- Friday September 19th – Wrigley Field
- Game (152): Cardinals 12 – Cubs 6
- Record (92-60) – 1st place NL Central
The skinny: Give credit to Z for taking the mound after losing his grandmother earlier this week.
Mainly, it seems the 48 hours he spent traveling to Venezuela and back took its toll on the right-hander physically.
Hind sight 20/20, there’s no complaints if Z’s start is pushed back to Saturday or Sunday, but Z taking the mound actually helped keep the Cubs rotation stable for the remainder of the season.
And thankfully, the Cubs have earned the privilege to forget about today’s game with a nine-game lead in the division.
Of course, there’s no excuse for Carlos storming off the mound before Lou makes it to the bump to relieve Z of his duties.
Being a professional (in any field) includes handling both success and failure with grace, a lesson Z has yet to learn.
Plus, there’s also a difference between wearing your emotions on your sleeves and acting disrespectful.
Zambrano chose the latter and once again looked foolish and childlike on the field.
Yet, as usual, the way Lou handled Z’s fit was perfect; point the pitcher back towards the mound and demand respect.
Still, that’s Zambrano for you; one minute he thrills you, the next he drives you crazy.
Best news of the day (besides the Blackhawks beginning training camp), Brewers lose 11-2 at Cincinnati: reducing the Cubs’ magic number to 1.
Still, winning tomorrow won’t come any easier.
The Cards are still within reach of the Wild Card and LaRussa will use all his tricks against the rival Cubbies.
That being said, Ted Lilly has been a big game pitcher all season long for Chicago.
Not to mention, he’s (2-0) with a 2.54 ERA against the Cards this season.
No question tomorrow is the biggest game of the year for the Cubs.
Lilly is ‘the man’ and the Cubs will come to play…nothing like washing a bad taste out of your mouth with a little champagne!
W – Wainwright (10-3)
L – Zambrano (14-6)
- Notes: Tomorrow’s game will be broadcast nationally by Fox as the Saturday Game of the Week.
- The Reds’ Johnny Vander Meer (1938) is the only pitcher in history to post back-to-back no-hitters: June 11th vs. Boston & June 15th vs. Brooklyn.
- Despite having not won a World Series in 100 years, the Cubs are also looking to reach the post season in consecutive season for the first time in 100 seasons as well (1907-08).
- Thursday September 18th – Wrigley Field
- Game (151): Cubbies 7 – Brew Crew 6
- Record (92-59) – 1st place NL Central
The skinny: You can just tell the Cubs see the finish line.
The team’s four run ninth had everything to do with not giving in, not wanting to lose.
And it’s a beautiful thing to watch day-in and day-out!
Can’t get enough of Aramis either…no questioning the fact he’s the Cubs’ MVP in the lineup this season.
Going 2-for-4 today, Aramis is now 7-for-11 on the homestand including 2 HR, 4 RBIs, 4-R, 3 2B, & 2-BB.
He also extends his hitting streak to 10 games batting 18-for-40 during the streak.
And, in his last 23 games Ramirez has 6 HR and 26 RBIs which, includes (3) three-run jacks and a grand salami.
Not to forget, his two-out double in the ninth kept the Cubs alive for big Geo’s moment of glory.
MONEY, MONEY, MONEY!!!
And while we’re handing out awards, Geo gets rookie of the year too, his game-tying three-run bomb in the ninth seals the deal.
The catcher’s overall numbers stand at (.285 avg.) 23 HR & 86 RBIs. What’s to argue?
Also, D. Lee needed this game-winning hit more than any other player in this Cubs lineup.
Yes, Lee has been consistently good at getting on base, but it seems his clutch plate appearances always end with a weak fly out to right field or a rally-killing double play ball.
Recently though, Lee has been building up for a big hit that finally came in the 12th this afternoon.
Derek has three extra base hits in his last four games, has driven in five RBI in his last six contests and improved his hitting streak to five games.
Not in favor of home plate umpire Ed Rapuano’s decision to toss Edmonds in the middle of an at-bat.
Clearly, both pitches to Jim were outside…close, yes, but outside.
And sure, Edmonds has every right to quip about the calls…his bread and butter is driving the ball the other way…the game is on the line…so, if the pitches are outside say something!
Besides, that’s what Lou expects from his players, and especially from a long time veteran like Edmonds.
And more, two of Edmonds last five hits are home runs…so; losing Jim to Felix Pie is a huge turn of events at the dish.
Today is a prime example of why I continually scream DEFENSE MATTERS!
DeRosa’s botched double play ball in the sixth kept the door open for Milwaukee to tack on four runs, all unearned.
And, if it’s not for the Cubs’ miraculous comeback, that’s the deciding play in the game.
On the flip side, DeRo has been huge for this team playing six different positions while committing just 11 errors overall.
Why do teams still run against Soriano???
Not that I mind, but WHY, WHY, WHY???
What do the advance scouts see with Alfonso’s arm that I don’t?
Obviously, not the best outing from Harden…115 pitches, 7 walks, but he did keep himself and the Cubs in position to win the game.
Still, I’m far from being too critical about Rich: 5 of his 11 starts have been quality outings, he’s allowed just 12 ER in 65 IP, and he’s (5-1) overall with Chicago.
All this being said, there’s not a Cubs fan alive who’ll forget this game, how could you?
The ninth inning rally with two outs, Geo’s smash of a home run, Wood working out of two jams in extras, Edmonds getting tossed and D. Lee’s game-winning hit!
It’s a beautiful thing!!!
W – Wood (5-4)
L – Villanueva (4-7)
- Notes: The Cubs have won 9 of its last 10 rubber matches.
- Harden made his 100 career start this afternoon.
- In Oakland the right-hander made 89 starts going (36-19).
- Against the N.L. Harden has a career (10-2) record.
- 53 of the Cubs 92 wins have come at Wrigley.
- Chicago lead the NL in runs scored with (803).
- Big Geo has reached base safely 42 times in his last 29 games.
- Tuesday September 16th – Wrigley Field
- Game (149): Cubs 5 – Brew Crew 4
- Record (91-58) – 1st place NL Central
The skinny: Alfonso Soriano now has 20 HR in 40 September games during his two seasons with the Cubs.
More recently, the left fielder has 7 HR in his last 15 games pacing the Cubs on its five-game winning streak.
And tonight, his seventh inning blast off CC basically flushed Milwaukee’s season down the crapper too.
Speaking of which, I understand Milwaukee’s intentions in firing Ned Yost before the Cubs series, yet I strongly disagree with club’s decision to dismiss its manager.
If there was ever a time to fire Yost it was after his team blew its 8.5 game lead in the Central last year, and not with less than two weeks in the regular season to go this year.
Yet, the Crew decided to bring Yost back in ’08 showing its loyalty to a guy who made due for years without good players on the roster.
Now, the organization’s bid to energize the club at the cost of Yost’s head only reaffirms the Brewers’ worries that its post season aspirations are spinning out of control.
If I‘m Brewers’ GM Doug Melvin, I tell Yost to create a distraction like the incident between Manny Parra and Prince Fielder in Cincy a few weeks ago.
Remember that the Brewer followed the dugout head-butting between Parra and Fielder on a tear while also taking control of the Wild Card.
Now suddenly the answer to a team’s struggle is to can the manager with less than two weeks to go in the regular season?
Sure, I’ll be the first to say that Yost protected his players more than he should have this season.
But have the skipper call some players out, punch a water cooler or do something to stir the pot before canning the man whose team one game out in the Wild Card.
Yeah, it’s ok for the front office to disagree with the manager’s philosophy, but why risk upsetting a clubhouse that’s with striking distance of its first post season birth in 26-years?
On the other hand, what makes Lou such a dynamic manager is that he understands when to protect his players and when to challenge them.
Cubs lose nine in a row a Lou goes bananas after the game; afterwards his team rebounds on a five-game winning streak.
Next time stir the pot Ozzie Guillen style Ned!
Anyway, back to the Cubbies…loved the way Dempster battled tonight: 114 pitches, 1-BB & 9-K.
The right-hander has now produced 10 quality starts in his last 14 outings going (7-3) in that span.
Plus, his 13 home wins are the most by a Cubs pitcher since Fergie posted 13 at Wrigley in 1971.
And, Dempsters’ 13 home wins are three more than any of his other competitors in MLB.
I’ve said before Aramis is the Cubs’ MVP in this lineup.
The guy continually comes through in the clutch and the bigger the stage for Ramirez the better.
Tonight was no exception for the third baseman against Sabathia, who had yet to lose a game in a Brewers uniform: 3-for-4, 2 RBIs.
Final thoughts: great ‘D from Reed and Aramis, and another strong outing from Bobby H who nearly watched CC go yard before walking the tying run on four pitches.
W – Dempster (16-6) – Wood (31)
L – Sabathia (15-9) – (9-1)
- Notes: Of the Cubs 91 wins, 51 have come at Wrigley.
- That’s the most home wins for Chicago since posting 56 in 1935.
- Since September 1st the Cubs have extended its lead over the Brewers in the Central from 4 G to 8 G.
- The last pitcher to win more than 13 home games in a season is Russ Ortiz who ended his 2003 campaign in Atlanta with 14 wins at Turner Field.
- Carlos tossed the 13th no-hitter in Cubs history and the first in 36 years (Milt Pappas – Sept. 2nd 1972)
- Eight of the Cubs’ 13 no-no’s have come during the modern era of baseball, five happened in the 1800’s.
- The 36 years between no-hitters is the third longest stretch in baseball: Philly waited 58 years (1906-54) and Detroit 38 years (1913-51).
- The Mets (46 years) and Padres (39 years) are the lone teams in MLB without ever having thrown a no-hitter.
- Z is the third Venezuelan to ever throw a no-hitter: the White Sox’s Wilson Alverez (Aug. 11, 1991) and Florida’s Anibal Sanchez (Sept. 6, 2006).
- Carlos is the first pitcher to throw a no-no with his last name beginning with a Z.
- He is also the first Cubs pitcher to record 10 strikeouts during a no-hitter.
- The no-hitter is the first in Miller Park’s history.
- Ken Holtzman is the last Cubs pitcher to throw a no-hitter on the road (June 3, 1971 at Cincinnati’s Riverfront Stadium).
- Zambrano and Holtzman are the only Cubs pitchers to throw a no-hitter in a night game.
- Sunday September 14th – Miller Park
- Game (147): Cubs 5 – Astros 0
- Record (89-58) – 1st place NL Central
The skinny: 110 pitches, 73 for strikes, NO HITS!!!
Great day for Zambrano. Great day for Cubs fans!
From the seventh inning on, I paced back and forth in front of the television like a caged lion, waiting on edge for Z’s next pitch.
Theriot waiting for the long-hop off Castillo’s grounder about did me in, I’m talking down on hands and knees!
But at long last, Erstad swings and misses and the Cubs’ have its first no-hitter in 36 years!!!
Props to Carlos for keeping it together mentally. If only this would last…
The talent, of course, has always been there. Mentally, not so much. If only…
Anyway, loved WGN playing Van Halen’s “On Top of the World” as the Cubs celebrated.
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The Cubs needed something special from its ace with the pressure of the division race building. Eight innings of three runs or less would’ve got the job done. So we can only hope a no-hitter adds a little extra steam to the playoff push.
Remember, September has been tough on the Cubs, no Harden, no Zambrano, and a nine-game losing streak.
Meanwhile, it seems the only team playing worse than Chicago is Milwaukee, thankfully.
What a day to be a Brewers fan.
The Crew drops four straight at Philly, falls into a tie for the Wild Card, and watches the hated Cubs celebrates a no-hitter on their home field.
So, how about that Aaron Rodgers guy?
W – Zambrano (14-5)
L – Wolf (10-12)
- Notes: Zambrano’s Line: 9 IP, 0-R, 0-H & 10 Ks.
- Carlos retired the final 13 batters he faced.
- Michael Bourne drew the only walk against Carlos in the fourth with one out: the next batter, Miguel Tejada, grounded into a double play.
- In the fifth Zambrano plunked Hunter Pence with two outs, David Newhan followed by lining out to D. Lee ending the inning.
- Carlos also went 1-for-3 with a single in the third inning; he later scored on Lee’s double to right.
- Soriano’s lead off homerun is his 28th this season and the 49th leadoff bomb of his career.
- Wednesday September 10th – Busch Stadium
- Game (145): Cubs 4 – Cards 3
- Record (87-58) – 1st place NL Central
The skinny: Obviously, Lilly’s effort on the mound was the difference in tonight’s game.
But, in an odd sort of way, I think Lilly plowing over catcher Yadier Molina was his best delivery of the night!
Sure, it’s more than a risky move by Lilly – leading with his throwing shoulder into a man that’s 220+ lbs and covered in protective gear – with the playoffs looming, but I have no doubt it sent a spark through the Cubs’ dugout.
Am I silly enough to believe a defense tries harder behind a pitcher who’s willing to take one for the team? You bet!
And despite Lilly’s last outing of just 2.0 innings against Cincy, he’s still (8-4) in his 17 road starts while allowing 3 or fewer runs in 12 of those outings.
Speaking of defense, any question why Felipe Lopez is with his third team in the last three years?
Try an average of 20 errors per season since 2006 (Cincinnati, Washington & St. Louis).
And again, why do teams still run against Soriano???
The Cardinals ran themselves out of the third inning sending Izturis home on Pujols’ single.
Hold Izturis and the Cards put Lilly on the ropes with runners at third and first; next up is the (.296 avg., 32 HR -at the time) hitting Ryan Ludwick.
Thankfully, Ludwick never gets the opportunity to cash in like he did in the ninth against Woody.
Not long ago I said Aramis was my leading vote getter to earn the Cubs’ MVP Award.
I’m making it official as of tonight…Aramis leads the team in RBIs with 103 including having driven in 48 runners in his past 57 games.
Better still, the guy comes through in the clutch, 27 two-out RBIs.
Not too concerned with Wood in the ninth, he should be attacking hitters with a three run lead.
Besides, a save is a save, and Kerry has converted 25 of his last 27 opportunities.
It’s a huge win, takes pressure off the whole team and it sets Hardin up nicely to clinch the series tomorrow.
Not to mention, Houston is the hottest team in the NL, three upcoming games in the Juice Box won’t come easily.
W – Lilly (14-9) – Wood (29)
L – Looper (12-12)
- Notes: D. Lee’s (169) hits is 2nd in the N.L. only to Pujols’ (170).
- Derek has also hit safely in 23 of his past 31 games.
- Lilly is one win shy of his third consecutive 15 win season.
- Sunday September 7th – Great American Ballpark
- Game (143): Reds 4 – Cubs 3
- Record (86-57) – 1st place NL Central
The skinny: You’re nuts if you think Kerry Wood blew this game; Ronnie Cedeno’s error – ruled hit- did.
Cedeno says the ball took a tough hop…maybe so, but he’s paid major league bones to make plays on tough hops, especially game-ending double play hops.
My guess is Ronnie keeps Fukudome company in Lou’s dog house the next two weeks.
Unfortunately, it’s a tough break for a guy I’ve been pulling for all season.
In Cedeno’s last 29 games he’s batting 15-for-43 (.348 avg.) and has 5 RBIs in his last six starts.
But, his gaff this afternoon is a deal breaker with Lou…the skipper won’t stand for such plays in September…(ie) see Fukudome.
Topping things off, the Cubs drop the series against the lowly Reds before heading to St. Louis for a three game set.
Believe it or not, the Cubs haven’t lost a rubber match since July 6th at St. Louis, a string of seven games.
Not to mention, the last time Chicago dropped a road rubber match dates all the way back to May 25th at Pittsburgh, some 15 weeks ago.
Sorry, but the remaining series down the stretch won’t come any easier than Cincy…missed opportunity on the Cubs part to feed off Marshall’s solid outing and to extend the division lead.
Back to business Tuesday.
W – Cordero (5-4)
L – Wood (4-4)
- Notes: The Cubs have lost 7 of its past 8 games, ans 2.5 games on the division lead.
- Geez, what do ya know, the Cubs’ bullpen allowed 15 runs in 10.1 innings pitched during the series: that’s an ERA hovering at 13.06.
- Chicago has 19 games remaining.
- Two cool headlines on milestone markers 456 & 552:
- 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?
- 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.
- “You’re throwing tonight, right?
- “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.
- 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.