Davis on the active roster.  Thomas Diamond has been removed from the 40-man roster.
  • Aramis Ramirez returned from his trip to the Dominican Republic, but he did not arrive in time to start the game due to a delayed flight.  Ramirez was forced to leave the team to attend to a family situation.  He was in the dugout by the end of the game and should return to Quade’s starting nine tomorrow.
  • The Cubs outhit the Giants 7-5 but could not cash in.  According to Carrie Muskat, they have now had more hits than their opponents in 12 of the last 14 games.

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

1st Star– Ryan Vogelsong (.330 WPA)

2nd Star – Starlin Castro (.124 WPA)

3rd Star– Buster Posey (.105 WPA)

Official Recap Standings

Guest Blogger 1-0 (1.000)

Buddy 3-2 (.600)

Mark 3-3 (.500)

Joe 8-9 (.471)

Brandon 1-4 (.200)

Chet 0-2 (.000)

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Game 26 – A Needed W for Garza and the Cubs

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

Cubs 5, Diamondbacks 3

Box Score / Video Highlights / Condensed Game

What Went Right

  • Matt Garza allowed only three runs in eight solid innings.  He was in  complete control for most of the game.  The Cubs offense was able to support him with more than four runs for the first time this season.  Garza notched his first win in a Cubs uniform.  He fanned ten to move his season K total to 51, which leads the NL.
  • Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney continued to play key roles.  Who knows where the Cubs would be without those two.
  • Alfonso Soriano stayed red hot.  After two long balls on Friday night, he homered again and added a run scoring single on Saturday.  Sori totaled ten dingers in the month of April, the most in his career.  No other player on the ballclub has more than two home runs, while Alfonso has already reached double-figures.
  • Marlon Byrd picked up two hits.  He was dropped to the seventh spot in the lineup and is off to a rough start.
  • Carlos Pena came off the bench and made two nice picks at first in the ninth inning.
  • Carlos Marmol it down for his seventh save.  Marmol’s stuff was electric in the ninth inning, although the D’backs did bring the tying run to the plate.

What Went Wrong

  • Kosuke Fukudome cooled off with an 0-for-5 day at the plate.  He still had a very good month of April, but his usual June swoon is right around the corner.  If Tyler Colvin, who’s hitting .137, doesn’t heat up, the Cubs could be in trouble in right field.
  • Jeff Baker left the game in the top of the eighth inning with a shoulder injury.  He started at first base for the second straight day, but went 0-for-4.

News and Notes

  • In the top of the ninth inning, Geovany Soto attempted to lay down a sacrifice bunt, but was unable to get the job done.  Marlon Byrd was out at second on the fielder’s choice.  Mike Quade argued with second base umpire Dan Bellino about the call, and ended up notching his first big league ejection.  Pat Listach managed the conclusion of the game while Q watched from the clubhouse.  On the replay, it looked as if Bellino made the correct call.
  • The Cubs are looking at other rotation options.  Doug Davis pitched in a rookie league game in front of Jim Hendry, while Todd Wellemyer is scheduled to start for Triple-A Iowa in the next week.
  • Soriano’s blast hit off the scoreboard, becoming the first player to nail the board in Arizona since Richie Sexton in 2004.
  • Alfonso’s ten blasts in April is also a club record.

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

1st Star – Darwin Barney (.299 WPA)

2nd Star – Gerardo Para (.221 WPA)

3rd Star– Matt Garza (.177 WPA)

Official Recap Standings

Buddy 3-1 (.750)

Joe 6-6 (.500)

Mark 2-3 (.400)

Chet 0-1 (.000)

Brandon 1-3 (.250)

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Game 21 – Rotation Woes Continue

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

Dodgers 7 – Cubs 3

Box Score / Video Highlights

What Went Wrong

  • Carlos Zambrano allowed five runs in the top of the first.  Falling behind that early in a game makes it difficult to win.  Z left after allowing six total runs in five innings.  His ERA is now 5.28 as all five Cubs starters continue to struggle.
  • Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez and Marlon Byrd all struck out in the first inning.  The Cubs scored twice in the frame but had a chance for more.  When Soriano struck out with runners at second and third to end the inning with the Dodgers leading 5-2, it was an early turning point in the game.
  • Darwin Barney and Starlin Castro each committed errors.  Castro’s blunder led to an unearned run.   Miscues at the big league level are never a good thing, but when these two guys commit errors it makes Cubs fans particularly uncomfortable.
  • Castro went 0-for-4, his worst performance of the season.
  • Former Cub Aaron Miles posted three hits to help set the stage for the middle part of the LA order.

What Went Right

  • Darwin Barney had another solid day at the dish, going 2-for-5 with an RBI.  He now has driven in 11 runs this season and has boosted his average to .329.
  • Justin Berg retired the side in order in his season debut.  After a rough spring training, it is important for the right hander to get off to a good start with the big club.
  • The Cubs offense was not silent in the thrashing.  It totaled ten hits, with multi-hit Easter Sundays turned in by Kosuke Fukudome, Barney, Ramirez and Marlon Byrd.

News & Notes

  • Today was Zambrano’s first loss since last August.
  • It  is not official, but it looks like the Cubs are leaning toward giving James Russell another start on Tuesday.  He worked a side session this weekend and be treated more like a starter this time around.  The Cubs hope that this will lead to better results.
  • The Cubs are now 0-4 on Sundays this season.  However, they are 3-0 on Mondays entering tomorrow night’s battle with the Rockies.
  • Quade showed a little fire today, arguing with third base umpire Jeff Nelson about whether or not Jerry Sands legally tagged on a fly ball before scoring in the first inning.

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

1st Star – Aaron Miles (.155 WPA)

2nd Star – Hiroki Kuroda (.091 WPA)

3rd Star– Matt Kemp (.090 WPA)

Official Recap Standings

Buddy 3-0 (1.00)

Joe 5-5 (.500)

Mark 2-2 (.500)

Chet 0-1 (.000)

Brandon 0-3 (.000)

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Game 13 – Offensive Power Outage

Saturday, April 16th, 2011


Rockies 5 – Cubs 0

Box Score / Video Highlights

What Went Wrong

  • The Cubs offense could not figure out Jhoulys Chacin.  They were shutout for the second time this season.  Chacin went the distance, allowing six hits and striking out seven.
  • Matt Garza was rocky once again.  He has not been terrible in any of his three outings, but he has not done enough to keep the Cubs in the games.  They have dropped all three of his starts, but the first one was a blown save by Carlos Marmol and he has received a grand total of zero runs of support in his last two.  Still, his 0-2 record and 6.27 ERA must be improved upon quickly.
  • The Cubs really only threatened to score once in the game, when they had two men on base in the scoreless game in the top of the second.  Tyler Colvin bounced into an inning ending double play.
  • The left handed hitters have not been very productive for Mike Quade this season.  Tyler Colvin and Carlos Pena will be leaned on to provide some thump.  Tonight Colvin saw his average sink to .135 with an 0-for-3 performance, while Pena managed a single and a walk to improve his average to .200.
  • Garza allowed the first three batters in the Rockies half of the second inning to reach.  Then, Chris Ianetta lined a triple just over the glove of Marlon Byrd.  With three runs already in on the play, the throw to third from Starlin Castro was wild, allowing Ianetta to scamper home to make it 4-0.  After this blow, the Cubs were never in the contest.

What Went Right

  • Aramis Ramirez was the lone Cub to make some noise at the dish.  He recorded the only Cub extra base knock of the evening and totaled three hits.
  • The Cubs bullpen did its job.  After “Bullpen Day” was a total failure on Tuesday, some questions were raised about the middle relief core.  James Russell and Jeff Samardzija both made bounce back outings, working three up, three down frames.  Samardzija finally had good control, striking out two of the three men he faced.

News and Notes

  • First base umpire Jerry Layne was nailed  in the right ankle by a foul liner off the bat of Carlos Pena in the second inning.  Layne left the game and a three man crew was used for the rest of the night.
  • Kosuke Fukudome is expected to return to the lineup soon.  He took batting practice and did some light running before the game today.  Kosuke has been out with a strained left hamstring.
  • Today was Jackie Robinson Day throughout Major League Baseball.  Every player on the Cubs and every other big league club sported number 42 on his back in honor of Robinson.

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

1st Star – Jhoulys Chacin (.303 WPA)

2nd Star – Chris Ianetta (.196 WPA)

3rd Star– Todd Helton (.083 WPA)

Official Recap Standings

Buddy 2-0 (1.00)

Joe 3-3 (.500)

Mark 1-1 (.500)

Chet 0-1 (.000)

Brandon 0-2 (.000)

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