Six runs, holy crap. Who knew they could do that?
Derrek Lee got the night going with an early solo shot. His OPS for the season is just over .700 at this point, and his batting average is still pretty low at .230, so hopefully this is the first of many subsequent multi-hit outings from him that include some power.
Several other Cubs reached base multiple times last night, including: Xavier Nady (2-for-3, R), Alfonso Soriano (1-for-2, BB, R, 2 RBI), and Geovany Soto (doubled and walked). Starlin Castro reached three times, with a single and two walks.
Castro drove in two runs last night, giving him 16 RBI for the season. That ties him with Soto and The Great Ryan Theriot, the only position player in last night's game who failed to reach base.
Tyler Colvin doubled in his lone at-bat, raising his OPS to .987. And on the pitching side, Ryan Dempster was solid, yielding two runs over 6.2 innings and getting the win. He collected seven strikeouts, but also gave up eight hits.
With the box score-driven narration out of the way, I'll issue my verdict on a couple of last night's more notable plays before asking for your opinions in the comments section:
1) Geo Soto sent home on Castro's 2nd inning single.
I liked the call here. It ended up being a close play, and if their left fielder hadn't made a perfect throw, it'd have been another run. If Soto holds at third, you have the pitcher coming up with one out -- as in, probably won't bring him home -- followed by Ryan Theriot, who we all know sucks. So yeah, give me the close play over counting on Riot to drive a run in with two outs.
2) Alfonso Soriano bunts Nady and Lee to 2nd and 3rd with no outs.
I'm having trouble deciding whether I like this play or not, but I do know at least one thing, which is that I don't like it as much as the fans at Wrigley appeared to last night. Soriano got a standing ovation for this play, and he should get some credit for being creative, but the guy is one of our best hitters. I don't necessarily hate the decision, but I think I'd rather see him swing away there.
3) Alfonso Soriano makes the third out at third base, attempting to stretch out a double.
This is silly. Soriano would likely have scored from second on a single, since there were two outs in the inning and he would have been running on contact. But the guy did knock in the 5th and 6th runs with this play, so it's hard to complain.
Alright, everyone else: Thoughts on the game?
Two errors each from two players cost the Cubs in two big innings for the A's.
In the fourth, Derrek Lee misplayed a Trevor Cahill (read: AL pitcher) forceout on one play, and followed that up with a missed catch error on the very next play. Admittedly, Carlos Zambrano had not looked good so far in that inning, allowing the first four batters in the inning to reach base. But Z did his best to get out of it as quickly as possible, and unfortunately Lee wasn't there -- something that doesn't happen often, to be sure.
Yes, Big Z is prone to the mental-lapse-induced blowout performance; sometimes he just loses it, and the other team all of a sudden gets eight or nine runs. But one of the man's best qualities is that he's capable of overcoming that and continuing to pitch through trouble. (Case in point: 2008 NLDS, Game 2. I will never forget that game, and neither should you when people start bitching about Z.)
After Zambrano toughed through six innings, the game was put away in the seventh via a rough appearance from Jeff Stevens, made worse by two errors in right field from Tyler Colvin.
A few Cubs reached base twice with a hit and a walk, but the only guy who really deserves kudos for his hitting is Tyler Colvin, who went 2-for-4 with a home run. His slugging percentage is now eight points over .600, and his OPS is up to .967.
Just so you know, here are the top six Cub hitters in terms of slugging:
Interpret that as you will. And go Cubs!
After Armando Galarraga was robbed of his shot at a perfect game, many fans argued over whether or not Bud Selig should step in and overturn Jim Joyce's clearly incorrect call.
I had a conversation about that very subject with a very close friend of mine, a fellow baseball enthusiast who has studied the game since his early childhood. It didn't take long for us to realize that we agreed wholeheartedly on the matter: Selig should not overturn the call.
There's a reason perfect games and, to a lesser extent, no-hitters are such an epic accomplishment -- they're really hard to pull off. You've got to overcome every variable in the game, both those that are under your control, and those that are not.
Ted Lilly came within three outs of a no-hitter last night. Heck, Gavin Floyd was right there through six innings, too. But after Floyd faltered, Lilly managed to keep his bid going, all the way up until the top of the ninth inning.
And that's when the rain started to really come down. Kudos to MLB and ESPN for skipping that commercial break between the eighth and ninth innings. And kudos to the umpires for keeping the teams on the field.
If only God could have gotten in on the act, too.
Would Lilly's pitch selection against Juan Pierre have changed had the heavens not threatened to pull the plug on his no-hit bid? Almost certainly, yes. But that's what makes the no-hitter so special.
Bravo to you, Ted, for giving it your best shot. It was really fun to watch.
Not even Carlos Silva could stop the Cubs' most recent slide.
He certainly tried his best, and pitched well enough to win for most teams: seven innings, six strikeouts, and just two runs allowed. Andrew Cashner and Carlos Marmol each contributed a scoreless inning of relief to the Cubs' pitching effort, as well.
But Mark Buehrle and the White Sox were better. And now, in two games, the Cubs have lost a 10-5 shootout and a 2-1 pitcher's duel.
Strange that the Cubs were only able to score one run in their more recent loss when the leadoff man went 3-for-5 and their cleanup hitter was 3-for-4 -- except, not really strange at all, because this is the Cubs we're talking about.
Speaking of which: this is what Rob and I are talking about when we don't buy your optimistic analyses, Sayers. Of course, I encourage you to continue carrying the banner for us all, and I appreciate your enthusiasm, I truly do. But with Derrek Lee going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, Alfonso Soriano posting the same line, and Chad Tracy striking out in both of his at-bats, where do you see the unlucky break for the Cubs? It's one thing to aggregate stats and say the 10% should really be a 40%, but I see nothing on the field of play to suggest the Cubs are suffering from just some bad breaks.
And now the Cubs are eight games back from .500. We're about to be enter "Root for one player" mode, where instead of getting pissed off every other day about another stoopid loss, you pick your favorite guy and track his stats independently.
Game on ESPN tonight. Can we prevent the sweep?
For this team to win, Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez have to find a way to produce with the bat.
It's not that the team won't score every once in a while without them. Clearly, we have some good hitters elsewhere on the roster. But when Lee and A-Ram are out, that means Xavier Nady and Chad Tracy are in on the corners.
Tracy's bad throw allowed Rickie Weeks to score on the botched rundown, and Nady's high throw into the stands allowed Carlos Gomez to score on the final play of the game.
Ryan Dempster wasn't very good either. Again, a Cub starter walked five Brewers yesterday. Also, Tom Gorzelanny sucks at pitching from out of the bullpen.
Nine walks, three unearned runs, really makes you proud to be a Cubs fan doesn't it!
Props to the bats in last night's game. The Cubs can actually hit -- who knew!
In particular, Marlon Byrd and Geovany Soto can hit. Each had two home runs. Derrek Lee added one of his own to give the Cubs five taters against Brewers starter Randy Wolf.
Geovany Soto is now hitting .269/.406/.463 on the season, with seven home runs. He's within striking distance of the .285/.364/.504 he hit in 2008.
Marlon Byrd is leading the NL in batting average, and has 21 doubles and nine home runs. And 34 RBI. And four steals. Very nice, Marlon.
And Derrek Lee's home run last night was a big one -- the 300th of his career. Bravo to that guy. Here's to his continuing to figure out how to get going again this season.
Carlos "The Starter" Zambrano got the win last night, giving up just two hits over five innings. Except actually, he wasn't very dominant: five walks, a HBP, and just two strikeouts. And one of the two hits he gave up was a two-run double to Randy Wolf. Oh well, it was good enough.
Kudos to Andrew Cashner for posting two shut down innings in relief. It's feeling like this team FINALLY has the last three innings of the ball game covered with Cashner, Marshall, and Marmol (all 100% Chicago Cubs products, I might add).
So, yeah: Hooray!
Book it: Carlos Silva is 8-0 to start the 2010 season.
And while plenty of stathead baseball types think the win is an overrated stat, it seems as though Silva has truly been earning each and every one this season. No exception today, as Carlos pitched seven innings, gave up four hits and just one walk, and struck out five.
His ERA for the season sits at 2.93, an incredible number for him.
At what point does a competitor call Jim Hendry about Silva's availability? I'd still trade him if it were me: the 2010 club simply isn't any good, and the $10+ million he's owed in 2011 could be used to nab a premier first baseman in 2012 (coughprincefieldercough).
On offense, the MVPTG ("of Today's Game", that is) award goes to Ryan Theriot, who stole third, smacked a leadoff double to go with a single, and also walked twice, scoring four times on the day. Bravo, kid; make yourself look good for the trade deadline.
Two other Cubs had multiple hits today, so kudos to Marlon Byrd and Geo Soto. But they get their gold stars taken right back away for some poor base running early in the game. Idiots.
Starlin Castro went 0-for-3 and is now hitting .272 on the season. It's pretty much 100% likely that he'll end up with an average below .250 rather than above it, right?
Cubs win, scoring a good chunk of runs against a terrible pitcher as presented by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Hey, there's a first time for everything!
Astros 3 Cubs 1
I didn't see the game so if people want to add some insight to this in the comment field, feel free!
Zambrano looked meh, ok. 94. that is the velocity of Z's fastball when he's going good and he has a decent K/BB rate when that happens. Last night, from all reports, he was living at 91 and we do know he had a 3/3 K/BB ratio. I fear that Pineilla may have made Z's a fairly useless pitcher by sending him to bullpen purgatory for a month and a half.
As for the offense, yeah, they got a little unlucky as if you hit 11 flyballs, as the boxscore indicated, of of Paulino, one oughta fly out. But having said that, they are just not hitting right now. There is no easy way to say it. If Aramis Ramirez doesn't pick it up in a big way by the end of June, it will time to start seriously considering sunk costs with him and release him. I'm not saying I will be favor of that and I love Aramis for what he has done for the Cubs these last seven years but really, Aramis? .158? Come on man!
It's as simple as this. The Cubs' pitching and run prevention has been stellar and their offense, a league average unit, has been less than that. You need to score to win, even if your pitching is on a roll. Get them today boys!
Synopsis: Lilly pitched well for seven innings, gave up a two-run bomb to a kid in the eighth (first career homer for Neil Walker) after walking a guy on four pitches, and the Cubs couldn't score aside from Nady's own two-run jack, so we lost.
And as Eddie pointed out, how 'bout that bench last night? Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Ryan Theriot, Geovany Soto, and Marlon Byrd were all out of the starting line-up yesterday. Wild.
I suppose the team could conceivably trade any of those guys, huh? Although at this point you're probably not going to be "selling high" on any of them. But yeah, I'll take whatever can be gotten for Lee, Byrd, Theriot, and even Ramirez at this point (I like Soto, call me crazy). And obviously Lilly is available at this point as well. Or Silva, if someone would rather have him.
Yeah, Byrd's on the block at this point, right?
The other night, the Cubs won a game where Ryan Dempster was on, Derrek Lee knocked in some runs, and Carlos Marmol locked down the save. On Sunday, the Cardinals got similar production from their first baseman and ace starter, and didn't even need a shutdown reliever to win.
On Monday, the Cubs scored one run against the Pirates, losing 2-1 after James Russell allowed a home run and Sean Marshall gave up an RBI single to Bobby Crosby.
Over the past seven games, the Cubs have scored an average of about 2.5 runs per game. And maybe I'm crazy, but I have a really hard time getting upset with a collective pitching staff when they combine to allow three runs or fewer. So you know who I'm pointing my finger at.
I read somewhere this morning that after this most recent loss, Lou basically repeated the phrase, "I don't know," a few times to reporters. Lucky for him, I have some ideas:
- If Aramis hits, bat him sixth. Or seventh. Or eighth, for goodness' sake.
I understand ol' A-Ram has better career numbers than Mike Fontenot, but his OPS has been below .500 (I REPEAT: HIS OPS HAS BEEN BELOW .500!!!) for two months. And it's not like he was hot for a while, and then miserable later on; the man has just not shown an ability to hit. I suppose Lou's thinking is, "Eventually this professional hitter will turn it around and start producing for us." Well, fine. Play the man. But don't put him in the middle of our rallies just yet. Wait 'til he shows you he CAN hit again.
Guys, I know you want him to come back around, and I do too. But his numbers so far this year are just... just vomit-inducing. They're so, so, so bad. It's not bad luck, it's not a slump -- it's just terrible. You can damn well be sure he's gonna exercise his player option for next year, too, and we're gonna be stuck with this for another freakin' year.
- Give Tyler Colvin more starts.
There is absolutely no reason why Xavier Nady should be starting against right-handed pitchers. None whatsoever.
And while all three starting outfielders began the season on major hot streaks, Kosuke and Marlon appear to have cooled off considerably in May -- .253/.348/.367 and .257/.319/.410 respectively. (Soriano's May - .308/.376/.606 - has been better than his April - .292/.358/.542.)
So here's an idea: give Colvin, Byrd, and Fukudome one day off each every three days. Colvin's earned the extra at-bats in June, while Byrd and Fuk simply haven't.
- Continue to start Mike Fontenot at second base against righties.
Ryan Theriot has been terrible this year. Fontenot has not. Fontenot has shown the ability to hit for power consistently at various points in his career; Theriot has not. Why is this so difficult to understand? Hopefully yesterday's idea sticks for long enough to Mike to have a chance to either impress or clearly fail.
Let's try this line-up today, Lou:
Blah, go Cubs.