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Northside Archives: May Days

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

May 1, 2001: After Jason Bere is tagged for 7 runs in just 2+ IP; Cub reliever Mike Fyhrie takes the mound. The Padres’ Santiago Perez broke his bat in the fourth inning, a portion of which struck Fyhrie and broke his ulna. Fyhrie made 6 more appearances for the Cubs (though not until after the All-Star Break). He played for the A’s at the end of 2001 and made 16 appearances for them in 2002 before being sent to the minors and eventually washing out of professional baseball following the 2003 season.

May 2, 1917: With dueling no-hitters through 9 innings, it’s the Cubs’ Hippo Vaughn who would be the tough luck loser to the Reds’ Fred Toney. Vaughn gave up a single, followed by an error and then an infield hit which proved to give the Reds a 1-0 win after Toney completed his no-hitter in the 10th.

May 2, 1956: The Giants beat the Cubs 6-5 in a 17-inning affair at Wrigley. But Cub 3B Don Hoak is the notable offender on this day, he strikes out 6 times against 6 different Giant pitchers.

May 4, 2005: Mark Grace hits his first MLB grand slam after 6,136 at-bats. (And drove home drunk for the ?th time)

May 4, 2005: Greg Maddux and Roger Clemens become the 5th set of 300+ game winners to start against each other. The Cubs come away from Minute Maid Park with a 3-2 win. Roger leaves with the syringe in his back pocket, or thereabouts.

May 6, 1998: Kerry Wood sets the NL record with 20 K’s in a game. Kevin Orie makes the game slightly less memorable.

May 7, 2010: Starlin Castro debuts at 20 years old with a three-run homer. Later he adds a bases-loaded triple to become the first player in history to grab 6 RBIs in his debut.

May 8, 1973: Cubs’ manager Whitey Lockman is ejected in the 11th inning which leaves Ernie Banks to manage the remainder of the game. Banks, though not recognized officially as such, becomes MLB’s first black manager in this game.

May 11, 1998: In his next outing, Kerry Wood strikes out 13 against Arizona. No one, on steroids or not, has ever struck out as many as Wood (33) in back-to-back starts.

May 12, 1970: Ernie Banks hits his 500th career homer.

May 12, 1998: Mark Grace hits the 1st homer into the swimming pool behind RF in Arizona.

May 12, 2004: Alex Cora battles Matt Clement for 17 pitches, finally hitting the 18th over the fence. This was not a fun game to attend, trust me, I know.

May 13, 1969: Dick Selma pitches a shutout for the Cubs. His is the third of three consecutive shutouts from Cub pitchers (Fergie Jenkins & Ken Holtzman threw the other two).

May 14, 2000: Eric Young steals 5 bases, Henry Rodriguez piles up 7 RBIS, and Sammy Sosa gets 5 hits. The Cubs somehow lose 16-15.

May 16, 1996: Sammy Sosa hits two HRs in a single inning – the first Cub to ever do so.

May 17, 1979: The Cubs score 22 runs and lose, as only the Cubs can…in 10 innings, and never once did they lead.

May 20, 1920: Chicago police don disguises for a gambling raid on the Wrigley Field bleachers. Dozens are arrested. The Cubs also lose 6-0.

May 20, 2006: En route to a 7-0 loss at the hands of their rivals from the South side, the benches clear when Michael Barrett sucker punches perpetual miscreant AJ Pierzynski after the White Sox catcher slides hard into home plate.

May 22, 1990: Feared slugger Andre Dawson is walked 5 times (all intentionally) during a 2-1, 16-inning win over the Reds. (None of Dawson’s walks would prove pivotal).

May 24, 1957: Frank Ernaga debuts for the Cubs, hitting a HR and a triple with 2 RBIs.

May 25, 1982: Fergie Jenkins records his 3,000 strikeout. He was the 7th pitcher in history to do so.

May 28, 2006: The Cubs score 12 times, give up 8 HRs, and lose by one to the Atlanta Braves. This unfortunate game takes 11-innings to complete.

May 28, 1966: Ron Santo hits a 3-run HR in the 12th inning as the Cubs walk-off against the Braves.

May 29, 1966: Ron Santo hits a solo HR in the 10th inning as the Cubs walk-off against the Braves.

May 30, 1922: Cliff Heathcote plays for the Cardinals in game 1 of a double-header while Max Flack starts for the Cubs. Before game 2, the players are traded. They swap jerseys and start for their new teams in second game. The Cubs win both games.

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Game 31 – Pitching Their Way To A Sweep

Monday, May 6th, 2013

Box Score / Highlights

Star of the Game – Joey Votto – .188 (WPA)

Untimely Pitching
On Friday, Carlos Villanueva was tagged for 4 runs, even though he only surrendered 7 hits. Yesterday, Carlos Marmol coughed up 3 runs, even though he didn’t give up a single hit. And on Sunday, Edwin Jackson let the Reds register 8 hits leading to 4 runs. The bullpen was even worse, Camp & Loe combined for 3 hits that produced 3 runs. The Reds took advantage of every Cubs’ pitcher that struggled to get out of an inning all weekend.

Edwin Jackson was mediocre on Sunday, still when the 5th inning ended the Cubs trailed only 4-3; Shawn Camp made sure the Reds cushioned that lead. I’ve been saying for a week now that the Cubs need a bit of a roster shakeup with some of the poorly performing role players being kicked to the curb. Camp should be one of those cleaning out his locker. It’s not that there’s something in AAA or on the waiver wire so compelling as to merit immediate attention; but the team is stagnant and running Camp out there every other day or starting Sappelt and his impatience against LHPs is not going to yield any different results in the near future.

Losing To The Team That Made This Play
This is how bad the Cubs were this weekend; you can make this play and still expect to beat the Cubs.

Ian Stewart
In case you were wondering, Ian Stewart is still a Cub and might be for some time yet. He was optioned to AAA (even though he’s been there on rehab). The team could’ve outrighted Stewart to AAA – forcing him to choose between electing immediate free agency or accepting the assignment. If he’d elected free agency, they Cubs would’ve no longer been responsible for his 2013 contract. Why didn’t they do this? Who knows – the new regime has some weird obsession with Stewart. It’s still possible that later this year they’ll choose to outright Stewart and force his decision; but why not now? We may never know.

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Game 29 – Dusty Baker Was Right

Saturday, May 4th, 2013

Box Score / Highlights

Star of the Game – J.J. Hoover – .268 (WPA)

Untimely Hitting
One day after surrendering 4 eighth-inning runs with 2 outs, the Cubs surrendered another 4 two-out runs which eventually doomed them against the Reds. And in what’s becoming a familiar theme this year, the Cubs were unable to plate any two-out runs of their own until 26 of their outs had been exhausted – and the 3 runs that they did manage in the ninth fell short of what was needed to extend the game.

In what’s sure to be an unpopular opinion, I’m completely agreeing with Dusty Baker’s assessment of the game. “The team that gets the two-out hits is the team that wins the games,” Dusty said. “Those are big, big clutch hits when you get two out.” And he’s right, the Cubs actually had more opportunities to score runs, but too often they ended the inning with a whimper.

With 15 hits on the day, they were seemed incapable of putting more than 2 of them together at a time. The Cubs combined for 4 hits total in both the 6th and 9th inning. But they scattered their other 7 hits and couldn’t plate a run in any other inning. Even in the ninth, they got a lot of help from Aroldis Chapman who gave up two walks along with four hits (from which the Cubs only scored thrice).

“Star of the Game”
Just a disclaimer here – I don’t consider J.J. Hoover the star of the game – even if the WPA does. He recorded a single out. But I’ve already tried to post a recap without a star this year…I won’t make the same mistake twice. In my opinion, the stars of the game were each teams’ starting pitcher. Both pitched better than their scoreline shows, particularly Leake. But the offense for both sides was a team effort, making it a bit difficult to single out one player. In fact, you could argue (successfully too) that the biggest contributor to the Reds win was Darwin Barney. Totally deserving of his -.453 WPA, Barney GIDP twice along with a bases loaded strikeout to end the game. About the only thing he didn’t do for the Reds was relay pitch locations to their hitters.

Matt Garza
Finally throwing again, the small bit of Matt Garza news is that he’ll make a second rehab start on Monday. Dale Sveum said he expects Garza to make that start and at least two more before he might be ready for a return to the majors. Let’s hope there aren’t anymore hiccups along the way.

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Game 25 – Winning The Games They Should

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

Box Score / Highlights

Star of the Game – Darwin Barney – .231 (WPA)

Jeff Samardzija
I’m of two minds about Jeff Samardzija so far in 2013. The optimistic side of me says that games like Monday night are what suggest Jeff can be an ace before long. It’s critical for an ace to be able to fight through a game with less than his best stuff – on Monday night, Samardzija definitely didn’t have his best stuff.

The pessimist in me (wants to cannibalize the optimist) believes that outings like Monday night occur too frequently for the former Notre Dame standout to ever be truly considered an ace. Except his first start of the year, which was truly great, Samardzija’s appearances since have been somewhere between solid and bad – but the common theme is they are too short. He’s simply not pitching deep enough into games.

He needs to throw more strikes – tonight he walked 4, struck out 8 but took 5 innings to plow through 101 pitches. It’s becoming a theme, last time out it was 6 innings 104 pitches; his second start this year was 105 pitches in 5.2 innings, and the third start was it was 100 pitches in 6 innings. The only time since Opening Day that he’s pitched into the 7th was against Milwaukee where he completed 7 innings, but gave up 5 runs in the process. It’s like someone had him study game tape of Rich Harden.

It’s especially worrying because the bullpen is so terrible; I pity Edwin Jackson. He can expect zero help tomorrow night after he is pulled from the game.

Scott Hairston & Cody Ransom
The former Padres hit back-to-back jacks in the 2nd against their former team. The Cubs were buoyed all night by the bottom of the order particularly with Ransom and Darwin Barney. The 6-7-8 spots produced all the runs for the Cubs and it’s a good thing, because…

Dave Sappelt
…leadoff ‘hitter’ Dave Sappelt sucks at this game called baseball. He’s started hitting leadoff 7 times so far this season, seeing 11, 7, 17, 19, 20, 10, 10 pitches in those respective starts. So only in 3 of 7 starts has he seen more than 11 pitches. He’s jumping at pitches, hacking wildly – almost hoping it sometimes seems, that his bat will miraculously make contact. *Nate Schierholtz saw 7 pitches in one PH at-bat tonight; Sappelt saw 10 pitches in 4 PAs.

With two out in the second, on the heels of a Samardzija sac bunt, Sappelt decided to swing at the first pitch and ground into the final out of the inning; because who cares if Jeff gets a chance to collect a breath? (it’s commonplace for even a mediocre leadoff hitter to drag their feet in such an at-bat – giving their pitcher every opportunity to catch his breath and ready himself to pitch again).

He led off the Cubs half of the inning in each of his other three at-bats, weakly grounding out to the left side every time. If he was hitting the ball, the lack of patience would be less problematic; but even Ian Stewart has been heard mocking Sappelt’s ability to get a hit. And Sappelt’s swing is too long and disjointed for a guy who doesn’t posses middle-of-the-order power. He’s merely a pedestrian fielder; the Cubs can do better with his roster spot.

So as not to be too much of a downer, I’ll say the bullpen was quite good tonight – especially Gregg. That has me highly suspicious of tomorrow night, but we’ll leave those troubles for tomorrow. Also, if the recap makes it feel like we lost this game, just know that it was the combination of Hairston, Ransom, and Barney and the bullpen work that pulled out the win. The rest of the team left a lot to be desired whether it was overall impatience at the top of the order (1-4 in the lineup), Castro’s odd error, or Samardzija aforementioned uninspiring performance, the Cubs scratched and clawed for this one, and not in a good way.

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Game 21 – Finally A Weaker Opponent

Friday, April 26th, 2013

Box Score / Highlights

Star of the Game – Luis Valbuena – .340 (WPA)

Darwin Barney
Defense was on display for the Cubs on Thursday night in Miami, and it all started with Gold Glove 2B Darwin Barney. He made two very nice plays here and here. The flip to Castro was sensational, that’s the only way to record an out with Pierre running in that situation, and if they miss it the bases are loaded.

Welington Castillo
Castillo’s play also came with Pierre at the plate. A poor sacrifice bunt attempt saw Castillo aggressively going after the lead runner at third base in the ninth inning. Again, if he misses this play or is a split-second late with the throw, the bases are loaded and Marmol has no outs.

Hector Rondon
Sometimes it’s just as important to be lucky. And Rondon certainly was as he snagged this liner.

Nice Win
The Cubs jumped out to an early lead when Castro drove in DeJesus who led the game with a double. Edwin Jackson pitched 6 total innings, 3 of which were good, 3 of which weren’t so good. Jackson immediately gave the run back to the Marlins in the bottom of the first…on a bases loaded walk. The Marlins tagged him for a pair of runs in the 2nd. But back-to-back doubles in the fourth from Castillo and Schierholtz plus a sixth inning HR from Schierholtz left the game tied when Jackson exited. He is credited with a quality start, only in the statistical sense however, it was a mediocre outing.

Luis Valbuena was the Cubs hero, hitting a solo HR that proved to be the final difference. It was almost another case of taking a late lead only to eventually lose when Marmol issued a walk and a single before Pierre’s failed bunt attempt. ¬†Carlos turned it around and recorded the final two outs without incident. ¬†Cubs Win!

Other Notes
Matt Garza is scheduled to throw long toss on Friday. That’s because he was scratched from his rehab start in Double-A on Wednesday. The Cubs are blaming the missed start on a ‘dead arm’ – and that shouldn’t be concerning at all for a guy who hasn’t pitched in the majors since last July. He’s a comebacking line drive to the torso away from being adopted by Mark Prior.

Ian Stewart is trying to find his swing in Triple-A. May I politely suggest that instead of wasting time trying to find his swing, he should steal someone else’s. Stewart is “healthy and ready to go” and we know this because he’s bashing the ball in AAA. Hitting .083 (2-for-24) I’d argue that he’s found his swing, it’s probably just best to promote him now before he goes into a slump.

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