Browsing posts from September, 2011
I didn’t have high expectations for Casey Coleman entering Monday’s game against the division leading Brewers.
But he easily pitched his best game of the year tossing 6 innings of 1 run, 2 hit baseball with a career-high 8 punchouts against a very tough Milwaukee lineup.
It must be a huge confidence booster for the 24-year-old considering he hadn’t won a game with the Cubs in four months and entered Monday’s contest with an unsightly 7.08 ERA.
One solid start doesn’t make a season, but for Coleman, it buys him another start to prove he’s of major league caliber on the mound.
The next obvious step is showing consistency to string together quality starts, which thus far, he’s failed miserably to do so.
Not much of anything has gone right for the Cubs this season, and Monday night looks to be no exception.
The Brewers come to town with the major’s best road record since August 5 (17-5) and are winners of three straight having swept Cincinnati over the weekend to trim its Magic No. to 4.They’ve also won six straight games against Chicago, badly outscoring the Cubs 23-12.
To make matter worse, Casey Coleman (2-8, 7.06 ERA) who hasn’t won in five starts, toes the rubber for Chicago. And the Brewers have flat worn this guy out in 2011.
Ryan Bruan is 7-for-10 vs. Coleman, including a HR and two doubles. Corey Hart is 5-for-7 with a HR against him. Then sandwich in Prince Fielder and Cubs-killer, Casey McGehee, and it appears to be another short night for Coleman, at least on paper.
If there’s a lone bright spot at all for the Cubs it’s seeing if Starlin Castro can extend his consecutive games streak of reaching base safely to 32.
Woody English had two such streaks as a Cubs SS dating way back to 1929, a 34-game run, and another the following season of 32 consecutive games in 1930.
Otherwise, I’d settle for just seeing the Cubs drive in a run with runners in scoring position. How’s that for finishing the season strong?
Is there any good reason Bryan LaHair shouldn’t be in the Cubs everyday starting lineup?
Since his big league promotion on September 2, LaHair is hitting .433 in 30 at-bats. More notably, he’s also shown a great deal of patience at the plate and a knack for hitting in the clutch–all good signs for the 28-year-old in proving he’s a ready major league caliber player for 2012.
Carlos Pena is showing no signs of slowing down during the Cubs’ final 12 regular season games.
In fact, since August 3rd he’s hitting .278 with 13 doubles, 2 triples, 8 HR and 26 RBI.
On Thursday Pena crushed a monstrous 461-foot HR off Homer Bailey in the first and later drew a walk to finish his evening 1-for-4 with 2 RBI.
Ten hits over his last seven games, including the last four, has helped raise his batting average to .233, its highest since hitting .237 in early May.
His OBP is more than 100-points higher (.357) than his average thanks to his 90 walks, 16 coming over his last 13 games, which is by far the best mark on the Cubs and third best overall in the NL.
Despite the fact Pena got off to a slow start offensively, going homerless over his first 25 games, he’s put together another strong season since his first long ball on May 3 in L.A. From that game on Pena’s hitting .246 with 28 HR and 73 RBI. Not too shabby.
Pena’s offensive numbers, in addition to his leadership and Gold Glove fielding, should give him an opportunity to return to the Cubs next season.
He may not be the popular choice this offseason, but he’s certainly not the worst option at first base, either.
Last September Mike Quade was praised for playing his younger guys on a daily basis. The notion that the interim manager was thinking ahead for next season, instead of solely playing for wins, was significant in landing him the full-time job as Cubs manager.
However, that approach appears to have changed this September with the lack of consistent playing time given to younger guys like Tyler Colvin and Bryan LaHair, who were again absent from the starting lineup for Wednesday’s game vs. Cincinnati.
With the Cubs in a similar, if not worse, position than one season ago, why waste the opportunity to further develop prospects in favor of sticking with veteran players down the stretch?
Someone should have told the Cubs Rodrigo Lopez was pitching again Tuesday night. Then maybe, Chicago wouldn’t have wasted another gutsy performance by Ryan Dempster, who threw 128 pitches over seven innings allowing just two runs, but suffered a 2-1 defeat to the Reds.
True to form, the Cubs offense scratched one measly run across the plate for its staff ace, which has been a season-long trend of futility with Demps on the mound.
Dempster’s 4.33 runs of support per game is worst on the staff, with Matt Garza a close second at 4.37.
Victory aside, it must have been a frustrating night for Randy Wells and Matt Garza.
Both tough-luck starters watched from the bench as the Cubs’ offense torched the Reds for 12 runs on 16 hits.
The 12 runs scored Monday night ties the Cubs’ season-high set against the Brewers on June 16 and provided more than enough offense for Rodrigo Lopez (5-6) to pick up the win despite allowing five earned runs and four longballs through 5.1 innings–Not exactly your quality start.
That’s clearly unfair from a pitcher’s standpoint considering Wells and Garza both tossed seven strong innings on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, but ended up with a combined five runs of support and two no-decisions.
If you’re reading this post chances are you’re one of the few Cubs fans who hasn’t tuned out the baseball season in favor of the NFL. Although, who could blame you for doing so? Nonetheless, your attention is appreciated.
Moving on…A wild-and-wooly win for the Cubs at Citi Field Sunday night. The Cubs six-run rally in the 11th covered another late-game lead squandered by the bullpen.
It’s the third straight game Chicago has coughed up a lead. Yet, somehow they managed to take 2 of 3 against the Mets to win its first series in New York since July of 2006.
Better still, the Cubs are 4-2 over its last six road series beginning August 1 in Pittsburgh. That’s helped push the Cubs record to (22-17) since July 31, tied with St. Louis for the second-best mark in the division during that span.
Randy Wells (7-4) didn’t get the win to show for it, but his outing Saturday vs. the Mets was one of his best of the season.
That’s saying something considering Wells had won five straight starts and six of seven overall.
In fact, Wells has been so dominate of late that he’s issued just four earned runs over his last 28.2 innings, including Saturday’s two-run effort, good for an ERA around 1.00 over that stretch.
That’s a far cry from the pitcher Wells was early in the season, who at one point struggled through nine straight starts without a single victory.
So why the turn-a-round?