Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Game Recaps

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Game Recap: Reds 7, Cubs 5 -- Carlos Marmol isn't the change we are looking for

Game Recap
Randy Wells joined today the increasingly full list of Cub starters who struggle to get out of the 4th inning, although the Cubs still almost managed to escape with a win.  Our heroes were down 5 runs when, in the middle innings they launched a Geovany Soto-led charge. 

The Cubs catcher hit 2 RBI-scoring doubles in back-to-back innings, which -- along with run-contributing hits by Aramis Ramirez and Bobby Scales -- tied the game at 5 until the 9th inning.  That was when Carlos Marmol stepped in and proceeded to cough, hack, and vomit up the lead after having gotten the first 2 outs of the inning via a double play.  It was at that point that Marmol walked Johnny Gomes and Kevin Barker, surrendered a 2-run double to Drew Sutton, and to add injury to insult plunked Paul Janish.  And that was the way it ended, with Carlos Marmol doing a Walk of Shame off the mound after he managed to get a strikeout to end the inning.

On a side note, I have to admit that sometimes I want to read Dusty Baker's excuses as to why the Reds have sucked so badly these last few years.  But really, I can't do it.  I just can't bring myself to read his words. Still, if you're a Reds fan and you've stumbled across this website, (here are a few Google keywords to help you get here -- Dusty Baker sucks, Dusty Baker is a fraud, Dusty Baker should be fired, how Dusty Baker tricked the Reds into hiring him, hot MILFS in wild action with a Dusty Baker look-alike) you should tell me if any of the following sounds familiar:

  • We just don't have the horses, dude.
  • I'm not saying that the ownership hasn't got me some good players, but in a league with the Cubs and Cardinals they need to open up the wallet a bit ... dude.
  • I'm sure we've got some young, talented players here who could help us win.  But baseball is an earn it game, dude, not a give it game.  I can't just give those guys a job.  I used to play with Hank Aaron, and it took me a long time to crack that same lineup as him, dude.  Anyway, I gotta give my guys (aka: the veterans on the team) their at bats so they can make their bonuses, but if these kids can earn their way into the lineup (magically without getting actual play time) then you bet I'll play them.
  • We never had a lot of young talent in San Francisco or Chicago, it was always just a good group of veterans.  That's why I got this unfair reputation of not starting rookies, dude.

And that's Dusty Speak 101 for you right there.  Reds fans, we pity you, honestly.  We wouldn't wish Dusty Baker on our worst enemies ... not even the White Sox/Cardinals.

Game Recap: Cubs 6, Reds 4

Game Recap
Geovany Soto, where have you been?  They must have confiscated his reefer at the airport or something, because the Cubs second-year catcher brought his hitting cleats to tonight's game.  By that I mean he went 1 for 3 with a sacrifice fly and a solo homerun, which makes this game for Soto quite an achievement.  (At this point we'll take anything.)

Soto's 2 runs, coupled with a 3-RBI day from Aramis Ramirez, gave the Cubs just enough offense to overtake a Reds team hell-bent on Rich Harden domination.  The Cubs starter burned through 104 pitches in just 4 innings of work, walking 5 and striking out 6.  His totally craptacular performance paved the way for Jeff Stevens to notch his first-ever big league victory, which he managed to do by pitching a single inning of 3-hit, 3-run baseball.  In other words, much like how you don't want to tell your kids about how they were conceived before you and your spouse got married, Jeff Stevens will probably not want to describe in intricate detail to his kids the way Johnny Gomes teed off on him like it was the Homerun Derby in Jeff's first-ever big league win.

Still, it was enough for the Cubs, who otherwise saw a good outing from their bullpen.  Aaron Heilman shocked the world by pitching 2 innings of perfect baseball (true, he didn't come in with runners on) and Carlos Marmol stepped in to earn his latest Mitch Williams-like Save ... he got 'er done on 28 pitches, 12 of which were balls, 1 hit, 1 walk, and 2 strikeouts.  Guh.

Meanwhile, at this moment the Rockies are losing to the Padres in the 8th inning by a score of 1 to 0.  IT'S GONNA ...

Update: 7:50AM

...be a blown lead for the Padres.  Colorado 4, San Diego 1.  Sweet Jesus, the Rockies are tough!

Game & Series Recap: Cubs 8 Pirates 5 (3 games to 0)

Game Recap
Here's a sad fact for you -- the last time Carlos Zambrano won a game, Kevin Gregg was still the closer for the Cubs.

Since then, Gregg completely imploded (although some Cub fans probably wish he'd do us a favor and explode his way right off the team), Milton Bradley went totally insane (as did some of our readers), and the Cubs fell from contention.  Still, Chicago managed to sweep the Pirates, which is about as surprising as rain on a cloudy day.

It all happened primarily thanks to a Cubs offense that combined for 13 hits and 7 walks, including multi-hit days from 5 different players.  In particular, Micah Hoffpauir had a too-little, too-late performance to remember: he hit his 9th double and 10th homerun of the season while drawing 2 walks to boot.  After the game, Cub players were scouting nearby town houses with the hopes of moving into Pittsburgh permanently so they could tee off daily on the crappy Pirates pitchers.

Carlos, meanwhile, gave the Cubs 6 innings, allowing 5 hits, 3 walks, and 2 runs while striking out 8.  Naturally the bullpen held strong, except for one Kevin Gregg who served up a 3 run homer to Ronny Effing Cedeno.  Hey, Gregg, when you're giving up homeruns to that jaggoff, it's over.

The Cubs are off tomorrow before traveling back to Chicago where they get to take on the mediocre Reds.  Can you believe that Dusty still has a job there? 

Current Record: 71-67
Position in the NL Central:
2nd place, 11.5 games out
Best Possible Record: 95-67
Worst Possible Record: 71-91
Record needed to win 90: 19-5
On Pace For: 83-79

Game Recap: Cubs 9, Pirates 4 -- Let's Play Two

Game Recap
The Pirates are a team I wish the Cubs could play at least 50 times a year.  They're the Mos Eisley of the baseball world, at least in the sense of being "wretched," and today the Cubs took some time to get to know them in the Biblical sense, as they started out the game with 8 straight hits to take a lead they wouldn't even come close to losing.

The end result is 9 runs, 8 against Zach Duke (anybody remember when he used to dominate the Cubs?  Yeah, me neither) and while Derrek Lee managed another two hits, this time none escaped the ballpark.  Instead the Cubs relied on a total team effort, collecting 14 hits and 4 walks against Pittsburgh, with 6 different Chicago players driving in runs -- and 3 of them drove in 2.

As far as Dempster goes, while he took a page from Kerry Wood's old playbook and knocked in a run as well, he wasn't exactly a model of superiority on the mound.  Clownsevelt made it into the 7th, but he surrendered 8 hits and 4 earned runs.  Still, it was enough for Dempster to collect his 9th win of the season, which means he's got about 4 chances to reach double digits.  Woo-hoo?

The Cubs play to sweep tomorrow.  We should be thrilled, I suppose.  I'm just happy to see the personal accomplishments ring up.  It is ridiculously important to me that Dempster and Zambrano both reach 10 wins, much as I would love to see Milton Bradley bat .275, Kosuke Fukudome bat .280, and Micah Hoffpauir reach 10 homeruns.  After all -- the Cubs are 7 games out of the Wild Card.  Christmas is canceled, the kitchen is closed... it's over.

Game Recap: Cubs 4, Pirates 2 -- Derrek Lee strikes again ... and again

Game Recap
Jeezus!  Derrek Lee is apparently serious about having an incredible 2009 season, even while the Cubs hopes continue to fade into dust.  For the second time in two days, Derrek hit 2 homers in a game -- again being responsible for the bulk of the team's offense, and elevating his season totals to 31 homeruns, 96 RBI, and a .298 AVG.  On top of that, Lee has only hit into 9 double plays so far this year.

That means that, with more than 20 games still remaining, Derrek has now come within 1 homerun and 2 RBI of his second-best production not only as a Cub, but in his major league career.  But he's still a long way off from the MVLee year of 2005.

I would, again, like to take this time to focus on the man-love that many of you were feeling for Micah Hoffpauir at this time last year.  The Hoff, you wanted to note, was a classic masher.  He'd had an amazing season in Iowa, he'd had a good 70-or-so at bats in the majors, and many of you were ready to crown him the heir to Derrek, who was a washed up hack, a double-play hit-into-er*, whose power had evaporated and defense was overrated.  Derrek was done for, Hoff was the wave of the future, and you took plenty of opportunities to express that opinion.

(*may not actually be a word)

It was almost as if many of you had never before seen a mediocre player have an explosive year before, or something.  It was a fool-me-twice scenario, and many people played the fool.  Even then, I -- that's right, me, baby! -- suggested you exercise caution.  I pointed out that there was a long history of first basemen having huge minor league years in their late 20's, and none of them turned into MVPs -- and few ever managed to turn into MLR's (Major League Regulars).  I noted that if Hoff was such a hot commodity, some crazy GM would have been blowing up Hendry's phone all winter long to pry him away.  I pointed out that Derrek's double play madness was a tremendous fluke and he'd be unlikely to fall off the offensive cliff in 2009.  And still people wanted Hoffpauir. 

Well, my friends, I am hardly a baseball genius.  I may not be a statisticals expert, or a master of baseball strategy, but I do think I generally have a helpful heaping of common sense, and it just made absolutely no sense on any world that Hoffpauir would be a better player than Lee.  Looks like I may have known what I was talking about ... this time, at least.  I also thought that Alfonso Soriano would bat north of .250 and Milton Bradley would be just the slugger the Cubs were looking for.  Turns out I'm a moron after all.

Speaking of being wrong about stuff, I'd also been annoyed back before '07 when from the confines of his hospital bed Jim Hendry signed Ted Lilly to a big deal.  I'd thought Barry Zito was the way to go.  Laws, I was wrong.  Lilly has gone on to be perhaps the best free agent pitcher signing the Cubs have ever made, and he demonstrated some of that ass-kickedness** today by tossing 6 innings while striking out 7 and allowing only 2 hits, 3 walks, and 2 runs to score.  And amazingly enough, the bullpen would follow suit and shut down the Pirates.

(**also not a word, but probably should be)

So, there we have it.  An easy win for the Cubs.  As mentioned earlier, I think Rob is in Pittsburgh.  Hopefully he'll find the time to contribute about the game, assuming he saw it.  Either way, Derrek Lee is a golden gawd.

Game & Series Recap: Mets 4, Cubs 2 (1 game to 2)

Game Recap
Randy Wells didn't have his best stuff ever today, as he surrendered 7 hits in 6 innings and 95 pitches, but he was effective enough that he should have gotten the job done.  Instead, the Mets appeared to rub the belly of the Cubs offense, which promptly rolled over and continued its slumber. 

Of course, Kevin Gregg did his best to continue the ruination of his season -- nay, his career -- by getting slapped around in the 7th, putting it out of reach.  More than the departure of DeRosa, or the acquisition of Crazy Milton Bradley, Gregg's trade from Florida to Chicago has to be Jim Hendry's biggest blunder of this past off season.  I regret ever having defended that ball-tossing turd.

The one good thing from today's game: Geovany Soto, his season long since wasted (much like he himself is in the off season), collected two hits, both doubles, and was responsible for driving in both Cub runs.

So, the Cubs are out of New York, off to play the Pirates, and we can only wish them the best of luck.  Not that it'll help -- this team needs more than luck to win baseball games.

Current Record: 68-67
Position in the NL Central:
2nd place, 11.5 games out
Best Possible Record: 95-67
Worst Possible Record: 68-94
Record needed to win 90: 22-5
On Pace For: 82-80

Game Recap: Cubs 5, Mets 3 -- Derrek Lee, you're my hero

Game Recap
I wouldn't be surprised if the Cubs managed to play about .500 ball from here on out -- which in itself would be disappointing if only because against so many crappy teams you'd think they could do much better than that.

Yesterday's game, for example, was one in which the Cubs should have won, and did.  But considering that their opponent was a luckless pitcher who belongs nowhere near a competitive baseball team, maybe the Cubs should've scored more than 5 runs.  As it was, the only reason they scored that many was thanks to Derrek Lee, who hit 2 homers and drove in 3 runs -- elevating his homerun total to 29, or 9 more than he had in many more at bats last year.

Lee's production -- coupled with a two-run shot by Aramis (of which Derrek was on base for, giving him a share in all offensive success the Cubs had yesterday) was all the support Rich Harden needed.  Harden only managed 5 innings on just over 100 pitches, where he surrendered 7 hits, walked 1, and impressively struck out 10.  I'm honestly not sure how the hell he managed to throw 20 pitches an inning when he only walked 1 guy -- he must have had a lot of full counts.

The Cubs play later today for the series win -- which they should be able to achieve -- although lord knows it'll be tougher than it should be.

Doubleshot -- Game Recap: Mets 6, Cubs Blew ... er, 2. GameCast: September 5th at New York

Game Recap
Due to time constraints, laziness, and because I think it looks kind of cool, I'm going to combine yesterday's ugly recap with today's scag-like GameCast.

So.  Your team is struggling for offense and you have one guy who's been hitting the ball decently.  Do you:

A) stack the lineup to give him as many opportunities as possible to hit with runners on?
B) find your second best hitter on the team and bat that guy behind your "one guy" in order to create an illusion of protection?
or C) give him the day off.

Lou picked "C," and the Cubs lost again 6 to 2.  At least it wasn't the fault of Carlos Zambrano, who was recently accused of having "quit" on the season.  (I have a feeling that if you told Carlos to his face that he was a quitter, he'd probably punch his hand through your head.)  The Big Moose tossed 6 innings, surrendered 3 hits -- 1 a solo homer -- and struck out 7. 

Jeff Baker tied the 1-0 game in the 8th by knocking in Crazy Milton, and that was when Kevin Gregg stepped in and completed his own personal circle of suck.  Gregg allowed the only 2 men he faced to reach, and when John Grabow relieved him the former Pittsburgh reliever apparently started delivering his pitches underhand or something, because the Mets beat him as if they were Ike Turner high on coke and he was a getting-lippy Tina. 

The two pitchers -- Gregg and Grabow -- faced 7 men while getting none of them out -- they instead allowed 6 hits, 1 walk, and 5 runs to score. 

The Cubs bullpen.  Yay?

GameCastGameCast
Rich Harden vs. Nelson Figueroa

Story-lines
The.  Cubs.  Suuuuuuuck. 

Ignoring that, with expanded rosters (it's September already?) the Cubs have all sorts of individual guys for us to root for.  For example:

Bobby Scales -- Chicago's 31-year-old rookie is back for the first time in nearly 3 months.  I get why he was demoted to begin with -- it was an odd-man-out sort of deal -- but his numbers really aren't bad for a defensive sub.  in 26 games and 59 at bats, Scales is batting .254 with 2 doubles, 1 triple, 3 homeruns, and 7 RBI.  He's got a .343 OBP and a .818 OPS.

Micah Hoffpauir -- He returned to the team for the first time since early Sept.  As anybody not swimming in a bleached-out pool of optimism could tell you, he's had the kind of year one might expect from a guy in his late 20's who'd never had hitting success before just the previous season.  He's batting .228 with 8 homers, 25 RBI, and an OPS of .691.  Anybody still think he could land the Cubs Adrian Gonzalez?

Andres Blanco -- Rob's favorite Neifi-clone is back for the first time since early August.  He's batting .240 with a .298 OBP, and a .631 OPS. 

There are a few other September additions -- Justin Berg, for instance -- but I think we'll leave it at this for now.  I wonder which of this bunch of riff-raff will play today?

Who's Hot

Based on yesterday's play, we could probably make an argument for Jeff Baker -- he went 3 for 3, raising his AVG to .291 on this season.  Milton Bradley also went 2 for 5, and is flirting with a .270 AVG.
 
Who's Not

Micah Hoffpauir picked up right where he left off before his demotion, going 0 for 4 and dropping his AVG to .228.

Conclusions
If the Cubs are in the midst of a proverbial downward spiral, then they will have plenty of time to meet the Mets down there.  New York is already at the bottom of the barrell.  As screwed up as Milton Bradley is, and as frustratingly insane as Carlos Zambrano can be, the Mets may be the most dysfunctional organization in baseball right now.  So, I guess we've got that going for us.  Which is nice.

Game Recap -- White Sox 5, Cubs 0 -- Blame The Fonz

Game Recap

Let's be honest for a second. The Chicago Cubs -- versions 2007 and 2008 -- would have never made the playoffs had it not been for Alfonso Soriano. In the first two years with the team, despite nagging injuries and cold starts to the season, Soriano was an offensive sparkplug and a defensive secret weapon in left field. It's true that he would bungle the occassional catch -- and I believe that that's easily fixable if Lou spoke with him about using both hands -- but Soriano's cannon arm effectively ended more than one threat when players tried to test him.

This season, though, he's been a disaster. He started out with the hottest bat on the team, but probably since May it's been a long, unending slump. He's dropped more than his fair share of fly balls and people are worrying that in the third of his eight-year contract he has already degraded into the Bust Status that he's inevitably headed toward no matter what.

Or -- I know it's crazy -- maybe there's more going on with him than we know about. Perhaps his knee injury -- something that has become increasingly noticable in the past month or so -- has affected his offensive and defensive game. Maybe his inevitable bout with surgery this winter will repair these problems and he'll revert to his former role of offensive juggernaut next year. Or you can just declare him a bust, voice your hatred for a guy who has been playing hurt all year long -- you might as well wrongly toss in terms like "selfish" and "team cancer" while you're at it -- and act like the kind of blame-assigning douchebag who would also probably turned on Derrek Lee for going into a slump when his daughter went blind in '06.

Either way, coupled with the defensive bunglings of Jake Fox, Soriano's outfield error yesterday resulted in a Cubs loss. Ryan Dempster -- known also as The Unluckiest Pitcher On Earth -- went 7 innings and allowed 0 earned runs (but 3 unearned).

All told it was a route, and the Cubs offense had its belly rubbed and was put to sleep -- they managed only 6 hits and 0 walks. Just remember that this was all Alfonso Soriano's fault.

Game & Series Recap: Cubs 2, Astros 0 (2 games to 1)

Game Recap

Nobody predicted it at the time, but Ted Lilly is perhaps the best free agent pitcher signing the Cubs have ever made and last night he continued his domination of the Houston Astros. Lilly -- who, last I heard, is going to have shoulder surgery this off seasson -- pitched 8 innings, allowing only 4 hits, walking none and striking out 5. He improves to 10-8 on the year, and has a chance of getting his ERA below 3.00 before the year's over.

In the 9th, Carlos Marmol held the lead for his 8th save of the year, causing one Goat Reader to remark that he's been a great closer this year and might be able to do the job next season without trouble. I hate to be the bringer of bad news, though, but Marmol's outing last night was hardly great and he's only been closer for a couple of weeks. Even Kevin Gregg -- who proved to be a dud -- looked good for a couple of months before devolving into a rancid pile of dung. At one point last night Marmol had surrendered 1 walk and 1 hit with 2 outs needed and the heart of the Astros lineup in front of him. That's not exactly a ringing endorsement for the job next year in my opinion.

It's probably not surprising that the Cubs won last night, but considering that they faced the inept Felipe Paulino, maybe we should continue to feel annoyed -- not concerned, there's no point -- by the offensive bumblings of the team. The only 2 runs came from a Derrek Lee homerun, his 27th of the year. With about a month of play remaining, he needs 10 RBI to hit 100 for the second time of his career.

All told, it was hardly a dominating series win but with the ridiculously weak schedule remaining the Cubs have a chance to play a very good September and finish with a respectable -- if not pointless -- winning record.

Current Record: 67-64
Position in the NL Central:
2nd place, 10.5 games out
Best Possible Record: 98-64
Worst Possible Record: 67-95
Record needed to win 90: 23-6
On Pace For: 83-79

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