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Game 28: Brewers 4 – Cubs 3

May
02

Brewers 16-12, -1.5 (3rd)
Cubs 17-11, -0.5 (2nd)

POTG: SP Z!!!! (HR [1/13]; 6.1 IP, 7 J, R, 2 BB, 3 K)
Runner Up: SS Ryan Theriot (3 H), RF Fukudome (4 H, CS, 2A)

Yes, there was a dumb move with a guy recovering from injury in this game. It wasn’t Soriano: Gallardo has torn ACL.

The Cubs are going to have games were defenders make bad plays, pitchers don’t get the jobs done, and people get out running the bases. What I hope never happens is the Cubs have a game where the pitcher suffers a knee injury so bad they’re balled up on the ground in pain and the manager allows them to continue to pitch. That was many times worse than the loss of one game.

I think, when Gallardo went down, every Cubs fan with any sort of memory flash backed to their favorite freak Mark Prior injury. Maybe it was the time he got hit by a batted ball for you, but I think most went with the Marcus Gilles collision game. Even though none of his major arm injury he’s had has definitely been linked with that incident, I don’t know of a Cubs fan who would’ve let him go back out on the mound if it happened today. Dusty let him pitch three more innings, and we all live to regret this. When Yost let Gallarado go back on the mound, history was repeating itself.

Given the Brewers bullpen, Gallardo probably needed to be in as long as possible to get the Brewers the win on this one day, but there are times as a manager you must look at the big picture. How much more damage was done to the knee and how many future games did Yost cost his team by letting a prize pitching prospect play hurt? It wasn’t the World Series, it wasn’t the last days of the season, it was just game 28 of 162. Yost lost his perspective.

The cold math is the Brewers won the game, but everyone will now project them for 2 or 3 less wins on the season without Gallardo. And that may be the difference, but as a fan of baseball, I’m disappointed.

Cubs fans have to keep this game in perspective as well. It feels like the first game the Cubs lost that they really should’ve won, but at least they got to May 1st before taking one of those. There are real concerns about Kerry Wood, but Marmol being the closer may have meant Wood just blows the game an inning or two earlier. Soriano probably should’ve been double switched out of the game, but sometimes you’ve just got to learn those lessons the hard way, and it’s better to learn those lessons in Game 28.

Buried in all of this was Z being awesome yet again. I was really hoping for a 1-0 victory, but I guess you don’t always get what you want. On ESPN after the game, Buster Onley credited Z’s good start to an improved K rate. His Ks are down on the season, I have no idea what he meant. Walks are down which is how Z makes it work, at least for now.

Regardless of how he was used, Marmol was his usual untouchable self. That’s good.

Also buried was the hitting. Even though they were in position at the end, the hitters didn’t do all they could’ve. When Ronny Cedeno comes off the bench for half the team’s walks (2) and Z has half the XBH (2), something’s a bit off.

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Game 27: Cubs 19 – Brewers 5

May
01

Cubs 17-10 (1st)
Brewers 15-12, -2 (3rd)

POTG: C SOTO (2 HR, 6 RBI)
Runner Up: LF Johnson (2 R, H, BB), SS Ryan Theriot (2 H, 3 R, RBI, BB), 1B D Lee (2 H, 2 R, RBI, 2B), PH-2B Ronny Cedeno (2B, 2 R, 3 RBI, 2 BB!), 3B A RAM (2B, 3 RBI), RF Fukudome (2 H, 2 R, RBI), 2B-3B Mark DeRosa (2 H, 2 RBI, 3 BB, 3 R), SP Ryan Dempster (6 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 5 BB, K, QS [4], W [4/63])

That works!

People with an OPS+ over 100
* Soto
* Lee
* DeRosa
* A Ram
* Theriot
* Fukudome
* Cedeno
* Blanco

The offense this April has been insane. First in batting average, first in on base, second in slugging, 1st in runs. The worry was this team was going to be relying on home runs too much, but they’re somehow second in the league in walks. It’s not just one guy (Fukudome), because no one’s in the top 10 – they just have 6 different starters with 12 ore more walks. This is not the Cubs team I’m familiar with.

There’s only six rookie batters in MLB with another plate appearances to be eligible according to ESPN. #1 in OPS is Soto. #2 is Fukudome. One of them has to win the rookie of the month award they just invented.

What’s the point of having five hundred pitchers on your active the roster if you have to leave multiple pitchers out on the mound to die? Both Suppan and Turnbow were left to twist in the wind (and then not left when Yost couldn’t stand his own strategy), which seems to be against the point of loading up your team with guys who can throw the ball. Suppan’s ERA will take a long time to recover, but I think Turnbow’s worse off and mentally done for a while.

As Lou said, 17 wins in a month is pretty good, and 17 wins times 6 months will definitely get the Cubs into the playoffs. Z’s fully capable of taking the series this afternoon.

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Game 26: Brewers 10 – Cubs 7

Apr
30

Brewers 15-11, -1.0 (2nd)
Cubs 16-10 (1st)

POTG: 2B Mike Fontenot (2 H, 2B, 3 RBI, BB)
Runner Up: 3B A Ram (3 BB, H), RF Fukudome (2 R, H), 2B-LB Mark DeRosa (2 H, 2 R), C Soto (2 H, 2B, R)

This was not a great day for Jason Marquis in any stretch of the imagination. 10 hits in 5 innings isn’t going to work. Still, the conditions were surprisingly unfavorable to pitches (on both teams) and 5 runs in 5 innings are within the oeuvre of Jason Marquis. You’re going to get a few those starts with him every year, and it couldn’t hurt to flip those into wins.

The actual goats of the night were Keith Hart, who did not show much, Sean Marshall, who walked the only guy he faced and Michael Wuertz, who seems to be quite messed up. Michael Wuertz lives and dies on his ability to get easy outs thru ground balls and strike outs Had he been able to pitch to form, the Cubs minimize the disaster of the 7th (nothing could be done about the James Van Der Beek appearance) and are very much still in a game where both teams are scoring a lot of runs. They still almost come back, thanks to the wonder that is Eric Gagne in 2008, but Wuertz’s inability to limit the damage put this game out of reach.

Dropping K rate = bad news. Something’s wrong here.

The Cubs are one game away from deciding who goes when Soriano returns. I’m sure Murton and Fontenot, the two mostly likely choices, were happy to make strong cases tonight. I think Matt’s gone back to Iowa again barring a trade, but at least he’s going out with two more hits than Eric Patterson.

The weather is better today. Hopefully Dempster will be as well.

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Game 1: Brewers 4 – Cubs 3

Mar
31

Brewers 1-0
Cubs 0-1

POTG: RF “I LOVE JAPAN AND ALL ITS PEOPLE” (3 H, 2B, HR, BB, CS, 3 RBI)
Runner Up: SP Z! (6.2 IP, 3 H, BB, 5 K, Pick Off, QS), RP Carlos Marmol (1.1 IP, 3 K, 0 H, 0 BB, 0 R)

What positives can we take from this game
– that guy from Japan may be able to play the base ball okay.
– leaving insane phone messages (as quoted above) remain fun in the ’08
– Carlos Zambrano can actually pitch great on opening day
– Carlos Marmol can pitch great on any day
– we get the “Z needs to drink more liquids/play less Guitar Hero” story out of the way early
– everyone realizes they need to work on calling each other on pop outs already
– Eric Gagne is really not good any more
– Kerry learns to deal with having a bad outing and having to shake it off pretty quickly
– there’s a slight chance of a bean ball war breaking out if Weeks has anything to say about it. He was TICKED after the 9th.

It’s one loss, one bad outing. They’ve got 161 more. Not quite time to freak out.

Tomorrow’s off, and Wednesday starts things off in a normal rhythm. Lilly vs Suppan is going to be a tough matchup, especially if Lilly pitches as he did in Arizona

Game 132: Cubs 5 – Brewers 4

Aug
31

Cubs 68-64, +2.5
Brewers 66-67, -2.5

POTG: RP Carlos Marmol (2 IP, H, 5 K)
Runner Up: 3B A Ram (2 H, 2 BB, R), 2B Mark DeRosa (2 RBI, R, H), C Jason Kendall (2 H, BB, CS), RF/LF Matt Murton (2 H, HR)

Well. Now we’re really back to the old “making it waaaaaaaay too intersting” Ryan Dempster. This will kill us all before the end of the season, and it’ll be fun.

How much of an impact has Carlos Marmol made on this season? Hardball Times credits him with 7 win shares. Baseball Prospectus says he’s got a VORP of 26.5, putting him 60th in the ML despite missing the first couple months. That’s 26.5 runs better than the theoretical replacement player, and I’m not sure who the real world replacement player would be. Wuertz had this role and couldn’t hold on, Wood came along late and isn’t that sharp, and no one else really set up. With the way Lou’s set up his bullpen, Marmol’s the guy who comes in early and comes in with runners on while the Cubs have a lead – it’s a high leverage situation, and Marmol’s made a huge difference.

and with all that said, I would not have a problem trading him for (very) good value in the off season, but he’s going to blow out his elbow real soon if he keeps throwing pitches like he was last night. Pitches were nasty, but so was the torque on his arm. I don’t think you can do anything to change it, and you might as well get it all out of him while it can benefit the team a lot.

The difference last night was home runs from Soriano and Murton. Power is good. Looks like they’ll have to do it without Alfonso today.

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Game 131: Brewers 6 – Cubs 1

Aug
30

Cubs 67-64, +1.5
Brewers 66-66, -1.5

POTG: CF Jacque Jones (2 H, SB)
Runner Up: none

Not to say I was zooming thru the post Z-explosion innings really fast when I finally got around to watching this (around 11pm), but I was momentarily confused when Wuertz came out to pitch the 9th, because I thought he had done the same thing in the 8th. No, that was Wood, and I probably should be suspended for mixing the two.

Since you know I’m just going to excuse Z anyway, let’s just skip all of that and start complaining on the offense. I’m pretty sure someone, maybe a coach of some sort, informed them Ben Sheets was just returning from injury and probably was on a low pitch count. Apparently, this message was interrupted as “swing early and often!” Cubs did get some offense in the 3rd with some first pitch hitting, but this seems like the exception. The Brewers, at least in this series, have been the opposite of the Diamondbacks – you want to get to the bullpen early and often.

I did like everyone running at will on Jerry Estrada. Hopefully that keeps up today. With no sweep, the Brewers aren’t going to be out of the race with a loss, but any distance is good distance at this point.

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Game 130: Cubs 5 – Brewers 3

Aug
30

Cubs 67-63; +1.5
Brewers 65-66; -2.5

POTG: CF-RF Jacque Jones (2H, 2B, R, RBI)
Runner Up: 1B D Lee (2 H, RBI), C Jason Kendall (2B, 2H, R), SP Rich Hill (7 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 9 K)

many paragraphs of boring travel notes compressed into bullet points
– Verizon’s GPS is useless if you’re walking (downtown, Chicago)
– “look for the Sears Tower” doesn’t work when you’re surrounded by tall buildings
– I seriously should just go the way I know rather than listening to other people’s ideas.
– getting on the 12:30am train (getting in at 2) on a weekday is rough, though empty

I hurt or pulled or bruised something, somewhere along the way and could not sleep at all Tuesday night Wednesday morning. Somehow, I did my normal stuff on Wednesday but couldn’t manage the energy to do this before I passed out in the evening. I’m a little less out of it today, but I’m debating to catch a Kane County double header or get more sleep. I don’t think it’s legal to pass up two games at $12 for third row tickets, even if they’ll start 45 minutes before I get there.

Anyway, before I go see more games, I really should write about the last one I went to. We grabbed upper center field bleachers seats – I got there about 45 minutes before the game and staked them out because I hadn’t seen a game from there before, and it gave a nice view of the strike zone. Maybe it’s a weeknight bleacher thing, but I was surprised about how the bleachers weren’t filled till just about game time – it’s always been packed every time I’ve gotten there before. The seats worked out great for the viewpoint and good people around us, including the guy in front of us who kept coming back for high fives. The downside is no center aisle back to the main walkways, so you had to crawl thru people to get out for food (or you had plenty of people crawling past you to get beer.) If you’re not thirsty, it’s a good place to sit.

This game, as you may know by now, was pretty awesome. The Cubs blew oppurtinties to score early on, but we were focusing on the Cubs just working Suppan out of the game. It didn’t look like that was going to work out, because Suppan had too many 3-4 inning and was just at 78 coming into the 7th. I figured we’d probably get to see the closer in the 9th, but that was looking for too much.

I swear I thought Ned Yost was coming out to argue Uncle Cliffy didn’t try to get out of the way enough on the HBP. No, he was coming out to be an idiot. Yost was quite incredible in this inning. He’s not a Player, so he can’t quite be a POTG, but he was something – why leave Linebrink in when he was struggling so bad in that inning? Why have a lefty warm up and warm up and warm up, and never use him against Jacque or Ward? It sure didn’t work out the way he did it.

Hill could’ve been better, but he was still good. Soriano was surprisingly patient in his first at bat, but then turned into the swing first, ask questions later batter I figured he’d be after his return. Dempster and Howry were good.

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Game 80: Cubs 5 – Brewers 1

Jul
01

Brewers 47-34 +6.5
Cubs 40-40 -6.5/-5

POTG: 2B The Riot (3 2B, 3 R)
Runner Up: 1B D Lee (3 H, 2 R, RBI), 3B A Ram (2B, 2 RBI), SP Jason Marquis (7 IP, 4 H, R, BB, 5 K, W [6/62]), RP Carlos Marmol (2 IP, H, 4 K, 0 R)

First time Marquis made it 7 innings in a month, when he put a pretty similar line against against the Padres. These were the kinda performances he was doing the first six weeks of the year. I don’t know if this means he’s figured something out, or if it’s just blind luck. It’s nice for a day, anyway.

I feel like I should have much more to say about this game than is actually coming to my mind. Cubs got on top early, and Marquis never allowed himself to get into danger. Marmol seemed to blow them away in the 8th and 9th, and it’s hard to understand why he won’t be closer for this team by Tuesday.

I watched the All Star Selection show, and wow was that dumb. I’m trying to ween myself off the All Star game anyway, so I don’t understand my logic at all, and besides that, it was an awful boring show. No enregy, and no analyst on TV seems to get the idea that it’s weird when you treat Bonds like a guy who’s had a normally legendary career.

Anyway, D Lee made it and Z did not, which is not the way I would’ve have figured it at the start of the day. I think I’ve got it my head that Derek spent more time off the field than he has (yet – at this rate, his suspension isn’t going to start till sometime in 2008), and Z made it on the last chance ballot so that campaign will be fun. I’ve already vote some 20 times. He better make it, or the mailing list I got stuck on won’t be worth it.

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Game 79: Brewers 13 – Cubs 4

Jul
01

Brewers 47-33
Cubs 39-40

POTG: 2B/SS Mark DeRosa (2B, 2 H, 2 RBI)
Runner Up: no one

Well, that sucked.

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Game 78: Cubs 6 – Brewers 5

Jun
30

Brewers 46-33, +6.5
Cubs 39-39, -6.5/-5.5

POTG: 3B A Ram (HR, 2B, 3 H, 2 R, 2 RBI)
Runner Up: RP Ben Petrick (2 IP, H, 2 K, 0 R), RP Michael Wuertz (2 IP, 1 H, BB, 0 R), LF Alfonso Soriano (2 H, R, 2B), SS Mike Fonetenot (2 H, R, RBI)

I swear, not only had I just set wheels in Milwaukee (heading out the other side), but I barely finished thinking about how this was another fine one loss the Cubs had gotten themselves into when A Ram took one swing, and Santo was yelling “YEA! YEA! YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!”

What it seems I had forget is these are the Cubs of June, which are a totally different team on the Cubs of April (who would’ve lost by 1 run) and the Cubs of May (who would’ve imploded after going down 5-0.) This Cubs team plays great games and wins them when there’s no chance they should.

Hill’s really flamed out. He was really great, but he’s been harmful to the team the last three times out
06/17 – 3 IP, 5 R
06/23 – 5.2 IP, 1 R
06/29 – 3 IP, 5 R

He’s been taking the team out of games (or close) and going so short that he damages the bullpen. When Hill’s good, and when he’s bad, he’s awful

in 5 Wins: 0.75 ERA – 2 HR
in 5 Losses: 7.76 ERA – 12 HR
in 6 ND: 3.06 ERA – 2 HR