A Rumble in the Cell….Cubs Shutout Down South

Game Forty-Two – Cubs 0 White Sox 7
Plus News from the Post-Game Press Conferences
Updated – 5:58pm C.T. with a 40-man Roster Move

The media has a tendency to make the Cubs-Sox series about the fans and not about the players….well on Saturday the players proved that this is a heated series on all sides, not just the one’s in the stands. The Cubs’ frustration erupted in the 2nd inning when Michael Barrett and A.J. Pierzynski went to blows, four players were ejected and then Rich Hill gave up a grand slam to Tadahito Iguchi. Hill actually gave up more walks than hits and the Cubs, without Barrett and John Mabry, hit into three inning ending double plays.

The Cubs actually out hit the Sox, at least at the plate, but the 7 walks and only 6 hits that Cubs pitching allowed added to what has been one of the worst stretches in recent history….this was the sixth shutout in the last 21 games for the Cubs.

Rich Hill could not find the strike zone from the first pitch of the game. After retiring Scott Podsednik, Tadahito Iguchi singled and moved to 2nd on a wild pitch, Hill walked Jim Thome and Aramis Ramirez got him out of the inning with an unassisted double play. The Cubs went very quickly an quietly in the 2nd and then with 1 out in the bottom of the 2nd is when the game and Rich Hill got out of hand.

Rich Hill retired Jermaine Dye, who led off the inning, but during that at bat, Hill went to his mouth while he was on the mound and that cost him a ball and was a preview of things to come. Hill has tremendous potential but he has never fulfilled it at the Major League level. In each of his three previous starts there was progress made in his maturation process, but if any had been made before Saturday’s game, all was forgotten and Hill returned to the type of lack luster performance that he has demonstrated throughout his Major League career.

Again with 1 out, Hill walked Pierzynski after being ahead in the count 0-2, gave up a 4-pitch walk to Joe Crede and on his 38th pitch of the ballgame, he walked Juan Uribe to load the bases. Brian Anderson stepped to the plate and hit a fly ball to Matt Murton. Murton caught the ball, Pierzynski tagged from 3rd, Barrett was blocking the plate, waiting for the ball, Pierzynski bowled Barrett over, got up and slapped the plate, Barrett grabbed him and then threw a right forearm to the face of Pierzynski and the benches cleared….the bullpen cleared, it was on….

After the smoked cleared and about a 10-minute delay 4 players were ejected (Barrett, Pierzynski, Brian Anderson and John Mabry). Brian Anderson ran in from 1st base and threw several punches at John Mabry, who seemed to be attempting to separate players. After it was all said and done, the Cubs lost two key players in the game that would end up costing them later, Neifi Perez found his way to the field and Jerry Hairston, Jr. moved to 1st base….and the White Sox had runners on 1st and 3rd.

Rich Hill added insult to injury and walked Scott Podsednik to load the bases again, Tadahito Iguchi stepped to the plate and cracked a Grand Slam. Hill allowed 5 runs on just 1 hit in the 2nd to go along with 5 walks….walks are just as good as hits, too bad the Cubs have not figured this out yet. Hill finished his day in the 5th after he allowed a leadoff single to Podsednik, a 2-run homer to Iguchi and a single to Jim Thome. Iguchi had 3 of the 5 hits that Hill allowed and drove in all but one run. Roberto Novoa came in and struck out Paul Konerko and got Jermaine Dye to ground into an inning ending double play.

Rich Hill threw 87 pitches in 4+ innings on Saturday, only 43 were for strikes. Hill could not locate any of his pitches, threw a wild pitch and allowed 7 runs on just 5 hits, gave up 2 home runs, 5 walks and only struck out 2. In 4 games on the year Hill’s ERA is now at 9.31. The bullpen held the Cubs in the game again, but without Barrett and Mabry and with Neifi Perez and Henry Blanco in their place, the Cubs could not capitalize on several chances they had against Freddy Garcia.

The Cubs actually had 9 hits against Garcia, but they also hit into 3 double plays….all 3 times with at least 2 Cubs on base and runner in scoring position. In the 1st inning, Pierre grounded out to start the game, Ronny Cedeno and Todd Walker singled and Barrett ended the inning by grounding into a 5-4-3 double play. Cedeno was running, why wasn’t Walker? Other than a single in the 5th by Aramis Ramirez, the Cubs were until the 6th inning. With 1 out, Juan Pierre singled, Ronny Cedeno singled and Todd Walker singled to load the bases. Neifi Perez swung at the second pitch and grounded into a 4-6-3 double play….inning over. In the 7th the Cubs threatened again with a leadoff single to Jacque Jones, Aramis Ramirez singled to left and Henry Blanco hit into another 4-6-3 double play and Matt Murton ended the inning with a ground out to short.

The Cubs left seven on base, did not record a walk and only made the White Sox throw 124 pitches.

News from the Post-Game Press Conferences:

Dusty Baker – Dusty Baker said John Mabry did not throw a punch and was trying to separate players. Baker said Mabry was punched by Brian Anderson and added the play by Pierzynski looked like a clean, hard play. Baker has not had a chance to speak with Barrett and expects both benches to be warned before the finale on Sunday. Baker did little to defend Michael Barrett.

A.J. Pierzynski – Pierzynski said he got up and went to get his helmet and did not say a word to Barrett. He went on to say he did not understand why he was kicked out of the game because Larry Rothschild grabbed him and held him by the waist. Pierzynski said he has known Michael Barrett for a long time and has a lot of respect for him and has already attempted to contact Barrett via a clubhouse guy and nothing has come directly from Barrett. Pierzynski thinks it was a cheap shot, but it helps his wrestling career and went on to mention maybe there could be a grudge match.

Ozzie Guillen – Guillen liked the way his team fights for one another and he does not expect Pierzynski to lose anytime via suspension.

Michael Barrett – Barrett said he did the wrong thing and it is never right for a grown man to hit another grown man. He went on to say he was irritated by being knocked back and would have reacted differently if Pierzynski would have turned around and gone the other way.

Bruce Levine – Levine is reporting that a reliable source has told him that A.J. Pierzynski will not be suspended and that Michael Barrett will receive a substantial suspension.

How will Carlos Zambrano handle this on Sunday?

Update with Roster Move – The Cubs signed outfielder Miguel Negron to a contract on Saturday and put him on the 40-man roster after claiming him off of waivers. The Toronto Blue Jays put Negron on waivers after they decided to use his roster spot on Ty Taubenheim. Tim Wilken drafted Negron in the 1st round of the 2000 draft with the 18th pick while he was with the Blue Jays organization. Miguel Negron has not played above the AA level and this year with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (AA) his numbers were: .215/.266/.300/2/12 in 33 games (28-130), 9 BB, 25 SO, 2 stolen bases and 5 caught stealing.

Here are Miguel Negron’s stats from the Baseball Cube

Quote of the Day

"So this is Christmas and what have you done. Another year over and a new one just begun. And so this is Christmas I hope you have fun. The near and the dear one, the old and the young." - John Lennon

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