Game Ninety-Three – Cubs 2 Astros 4
With Updates on Chris Speier and Mark Prior
The match up between Greg Maddux and Roger Clemens was as advertised, both threw tremendous games but Maddux made one mistake and his defense let him down again as this battle of the Future Hall of Famers went to Roger Clemens and the Astros. Clemens picked up his second win of the season, both against the Cubs. Neither of these teams are what anyone would call offensive juggernauts and they proved that point even further on Wednesday night.
The Cubs could not string together any hits on Wednesday and scored their 2 runs on a home run by Todd Walker in the 8th inning after a Phil Nevin walk. The Cubs only managed 6 hits on the night and only 3 against the Rocket. The Maddux-Clemens record is now tied at one and Maddux recorded his 200th career loss, one he did not deserve. Not only did Maddux pitch a very good ball game but he also fielded his position in a way that only Greg Maddux can. He recorded 5 ground ball outs back to the mound and one was unassisted. The Cubs just simply cannot play a complete game behind Maddux. He went 7 strong innings giving up 3 runs on 7 hits, struck out three and did not give up a walk. Of the 3 runs the Astros scored off of Maddux only one should have been earned, the 49th leadoff home run of Craig Biggio’s career.
Mike Lamb reached on an infield single to lead off the 6th, Ryan Theriot got to the ball but was unable to make a strong throw and Lamb was safe at 1st. The Cubs then pitched out, guessed right and Barrett threw a strike to Cedeno, Cedeno could not make the tag and Lamb was safe. Chris Burke then attempted to bunt Lamb to 3rd but Maddux made a good play and threw out Lamb at 3rd. Maddux got Berkman to pop out but gave up a single to Aubrey Huff and both Lamb and Huff scored on a double by Preston Wilson. The Cubs had two chances to get the leadoff runner out, they were unable and the mistakes they made led to the 2-run 6th inning and the difference in the ballgame.
The Astros scored their 4th run off of a double by Preston Wilson that was misplayed by Jacque Jones, Ausmus sacrificed him to 3rd and he scored on a suicide squeeze by Adam Everett.
When the Cubs hit the ball on Wednesday they hit it hard, 3 of their 6 hits were for extra bases (doubles by Pagan and Jones and the home run by Walker) but they were 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position on the night and left 5 on base. Juan Pierre’s 33rd stolen base of the season in the 6th was the 66th stolen base for the Cubs on the season and they surpassed last year’s total of 65.
The Cubs offensive troubles continue to equal losses for their starters. While Cedeno and Theriot should have made those plays, Clemens was not as sharp as Maddux and the Cubs were not able to take advantage.
Again it is up to Carlos Zambrano to put a win up for the Faithful in the series and home stand finale on Thursday. A win would give the Cubs the series and a .500 home stand.
Update on Chris Speier – Chris Speier was arrested on Wednesday morning and charged with DUI and has taken a leave of absence from the Cubs. The Cubs announced on Wednesday that he would take a leave of absence. Juan Lopez filled in for Speier on Wednesday night and the Iowa Cubs manager Mike Quade will fill in for Speier starting on Thursday when the Cubs take on the Astros. Bobby Dickerson, who managed the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx from 2002-2005, is currently the Cubs Minor League Infield and Bunting Coordinator will manage the I-Cubs while Quade fills in for Chris Speier.
Update on Mark Prior - Mark Prior is expected to be activated from the DL on Friday and start against the Washington Nationals.