Game Seventy-Two – Cubs 2 Twins 7
The Cubs collected only 5 hits, a walk and a home run against Johan Santana while Carlos Marmol fell behind most of the batters he faced. Marmol did not pitch as bad as his line looks (5 2/3 innings, 6 hits, 7 runs, 4 walks and 3 strike outs)….2 of the 7 runs were allowed by Will Ohman but when your team is facing the best left hander in the game there is not much room for error.
Marmol retired the Twins in order in the 1st and 5th innings, six times Marmol ran the count to 3-2 and eight times Marmol had a 3 ball count on the batter. The Cubs defense made two spectacular plays….one by Juan Pierre and the other by Aramis Ramirez but the night clearly belonged to Johan Santana. Santana surrendered only one earned run and for the fifth time this month Santana allowed only one earned run in a ballgame. Santana’s only mistake was in the 2nd inning when Phil Nevin led off the inning with his 6th home run as a Cub. Santana has held opponents to a .227 batting average entering tonight’s game and that number definitely dropped after the Cubs 5-hit performance. It only took 6 pitches for Santana to retire the Cubs in order in the 1st inning and he did not allow a hit after a 2-out single to left in the 4th inning by Matt Murton until the 8th inning. Todd Walker led off the 8th with a single to left and with 1 out, Juan Pierre singled to right. Neifi Perez then hit a little blooper behind the mound that scored Todd Walker on a throwing error by Twins’ shortstop Jason Bartlett. Santana then reached back and struck out Aramis Ramirez on some very high heat to end the inning. Jacque Jones added a 2-out single to left in the 9th. The Cubs were 1 for 3 with runners in scoring position and both Aramis Ramirez and Henry Blanco ended their hitting streaks.
Santana threw 102 pitches in 8 innings (74 for strikes) allowed only 1 earned run (2 total) on 5 hits, struck out 6 and walked 1. The look of confidence and composure he has on the mound is something the entire Cubs pitching staff could only hope to have one day, he is truly a special pitcher.
Carlos Marmol has the stuff to one day be as good as Santana….with the right coaching and a little more time. At times on Friday night Marmol looked tremendous. He has good movement on his fastball but his command of his breaking pitches must be worked on. Like the start against the Tigers, Marmol fell behind early and the Cubs offense was unable to go anywhere, but back to the bench, against Santana. Of Marmol’s 106 pitches only 57 were for strikes….that ratio is indicative on how the night was. When Marmol threw strikes he was very good….but 50-50 is a horrible ratio.
Here is an interesting stat and one that shows a lot of potential. The first time through the line up the opposition is hitting .258 against Marmol, the second time through they are hitting .231 and the third time through the are hitting just .083.
Can Mark Prior show any improvement on Saturday? We shall all find out….