Cubs Shutout The Cardinals

Jake Arrietta

What do you mean the Chicago Cubs shut out the St. Louis Cardinals 7-0? What do you mean? This has got to be the best time of year if you’re a Cubs fan. I know they should be playing spoiler and if they keep this up against the Cardinals, anything can happen. However, the Cubs are in the position of “Nothing To Lose” That’s right folks, the Cubs have nothing to lose and yet, in some strange way, they’ve got everything to prove.

This is the time of year when baseball becomes irrelevant if you’re at the bottom of the standings or not even close to a wild card spot. “As God is My Witness, I thought The Cubs had a chance”

So then we have yesterday’s game against the Cardinals. A walloping by the Cubs and a great game by Jake Arrietta, who was grabbed in the Scott Feldman trade to the Orioles.

“For me, there’s no question that this change of scenery and this trade was huge for me and my career, and not only for me, but for the Cubs as well,” Jake Arrieta said. “I couldn’t be more excited to be here.”

These are exciting times for the Cubs indeed. Yesterday’s game perhaps, was a glimpse into a crystal ball as to the future of this storied franchise.

One player who can’t wait for the end of the season is Starlin Castro. He was shut out yesterday with four at bats and has struggled this year. I feel bad for the kid, but now’s the time to take the lumps. He should be able to come back next year better than ever.

Now, there hasn’t been much of a rivalry against these two clubs in some time, but who knows? maybe yesterday’s game was a turnaround in the right direction?

“We’ve played some of our best baseball against them,” Dale Sveum said. “Even in some of the ballgames we’ve lost, we’ve played good ball and come up on the short end. We’ve played these guys really well.”

In other exciting news, it’s great to see Ryne Sandberg back in the Major Leagues, albeit in a Phillies uniform.

The Cubs will try to extend the shutout when Travis Wood gets the ball today at 4:05 eastern.

—Mark

Cubs Seeing Double

CT cubs-brewers020.JPG

Double Headers are tough to swallow. Yesterday, the Cubs lost 6-5 in the first game and 3-2 in the second game. There was a play late in the second game that kinda frustrated me as well as just about every Cubs fan across the land. It was Starlin Castro’s dropped ball that could have potentially saved the game for the Cubs. With the two losses, the Cubs record in one run games stands at 15-30 in National league Central games.

“Castro made an effort, and the ball didn’t stay in his glove,” Dale Sveum said.

I’ll tell you how it could have stayed in his glove, Starlin should have been in front of the ball. Ah well, today’s a new day.

It’s these one run games that the Cubs need to win. Let me tell you, the blown save in the second game could have been the fault of crappy work of the umpire. There should have been some strikes there, Ump! David Dejesus hit what I think is one of the finest singles I’ve ever seen in the ninth inning. Good Work!

The great news to take away from the game is Jake Arrieta. His debut game with the Cubs since the Scott Feldman trade was pretty damn good.

“There were a little first-game jitters there,” Arrieta said. “But I got under control after that point and was able to command the ball pretty well. Not a lot of strikeouts tonight, but I was able to force a lot of contact, which is always a good thing.”

He played six great innings keeping the score to one run. I hope they don’t keep him down in Triple-A for too long.

“I was very happy with the trade and the opportunity to come over to this organization and be a part of a group of young guys,” Arrieta said.

Edwin Jackson will try to salvage a win for the Cubs when he faces Willy Peralta tonight. Game Time is 8:05pm

—Mark

Every Story Needs a Villan

Scott Hairston was traded to the Washington Nationals for a pitching prospect following yesterday's game against the Pirates.

Scott Hairston was traded to the Washington Nationals for a pitching prospect following yesterday’s game against the Pirates.

Not only did the Cubs win yesterday, beating the smoking Pittsburgh Pirates 4-3, but Scott Hairston, who belted a home run, was traded to the Washington Nationals for a Class A pitching prospect.

“I was happy to contribute today, and it was nice getting the win,” Hairston said.

Carlos Villanueva got things rolling but it was a team effort because the bullpen was utilized. Hector Rondon, newcomer Pedro Strop, James Russell and Blake Parker all contributed in yesterday’s performance.

“You always don’t dwell too much about it, because I had to pitch out of the bullpen,” Villanueva said of thoughts of returning to the rotation. “I threw in some key situations out of the bullpen. I threw in the eighth inning a couple of times. It’s in the back of the mind, but you’ve got to get people out whenever you put me in.”

I have a feeling that we’re going to see a lot of shuffling and musical chairs for the rest of the season when it comes to the mound since the departure of Scott Feldman.

The Hero of The Day goes to Dioner Navarro, who got a walk off sacrifice to seal the deal after Anthony Rizzo and Alfonso Soriano got on base. Tony Rizzo scored.

So, where do the Cubs go from here? I see the Hairston trade as a positive move. In fact, I kind of anticipated it. It makes sense. Hopefully, they won’t have to trade Garza.

The only bad thing about yesterday’s victory was Darwin Barney’s errorless streak came to an end, but it was better to end the streak on a winning note.

“(The ball) hit my middle finger straight on,” Barney said. “It popped up on the lip (of the infield grass) and took a turn on the outfield grass. That’s what you have to deal with. That’s what outfielders deal with every day with the ball snaking like that. I will have to work on that.”

The Cubs don’t have far to go today as they travel cross town to meet their city rivals, the Chicago White Sox. Matt Garza gets the ball and game time is 8:10pm

–Mark

Cubs Go For Series Win On Fourth of July

Luis Valbuena
Happy 4th of July my American friends and readers! Have fun and celebrate!!!

Matt Garza was awesome as he lead the Chicago Cubs to 3-1 victory that saw the North Siders get 12 hits. Yesterdays stellar pitching performance may have been an audition for another club, or it could be a case for Garza staying with the Cubs after this month. One thing is for sure, the Cubs are 11 1/2 back of the wild card but last night they played like they want to win it all. Now, that’s baseball.

“We’re scratching and clawing our way back,” Garza said. “I think we’re in one of the toughest divisions now. Going to keep playing and keep going and see where it ends up.”

Kevin Gregg recorded his 14th save of the season and Luis Valbuena garnered his seventh home run in the win.

There’s a great quote in Rocky when Appollo Creed’s trainer turns to him and says,

“He doesn’t think it’s a show, he thinks it’s a damn fight!”

The Cubs are in a similar situation right now. They’re 11 1/2 back of the Wild Card and are in position to beat the Athletics and take the series today. They’re a much improved ball club over last year so really they’re exactly where management and Cubs fans expect them to be. The rest is just gravy.

“Our two biggest problems obviously are (lack of hitting with) men in scoring position and closing out games with the bullpen,” manager Dale Sveum said. “Those are things we’ve got to get better at.”

Dale Sveum is right on the nose with that. Although, they’re two of the most crucial things in the game, the Cubs are a much better team than last year. Why can’t they drive runners home and why do they lead the league in blown saves with 17?

After the initial shock of seeing Scott Feldman being traded, it’s making a little more sense in the Cubs are gaining a much needed boost with power pitching in Pedro Strop and Jake Arrieta.

So, a new season starts today on your Independence Day, the 4th of July! Let’s celebrate with Travis Wood and the Cubs as they try to take the series from the Athletics. Game time is 4:05 eastern.

–Mark

Feldmania No More & The Cubs Get An Athletic Workout

Alfonso Soriano blasts a three Run Homer.

Alfonso Soriano blasts a three Run Homer.

Yesterday was a busy day for the Cubs. Beloved starting pitcher Scott Feldman, was traded to the Baltimore Orioles for Pedro Strop and Jake Arrieta.

When I first heard the news I was stunned. I thought it would have been Matt Garza being traded but he could still go before the deadline of July 31.

“I don’t think this team improves by trading Scott Feldman,” Jeff Samardzija said. “He was one of our better pitchers. He’s thrown a lot of innings, a solid dude, a solid guy in the clubhouse.

It’s too early to tell but in some ways I agree with Jeff because I didn’t see this one happening at all. However, I do trust Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer’s decision. They get paid to study the game and I’ll bet a Toonie to a Loonie that they’ve got a trick up their sleeve.

“It’s never easy to give up a guy who has performed well for you, but to have two power arms is important.” Jed Hoyer said.

The Cubs didn’t stop there. Carlos Marmol went to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Matt Gurrier and some draft picks.

This deal was a little less surprising. Marmol was overstaying his welcome in Chicago and for some strange reason, he wasn’t throwing them like he used to a couple of years ago. It’s too bad because I thought he has a lot of talent, but I’m glad he gets a chance for a fresh start in Los Angeles. They’re a team that is still very much in it and acquiring Marmol could be the key that will turn it over for the Dodgers. Break a leg Carlos!

“The decision [to designate him] really came down to it that he had become a distraction. It became hard to pitch as well as he could, because every time he threw two balls, he’d get booed, and I don’t think that’s easy for anybody.” Hoyer said.

So, with the new acquisitions, does it make the Cubs a better team? We’ll have to wait and see, but I can tell you that this season has been really exciting to watch and every change that happens is good at this point.

Now, onto Oakland—

It was a valiant effort by the Chicago Cubs as they lost their first visit to Oakland, 8-7. Chris Rusin was called up in place of Scott Feldman but was replaced in the bottom of the fourth by Carlos “The Villan” Villanueva.

After the Cubs led 7-5, it was a home run off of James Russell by Derek Norris that sealed the win for the Athletics. The Cubs lost the momentum after that.

“You go to sleep and start a new day,” Russell said. “That’s the thing about baseball. You get your butt kicked one night and you get to wake up and do the same thing all over again.”

I wouldn’t call yesterday’s game a butt kicking because the Cubs went toe to toe against the Athletics proving that there is something special percolating within this young Cubs organization.

“It’s almost comical to see this happen every single night,” Dale Sveum said. “We have the lead and get beat by guys who sometimes hardly even hit home runs. Norris had one at-bat off a left-hander in 15 days and beats us with a three-run homer.”

Alfonso Soriano had another huge game for the Cubs hitting a three run home run in the fourth inning. Way to go Fonzi!

Matt Garza gets the start today as the Cubs are looking for redemption against the Athletics. Game time is 10:05pm eastern.

—Mark

Cubs Feeling Athletic

When I saw that the Cubs were playing the Oakland Athletics for the first time in Oakland, my reaction was,”They never played there before?”

It’s going to be a tough series. Oakland is in a playoff hunt and is looking at this series as a doormat into the Series.

Scott Feldman takes to the mound and is looking for his eighth win of the season.

“They’ve always been a tough team for me,” Feldman said. “They’ve got some tough outs in the lineup and guys who put up good at-bats against me. I’ve just got to watch some video and make an adjustment and hopefully do better than I have in the past.”

This could be a golden opportunity for the Cubs to play spoiler to these playoff bound teams. Oakland is .05 game out of first and let’s face it, the Cubs have nothing to lose. This series could be a shining moment for prospects and trade baits to strut their stuff.

Game time is 10:05 eastern.

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There’s word out of the Dodgers camp that Carlos Marmol might be joining them on their roster. The details of what the terms were are vague or what the Cubs will receive in return, but I can guarantee that a change of scenery is just what Carlos Marmol needs to get his head back into the game.

Marmol’s best season was 2010 when he saved 38 games.

—Mark

No Miller Time For The Cubs

Edwin Jackson

Just as I wrote a post about Nate Schierholtz, he goes and does it again hitting his 11th home run of the season but the Cubs fell short 9-3 against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Edwin Jackson had a rough outing on the mound watching six runs score after six hits. Now that’s rough.

I don’t think it had anything to do with how Edwin pitched but having one bad inning probably shook his confidence a bit.

“I put myself in a position to get out of that inning with one run and still a 3-2 game, and I wasn’t able to put those guys away,” Jackson said. “The balls were up, or too much over the plate with two strikes.”

It was a pretty ugly game for the North Siders. See, this is where Edwin might need to take a break for a game or two to build up his confidence again. I see Starlin Castro was rested for the game.

The Cubs continue with the series today. Scott Feldman is on the mound to face Yovani Gallardo. Game time is 8:10 eastern.

In other news:

The Cubs have designated Carlos Marmol for assignment. it’s bittersweet for me to see him go. I think Carlos is one of the most terrifying closers in the game when he’s on, but this year either he’s lost his enthusiasm or maybe the stuff just ain’t there anymore. I don’t know.

Carlos ranked third on the all time list in saves for the Cubs with 117.

“Obviously, he hasn’t had the slider he had when he first was closing, so it’s more difficult to close out games, but there’s something there that can still help people and maybe a change of scenery can help,” Dale Sveum said.

All right, I haven’t touched on this too much but I’m glad Ian Stewart is gone. Perhaps it was inevitable, but in this day and age, Twitter has become a valuable resource for professionals and Ian Stewart was not acting in a professional way. Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein made the right call in this situation.

“The decision was for the two sides to part ways,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said. “It allows Ian to potentially continue his career somewhere else, and for us, I think it was the right time to go in a different direction.”

Case closed.

–Mark