Browsing posts from July, 2008
- Monday July 28th – Miller Park
- Game (106): Cubs 6 – Brewers 4
- Record (62-44) – 1st place NL Central
- 20-Games in 20-Days – (5-6)
The skinny: Playoff games typically come down to pitching and defense.
So, it’s no surprise tonight’s playoff-like matchup was determined by both.
Had it not been for Rickie Weeks’ throwing error in the seventh, the Cubs probably come out with the short end of the stick.
Nonetheless, the Cubbies found a way to win, and that’s what good teams do.
The Cubs’ lineup worked CC Sabathia – 124 pitches – for 4 runs on 9 hits with 3 stolen bases and just three punch outs.
That’s a helluva job considering CC was (4-0) with a 1.36 ERA since joining Milwaukee.
Still, CC isn’t the only obstacle the Cubs have to conquer in this four-game series.
The Brewers post the second best home record in the NL (32-20), lead the NL Central in divisional games with a (28-19) record, and flaunted a (22-11) record against lefties entering tonight’s game.
Not to mention, the Brew Crew also leads the majors with (20) wins in its final at-bat and have the support of ‘Brewers Fever’ in Miller Park: tonight set a franchise record of eight straight sellouts.
Anyway, Lilly pitched well again on the road; walking just one batter, striking out four and kept the Cubs in the game into the seventh inning.
Lilly gets overlooked on this staff headlined by Zambrano, Dempster and Harden, but the lefty has been a godsend away from Wrigley and on a team that’s seven games under on the road (23-30).
In Lilly’s last three road starts entering tonight’s outing he’s (3-0) with a 2.18 ERA, and (5-3) overall away from home.
Really, the only downside to Lilly’s campaign has been his knack for allowing the long ball.
So, how fitting Hardy and Braun go back-to-back in the sixth to tie the game 2-all.
In 23 starts this season Lilly has served up 25 dingers, including the two this evening, and that’s just three short of his season total from a year ago (28).
Nonetheless, the guy has been wonderful in my opinion, home or away.
Speaking of road games, as of late the Cubs have played better away from the Friendly Confines.
In the last nine road series the club has posted a (3-4-2) mark, which, has been improvement enough to keep them atop the NL Central for 11 weeks.
However, with the way the Central is shaping up, this tally needs to withstand a (.500) winning percentage in the final two months.
And, for the Cubs to reach such mediocrity, they’ll need the return of its big-bats in the lineup.
Thankfully, D. Lee showed up this evening to capture the glory going 3-for-5 with 3-RBIs, but he was also a bad throw away from padding his NL lead of GIDP.
Still, give the man some credit for putting the ball in play, even if Weeks should have turned the hit into two outs, and his game-winning double in the ninth.
And, despite his recent subpar homestand (4-for-18), Lee is batting (.326 avg.) in July (32-for-98) and has also managed 47 hits in his last 34 games.
On the contrary, Lee’s late inning heroics shouldn’t have been necessary with the Cubs leading by one-run entering the seventh.
Hello Bob Howry – a.k.a. – the weak link.
Seriously, I’m speechless.
And all I have to say about Howry can be read here.
Should be another heart-stopper tomorrow night: Zambrano vs. Sheets.
Now, let’s just hope Lou doesn’t phone Howry
W – Gaudin (7-4) – Marmol (5)
L – Torres (5-3)
- Notes: The Cubs have not played a series at Miller Park since June 4-6th, 2007, Chicago won two of three.
- In games decided by two or fewer runs the Cubs are (26-29).
- In the last two games Soriano is 5-for-9 with a HR and five runs scored.
- Since beginning the season (0-3) with Cleveland, CC Sabathia has rebounded to go (10-5) with a sparkling ERA just above 2.00.
- Sunday July 27th – Wrigley Field
- Game (105): Cubs 9 – Marlins 5
- Record (61-44) – 1st place NL Central
- 20-Games in 20-Days – (4-6)
The skinny: You have to figure Lou is going to find some more at-bats for Mike Fontenot in Milwaukee.
Since June 19th the little guy has gone (24-for-69) at the dish (.347avg.) including at least one extra base hit in his last 13 games.
Overall this season, Fontenot is batting (.284 avg.) with 8 HRs and 28 RBIs in 52 games off the bench and 34 starts.
Put those numbers next to Fukudome’s – (.277avg.), 7 HRs and 36 RBIs – and there’s a case to move DeRosa to right field and start Fontenot at second base.
And, given the lack of offense recently, I could part with Fukudome’s superior defensive skills in the outfield, at least temporarily.
Plus, with Edmonds’ ailing knee, Fukudome could make a few starts in centerfield as well.
Granted the Cubs have only scored one or fewer runs in three of Marquis’ last four starts, but he’s still (0-4) in his last four outings.
And while Marquis has put together a decent season, his overall record is just (6-6) with a 4.69 ERA.
So, when Woody return from the DL (Tuesday), I’d give some thoughts to replacing Marquis in the rotation with Jeff Samardzija.
Besides, Jeff has climbed through the minors as a starting pitcher anyway, going (4-1) with a 3.13 ERA in six starts at triple-A Iowa.
So, it’s not as if this would be a major adjustment for the Cubs’ newest member.
Meanwhile, I’d like to see Jim Hendry deal Marquis for some bullpen help with Samardzija becoming the No. 5 guy in the rotation.
But, a move of this sort won’t come easy.
First of all, Marquis is still under contract for one more season in Chicago, including being due the hefty sum of $9.87 million dollars owed to him in 2009.
Secondly, like a used car, we’re not talking about a high-performance pitcher here.
Still, Marquis’ right-arm can be of value to a few clubs in the post season chase, perhaps even Colorado – just 6 GB in the West.
For one thing, Marquis has been incredibly durable in his eight-year career making at least 32 starts with more than 190 innings pitched and 12 wins in the last four seasons alone.
Not to mention, every club he’s played for has made the post season and the guy can swing it too (Silver Slugger Award winner in 2005).
Yet, the key to such a deal is acquiring a quality bullpen arm, and that won’t come easy.
However, whether Marquis can be traded or not, I still stand firm that Hendry must improve the bullpen, and soon.
Contrary to the Cubs’ (48-4) record when leading after the seventh inning, just look back at the last week where three of these four losses occurred.
The Cubs have entered its seventh inning at-bat with a one-run lead in three of its last four games.
Furthermore, since the All Star break the club has begun the seventh inning either leading by one-run or trailing by one-run in five of its nine ballgames.
And chances are this trend will continue facing the likes of Sabathia and Sheets in Milwaukee.
Now, let’s go a step further. Chicago finishes the season playing 16 of 22 games on the road in what can be assumed to be a tight division race against Milwaukee and St. Louis.
And to this point, Chicago is (4-10-3) in its road series this season.
Mainly, the Cubs’ road woes lie with the team’s struggled to consistently score runs away from Wrigley, thus, we can expect many of these September contests to be close games.
So, the bullpen appears to be the key to winning the division crown.
Strengthening the pen is a MUST!
W – Gaudin (6-4) – Samardzija (1)
L – Hendrickson (7-6)
- Notes: Chicago has been tied or has lead the NL Central race for the past 11 weeks.
- In 18 home series the Cubs are (13-3-2).
- And, in its last 10 series the club is (8-1-1).
- Today’s win also even the club’s record in July to (11-11).
- Tomorrow’s starting pitcher in Milwaukee, Ted Lilly, has won his last four road starts.
It’s time the Cubs released Bob Howry…maybe explore some trade options for him.
Nothing against Howry the person…but I’ve seen enough of Howry the setup man.
This isn’t a knee-jerk reaction to today’s loss, I’ve pointed out Howry’s disappointing season for weeks now.
In the beginning, I was patient, and mostly confident, Howry would rebound from a horrific April:
- 19 hits in 12.1 innings pitched, 3 home runs and a bloated 8.03 ERA.
In fact, that’s exactly what happened, albeit briefly, during May:
- 16 hits in 15.1 innings pitched, 2 home runs and a very respectable 1.76 ERA.
Unfortunately, the tide turned in June:
- 12 hits in 10 innings pitched, 1 home run and a 4.50 ERA for the month.
It’s a red flag…Howry isn’t quite right…he’s not improving…and the season, of course, is in full swing.
To this point, the Cubs’ super-charged lineup has mask Howry’s ineffectiveness.
The one-two punch of Carlos Marmol and Kerry Wood rarely leaves the pressure on Howry to protect late inning leads.
But given the Cubs’ collective funk offensively this month (July)…Marmol’s lack of command…and Wood’s trip to the DL…Bob Howry’s ineffectiveness has been exposed.
Regardless of Marmol’s recent struggles, however, Lou simply can’t throw Marmol (or Wood) every game.
So Lou’s left with the consistently bad Bob Howry to protect late inning leads. Not good.
Howry’s results for July:
- (1-2) record, 13 hits in 11.1 innings pitched, 3 more home runs and a 7.15 ERA.
Obviously, the Cubs can’t rely on Howry any longer, and especially with the Brewers making a run. The backend of this bullpen needs reinforcements…like immediately!
Howry turns 35 in August…is in the final year of a three-year $12 million dollar contract: no better time to cut the string.
I’d hate to see Howry’s career as a Cub end this way…but what other options are left for a guy who’s allowed 62 hits in 50 innings pitched, 9 home runs and sports a 5.22 ERA?
- Notes: Howry’s career ERA is a respectable 3.62.
- In 2007 Howry allowed 76 hits in 81.1 innings pitched all season, including just eight home runs.
- In the Cubs’ five losses since the All Star break, the lineup is 2-for-15 with RISP.
- Jeff Samardzija made his major league debut: 1-run, 2-hits in 2-IP, and is not the answer to replacing Howry.
- Thursday July 24rd – Wrigley Field
- Game (102): Cubs 6 – Marlins 3
- Record (60-42) – 1st place NL Central
- 20-Games in 20-Days – (3-4)
The skinny: Don’t underestimate the importance of this win tonight for the Cubs.
Attempting to defeat the Florida Marlins has been a serious chore for Chicago since April 26th, 2006, the Cubs’ last victory against the Fish.
In fact, entering tonight’s contest the Marlins had defeated Chicago in 10 straight games, marking the longest active winning-streak against a single opponent in the Majors.
Of course, the Marlins are forever linked to the Cubs’ collapse in the 2003 NLCS, including the Bartman game and that dreadful eight-spot during the eighth inning in game 6 of the series.
So, say what you will about the Marlins, but I love the front office efficiency of this club: 15 full seasons in the league, two pennants and two world championships.
Not to mention, the majority of the club’s success has come while operating on a shoestring budget.
Thus, it’s shameful how frequently the Cubs, playing in the game’s third-largest market, have struggled during the Marlins’ entire existence in professional baseball.
Anyway, I think you have to be pleased with Soriano’s return to the lineup.
Wednesday, he goes 1-for-5 with the game-winning RBI and helps rejuvenate the team’s offense to the tune of 10 runs.
And this evening, Fonsy doubles, walks, scores a run and avoids striking out.
Also, it’s obvious the whole Soriano-in-the-leadoff-spot drives many Cubs fans nuts and even more so when he swings away at the first pitch!
But consider this; Soriano is (15-for-35) when putting the first pitch he sees in play, that’s good for a (.428 avg.).
Look, the guy is comfortable in the leadoff spot, so there’s no question in my mind Lou is making the right move by keeping Alfonso penciled into the one-hole.
And more, Henry Blanco continues to show his value as Soto’s backup.
Including Hank White’s sixth inning blast tonight, the veteran backup stopper has hit safely in 12 of his 14 starts this year.
Overall though, the Cubs’ lineup top-to-bottom took a nice, patient approach, against Scott Olsen as well.
Despite the Marlins’ lefty jumping out to a (4-1) record to start the season, he’s struggled since then posting a (1-3) record and 4.88 ERA entering tonight’s start.
And I can’t say enough about Big Z’s performance either, on the mound and at the plate!
The right-handed ace posted his sixth consecutive win at Wrigley, including an ERA of less than 2.00 in his last four home starts.
Plus, he continues the starting staff’s string of nine-straight games of lasting into the sixth inning or longer.
And get this, when Zambrano pitches seven innings or more this year his record is (8-0) with a 1.73 ERA. Awesome!!!
On the other hand, Marmol’s three ninth-inning walks put the Marlins right into its comfort zone: the Fish rank 2nd in the league in walk-off wins (9).
Admittedly, I began preparing myself for Carlos’ ninth-inning collapse.
Although, thankfully, he avoid such a setback.
Seriously, this Cubs team needs help in the backend of the pen; Wood is out until who know when, Howry has been off his game all season and Marmol continues to squirm with what appears to be some mental demons.
ATTENTION JIM HENDRY: GET THIS BULLPEN SOME HELP!
It’d be one thing for the reliever to straighten out their struggles if the Cubs were leading the division by eight games, but the Brewers have shaved the lead down to just one game.
Strengthening the bullpen can’t wait in 2008.
Besides, one only has to remember back to the 2003 NLCS to realize a weak bullpen was the Cubs demise against Florida.
W – Zambrano (11-4) – Marmol (4)
L – Olsen (6-5)
- Notes: The Cubs are the first NL team to reach 60 wins.
- Chicago has not lost consecutive games at Wrigley since dropping the first two games of the season against Milwaukee: March 31st, 4-3 & April 2nd 8-2.
- The Cubs now have three starters with 10 wins or more this season: ‘Z’ (11), Dempster (11) and Lilly (10).
- The season of 1998 marks the last time the Cubs had three starting pitchers with 10 wins or more on its staff: Kevin Tapani (12), Kerry Wood (11) and Steve Trachsel (10).
- Chicago has now plated double-digit runs in 11 games this season, already surpassing its total from 2007 (10 times).
- Monday July 21st – Chase Field
- Game (99): D-Backs 2 – Cubs 0
- Record (58-41) – 1st place NL Central
- 20-Games in 20-Days – (1-3)
The skinny: Tonight’s game is one the Cubs will look back on should they fail to make the playoffs.
Rich Harden allows 1-run on 1-hit with 10 K’s and losses the game.
And better, you can also figure the previous four games into this equation as well, the Cubs dropping three of four since returning from the All Star break.
During this stretch we’ve seen the Cubs waste three solid outings from its starting staff and score a grand total of two runs in its three losses.
Let’s face it; this is the worst the Cubbies have played all season long.
And again, I hope this stretch won’t come back to haunt this club in September.
Nonetheless, this week’s performance will stay in the back of my mind as the NL Central race tightens.
Think about this too, CC Sabathia is (3-0) since joining the Brew Crew, and those wins all occurred before Milwaukee’s recent four-game road winning streak after the All Star break.
Meanwhile, the Cubs’ Rich Harden has two NDs and Chicago has dropped three of four.
And by the way, Arizona is not the team many fans think they are, and they’re certainly not better than Chicago.
Sure, the D-Backs have a tremendous starting staff, but the backend of its bullpen is shaky and the lineup doesn’t score many runs (they’re just +5 in run differential).
Not to mention, the entire West division is sub .500, including Arizona (49-50)!
And, for these reasons I still have the Snakes finishing in second place behind the Dodgers out west.
Bottom line, the Cubs should take two of three in this series, and especially when the Old Unit is on the mound (5.23 ERA entering tonight’s game).
But while the Cubs occasionally made solid contact against Johnson, the D-Backs also made several outstanding plays defensively.
Of course, the Cubs can do nothing about the Snakes’ web gems; however, Jim Edmonds (the lone left-handed batter in the starting lineup) shouldn’t have been the Cubs’ best hitter this evening with a lineup dominated by right-handed hitters facing Randy Johnson.
So, while Edmonds went 1-for-2 with a walk, the right-handed hitters in Chicago’s lineup managed one hit against Johnson: Reed Johnson’s dribbler. Not good.
And more, even when the D-Backs’ committed a ninth inning error putting two runners on with no outs and the go-ahead run at the plate, the Cubs still failed to take advantage of the situation.
Instead, D. Lee (who leads the NL in GIDPs) follows up the Arizona miscue with a 6-4-3 double play while Aramis grounds out weakly to second base ending the game.
Folks, we’ve seen this story before, I even talked about it in Saturday’s post…
- Yes, I’m concerned about the Cubs’ lack of offense on the road, especially in this tight NL Central race.
And it’s up to Lee, Aramis or Edmonds to carry the lineup until Soriano gets back from the DL.
If not, we can expect more of the same; more close losses away from Wrigley.
Furthermore, what more can I say about Bob Howry?
It’s about time the Cubs rid themselves of Howry, he’s not setup material anymore and it’s also unlikely he’ll last as a right-handed specialist.
Moreover, after Howry allowed another late run tonight, I have zero confidence in the tall right-hander’s ability to hold a late lead.
And unfortunately, this trend doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon, which is a serious issue should Woody land on the DL (blister).
Anyway, here’s my take on the issue from Friday’s post…
- I’ll keep saying this because I believe it’s true…Bob Howry is not the same pitcher he was a year ago.
Miguel Tejada has always been a good high-ball hitter, but Howry decides to challenge the batter with some high-heat anyway; Tejada cracks a leadoff double in the bottom of the ninth and later scores the game-winning run.
Last year Howry wins this battle, this year it seems he hasn’t won any.
Interestingly, Howry’s troubles don’t appear to be an arm issue, he topped 94 mph on the radar gun tonight. Where the troubles begin, I don’t know.
Still, Lou can’t rely on Howry in close situations anymore, the tall right-hander is (3-3) with an inflated 4.66 ERA. That’s not setup material.
Also, this isn’t the month of May anymore, we’re in mid-July now and this season is 96 games old.
So, I don’t expect Howry to just turn things around at this point, although it would be extremely helpful if he could, but don’t count on it.
It’s not my intention to keep repeating myself, but I have nothing more to add about Howry’s poor performance other than the fact I appreciate his professionalism on and off the field, but I’m disappointed the guy appears to have lost his form this season.
W – Johnson (7-7) – Qualls (2)
L – Harden (5-2)
- Notes: Lou announced he’s cancelling batting practice for the rest of the series in Arizona.
- Rich Harden is the first Cubs’ pitcher of the modern era to post back-to-back double digit strikeout games in his first two starts.
- Harden’s season high for pitches throw is 115, he tossed 112 this evening.
- In 14 career starts against the Cubs Randy Johnson is 13-0.
- The Unit’s victory tonight gives him 291 career wins.
- Tonight’s final score marks the second time this season a team has won a game while collecting just two hits: on June 28th the Giants notched two hits in defeating the A’s.
Unofficially, this is considered the most boring sports day of the year.
So, let us be entertained outside the lines.
As much as baseball fans (and most of its players) don’t want the All Star Game to count towards home field advantage for the World Series, it most certainly does.
Just look at the numbers from the past five years, all AL victories in the All Star Game.
In games 1 & 2 of the Fall Classic the AL holds an 8-2 advantage, that’s huge!
And more, in the World Series that have reached a game 7, the home team has won the last eight contests.
Need more evidence? How about realizing that the team with the home field advantage has won 18 of the last 22 world championships!
Obviously, the numbers speak to the importance of having the home crowd behind you in October.
Thus, it’s utterly ridiculous that an exhibition game determines which league begins the series at home, no matter what Fox Television tells us.
My solution is to reward the team with best overall record home field advantage in the World Series.
After all, the whole point of the season is to win more ballgames than your opponents.
And better, it makes more sense for a team to have earned the right to play at home vs. the current system.
Sure, it’s convenient for baseball to know which city will host games 1 & 2 of the World Series, but it’s not worth it to compromise both the fans and players wishes for a new “home field” policy.
Although, don’t expect any changes to the current system which is under contract until the 2011 season.
And remember, this is MLB we’re talking about, the caboose on the forward thinking train.
So, it seems inevitable through the next three seasons that this format will remain in place, no matter what baseball fans or its players think.
But hey, as Mr. Bud will gladly remind us, attendance is up, small market teams are competing and baseball is even testing for steroids these days.
I guess there’s no room for improvement.
So who plays the lead in the inevitable Josh Hamilton movie?
I’ll take Dennis Quaid who did a fine job with his portrayal of Jim Morris in The Rookie (2002).
Plus, Dennis is a natural lefty and has some resemblance physically to Hamilton as well.
Not to mention, Quaid, like Hamilton, also battled his own addiction to cocaine in the early 1990s.
My runner up is Edward Burns (27 Dresses & The Gift).
Not sure what Ed can do on the baseball diamond, but I think he can pass for Hamilton in Hollywood.
Anyway, thanks to Hamilton’s national breakthrough in tonight’s Home Run Derby, poor Justin Morneau will simple be a foot note in the contest by next year’s Mid-Summer Classic.
And, 10 years from now (if that) naming the winner of tonight’s derby will be an easy bar bet for those who can remember the actual winner of the contest.
Jesus shows his approval of Hamilton's 28 HRs during the first round
What’s also interesting is Morneau admitting his participation in last year’s derby threw off his timing at the plate during the second half of the season: 24 bombs before the break and just seven afterwards.
This is eerily similar to what happened with Bobby Abreu after his immortal performance in the 2005 derby at Comerica Park in Detroit: 18 home runs before the break and just six the remainder of the season.
Furthermore, a year later the Mets’ David Wright finished second in the derby and then capped off the second half of the season swatting a mere six home runs the rest of the way.
So, is Hamilton in for a power outage during the second half? Who knows?
Although, I wouldn’t bet on it.
Instead, my money is on Hamilton winning the MVP honors tomorrow night.
After all, it’s an even numbered year meaning a Rangers’ player is due: 2004 MVP – Alfonso Soriano & 2006 MVP – Michael Young.
- Notes: Hamilton has a stolen base in a career-high three straight games.
- Wednesday night Hamilton hit his first career walk-off home run against the Angels’ Francisco Rodriguez.
- He also ranks among the AL leaders:
- Tied for 1st with 9 sac flies and multi-hit games (38)
- Tied for 4th in hits (117), extra base hits (46) and slugging percentage (.588)
- And he became the first player in AL history to win the league’s Player of the Month Award (April & May) for each of his first two months in a season.
- “I remember seeing him taking BP with the Devil Rays in 2000 during spring training, and I was like, Who’s that?” “He was 18 years old and hitting balls farther than anyone else. I went up and introduced myself, and I said, ‘That’s one of the greatest swings I’ve ever seen.’ I don’t think I’ve ever done that [with anyone else] my whole career.” – Boston 1B Sean Casey
- “The ball just sounds different coming off his bat, almost like a gunshot,” “You watch him track down a ball, you watch him throw a guy out at third. Then he hits a ball down the line and gets a triple, and it’s like, The guy can run too?” – A’s LHP Greg Smith
- Thursday July 10th – Wrigley Field
- Game (92): Reds 12 – Cubs 7
- Record (55-37) – 1st place NL Central
The skinny: The only thing that could cure today’s loss was a full dose of Pete’s Pizza.
Cool side note: while eating at Pete’s, Steve Wilkos – the former security guard on the Jerry Springer Show, now turned talk show host “The Steve Wilkos Show” – was sitting in the booth next to me.
And believe me when I tell you that the ex-marine is as large a human being as he appears on T.V.
Back to the Cubs, obviously it’s tough to overcome seven home runs.
And the real stinker is that Chicago plated seven runs of its own, more than enough to win a ballgame.
But, I’ll give Lilly a pass this afternoon on his shortest outing of the year 2.3 IP.
Besides, the guy’s been tremendous since starting the season (0-3) and entering today’s game he was 4-0 with a 3.12 ERA in his last six outings.
Still, Lilly’s never had a lot of success against Cincinnati either: 1-5, with about a 5.00 ERA in seven starts.
Although, I’m a little concerned about Ted’s overall record against the NL Central this year, he’s now 2-3 with an ERA hovering around 6.00.
That’s got to get better down the stretch.
Tough introduction for Gaudin, Ross belting a homer to left, his second blast of the day.
So, about the only thing to enjoy with today’s clunker was seeing Junior go deep for the 12th time this year, a three-run shot in the fourth against Wuertz and Mike Fontenot’s bat staying hot: 2-for-3 with a HR and 2 RBIs.
For the entire Reds series Little Babe Ruth went 4-for-6 with 2 HRs, 4 RBIs, 5 R and 3 BB.
Conversly, my boy Jim Edmonds has cooled off considerble lately: 1-for-10 with 2 BB for the homestand.
Anyway, the main thing is the Cubs took the series and help maintain its 4 G lead in the Central.
- Notes: This marks the second time this season the Reds have hit seven home runs against the Cubs (May 7th).
- The Cubs have not swept the Reds at home since May 22-24th 2001.
- Chicago missed its chance to win four straight since doing so June 8-12th.
- While dealing with multply injuries, in its last 22 games the Cubs are 10-12.
- However, during the past 45 days Chicago has maintained sole possesion of first place in the NL Central.
- Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster are the first Cubs starters to post 10 wins before the All Star break since Rick Rueschel (12-3) and Ray Burris (10-9) managed the feat in 1977.
- Tuesday July 8th – Wrigley Field
- Game (90): Cubs 7 – Reds 3
- Record (54-36) – 1st place NL Central
The skinny: This evening I sat nine rows behind the Reds dugout at Wrigley.
You guessed it, these aren’t my season tickets, but it’s pays to have friends doesn’t it!
Anyway, it was a wonderful night all around; 82-degrees, beautiful sunset and Dempster notches his 10th win before the All Star break.
Something is definitely not right with the Reds’ right-hander Aaron Harang.
It’s pretty clear after Harang posted a career-high seven walks and allows the two home runs.
If you’re not already aware, Harang has developed into one of the best starting pitchers in baseball, until this year, of course.
Which, brings to the surface obvious concerns about his health considering his awful (3-11) record in ’08.
Just looking at Harang’s numbers from the past three seasons says the ol’ throwing arm is hurting.
- 2005 – (11-13) – 211 IP, 163 K
- 2006 – (16-11) – 234 IP, 216 K
- 2007 – (16-6) – 231 IP, 218 K
Maybe all the innings are finally catching up to the hoss?
After all, he’s averaged 225 IP during this span, now that’s a lot of work!
Reds fans are pointing the blame Dusty, and I’m one of them too.
Why Baker threw Harang in relief for 4.1 innings during the Reds’ 12-9, 18-innings loss at San Diego on Sunday May 25th is beyond me.
Seriously, Aaron previously started the series’ opener three days earlier tossing 103 pitches against the Pads.
Worse, Harang’s relief outing also marked the third time the tall right-hander threw in eight days.
Now there’s rumblings Harang might be headed for Tommy John surgery before the end of the regular season.
Are Harang’s difficulties Dusty’s fault? Partly, yeah.
Look, I’m a Dusty guy, but throwing Aaron in the S.D. game was DUMB!!!
You can’t be careless with your staff ace.
The Reds are still a year away from truly competing, and that’s only if they have a healthy Harang.
And, as far as I’m concerned, Dusty jepordized next year…not smart, not good.
On the other hand, Dempster dominated again at home.
The only offense Cincinnati mustered off the former Reds is what Dempster handed them in the fourth, one single and three free passes while walking in a run.
Other than his one bad inning, Ryan allowed just two hits while striking out five.
Don’t overlook the defense behind Dempster tonight either.
Jerry Hairston Jr. was robbed of a hit on three occasions: Ramirez twice and Theriot once.
Plus, Edmonds made a fine defensive stab in center during the first.
Brandon Phillips is the most gifted second baseman defensively in the NL, he turned in two more gems tonight.
Things I overheard in the seats this evening:
- Dunn, get off the field you big lug!
- And, I love that Marmol enters the game to the song “Rubberband Man,” how fitting.
Things I saw at the game:
- Inebriated Reds fan in the front row taking off his shirt in unleashing the hairiest belly I’ve seen this side of Bigfoot.
- Two elderly men googling over a busty cougar.
- Griffey sharing a conversation between innings over the dugout with both Reds and Cubs fans.
- Notes: In his last eight home starts Dempster is 7-0 with a 2.08 ERA.
- The right-hander is also the first Cubs pitcher since Rick Reuschel in 1977 to win his first 10 decisions at home.
- Speaking of 1977, that’s the last time the Cubs won 54 games before the All Star break.
- The Cubs are 34-10 at Wrigley.
- Mike Piazza holds the rookie record for home runs by a catcher with 18 in 1993 with the Dodgers; Geovany Soto hit his 16th of the season this evening.
- CSI’s John Peterson sang the stretch.