Browsing posts from August, 2008
- Thursday August 28th – Wrigley Field
- Game (134): Cubs 6 – Phillies 4
- Record (84-50) – 1st place NL Central
The skinny: Most Cubs fans voted Carlos Marmol the team MVP last season, his 1.46 ERA speaking for itself.
However, my ’07 vote went to Aramis and his 26 HRs, 101 RBIs and .310 avg. – Marmol being a close second, mind you.
And I’m sticking with Aramis as team MVP again this year too.
No Cub is a better hitter in the clutch than Ramirez; not Soriano, not Lee, Theriot or Soto.
Ramirez loves the lime light, the drama and the chance to play hero.
His knack at coming through in a pinch isn’t coincidence, the guy lives for it.
And, I love him for it!
Plus, Ramirez is as good as it gets defensively at third; he’s also a solid teammate and a gammer playing through nagging injuries.
So, where would the Cubs be without Ramirez’s 24 bombs and 99 RBIs?
Probably not leading the division, of course.
Still, the better answer is recognizing how important Ramirez is to this lineup when it comes to key situations.
This season Ramirez leads the team in both game-winning RBIs (15) and 2-out RBIs (25).
He is the definition of an MVP type player!!!
Cole Hamels was so dominate this evening you could see the Cubs’ body language change immediately with the lefty out of the game.
Obviously, that left Ryan Madson (who’s no pushover out of the pen, 3.56 ERA entering tonight’s game) in a tough spot; the Cubs eager to see anything but a Hamels’ change-up.
And more, Chad Durbin has been even better for the Phils (1.95 ERA entering the game), but by the time the right-hander relieved Madson the Cubs had the momentum and Aramis at the plate.
Grand Salami – Game over.
Nice relief outing from Bob Howry: 1-2-3 inning, 9 of 10 pitches going for strikes with two ground ball outs and one K.
Most importantly, he protected a one-run lead: it’s about time.
W – Howry (6-4) – Wood (28)
L – Durbin (5-3)
- Notes: Chicago is 34 games above .500 for the first time in 63 years: 34 games in 1945.
- At Wrigley they’re (50-19).
- The Cubs are (9-1) in its last 10 games against lefty starters and (27-12) vs. lefties for the season.
- This is the Cubs’ 38th come-from-behind victory of the season.
- Aramis’ GS is the eighth of his career.
- Thursday August 21st – Wrigley Field
- Game (127): Cubs 3 – Reds 2
- Record (78-49) – 1st place NL Central
The skinny: Pulled a Ferris Bueller and went to the Cubs game this afternoon. I sat nine rows behind the Reds dugout, courtesy tickets from a friend.
It’s good to have friends, isn’t it?
Unless I’m sitting in the bleachers I always seem to enter Wrigley through the main gate underneath the giant red marquee.
I’d like to think as a seasoned baseball fan I’d sniff out the best deal for a brat long before today, but I haven’t, until now of course.
Hidden just inside the gate to the right is a food station called ‘Super Dawgs.’
Get this, a foot long brat for $6.50, all toppings included.
I went bratwurst with grilled peppers, hot peppers, mustard and relish, all for $6.50.
Grab a regular hotdog at one of the main stations and you’re paying $4.50.
Kind of makes me feel like I won one.
Thankfully the weather held off too, the slight drizzle not enough to make me vacate my seat.
Big Z pretty much handled business on both fronts: 1-R, 6-H in 7-IP and smacked his fourth dinger of the season in the third inning.
And despite a monstrous blast from Jay Bruce, Carlos Marmol and Wood did a nice job closing too.
Because it’s the Reds this win will be forgotten about as quickly as it ended, but it’s an important victory.
The Cubs must take advantage of its home-heavy month of August and needed the series win against the last place Red Stockings.
After all, the Reds went 0-for-15 with RISP during the three-game set, and that doesn’t happen too frequently.
How typical for the last place Reds to pay Josh Fogg to pitch (2-6, 7.66 ERA).
He’s even below the right-handed equivalent of an Eric Milton.
Nonetheless, the Reds’ newest outfielder Chris Dickerson looks like a real stud: big, strong and fast.
That’s a heckuva of an outfield with Bruce, Dickerson and Hairston (when back off the DL).
Anyway, back to reality tomorrow, it’s called work for a reason, right?
W – Zambrano (13-5) – Wood (26)
L – Fogg (2-6)
- Notes: Zambrano now has 16 career home runs, five have come against Cincinnati.
- Besides his 13 wins – (4-0) vs. Cincy – the switch hitter also extended his hitting streak to seven games.
- Derek Lee a.k.a “DP Lee,” hit into his league leading 24th twin killing.
- Joey Votto has 15 home runs this season, including a solo shot in the 8th this afternoon, seven have come against Chicago.
- Best marquee sign of the day from Clark St: Without Griffey Reds are Dunn.
- Saturday August 16th – Dolphins Stadium
- Game (123): Marlins 2 – Cubs 1
- Record (75-48) – 1st place NL Central
The skinny: Took in the Chicago Air & Water Show this afternoon.
Fighter jets roared above the downtown skyline while water crafts skipped along Lake Michigan’s coast.
Each time the Blue Angles buzzed North Avenue I got goose bumps!
Meanwhile, the Cubs played another typical game against the Marlins, losing 2-1.
Granted Lou rested some regulars (D. Lee, Aramis and Soto), eight hits, seven walks and 13 left on base should get the job done.
So, no goose bumps from the Cubbies.
Not a bad outing from Sean Marshall, although you’d love to see this guy last into the sixth for a change.
Obviously it’s a bummer the nine-game road winning streak comes to an end, but who ever thought the Cubs would string this many together away from Wrigley to begin with?
A win tomorrow on get-away-day and the Cubs take the series and finish the road trip 5-1, not too shabby.
W – Sanchez (2-2) – Gregg (27)
L – Marshall (2-3)
The Chicago Air & Water Show
That's me on the top left
- Notes: Today’s loss marks the end of Chicago’s nine-game road winning streak.
- The Cubs averaged 8.4 runs per game over the nine-game stretch while batting (.311 avg.).
- This was Marshall’s first start since July 6th.
- Derek Lee went 1-for-2 in collecting his 1,500th career hit.
- Friday August 15th – Dolphins Stadium
- Game (122): Cubs 6 – Marlins 5
- Record (75-47) – 1st place NL Central
The skinny: I could hear the cheers around Wrigleyville echoing through my apartment window before big D. Ward’s pinch hit HR fell into the right field seats.
What a huge emotional lift for the Cubs and specifically the team’s primary pinch hitter.
Prior to Ward’s at-bat, the slugger was swamped in an 0-for-13 slump, and just 4-for-20 coming off the bench all year, a far cry from his .327 pinch-hit average a year ago.
Give Lou credit for sticking with the big man–through thick and thin.
Ward is, after all, a rare catch by pinch hitting standards: professional at-bats, high contact hitter and has some power, too.
No question Ward’s game-winning blast immediately rerouted the focus from Zambrano’s poor outing to the team’s dramatic one-run win.
Although Carlso is winless in his last three starts, I’m without worry. There appears to be nothing wrong with him physically, just the usual lose nuts and bolts upstairs.
I’m simply chalking up Zambrano’s outing as a bad day. Besides, Ward’s given us reason to celebrate!
W – Gaudin (9-4) – Wood (25)
L – Gregg (6-5)
- Notes: Tonight’s win marks the Cubs 35th come-from-behind win of the season, that leads MLB.
- Ward’s PH dong is the 11th of his career.
- His last hoe run came July 22nd at Arizona.
- DeRosa’s 14th HR is a new career-high.
- Thursday August 14th – Turner Field
- Game (121): Cubs 11 – Braves 7
- Record (74-47) – 1st place NL Central
The skinny: This afternoon I did the Wrigley Field ballpark tour.
From start to finish the tour was timely, informative and money well spent.
Plus, the Blue Angles continually buzzed the stadium while practicing for this weekend’s Air & Water Show and the weather was impeccable too: 75-degrees and sunny.
Soon I’ll upload some pictures from the tour onto the site as well.
Basically, here’s how it works. A ballpark tour guide leads a group of 30 or so people around the yard while talking about the history and nuances of Wrigley Field.
We began the tour sitting in the third base grandstands, then moved to the luxury suites, next through the press box, followed by the visitor’s locker room, moved down to the bleacher seats and finally wrapped things up with the Cubs’ locker room and a trip onto the playing field.
My favorite part, the visitor’s locker room: it’s small, outdated, yet overflowing with history.
It’s surreal knowing you’re standing in the same room that was once occupied by Jackie Robinson, Babe Ruth, Roberto Clemente and even Vince Lombardi – just to name a few.
As for the game this evening, the benches clearing probably helped release some pressure from both parties.
And most importantly, no Cubs were injured in an unnecessary field brawl.
I’m a huge Tommy Glavine fan, but the 42-year-old is looking his age: 7-R, 7-H, 4-BB & 2-HR (4-IP).
I hope the southpaw Hall of Famer hangs it up after this season.
So, the Cubs’ sweep against the Braves gives the team eight straight road victories.
Don’t look now, but Chicago is merely one game below .500 on the road (29-30).
It’s all about the offense folks…the Cubs have scored 6(+) runs in all eight games.
And better still, the club has scored 5 or more runs in 20 of its last 22 victories: WOW!
Obviously, it’s wonderful the offense is clicking on all cylinders, but what happens if it sputters?
Gee, I hope the team won’t have to rely on Bob Howry (5.53 ERA): 3-R, 4-H, in 0.2 innings pitched tonight.
Still, watching the Cubs play this past week has been a real treat; tremendous hitting, solid pitching and several outstanding defensive plays have preserved its 4G lead in the Central.
Look out tomorrow though; it’s those damn Marlins again.
No question things haven’t gone the Cubs way in Miami lately, but maybe an eight-game winning streak can reverse the team’s poor fortunes at South Beach.
Also, how many people do you think would show up for a ballpark tour of Dolphin Stadium?
W – Lilly (12-6)
L – Glavine (2-4)
- Notes: The Cubs have won 7 of 8 and 14 of its last 17 games overall.
- They’ve also improved its road record to just one game below .500 at (29-30).
- Chicago is (7-0) in its last 7 starts against left-handers.
- They’re also (24-11) on the season when facing a lefty.
- Ted Lilly has identical home and road records this season, (6-3).
- Friday August 8th – Wrigley Field
- Game (116): Cubs 3 – Cardinals 2 – 10 innings
- Record (70-46) – 1st place NL Central
The skinny: Call him ‘Jimmy Business’: today’s game was a personal matter for Mr. Edmonds.
Two clutch home runs – the first shot giving Chicago a 1-0 lead, the second tying the game 2-all in the seventh – against the team that left him for dead.
It’s just another reminder that anything is possible when you’re inspired.
For weeks I’ve campaigned on Jimmy’s behalf for Cubs fans to adopt the once hated Cardinal.
Yet, despite Edmonds leading the team in batting during June, his two home run effort in one inning against the Sox, his dramatic Wrigley Field blast against the Braves and his grand slam against the Brewers, Cubs fans still find reasons to shun the man.
Sorry, there are no more excuses to do so after today’s game.
In Edmonds’ last 14 starts he’s collected 14 RBIs while batting .357 (15-for-42), and 13 of his last 17 hits have gone for extra bases (7 2B & 6 HR).
I get it, the guy use to be a Cubs killer, but what’s not to appreciate about Edmonds’ play with Chicago?
Including today’s effort, Ted Lilly has 15 quality starts in 25 outings this season.
Sure, he’s been prone to allowing the long ball and his strikeout totals don’t compare to Zambrano or Hardin, but don’t underestimate Lilly’s value to this starting staff.
Plus, not only is the southpaw an innings eater, but he throws well in meaningful games too.
And more, it’s a pitcher like Lilly who’s capable of being the difference maker for this club come October.
Basically, the front-running teams in the NL have a solid one-two punch at the top of the rotation – Arizona: Webb & Haren, Milwaukee: Sheets & Sabathia – but none have a three or four man the likes of Lilly and Dempster.
Obviously, this is a huge advantage for the Cubs in post season play.
On the other hand, and as I keep saying, the Cubs’ bullpen is the team’s glaring weakness.
Although, I will say the threesome of Marmol, Samardzija and Howry pitched very well this afternoon combining for 0-R, 1-H and 4-K in the final 3.2 innings.
And, with Woody (4-2, 2.96 ERA & 24 saves) still battling his own body on the sidelines (stiff back), that’s a huge performance from the pen.
Still, I’m with little confidence the Cubs’ bullpen will maintain its success from today without adding help from outside the organization.
Heading into September with this bullpen is asking for trouble, and that’s a crying shame considering the Cubs’ extra rotation weapons of Lilly and Dempster.
Finally, why do teams still run against Soriano’s accurate arm in left field?
Surely, the opposition’s advance scouting has taken note of the left fielder’s tendency to throw out runners at home, right?
Whatever the case, it’s foolish to send a runner home from third against Alfonso’s arm, just ask Joe Mather who was gunned down by Sori’s perfect throw home in the sixth.
I’m not sure why, but I like the idea of Zambrano managing more RBIs than strikeouts tomorrow!
W – Howry (5-4)
L – Franklin (4-5)
- Notes: The Cubs have won (10 of 12) and 12 of its last 16 games.
- The club’s (44-16) record at home is the best in MLB.
- Chicago is the first NL team to reach 70 wins.
- Chicago is (32-21) vs. the NL Central.
- They’re also (8-5) in extra inning games.
- Hank White’s walk-off single marks the Cubs’ 12th win in its final at-bat.
- Ted Lilly is 7-0 this season when throwing 6+ innings.
Ken Griffey Jr. owes the Cincinnati Reds nothing.
Since returning home in 2000, Griffey has respectfully served as the face of Reds baseball despite seven consecutive losing seasons and a plethora of home-town criticism.
As the game’s greatest player, Griffey bolted Seattle for lil’ ol’ Cincinnati, thumbing down millions of more dollars to play elsewhere for the chance to don the same jersey his father once wore.
And, despite one serious injury after another in Cincinnati, he always returned to the team’s lineup, earning his money the hard way, rehabbing for a perennial loser and serving as the team’s lightning rod for its terrible play.
Plus, considering the seriousness of his many leg injuries, no one would have questioned Griffey had he retired years ago.
Still, Junior humbly took the field time and time again for a frugal organization that never held up its end of the bargain to return championship baseball to Cincinnati.
Reds managers came and went, its pitching staff always subpar and the unveiling of Great American Ballpark was over shadowed by one of baseball’s largest fire sales ever in July, 2003.
And even as Junior neared the historic 600 career home run mark the organization did little to promote such a historic baseball event. Shameful.
Yet, all the while Junior stayed true to himself and to the team he wanted to end his Hall of Fame career with.
However, the relationship between the Reds organizations, its fans and Griffey has unfortunately grown beyond repair.
This became obvious to me when Junior, sitting on 599 career home runs, opted to play the final game of a four-game series in Miami with the Reds returning home a day later to begin a nine-game homestand.
Griffey later stated he’s increasingly felt more fan appreciation playing on the road than in Cincinnati; so be it if the home crowd wouldn’t witness history.
Thus, dealing Griffey to the White Sox is the right move for both parties: Jr. now has a legitimate chance to win a ring with Chicago this year or by signing with a contender next season, and the Reds finally bandage a decade long wound.
Unfortunately, though fittingly, Junior leaves Cincy without a proper farewell celebration.
The culmination of Junior’s work in Cincinnati should have been celebrated one last time in front of the home crowd.
And, as one of the game’s few home run hitters still believed to be untarnished in an era known for PEDs, it would have be nice for Reds fans – for or against Griffey’s departure – to show respect for a player who represented his family, team and city in an honorable fashion.
Of course, that possibility is over, and with it, so is the Junior era in Cincinnati.
- Notes: Junior has hits safely in all 11 games since the All Star break.
- He departs tied for the Reds leads in doubles this season (20).
- For his career, Junior has homered against 389 different pitchers including 12 this year.
- He is the 18th player in MLB history to reach 5,000 total bases.
- Griffey also ranks sixth in career home runs (608), and 16th in RBIs (1,752).