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Browsing posts from September, 2008

Soriano Brings Sexy Back

By bullpenbrian - September 6, 2008 - 12:21 am Leave a comment.

  • Saturday September 6th – Great American Ballpark
  • Game (142): Cubs 14 – Reds 9
  • Record (86-56) – 1st place NL Central

The skinny: The Cubs are back!!!

14 runs, 18 hits, YES, YES, YES!

And boy oh boy, does it feel good to fly the ‘W’ flag again!

Soriano’s 8-year $136 million dollar deal makes him ‘THE MAN’ in this lineup whether he wants to believe so or not.

In the end, when the Cubs are struggling he’s the guy everyone looks at to shoulder the load, period.

Sure, there’s Aramis, Lee, Soto and Edmonds that can -and have- carry this club too, but it’s Alfonso’s duty when the team is mired in a six game losing streak.

Besides, Soriano’s performance tonight single handedly abolished the team’s slump, and how many players in the league can do that? Not many.

Today, Sori was worth every penny at the plate: 3-HRs while tying a career high of 4 runs scored and five RBIs.

Not to mention, last year the guy was money in September as well: (.320 avg), 14 HR…and the Cubs need him more than ever this September to help break the team out of its recent offensive funk.

Speaking of which, Micah Hoffpauir replacing Fukudome in right field is not an off day for Kosuke, it’s a benching.

Kosuke batted (.193 avg.) in August and is hitting 44-for-202 (.218 avg.) in his last 61 games.

At this point Lou has no choice but to find another bat, especially considering the team’s lack of offense during the recent six-game slide.

On the other hand, I hate to see Fukudome’s superior defense sitting on the bench as well, but again, what’s Lou to do?

Also, another solid game from Marquis whose improved his road record to (6-2) in his last nine starts and has lasted 6+ innings in his last 10 starts overall.

Who’d of thunk it two months ago, but Marquis might be a huge player come October if Zambrano and Hardin can’t shake the injury bug.

Of course, that doesn’t seem too terrible now, but let’s hope it doesn’t come to that either.

For the time being, what’s most important is that the Cubs take the rubber match against Cincy tomorrow.

From here on out Chicago won’t face another club sub .500 the rest of the season…and there’s only one homestand (6 games) left at Wrigley.

W – Marquis (10-8)

L – Cueto (8-13)

  • Notes: Today’s win marks Marquis’ 5th consecutive season of 10 or more wins.
  • The right-hander’s eighth inning home run against Gary Majewski is the 8th of his career.
  • Chicago‘s five team home runs ties the club’s season high.
  • Soriano is the 38th player in Cubs history to notch a three-homer game.
  • He’s also just the sixth player in Cubs history to manage multiply 3-HR games:
  • Sammy (6), Banks (4), Kingman (3), Aramis (2) and Sauer (2).
  • How many more runs (7) would the Cubs’ pen have allowed if Howry pitched this evening?
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Story Time

By bullpenbrian - September 4, 2008 - 12:58 am 2 comments.

  • Wednesday September 3rd – Wrigley Field
  • Game (140): Astros 4 – Cubs 0
  • Record (85-55) – 1st place NL Central

The skinny: A five game losing streak can make a man irrational.

So, I took some extra time to digest the Cubs’ loss last night; I hope you don’t mind.

First, a story…it’s the summer of 2003 and I’m working an internship with the Cincinnati Reds.

One Saturday afternoon in the middle of June I’m walking towards Great American Ballpark from my parking spot underneath the yellow bridge east of the ballpark (sorry intern, no parking pass for you).

It’s humid outside and I start working up a good sweat on the 10 minute walk to the yard.

Just as I near the worker’s entrance a taxi pulls up and out jumps a guy who could pass for my high school science teacher, not a major league pitcher.

Nonetheless, there stands Randy Wolf, the Phills’ scheduled starter for the night’s game.

I recognized Wolf right away, say hello as I pass by on the sidewalk and continued my march towards the park’s door.

Surprisingly, Wolf tags along for the final stretch, our conversation going something like this:

  • “little warm out,” Wolf said.
  • “Yeah, just a little.”
  • “You’re throwing tonight, right?
  • “Yep,” said Wolf.
  • “How you feel?”
  • “Good, real good,” Wolf says with a smile.

In the bottom of the first Adam Dunn lines a leadoff home run against Wolf into the right field bleachers (sadly it’s true, Dave Miley batted Dunn leadoff in those days), Reds lead 1-0.

Hummm, ‘so he feels good,’ I think to myself?

But, Dunn’s shot was the beginning of the end for the Reds’ offense; Wolf lasted seven strong innings allowing just 1-R on 2-H with 7-K and no BB.

Ok, so the man felt good.

Phillies win 12-2 and I go home believing Wolf must be one of the friendliest guys in baseball.

Of course, I have no idea if that’s true about Wolf or not, but his kindness towards me that afternoon was very cool – not so much against the Reds through.

That being said, I’d say Wolf felt pretty good this evening when he stepped out of a cab on Addison and Sheffield.

Interestingly, the Cubs’ lineup had nothing working against a guy they slapped around for seven runs in four innings back on May 12th when Wolf was with San Diego.

It’s funny how a uniform can change a man.

Since being traded to Houston, Randy is (3-1) while helping the Astros post the N.L.’s best record since the All Star break (30-15) including the team’s eight-game winning streak.

Bottom line, the Cubs’ hitting slump is bad timing against the surging Stros’.

Here’s the good news though, the Cubs should revive the offense this weekend playing in the Great American SMALLPARK.

Plus, the division lead is basically five games up on the Brewers, who’re in the midst of their own struggles losing 2-of-3 at home against New York.

Watching the team not hit is frustrating, but not too worrisome…the hits and home runs will come with this lineup.

Just consider Chicago‘s 7 through 9 hitters lead MLB with a (.298 avg.)…the hits will come I tell you.

The real worries lie with Big Z…are we talking arm fatigue or injury, September return or done for the year???

What the word Z?

How ya feeling…good?

W – Wolf (9-11)

L – Dempster (15-6)

  • Notes: Despite the Cubs’ five-game slid they’ve still won 15 of the past 23 games.
  • Florida is now the lone N.L. team not to have lost five straight games this season: the Angles, Rays & Yanks have yet to do so in the A.L.
  • Dempster is now (7-3) when following a Cubs loss this year.
  • Ryan has also struck out six or more batters in 9 of his past 10 starts.
  • Randy Wolf felt pretty good for most of that 2003 season: he finished with a career high 16 wins.
  • His brother, Jim, is a MLB umpire.
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Lee Not A Three

By bullpenbrian - September 3, 2008 - 12:25 am Leave a comment.

  • Tuesday September 2nd – Wrigley Field
  • Game (139): Astros 9 – Cubs 7
  • Record (85-54) – 1st place NL Central

The skinny: How do you lose a game scoring 7 runs on 15 hits?

Try three errors and Bob Howry (4-R, 4-H & no outs).

Howry (5.63 ERA) shouldn’t throw another pitch for the Cubs this season.

And, as you well know, I’ve been calling for Howry’s dismissal for months now.

With the roster expanded Lou has to find a viable replacement for Howry to setup Marmol and Wood.

This is imperative people!!!

So, let’s hope Angle Guzman works out, but it shouldn’t have come to this in the first place.

Jim Hendry should have pulled the plug on Howry in July and swung a trade for middle relief…and I don’t care what prospects he needed to give up to complete that trade.

Tonight, Derek Lee missed on two chances for game-winning hits, left 6 men on base and sure enough, grounded into another twin killing.

Why not move Lee out of the three hole?

Not only does Derek lead the world in GIDPs, but he has just 3 HR in his last 62 games.

Furthermore, of Lee’s 18 HRs this season only four have come with men on base.

Sorry, but that’s not three hole material.

Move Lee into the two spot and bat Ramirez third and Soto cleanup.

Plus, why haven’t the Cubs’ hitting coaches changed Lee’s swing???

I’m still concerned about Zambrano too.

By the fifth his velocity dropped into the upper 80′s and he threw just 63 percent of his pitches for strikes overall.

Again, I’d have no problem pushing Z’s next start back another day or two.

Tomorrow is a big game for this club; the seven game homestand comes to a close and the Cubs play 16 of the next 22 games on the road.

Better go get’em on getaway day.

W – Wright (4-3) – Valverde (39)

L – Wood (4-3)

Notes: The last time Chicago dropped a series was July 21-23 at Arizona.

  • The last time the Cubs fell in a series at home was June 24-26 vs. Baltimore.
  • At Wrigley the Cubs are (51-23).
  • Chicago has held first place in the Central Division for 99 straight days.
  • Soriano’s leadoff homerun is his fourth of the season and 48th of his career.
  • Mark DeRosa has 25 RBIs in his last 26 games and is batting (.323 avg.) at home.
  • Derek Lee has not registered a multi-homerun game since September 11th, 2006.
  • Zambrano’s 0-for-2 night snaps his 13-game hitting streak; the second longest streak for a MLB pitcher ever: Wilbur Cooper managed 15-games in 1924.
  • Z also failed to extend his Major League record of eight straight games with an RBI by a pitcher.
  • Vote for Pat Hughes & Ron Santo here.
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Pictures of Wrigley Field Tour

By bullpenbrian - September 2, 2008 - 11:31 pm 5 comments.

A few weeks ago I walked down the street and went on the Wrigley Field Ballpark Tour.

That afternoon the Cubs’ were holding tryouts for the organization’s Seventh Inning Stretch competition.

All the participants were lined up in front of the Cubs’ dugout waiting their turn to step up to the microphone and belt out a memorable rendition of Take Me Out to the Ballgame.

Yesterday afternoon Gonzalo Palacios, a Spanish-language pastor from Elmwood Park, Ill., won the competition.

I thought he nailed it, vocally and emotionally.

It’s always nice to see good things happen to people who love life, and without question, Gonzo is a lover, both of life and Cubs baseball. Good for him.

Here’s my original post of the ballpark tour, the pics are below.

If you have the chance to take the tour, GO.

The tour begins underneath the famous red marquee

Here's the view from the Comcast Sports Net suite

Hello from the visitor's locker room!

Hello from the visitor's locker room!

The view from the left field bleacher seats...ummm BEER!

Next, we headed down to the Cubs' locker room

Next, we headed down to the Cubs locker room

Marmol, Aramis & Edmonds

Three of my favorites: Marmol, Aramis & Edmonds

My Dad a.k.a. "The Gar Bear" does his best Lou impression

My Dad, a.k.a. "The Gare Bear," does his best 'Lou' from the Cubs' dugout

The view from the Cubs' on-deck circle

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Smells Like Soriano

By bullpenbrian - September 1, 2008 - 2:08 am Leave a comment.

  • Monday September 1st – Wrigley Field
  • Game (138): Astros 3 – Cubs 0
  • Record (85-53) – 1st place NL Central

The skinny: Last September 1st I was sitting two rows behind home plate at Wrigley Field for a game against the Astros.

I could smell Alfonso Soriano in the on-deck circle. He reeks of money.

Coincidentally, Jason Marquis was on the hill facing rookie left-hander Troy Patton (now with Baltimore).

Marquis tossed 6.2 innings of 2-R baseball and the Cubs edged Houston 4-3 to keep a 1.5 G lead over Milwaukee in the division.

Of course, the Cubs’ lineup looked a lot different than it did today: Ryan Dempster notched his 24th save, Bob Howry had a respectable 3.61 ERA, Jason Kendall was catching, Craig Monroe was in right field and Jacque Jones manned center.

Fast forward to today…Marquis goes 6 innings, allows 2-R, but falls 3-0 against the Astros.

Now, I’ve been hard on Marquis all season, but, despite any comments about the right-hander’s inconsistency, the Cubs just don’t score runs when he’s on the bump.

Take for instance Marquis’ lowest point this season – a four game losing streak from June 26th to August 1st – the Cubs scored one or fewer runs in five of his six starts.

No pitcher wins games with that kind of offensive output.

And although I wouldn’t mind seeing Samardzija replace Jason in the rotation, I hand it to Marquis for being a gammer: he’s lasted into the sixth inning in his last 10 starts while posting a (5-3) road record.

Yet, it’s the same old story for Marquis this afternoon: Cubs get shutout on four hits.

Granted, Roy Oswalt was hurling for Houston, but it’s not like the Cubs have been efficient at the plate lately either.

Since Soriano’s game-winning bomb Friday, the Cubs have strung together 27 consecutive singles without an extra base hit.

On the bright side, Jon Lieber is back after an extended trip on the DL; his return is a huge plus for this bullpen (2-3, 3.43 ERA).

And, Koyie Hill is back after his horrific off season accident in which he severely severed the fingers on his right throwing hand.

W – Oswalt (13-9) – Valverde (38)

L – Marquis (9-8)

  • Notes: Here are the September call ups: IF Micah Hoffpauir, IF Casey McGehee, C Koyie Hill & RP Michael Wuertz.
  • Also, pitchers Angel Guzman & Jon Lieber were both activated from the DL.
  • Chicago has not lost three straight home games since August last year: Mets (0-1), Cincinnati (0-2).
  • Jason Marquis is (7-3) during day games and (2-5) under the lights.
  • Esquire Magazine put together a list of the best performances singing the national anthem at a sporting event. Ron Messmer’s singing of the anthem at the 1991 NHL All Star game is in the top five.

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