I know many of you were busy over the holiday weekend.
Below I’ve attached all the posts for the weekend Cubs vs. Cardinals series.
I hope you had a happy Fourth and thanks for checking back to Bullpen Brian!
- Saturday July 5th – Busch Stadium
- Game (88): Cardinals 5 – Cubs 4
- Record (52-36) – 1st place NL Central
The skinny: The irony with today’s ballgame is the Cards lead the majors in blown saves (20).
But, as Lou always says, what can you do?
No closer is perfect and Kerry Wood proved that this afternoon.
And although the right-hander has converted 81-percent of his save opportunities this year, it seems inevitable Wood won’t get the job done if the leadoff man reaches base.
I’ll risk sounding redundant to again point out the two no-no’s for closers.
A) Don’t walk batters
B) Don’t hit batters
Wood’s five blown saves have involved at least one, if not both, of these two sins.
Blown saves that lose a game are going to happen, but there’s really no justifying one blown save being worse than another; they’re still all losses.
Sometimes they just hurt more than others, like today: divisional road game vs. the arch rival.
Plus, with the Cubs not swinging the bat well lately it would have been nice to see the team defeat one of the NL’s best starters for the second time this year.
Speaking of which, where in the world did Kyle Lohse come from this season?
The 29-year-old hasn’t won double digit wins in a season since 2004, but this year he’s already (10-2) and looking to make an All Star appearance.
I give all the credit in the world to Cardinals’ pitching coach Dave Duncan.
Lohse has won seven of his last eight starts, posted a perfect 5-0 mark in June and leads all MLB pitchers in winning percentage (.875) since July 25th 2007 going (14-2).
Not to mention, Lohse has come a long way since his first start this season against the Cubs when he allowed eight runs on nine hits while taking the loss.
Still, Lohse is just one part of this Cardinal rotation that has surfaced as one of the best in the majors.
As a whole the Cards’ starting five leads the NL in winning percentage (.649) posting a (38-21) overall record. And let’s not forget about its bullpen leading the league with 20 blown saves!
I’ve preached since early March that the Cardinals are not going away in the NL Central race.
La Russa is a terrific manager, Dave Duncan’s ability to coach his pitchers is phenomenal and the team plays solid defense as well; its .987 fielding percentage is tied for first in the NL with S.D. and Colorado.
- Notes: The Cardinals set an attendance record this afternoon with 46,865 spectators filling Busch Stadium, that’s largest crowd ever at the new Busch, including postseason play.
- Entering today’s game Jerry Wood had converted 12 straight save opportunities including a sparkling road ERA of 1.83.
- Aramis’ two run shot should have been the game winning hit, although, the slugger did manage break an 0-for-28 skid.
- Mark DeRosa’s long ball was his 11th of the campaign, he nailed just 10 bombs all of last year.
- His career high for home runs is (13) set with Texas in 2006.
- Former Cub Todd Wellemeyer (7-3) throws for the Cards tomorrow.
- Wednesday July 2nd – AT&T Park
- Game (85): Cubs 6 – Giants 5
- Record (51-34) – 1st place NL Central
The skinny: This one makes no sense.
Ryan Dempster pitches six innings of two-run, seven strikeout baseball and leaves with a no-decision.
Carlos Marmol then enters in relief, allows a game-tying three-run jack, but gets the win.
And to top things off, it’s little Mike “you know” Fontenot who goes deep in the eighth to put the Cubs back on top 6-5.
The blast gives Fontenot three home runs in his past six games played, which is interesting for a guy who slugged just three home runs in 86 games played last year.
Speaking of the long ball, how about another dinger for Edmonds, this time a two-run shot in the sixth.
That gives Jimmy eight home runs with the Cubbies and six blasts in his last 11 ballgames.
I’ve said it plenty of times, but I love what Edmonds is doing as a Cub and especially with the team’s health in dire straights.
What’s more impressive is Edmonds regaining his form at the plate while also dealing with a sore arch in his left foot.
Say what you will about the former Cardinal, but I’ll always support a player who plays through pain and produces.
Also, since early May I’ve said the Cubs need an alternative in the bullpen to Marmol.
Mainly, at the time I was concerned with Carlos’s durability holding up throughout the second half of the season.
Instead, it appears Marmol is dealing with a dip in self confidence and not his durability.
Either way, it’s imperative Bob Howry takes over some setup duties while Marmol get situated between his ears, which is a condition Marmol has yet to face in Chicago.
The bottom line is the Cubs still won and keep its opportunity alive to take three of four on the road tomorrow.
Marmol (2-3) – Wood (21)
- Notes: Chicago evened its record in one-run games at (13-13).
- Through eight road starts this season Ryan Dempster is still without a win.
- Dempster’s last road win came more than two years ago at St. Louis with Chicago winning 5-4.
- Not to mention, Ryan’s last road win as a starting pitcher dates all the way back to April 16th 2005 with the Cubs winning another one-run ballgame beating Pittsburgh 4-3.
- Entering June Carlos Marmol sported a 1.75 ERA in a hefty 36 innings pitched.
- However, in the last two weeks Marmol has allowed nine runs during his past six outings.
- Kerry Wood hasn’t allowed a run in 15 of his past 16 appearances.