Cubs Round-Up, 04/23-05/03

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It’s been a fun ten days, what a difference a week makes. The Cubs showed us that they can actually play well and beat good teams. I have to say that I was very impressed with the way they played these last three series, maybe my whole “don’t expect too much from them, and they’ll surprise you” plan is working ;)

Home series vs. The Cardinals:

4/23: W 3-2

Chi Cubs

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

HR

ERA

Garza

7.0

4

2

2

3

5

0

3.38

 

4/24: W 3-2

Chi Cubs

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

HR

ERA

Samardzija

6.2

4

0

0

2

9

0

4.13

 

4/25: L 1-5

Chi Cubs

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

HR

ERA

Volstad(L, 0-3)

6.0

6

4

4

0

2

1

6.14

 

The Cubs went 2-1, getting their first series win of the season. Both wins came in extra innings.

Joe Mather was drafted and developed by the Cardinals, but on Monday’s game he helped out his current team with his extra-inning heroics. The Cubs were trailing 2-1 with two outs in the bottom of the ninth and after two very good and patient at bats by Bryan LaHair and Geovany Soto, Mather came up to the plate and cracked a two-run single to get the walk-off win.

The hero in game two would be none other than (trade-his-ass-cuz-he’s-not-earning-his-paycheck) Alfonso Soriano. Of course this couldn’t have been possible without LaHair. He hit a game-tying homer to lead off the ninth. Soriano would come up with two outs in the bottom of the tenth to hit a single and plate Tony Campana to get the 3-2 win over the Cards. That is the first time the Cubs got back-to-back walk-off wins over the Cards at Wrigley since July 26-27, 1961.

Game 3 didn’t give us much to cheer for. Chris Volstad went six innings and allowed four runs but the Cubs just weren’t able to muster up more than one run, but I was so glad that they showed some life and at least tried to battle back.

Phillies Series: @Philly

4/27: W 5-1

Chi Cubs

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

HR

ERA

Maholm(W, 2-2)

6.1

5

1

1

0

1

1

6.20

 

4/28: L 2-5

Chi Cubs

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

HR

ERA

Wells, R(L, 0-1)

3.2

3

4

4

4

3

0

6.23

 

4/29: W 5-1

Chi Cubs

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

HR

ERA

Garza(W, 2-1)

7.0

1

0

0

1

10

0

2.67

 

4/30: L 4-6

Chi Cubs

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

HR

ERA

Volstad

6.0

8

4

4

3

4

0

6.11

 

I was very impressed with the way the Cubs played, especially the first game. Paul Maholm outpitched Roy Halladay…yes, you read that right. Maholm only allowed a solo homer. He went 6 1/3 innings and the Cubs were able to come up with five runs from five different players. Randy Wells struggled in game two where he was filling in for Ryan Dempster, who was still on the DL. Wells allowed four runs on three hits in 3 2/3 innings. Meanwhile, the Cubs couldn’t come up with much offense against Joe Blanton. Game three featured another great outing by Matt Garza. He pitched seven scoreless innings allowing just one single and a walk and striking out ten. The Phillies jumped on Volstad early in the last game and the Cubs rallied late, but not enough to get the win. They split the series, which is not bad considering the completely different teams they are.

Reds Series: @Cincinnati

5/01: Postponed

5/02: W 3-1

Chi Cubs

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

HR

ERA

Samardzija(W, 3-1)

7.2

3

1

1

2

7

0

3.41

 

5/03: L 3-4

Chi Cubs

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

HR

ERA

Dempster

8.0

3

0

0

1

6

0

0.95

 

Seriously, did ANYONE think that Jeff Samardzija would pitch like this? I hoped for it, but didn’t think so, I’m glad he’s proving all of us wrong. Samardzija got the call in the first game and allowed one run on three hits over 7 2/3 innings while striking out seven. The Cubs got the offense they needed on homers from LaHair and Stewart.

Today’s game …oh boy. It started out SO promising and then BOOM! They crash. Today’s game featured an MLB first: two starting pitchers facing each other on their birthday. Ryan Dempster was celebrating his 35th. Birthday, while the Reds’ Homer Bailey celebrated his 26th. The boys were asked to sign a couple balls that will be displayed in Cooperstown, which is pretty cool. Dempster was making his first start since April 17th. It was his first game back from the DL and boy he showed that he didn’t miss a beat, he was spectacular. Dempster pitched 8 innings, gave up three hits, no runs, walked one and struck out six. He had a 3-0 lead thanks to solo homers from Starlin Castro, Bryan LaHair and Geovany Soto. He was in line for the win when he left, and we all know the rest, Carlos Marmol took over, walked everyone and their Mom, Ian Stewart forgot how to field and the rest is history.

Reds end up getting the win, and Demps doesn’t get a win…again. That’s why numbers are so deceiving; Dempster should have three or four wins by now but instead he’s showing ZERO. Marmol owes Dempster a birthday dinner or maybe a Bentley. The Cubs don’t have many options for other closers; they could experiment with Rafael Dolis or Kerry Wood, I guess. James Russell has been good but he’s a lefty and they really need him to be used in other situations. It’ll be interesting to see what route Dale Sveum takes. I think they will give Marmol a bit more time to figure it out before making a drastic change. I’m ok with that, but I do believe that in this situation Marmol should have been taken out as soon as he walked the first two batters. Let’s hope this was a learning experience for Sveum, and that Marmol can go home and figure it out.

They’re sexy and they know it!

Starting pitching, boy were they good this series. Randy Wells was pretty much the only starter that struggled, other than that they kept the Cubs in the game and gave the team the chance to win.

Bryan LaHomer. The funny guys over at The Heckler came up with that, it’s brilliant! LaHair had a total of 5 homers in these three series. Two against St. Louis, one against the Phillies, and two against the Reds. He is on fire. Let’s hope he keeps it going, although I’m sure that some fans don’t want this because they’re anxious to see Rizzo up in the majors. But seriously, the last thing you want is for the Cubs to rush another player’s development, and if LaHair is helping the team, then that’s awesome!

It’s ugly and they show it:

Carlos Marmol. Hey I heard you were a wild one? Ah yes, our closer. Do you guys remember the good Marmol? The one who came in and left batters all baffled? The one that would freeze batters that didn’t even have time to settle into an at bat? Yeah, me neither. This is the biggest boo-boo that the Cubs have at the moment, but I am a firm believer that positive thoughts will help, no? Let’s try it, we have nothing to lose.

Sucky veterans. Just look at these numbers:

Alfonso Soriano: HR: 0, AVG: .250

David DeJesus: HR: 0, AVG: .200

Geovany Soto: HR: 2, AVG: .182

Ian Stewart: HR: 2, AVG: .158

These guys REALLY need to step it up! The Cubs can’t win without them. It seems like LaHair is the only one capable of hitting a homer at the moment, although they have shown some signs of heating up. Sure small ball is good and needed, but a team also needs homers, and these guys are supposed to provide that power. They also need to step it up because our starting pitchers won’t be lights out and go 8 innings every game.

Two things pertaining to two of these players. One, Soriano isn’t going anywhere, so let’s just put that to rest. And two, Soto is not getting benched. By the way, I am keeping a list of people that want Geo traded; it’s my ‘hit list’ so watch your backs because I’m watching you guys. Ok, I’m playing :) I don’t want Geo to be traded but I know that this is baseball and that’s just the way it goes. For now, Geo is our starting catcher, whether you like it or not, and he needs to be out there. If he’s in the future plans of this organization, he needs to be out there to be able to come out of this slump. If he’s not, he still needs to be out there and continue battling so he can up his trade value; otherwise he isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, which is fine with me ;)

Looking ahead:

The Cubs will come back home and have a 6-game home stand. Three games with the Dodgers and three with the Braves. So far, only the probable pitchers for Friday have been announced, so here you go:

May 4th. 1:20 p.m.: Chad Billingsley (2-1, 2.64 ERA) vs. Paul Maholm (2-2, 6.20 ERA)

Muskat says the other matchups are set, but we shall see…

Thanks for reading and feel free to comment and leave YOUR point of view. As always Go Cubs!

-Ivy

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