Cubs Shutout by the Duke

Game Twenty-Five – Cubs 0 Pirates 8
Updated – 9:05pm C.T.

The Cubs entered Tuesday’s game 3-6 against left-handers this season and 4-3 on the current 8-game home stand and they were looking to improve both of those records. Zach Duke was the sixth different lefty the Cubs faced over the last 8 games and for the second time in 3 games the Cubs were unable to score a run and collected only 5 hits. Zach Duke beat the Cubs again on Tuesday to improve to 4-0 lifetime against Chicago….this was Duke’s first career shutout and complete game. Duke pitched a gem against the Cubs, 2 of the 5 hits came in the 9th inning. The Cubs finished the home stand 4-4 and their record against lefties on the season fell to 3-7.

Angel Guzman had control problems from the start; he never settled in and was behind Pirates hitters all day. The Pirates scored 2 runs in the 1st inning on just 1 hit, Guzman threw 36 pitches and seven Pirates came to the plate. The Pirates scored more runs against Guzman and the Cubs then they had in two weeks and the Pirates won on the road for only the second time this season.

The Pirates got on the board in the 1st inning after Guzman started the game by hitting Chris Duffy. Duffy stole 2nd and scored on a double by Freddy Sanchez. Jason Bay walked and Jeromy Burnitz grounded into a fielder’s choice….Burnitz safe at 1st, Sanchez to 3rd. Sanchez scored a few pitches later on a wild pitch. Guzman’s line at the end of one was: 1 hit, 2 walks, a wild pitch, a hit batsman….2 runs scored. And the Cubs offense was down 2-0 before they ever took a swing.

Guzman settled down and pitched a 1-2-3 2nd inning but got into more trouble in the 3rd. After striking out Jack Wilson, Guzman gave up a single to Freddy Sanchez and he advanced to 2nd on the second wild pitch of the game by Guzman….Bay struck out and Jeromy Burnitz took one out to right, a 2-run homer for the former Cub, 4-0 Pirates. Guzman did well in the 4th and 5th inning and in the 6th the Pirates put the game away.

With one out, Guzman gave up back-to-back singles to Ronny Paulino and Jose Castillo and retired Zach Duke on a sac bunt. Dusty pulled Guzman with 2-outs….double switch and he brought in Roberto Novoa. Novoa got the pitch and the ball he wanted….he fumbled the routine grounder off the bat of Chris Duffy….everyone safe….after giving the Pirates an extra out they took full advantage. Novoa gave up back-to-back RBI singles to Jack Wilson and Freddy Sanchez….the single by Wilson should have been caught by Jacque Jones….it bounced out of his glove. The Pirates made the Cubs pay for the error and scored 3 more additional runs and put the game out of reach.

Guzman finished the day giving up 6 runs, 4 earned, on 6 hits, 3 walks, 2 wild pitches, a hit batsman, a home run and 7 strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings. Guzman threw 104 pitches in only his second Major league start. Will Ohman and Scott Eyre did have good outings in the 8th and 9th inning.

The Cubs offense only managed 5 hits; 2 by Todd Walker and 1 each from Ramirez, Murton and Cedeno to go along with a walk by Michael Barrett (it was a lead-off walk that was erased by a double play off the bat of Jacque Jones). The Cubs only managed 6 base runners against Zach Duke and only one base runner reached 3rd base on Tuesday and the 9th inning was the only time the Cubs had two runners on base at the same time. Duke shutout the Cubs and only faced 31 batters, 4 over the minimum, while throwing only 112 pitches in 9 innings.

Not only was this the Cubs second shutout in three games, it was the second time that the Cubs offense allowed career firsts for the opposing pitcher.

After Tuesday’s game the Cubs starting line-up is hitting as follows: Pierre – .248, Cedeno – .306, Walker – .365, Ramirez – .203, Murton – .289, Barrett – .284, Jones – .219, Hairston – .243, Neifi Perez – .158.

Angel Guzman was thinking on Tuesday, more than he was pitching. The wild pitches came on breaking balls while his fastball was very effective and registering on the gun in the mid-90’s. Guzman and Zambrano need go after hitters instead of trying to out pitch them….make them hit the ball. Walks and wild pitches are killing the Cubs this season. The pitching was not the only problem on Tuesday, although the box score shows one error for the game, the Cubs committed more mental errors in the field and Jacque Jones dropped two balls that was in his glove….ones he must hold on to.

The Cubs head to West Coast for two against the Diamondbacks, four against the Padres and three against the Giants. Those three teams are a combined 37-41 on the season.

(editor’s note: Shaun was unable to finish the recap and asked me to fill in for him)

Quote of the Day

"You can’t sit on a lead and kill the clock. You’ve got to give the other man his chance. That’s why baseball is the greatest game." - Earl Weaver