Game 90: Cubs 7 – Astros 6


Astros 39-51/10.5, 12.0
Cubs 45-43/3.5, 3.0

POTG: 1B D Lee (3 H, 3 RBI, BB, R, HR [7/223], SB)
Runner Up: SS/2B Ryan Theriot (2 H, 2 R, HR [2/5]), C Geovany Soto (H, R, BB), CF Angel Pagan (2 H, 2 RBI, HR [4/9]), RP Carlos Marmol (1.1 IP, H, BB, 2 K, 0 R, 2 Marooned), RP Michael Wuertz (1.1 IP, BB, 2 K, 0 R, 2 Marooned)

How do I say this, politely? Jason Marquis is a piece of garbage. I’m sure he’s a wonderful human being, but right now, as a pitcher who’s goal is to get outs without getting runs, he’s horrible.

05/29: 5 IP, 5 R
06/04: 5.1 IP, 2 R
06/09: 5 IP, 5 R
06/14: 5.1 IP, 2 R
06/20: 1.2 IP, 6 R
06/25: 5.2 IP, 3 R
07/01: 7 IP, 1 R – an actual quality start!
07/06: 4.2 IP, 6 R
07/15: 4 IP, 6 R

That’s 1 quality start in the last 9.

He’s the exact Jason Marquis the Cardinals thought they were getting, so the Cubs probably should’ve known better. And yet, 2.4 years more of this.

The hope is things can turn around, and turn around fast. They turned around for Marquis from the start of the season, and they sure turned around for Michael Wuertz. After his awful performance on Saturday, he might have been done with the team if he gave up Sunday’s game, and it sure looked like he was about to. Even the strike out to get out of the inning was a pitch way out of the strikezone, where he was just very lucky the Astros went fishing. Maybe this’ll get him kickstarted again.

This game was one the Cubs appeared to have no business winning at all, and yet the won. They’re making a habit out of it likely, and that’s what has separates this recent absurdly hot streak from a slight above average win record.

It’s near impossible to pick a player of the game, because so many people had to do excellent jobs to get the win, and they all actually did. I went with Lee because it was the game changer – it meant Wandy wasn’t going to last as long as the Astros needed, it got Lee off his homerless streak, and it finished bringing the Cubs all the way back from their deficit. You could make a case for Pagan or Theriot or anyone in the bullpen (though a couple less walks would be nice.) Or Ram, who didn’t have a huge offensive day but saved a couple of runs twice with plays at third base.

It’s a shame the Rockies couldn’t do more, because it feels like the Cubs have played well enough to earn another game or two off the lead the last couple of days. Still, they’re making steady progress in the Wild Card race (despite the west teams playing against each other), and the real story about the Giants series is a bad team coming to town to face a hot one. Cubs should win 3 more in this next series.

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Game 89: Cubs 9 – Astros 3


Astros 39-52/11.5
Cubs 46-43/3.5

POTG: SS Cesar Izturis (2 H, 2 R, BB)
Runner Up: 3B A Ram (2B, 3 H, 4 RBI, R), LF Soriano (HR, 2 H, 2 R, 3 RBI), SP Ted Lilly (8 IP, 4 H, R, BB, 7 K, W [9/68]; H, R, RBI), 2B/RF/3B Mark DeRosa (2 H, R)

I was at this game! Sitting down, even, once someone re-explained to me the concept of “aisle” row numbering. That was sorta sad, because we were actually ahead of schedule and navigating with a fair bit of accuracy up to that point.

This was a completely different game in the first 3 inning than the last 3. Burke’s leadoff triple was a fluke, a well placed bloop hit combined with a bad defensive left fielder making a bad decision. Cliff really should’ve played it safer and given up the single instead of the very low percentage dive play. Besides that play, it was looking to be an oddly pitching dominant game in windy conditions.

And then, Roy Oswalt lost the game on a ball 3 to Cesar Izturis. We were way up the third baseline, underneath the upper deck and kinda blocked by a pillar, so it’s not like we could accurate gauge pitch location, but it was borderline. There was no question it got to Oswalt, and got to him mroe when Cesar turned the next pitch into a single to end the 3 1/3 perfect game. Oswalt lost his composure at the wrong time. Lee and Ram made him pay, and Oswalt was like a different pitcher the rest of the game.

It still seemed like a unsure game, even with Lilly pitching very well, even past the 2 more runs in the 5th. Soriano’s home run ended it, ended the homerless streak and made me wonder if they’d empty the bench completely at that point. (They sorta did in the 9th.) The Cubs have been lacking the extra base hits to put games away, relying on wins of a thousand paper cuts instead, and getting the big home run here was pivotal for the weekend. I don’t think the Astros figured on having to get 2 2/3 out of their bullpen with Oswalt starting, and that extra work played into Sunday’s game.

Batting Izturis second was a stroke of genius. I have no idea why Lou put him there, and I don’t know if there was actually a reason behind it, but it worked beautifully. Any one who can get on base three times in front of Lee and Ram on a hot streak is a huge asset to this team. It was only for one day, but it was one fine day.

On the other hand, Fontenot and Bowen both looked awful. I think Koyie Hill is the one getting sent to AAA first of the three catches, and it makes tactical sense, since he’ll be less likely to be claimed. If you went strictly on performance, I think Hill might have a better case than Bowen, but both haven’t really shown much at the plate at all.

I had a hot dog, a Mountain Dew, a pretzel and then later ice cream at the game. It was all great. It was a nice day to sit outside – between the wind and the upper deck shade, it was as comfortable game to go to as I’ve been this season. On the way back, we listened to 620 AM, and it’s probably a bad sign that it’s July and I’m trying to get in the Milwaukee Brewers radio station to keep tabs on things, but pennant races are fun, and I guess the Cubs really are in one.

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Game 88: Cubs 6 – Astro 0


Astros 39-51/10.5
Cubs 45-43/2.5

POTG: Z! (6.2 IP, 3 H, 3 BB, 7 K, 0 R, W [11/75]; 2 H, R, RBI)
Runner Ups: RP Carlos Marmol (3 Marooned, 1.1 IP, K, 0 R, 0 H, 0 BB), LF Soriano (2 H, 2B, R), SS The Riot (2 H, R, SB), 1B D Lee (2 BB, 2B, 2 RBI), RF Uncle Cliffy (2 H, R, BB), 2B Mark DeRosa (2 H, R)

I followed this one online, and caught the last couple innings on a static radio. Traveling screwed with my schedule this week.

This was a tough POTG to figure. Lots of good hitting, though no great one. If the final score was a little bit closer, Marmol’s job in the 7th would’ve been more important, but it really wasn’t that close at the time and ended up less so. This was not a great Z! game, but it was a pretty good one, so it goes to him.

The 8th inning was really where Lee’s power drain, turning into the greatest doubles hitter of all time at the cost of hitting any home runs, went from absurd to hilarious. You just knew it was going to be yet another double, and it was, and it was great. I spent the rest of the weekend just expecting doubles at all times when Lee got to the plate. That’s his gimmick.

Howry did not look especially good in the 9th, but I was fine with that. I hope he remains closer while Dempster is out, because it’s causing Lou to use Marmol earlier games in bigger situations, and he’s the guy on the staff everyone would prefer in those spots right now. The league ought to catch up to him at some point, but it hasn’t happened yet.

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