Taking Advantage of the Home Field

Game Eighty-Two – Cubs 2 Astros 7

The Astros have had their struggles this season but they know how to play and win at Minute Maid Park. The Cubs were facing an uphill battle before the game ever started and once it did, Craig Biggio started the game with a home run and the Astros never looked back. The Astros hit 3 home runs into the Crawford Boxes in left field, one by Biggio and the other two by Lance Berkman. one right handed and one left handed….of the 3 home runs they hit, maybe one would have been a home run in any other park in the Major Leagues.

Carlos Marmol gave up 2 first inning home runs and 7 walks on the night, two were intentional passes, 4 runs on 5 hits and struck out just 1. Marmol has the stuff to be successful at the Major League level but learning on the job can be quite frustrating and Monday night was a perfect example.

Marmol pitched his way in and out of trouble all night and like in previous starts his command was the problem. Marmol kept the Astros from scoring again until the 5th but when you throw 90 pitches and 45 were for strikes chances are you will come out on the losing end of the game. Of the 4 complete innings he threw only once (3rd inning) did he retire the Astros in order and one of the seven walks he surrendered was to Roger Clemens. Marmol was aided by some very good defensive plays by Ronny Cedeno and Aramis Ramirez but in the 5th was when the wheels came off….Marmol was replaced by Roberto Novoa, who got Brad Ausmus to ground into what was thought to be an inning ending double play with the bases loaded. Todd Walker made a good stop behind the second base bag, flipped to Cedeno who fired to Derrek Lee for the 4-6-3 double play. Cedeno missed the bag, it was very clear on the replay, Ensberg was safe at second, Ausmus out at first and Berkman scored on the play which at the time was the second run of the inning that made the score 4-2 Astros.

The Astros took full advantage of their home field and 6 of their 7 hits were for extra bases including two home runs from Lance Berkman, one from each side of the plate. Monday was the second time this season and the second time in his career that Berkman has gone deep from both sides of the plate. Berkman was 2 for 3 with 2 home runs, 4 RBI’s and 3 runs scored and Craig Biggio, who homered on the first pitch of the ball game for the Astros, added two more hits on the evening. The lead off home run was Biggio’s 48th career lead off home run. The Cubs held the Astros to just 7 hits but when you combine that with 7 walks it is no wonder it was a lopsided victory.

The Cubs managed only 2 runs on Monday night and both were off of Roger Clemens. Jacque Jones got the Cubs on the board in the 2nd with a home run to right, it was his 15th of the season and the first that Clemens had allowed this year. The other run came in the 4th inning courtesy of Angel Pagan. Jacque Jones walked with 2-outs, stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Barrett walked and Pagan singled to center after an eight pitch at bat. Juan Pierre was 3 for 4 on the night and was a home run shy of the cycle. Pierre doubled in the 3rd with 2 outs but was unable to score on the grounder up the middle by Todd Walker, Adam Everett made a good play and threw Walker out at first. In the 5th Pierre tripled to right center with 1 out, Walker popped out to third and after a walk to Derrek Lee, Ramirez grounded out to third to end the inning.

The Cubs had their chances again on Monday night against the Rocket but were unable to take advantage of his lack of command. The Cubs stranded 7 on the night and the lack of hitting with men on base is becoming more and more frustrating as the year goes on. No one has yet to step up and be the leader that this team obviously needs and their actions state that no one will.

The Cubs get their second shot at Andy Pettitte on the 4th of July. Prior against Pettitte, it will either be a pitchers duel or a slugfest, either one should be interesting to watch.

From everyone here at the CCO, have a happy and safe Independence Day!!!

Quote of the Day

"Always make a total effort, even when the odds are against you." - Arnold Palmer
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