A Game of Firsts

Game Ten – Cubs 7 Reds 0
WP – Rich Hill (2-0) LP – Bronson Arroyo (0-2) Save – None

wflag.jpg The Cubs rebounded from the loss on Friday behind a very impressive performance from Rich Hill. Hill threw 7 shutout innings and allowed just 3 hits while striking out 5 and walking 4. Hill had a little trouble with his command from time to time but was able to get out of trouble with two very timely double plays. The Cubs offense was very quiet early in the game but after a 2-run 5th inning they were able to blow the game wide open with a 5-run 7th that included RBI’s from Alfonso Soriano and Derrek Lee.

Alfonso Soriano recorded his first RBI as a Cub….Rich Hill, Bobby Howry and Ryan Dempster combined for the first shutout of the season, the Faithful were able to stand with 2 outs in the 9th and the Cubs posted their first win of the year at Wrigley….

Rich Hill was just what Lou and company needed. While he may not have been as sharp as his last start he was just as successful. Of the 3 hits the Reds recorded off of Hill, all were singles. Hill, as mentioned, had trouble with his location on occasion but threw strikes when he needed to….95 pitches, 58 for strikes. After retiring the Reds in order in the 1st, Jeff Conine led off the 2nd with a single to left but was erased on a 4-6-3 double play off the bat of Ken Griffey Jr. that turned out to be a big play early on. With 2 outs, Hill walked Edwin Encarnacion and Juan Castro before striking out David Ross to end the inning. In the 3rd, Hill walked Ryan Freel with 1 out but after retiring Brandon Phillips he picked off Freel at 1st to end the inning with Adam Dunn at the plate.

In the 4th, Dunn led off the inning with a broken bat single to right. Hill was struggling at that point with his location and did not pay any attention to Dunn at 1st. With 2 outs and Junior at the plate, Dunn stole 2nd and Hill eventually walked Griffey to put two on with only 1 out. Hill retired Encarnacion with a pop out to Derrek Lee in foul ground and induced a ground out to Lee by Castro to end the inning. Hill settled down and retired the Reds in order in the 5th.

In the 6th, Brandon Phillips led off the inning with a single to right center but was erased on a 4-6-3 double play off the bat of Adam Dunn. Hill retired the Reds in order in the 7th to complete his afternoon. After the walk to Griffey in the 4th, Hill allowed just a single to Phillips and faced the minimum in the last 3 frames of his afternoon. Rich Hill was very impressive again and ended the Cubs 4-game losing streak.

Bobby Howry gave up a couple of singles in the 8th but struck out 2 as well. Howry threw the ball well and most importantly for strikes….20 pitches, 13 for strikes. Ryan Dempster faced 4 hitters in the 9th, gave up a single and struck out 2 but like Howry, he threw strikes….10 pitches only 1 ball.

Bronson Arroyo had the Cubs number in 2006. He dominated the Cubs in everyway possible including hitting two home runs. But so far in 2007, the Cubs have Arroyo’s number. While Arroyo gave up just 2 earned runs on the afternoon, he was responsible for 6 of the 7 runs the Cubs put on the board. The Cubs pounded out 8 hits and walked 3 times while striking out just 4 times on the afternoon. Arroyo’s wild pitch in the 5th with Ronny Cedeno attempting to sacrifice bunt was the play that changed the game.

Michael Barrett (the Cubs lead off man was base in three of the first five innings) led off the 5th with a long single to center and was followed by a single to center by Cliff Floyd. Ronny Cedeno attempted to lay down a bunt but fouled off the first attempt. With a 1-1 count, Arroyo threw a wild pitch that moved Barrett and Floyd into scoring position. Cedeno followed the wild pitch with a sacrifice fly to left to score Barrett and on the play Floyd moved to 3rd….a good base running play. Cesar Izturis followed and on a squeeze play, Floyd scored from 3rd but Izturis was thrown out at 1st….2-0 Cubs.

In the 6th, Alfonso Soriano led off the inning with a single to left and was moved into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt by Ryan Theriot (Theriot had another good day, 2-3 with a run scored, a RBI and a sacrifice bunt). With Jacque Jones at the plate, Arroyo picked off Soriano at 2nd….his 3rd pickoff in the first 10 games. Jones singled to left, Derrek Lee walked but the Cubs were unable to score after a very good play in shallow right by Brandon Phillips to rob Barrett of a base hit and a RBI.

The Cubs broke the game open in the 7th. Cliff Floyd reached on an error by Jeff Conine to start the inning. Cedeno sacrificed him to 2nd and Izturis moved him to 3rd on a ground out to 2nd. Piniella went to his bench for Daryle Ward to pinch hit for Rich Hill. The Reds intentionally walked Ward to get to Soriano. He responded with an infield single on a grounder to short he beat out that scored Floyd for his first RBI as a Cub. Theriot followed with a single to center to score Ward to chase Arroyo from the game. Jones walked to load the bases for Derrek Lee. With Victor Santos on the mound, Lee doubled to right center to clear the bases and extended his hitting streak to 10 games. After a Barrett walk, Floyd flied out to left to end the inning. The Cubs sent 10 to the plate in the 7th and scored all 5 runs with 2 outs.

The combined 6-hit shutout was impressive and the Cubs offense, as it turns out, did more than enough against Bronson Arroyo. Rich Hill stopped the losing streak and gave Lou Piniella his first win a Wrigley.

Ted Lilly is scheduled to face Kyle Lohse in the third and final game of the series on Sunday. Lilly has pitched very well in his first two games as a Cub and will look to get the Cubs a little closer to .500.

Quote of the Day

"From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life." – Arthur Ashe