Series Recap - Cubs win 2 of 3, exit in first place
Sunday evening's Cubs-Cardinals showdown was rained out, much to our disappointment.
I've pretty much said everything about the series - that I can think of at least, I happily welcome you to interject your own reflections on the match-up - but I'll do a quick recap for everybody.
The Hitting: The Cubs scored 19 in 3 games. If they can average 6.3 runs a game the rest of the year, then they will be playoff bound.
Alfonso Soriano - 3 for 12, 4 BB, 1 HR, 2 RBI, .250 AVG, .438 OBP. The Fonz actually resembled a leadoff hitter this series with just a dash of clutch thrown in. Between his 4 walks he hit a game-winning homerun on Friday.
Kosuke Fukudome - 5 for 12, 2 BB, 3 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, .417 AVG, .500 OBP. Fukudome had at least 1 RBI in every game and was probably the series MVP, even if he didn't hit a game winning homer like Soriano and Ramirez. He very well may wind up batting .270 this year with below-average numbers, but he remains a contributor for now.
Derrek Lee - 3 for 14, 0 BB, 1 2B, 3 RBI, .214 AVG. Lee slowed down this series. The lack of walks gives the impression that he's pressing. Then again, 3 RBI in 3 games. I reiterate that Lee belongs batting 6th, but by the end of the year his numbers will be that of a slightly below-average #3 hitter ... and on a team with above average 5 through 8 hitters, that's not such a big deal.
Micah Hoffpauir - 3 for 11, 0 BB, 1 2B, 1 RBI, .273 AVG. Hoff stepped in for Milton this series, as the Crazy Uncle has found himself slumping and in trouble. Hoff's numbers aren't bad for your top bench choice. Maybe Lou needs to realize that that's what Hoffpauir is - the best pinch hitter on the team - rather than continue to feed at bats for Aaron Miles to squander.
Aramis Ramirez - 6 for 13, 1 BB, 1 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, .416 AVG, .500 OBP. If Fukudome is the series MVP, Ramirez is the runner up. Aramis put up great numbers against the Cubs' biggest rival. Some Goat Riders think that this is Clutchy's year to bust out. I remain skeptical that he'll outproduce his normal numbers, but even a "normal" Ramirez season is pretty damned good.
Mike Fontenot - 1 for 9, .111 AVG. Ugh. Not a good series for FonteYES. This blog went out of its way to defend Fontenot as the choice to play second base for the Cubs in '09, but so far he's making us look dumber than a brain-damaged Paris Hilton. Blah blah, small sample sizes, yadda yadda, two months to prove himself, etc. etc., he's still way better than Aaron Miles, (secretly shed a tear for the departed DeRosa; put on a strong face, and so-on).
Aaron Miles - 1 for 5, 2 BB, 2 RBI, .200 AVG, .375 OBP. Listen. If you really think Aaron Miles should be starting on the Cubs, then you need to go back to 1997 with your Sammy Sosa hop and your $15 bleachers so you can drunkenly sway with the crowd while Harry Caray sings TMOTTBG in the 7th because under no circumstance should Aaron Miles be starting for a team that's going to win more than 90 games. I hope you like boy bands, buddy, because you belong in the era where they reigned supreme if you want to stump for Miles. ...then again, Brittany was hot back then.
Geovany Soto - 1 for 9, 4 BB, 1 RBI, .111 AVG, .385 OBP. Ah yes, Geovany Soto. This week's reason for my developing ulcer. Doesn't Geo know that the Cubs have a history of one-year-wonders? Isn't he aware of how effin' nervous we get at slow starts? Anyway, Soto and Bradley should be best friends. Between them they have 3 hits this year. And it's April 20th. Geeze!
Ryan Theriot - 5 for 12, 1 BB, 1 3B, .416 AVG, .462 OBP. He has long been known as The Riot or, in my case, TheQuitRiot. But I have a new nickname for Theriot, and I think it will stick. He shall be called "Slappy." The guy is getting a ton of hits, often multiple hits per game, but the are rarely for extra bases despite his speed. Theriot belongs either 1st or 8th in the lineup based on his inability to slug.
Okay, back to generalities.
The Pitching (in my best Frankenstein's Monster voice): Starters (and fire) baaaaad. Bullpen goooood.
Sean Marshall - Good news: allowed 3 earned runs in 5 innings and left the game with the chance to win. Bad news: WHIP was 1.8 that game. Not a terrible outing for a #5 pitcher. I know Rob expressed a different viewpoint, but I think he overreacted a little. A team's 5th pitcher - be it the guy pitching for the Yankees or the Pirates - tends to suck. Marshall very well may be better than most of those #5 guys and one outing in which he barely left with a lead will not even remotely indicate if he's going to be successful. I need a much larger sample size.
Carlos Zambrano - Good news: 7 innings pitched. Bad news: 7 earned runs. Good news: 7 strikeouts. Bad news: 7 earned runs. I don't know what it is about Carlos, but when he loses he tends to get beaten up. He rarely loses a game 3 to 2. I didn't get to see this game, but I'd guess by the strikeouts that his problem wasn't velocity. Was it location/lack of movement?
Ryan Dempster - Good news: 6 innings pitched. Bad news: they were mediocre. 4 hits, 4 walks, 4 strikeouts, and 4 earned runs were the result of his 103 pitch effort. Our second richest pitcher needs to improve on that.
Aaron Heilman - 3 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 ER, 3.00 ERA. Heilman blew a save opportunity (although losing a lead in the 6th inning is blowing a save the cheap way), won a game, and was mostly effective. Let's just face it - the first game was not the Cubs' to win.
Neil Cotts - 0.1 IP, 1 H, 2 BB. Let's just be honest. Cotts is on the Piniella shit list. Aubrey Huff once told a story about Lou following him into the clubhouse after a game, red-faced and ranting, dogging him in the showers, screaming at the top of his lungs because Huffy screwed up. Why do I have a feeling that Cotts has experienced something similar to that? I just think that Piniella needs to put him out there on the mound and leave him to bail out the Cubs or get beaten up by their opponents. Seriously, the next time Cotts comes in and walks the first batter he faces, Lou needs to leave him out there to bail himself out.
Dave Patton - 0.2 IP, 1 H, 2BB, 2 ER, 27.00 ERA. (Correct me please if I screwed up the ERA calculation.) The General had a rough one in the first game of the series.
Angel Guzman - 2 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 1 ER, 2 K, 4.50 ERA. Guzman along with the entire Cubs bullpen got slammed in the first game, but he got the job done in Game Three.
Luis Vizcaino - 1 IP, 1 H, 2 K, 0.00 ERA. Go figure - Vizcaino has yet to allow an earned run this year. Isn't he washed up?
Carlos Marmol - 2 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 ER, 4.50 ERA. Marmol killed it in Game Two, but in the third game Lou went to the well once too often and it cost him. Carlos is not a two innings-pitched reliever. Sorry. He just can't do it.
Kevin Gregg - 2 IP, 2 K, 0 ER, 0.00 ERA. This guy pretty well may have lost the closer's role, but he saved the day on Saturday. I think Gregg will still have the gig next week ... but he's right behind Neal Cotts on that list.
Good, timely hitting - check.
Good, effective starting pitching - meh.
Quality relieving - minus game one, check.
Cubs win 2 of 3, and are now in first place. Eat it, St. Louis.
Current Record: 7-4
Position in the NL Central: 1st Place, tied with St. Louis
Best Possible Record: 158-4
Worst Possible Record: 7-155
On Pace For: 103-59
Magic Number: 151 courtesy of Cubsmagicnumber.com