We were a little bit spoiled the last 19 games in which the Cubs were 14-5, then they opened up a 6-Game road trip with a 3-Game sweep from the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals dropped a season worst five games out of first place, and in their most recent road trip they went 1-5, so they had a sense of urgency to turn things around, and they did exactly that as soon as they played the Cubs. Surprisingly enough the Cubs were able to take 2-of-3 from the Pirates.
7/20 @ Cardinals L 1-4
7/21 @ Cardinals L 0-12
7/22 @ Cardinals L 0-7
All three games vs. the Cardinals were very much the same. The starting pitchers weren’t at their best, and the offense was pretty much non-existent.
Ryan Dempster took the mound carrying a 33-inning scoreless streak, but all of that would end as the Cardinals would score four runs in the first three innings, which included Matt Holliday’s incredible blast. Dempster didn’t allow any more runs but the four he gave up were enough to hand him his first loss since May 25th. Kyle Lohse had a solid outing for the Cardinals, pitching seven innings while allowing just one run.
The second and third game was a different story; the Cubs wouldn’t even score one run. Matt Garza only pitched three innings in game two, and then left the game after he started to feel cramping in his elbow. Justin Germano made his Cubs debut and cruised in the next three innings. The game stood in a scoreless tie in the seventh, however, it all changed in the bottom of that frame as David Freese opened it up with an infield single that ignited a 12-run seventh, in which the Cardinals sent 17 batters to the plate, had a total of ten hits that included seven doubles.
Travis Wood started the third game but he didn’t continue his past streak of four wins in a row. Wood gave up seven runs on nine hits over six innings. Lance Lynn on the other hand was very good for the Cardinals, he pitched six scoreless innings, and the bullpen did the rest. The Cubs were outscored 23-1 in this series, and they went 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position. It was the first time the Cubs were shut out in back-to-back games since May 4th. and 5th. 2006, when they lost 6-0 to the Diamondbacks and 1-0 to the Padres the following day.
7/23 @ Pirates W 2-0
7/24 @ Pirates W 5-1
7/25 @ Pirates L 2-3
The stars of the Pirates series were the Cubs starting pitchers, especially Jeff Samardzija and Paul Maholm who had great outings. Samardzija definitely looked like an ace, he pitched eight innings giving up only one run, while striking out five and walking one. Alfonso Soriano provided the offense by hitting an RBI double in the fourth and another in the ninth. Carlos Marmol pitched the ninth inning and notched his 12th. save in 14 opportunities.
Paul Maholm matched Samardzija’s outing in the second game by holding the Pirates to just four hits over eight innings and improving his record to 5-0 in his last five starts. The win also gave Maholm the Cubs lead in wins, he’s only been charged with four earned runs over his last 37 1/3 innings. The Cubs offense once again was fueled by Alfonso Soriano, who hit a two-run home run; Starlin Castro added a solo homer and David DeJesus hit a two-run double as the Cubs earned the series victory.
Everyone thought that Ryan Dempster would be gone by now, and he would have, but this has become quite a series of complications. He started yesterday’s game, and despite the loss, he didn’t pitch all that bad. Dempster gave up two solo homers and a go-ahead RBI double in the sixth and was pulled right after. He was visibly upset about it and took it out on the water cooler. Kevin Correia allowed only four hits and two runs over six innings, which was enough to give the Pirates the win and avoid the sweep. Who knows what will happen with Ryan Dempster, but all I’ll say is that fans are blowing this up more than they should be. It’s his right and his decision. Despite what he has said in the past, he has to think about his situation and his family, that is what comes first for Ryan Dempster, his family and himself…not the Cubs.
This has been a good season for Alfonso Soriano. His legs have finally come back to the level they were before, his defense has improved significantly and his power has continued to stay at a constant pace. On Tuesday, Soriano hit homer number 19 of the season, and his next home run (#20) will put him on the list of players that have recorded 11 consecutive 20-home run seasons, and he will also join Hall Of Famer Andre Dawson as the only Cubs players to hit 20 or more home runs in each of their first six seasons.
Randy Wells had been pitching in Triple-A Iowa and not doing very well, he was placed on the DL shortly after his last start on July 14th. He is done for the season as he underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow on Tuesday in Chicago.
The Cubs start a 6-game home stand where they will face the same teams, the Cardinals come to town on Friday for a 3-game series and the Pirates will follow. Friday’s pitching matchup is the same as last Sunday’s loss. Lance Lynn, who has been great vs. the Cubs will pitch for St. Louis, he has a record of 3-0 with a 0.94 ERA in three outings against the Cubs in 2012 and Travis Wood will start for the Cubs. Wood is starting in Matt Garza’s spot, who is being skipped because of cramping in his right elbow. The Cubs will have more information regarding Matt Garza on Friday.
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Chicago Cubs (Ron Santo Day)
Friday July 27, 2012 @ 1:20 p.m. CT
Lance Lynn, RHP (12-4, 3.10 ERA) vs. Travis Wood, LHP (4-5, 4.33 ERA)
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Chicago Cubs
Saturday July 28, 2012 @ 12:05 p.m. CT
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Chicago Cubs
Sunday July 29, 2012 @ 1:20 p.m. CT
Adam Wainwright, RHP (8-10, 4.31 ERA) vs. Paul Maholm, LHP (9-6, 3.88 ERA)
Thank you so much for reading and as always, Go Cubs!