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Cubs Clinch NL Central!

By bullpenbrian - September 21, 2008 - 4:29 pm Leave a comment.

  • Saturday September 20th – Wrigley Field
  • Game (153): Cubs 5 – Cards 4
  • Record (93-60) – Chicago Clinches NL Central!
  • Magic No. – 0!!!

The skinny: For the first time in 100 years the Cubs have managed to reach the post season in consecutive seasons.

What a celebration after the game…players showering each other with champagne, the victory lap around the outfield, the block party on Clark and Addison!

And, as DeRosa said afterwards, “it never gets old.”

Yes, it’s a beautiful thing, indeed!

I talked about it Friday, Ted Lilly has been a big game pitcher for the Cubs all season, and he was again this afternoon too.

The lefty gets over-looked on a staff with Z, Harden and Dempster.

Zambrano always stirs our emotions, both good and bad, Harden’s stuff is electric and Dempster’s return to the rotation has been nothing short of spectacular.

Then, there’s Lilly, the definition of a crafty left-hander, nothing out worldly, nothing flashy, but the guy wins big games.

Lilly was spot-on after the game too, saying this is what the team had in mind since spring training: win the division in front of the home crowd at Wrigley.

St. Louis‘ two errors cost them the game, Ramirez’s stab on Pujols’ liner in the fourth helped seal the division crown.

And, give credit to Lee’s tag on the backend of that play as well.


Lou is right to point out that this Cubs team shouldn’t burden the load of the Cubs’ championship drought.

Sorry Lou, but there’s no getting around it, you certainly can’t live in the past, and you can’t change it either.

And, until this organization goes all the way, the last 100 years will stick to the Cubs like a summer shadow.

However, I believe this Cubs team is up to the challenge of ending the championship curse.

Yes, Chicago winning the World Series can happen, it’s is not impossible, despite what some Cubs fans might think.

Boston dealt with similar issues, similar pressures to win, yet has come out with two rings in the last four years.

No reason the Cubs can’t do the same.

And, if the Cubs mimic its formula for success from this afternoon: strong starting pitching, timely hitting and solid defense; there’s no doubt the club plays the last series in October.

During the post game interviews several Cubs mentioned the presence of Jim Edmonds in the clubhouse this season.

Like him or not, the guy is a true leader.

Edmonds gathered the team in the clubhouse after the game to remind them to keep their collective eyes on the prize.

When you’ve been to the summit and played to the level Edmonds has for the past two decades, your voice is heard.

And, Jim’s left-handed bat will play a huge part in the Cubs’ post season lineup as well.

Soriano, Theriot, Lee, Ramirez, Soto and DeRosa: all right-handed hitters.

Time to celebrate!!! See you tomorrow!

W – Lilly (16-9) – Wood (32)

L – Pineiro (6-7)

  • Notes: For the first time since 1989 (93-69) the Cubs have won 93 games.
  • Lilly’s 16th win is a career-high.
  • The lefty is also (3-0) vs. St. Louis this season.
  • Great quote from LaRussa after the game: “They played the best all year, so they’re the winners.”

Demand Respect

By bullpenbrian - September 19, 2008 - 11:56 pm Leave a comment.

  • Friday September 19th – Wrigley Field
  • Game (152): Cardinals 12 – Cubs 6
  • Record (92-60) – 1st place NL Central
  • Magic No. – 1

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).

08-08-08 0-Edmonds!

By bullpenbrian - August 8, 2008 - 1:33 am Leave a comment.

  • 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.

      Cubs – Cardinals

      By bullpenbrian - July 7, 2008 - 12:21 am Leave a comment.

      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!


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