This week we got a little taste of the new direction of where the Cubs are headed in. All these years that I’ve been a fan, I’ve never been a part of a rebuilding process, and I’m sure we’re all fairly new to this. The Cubs have traded away four players, and there is a chance that they’re not done yet. As hard as it can be for some of us to let go old players that have been with the Cubs for so long, you can’t help but get excited. In my case, losing Geovany Soto was very hard, but knowing that this is the beginning of something new and that it might end with a World Series Title makes me feel a lot better. In the midst of all this, the Cubs were still playing baseball, so here’s a recap of how they did.
7/27 vs. Cardinals L 6-9
7/28 vs. Cardinals W 3-2
7/29 vs. Cardinals W 4-2
7/27- Travis Wood had pitched very well and surprised us all, but he hasn’t been the same recently, and the first game vs. the Cardinals wasn’t any different. The Cardinals got home runs in each of the first five innings, sending Travis Wood into Major League Baseball history but not in a good way. He was the first starter to surrender a home run in each of the first five innings. It was also the first time the Cubs allowed that and the first time the Cardinals accomplished such a feat. Travis Wood allowed eight runs overall on seven hits in five innings of work. The Cubs’ offense did get to work early; they hit for the cycle as a team and scored three runs off Lance Lynn. David DeJesus started things off with a triple, Starlin Castro singled, Anthony Rizzo homered, and Geovany Soto doubled to complete the cycle, it’s the first time the club has done that since July 25, 2009. The Cubs scored three more runs in the third, in total Lynn allowed six runs in five innings, but it wasn’t enough and the Cardinals took game one.
7/28- Jeff Samardzija has also pitched very well, if fact, he was coming off his best start, eight shutout innings against the Pirates, but he wasn’t as sharp in the Cardinals series. He started the game by throwing seven straight balls and walking the bases loaded in the first, although he was lucky enough to get out of it by only giving up one run. He settled down after that and went six innings and gave up two runs on three hits. This was Samardzija’s 11th. quality start. He has posted a 1.91 ERA in his last five starts, dating back to July 2nd. The game was tied at 2 and former Cub Reed Johnson was the hero in this game, he bunted toward third which scored Tony Campana on a surprise squeeze play and gave the Cubs the lead. Carlos Marmol converted his 12th. straight save opportunity as the Cubs took game two.
7/29- This game was so fun and proved that Anthony Rizzo can do anything. The now former Cub Paul Maholm started for the Cubs and held the Cardinals to four hits over 6 2/3 innings. This was Maholm’s sixth consecutive start in which he went at least six innings while allowing one or no runs. He’s the only Cubs left-hander to have that streak since 1900. Before he got traded, he had given up only five earned runs over 44 innings (1.02 ERA) He’s no longer here, so now we’ll probably have to deal with a crappier pitcher, but it was fun while it lasted. The game was tied and went into the tenth inning until Anthony Rizzo came up to back and hit his first walk-off homer, a two-run home run to give the Cubs the 4-2 win and take the series.
7/30 vs. Pirates W 14-4
7/31 vs. Pirates L 0-5
8/01 vs. Pirates L 4-8
7/30- The Cubs showed they can hit, for some reason they decided that they were going to pound the Pirates, but this was the worst game ever. Ok, I’m being biased and you all know why, so I’m not going to harp on the issue. Justin Germano was the starter for this game and got the win, he pitched five innings, giving up only two runs on four hits. It was his first start since 2010 and his first career start against the Pirates. The right-hander was acquired July 19 from the Red Sox for cash considerations; he had previously pitched three innings in relief on July 21st. This game had excitement all over; the Cubs had an offensive explosion. Darwin Barney, who fell a double shy of the cycle, hit a three-run home run, Anthony Rizzo also hit a three-run homer and Starlin Castro added a two-run shot. The Cubs had a nine-run fifth, sending 12 batters to the plate. As if the game wasn’t exciting enough, the Cubs front office was hard at work dealing players to other teams before the trade deadline. They pulled Reed Johnson from the game and then told him and Paul Maholm that they were both going to the Braves. Geovany Soto was then pulled after the sixth, and was on his way to the Rangers.
7/31- With the trade that sent Ryan Dempster to the Rangers, Casey Coleman was brought up from Triple-A, and started in his place. Casey Coleman went 4 2/3 innings and gave up four runs on seven hits. Offensively the Cubs couldn’t do anything against A.J. Burnett who was starting for the Pirates. Neil Walker provided all the offense and A.J. Burnett provided a great pitching performance. Neil Walker walked away with all five RBIs; he hit a first-inning grand slam and a sacrifice fly in the seventh . A.J. Burnett was spectacular; in fact, he needed only four more outs for his second career no-hitter. Pinch-hitter Adrian Cardenas, who was also called up from Triple-A was the one who broke up Burnett’s rhythm, he hit a single with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning. The Cubs have not been no-hit since Sandy Koufax’s perfect game on September 9, 1965 in Los Angeles. The Cubs didn’t have anything in the gas tank after clobbering the Pirates the game before, so the Pirates easily took the game.
8/01- Travis Wood dropped his fourth straight decision after winning four in a row. The lefty went five innings and gave up two runs on three hits, which is not bad but Shawn Camp gave up any hope of the Cubs rallying back. Camp had only given up two runs in his last 20 outings but on Wednesday, he couldn’t get any outs. He surrendered five runs on seven hits in the eighth inning. The Cubs tried to rally back in the ninth scoring on an RBI triple by Jeff Baker and Wellington Castillo added a two-run homer, but it wasn’t enough and the Pirates walked away with a series win.
The Cubs ended July with a 15-10 record; it was their first winning record for the month of July since 2009. It will be interesting to see how this team does from here on out. We’ll see how the departure of the players that were traded impacts the team. If anything, the starting pitching is what I believe will take most of a hit. I know Rice touched on this but it’s important to say it again. You guys have to be prepared for the starting pitchers to not do so well. I hope that I’m wrong but who knows, we’ll have to wait and see. Ryan Dempster and Paul Maholm were having great years, and now they will be replaced with much lesser experienced pitchers. It will also be interesting to see how Matt Garza pitches after being skipped. He hasn’t pitched since July 21st. and is expected to start on August 7th. against the Padres. The last time he pitched was vs. the Cardinals and only went three innings and had to be taken out of the game because of cramping in his right triceps. Travis Wood had impressed us early on, but lately he has completely lost control, fortunately there is still time and hopefully he can figure out what is wrong and get back to the way he was pitching earlier in the year. For now, Jeff Samardzija is probably the one that we can rely on to pitch well, let’s hope he continues to at least provide quality starts and that he doesn’t break.
In case you live under a rock and didn’t know the news, Anthony Rizzo has been named NL’s Rookie of the Month for July. In 25 games last month, he led NL rookies in hits (32), home runs (7), RBIs (17) and total bases (55), while ranking second in runs scored (14). He finished third among NL rookies with a .330 batting average. This kid seems to be the real deal. So much so that Theo & Co. had to acquire him from San Diego during the offseason for Andrew Cashner and minor league pitcher Zach Cates. Rizzo has shown good defense, a nice quick swing and clutch hitting. I’m so glad to have him here, and I hope he continues to do well. I was worried that the pressure of playing here in Chicago would get to him, and even if it has bothered him, he surely hasn’t shown that at all. Congrats Anthony!
The Cubs are headed to the West Coast for a 6-game road trip where they will face the Dodgers and the Padres; they will play three games with each team.
Chicago Cubs vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
Friday August 3, 2012 @ 9:10 p.m. CT
Jeff Samardzija, RHP (7-8, 4.19 ERA) vs. Chad Billingsley, RHP (6-9, 3.89 ERA)
Chicago Cubs vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
Saturday August 4, 2012 @ 8:10 p.m. CT
Chicago Cubs vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
Sunday August 5, 2012 @ 3:10 p.m. CT
Justin Germano, RHP (1-1, 3.38 ERA) vs. Aaron Harang, RHP (7-6, 3.76 ERA)
Thank you so much for reading and as always, Go Cubs!