Early Exit

Game Sixty – Cubs 5 Braves 9
WP – Peter Moylan (2-1) LP – Jason Marquis (5-3) Save – None

The Cubs scored 4 runs in the 1st inning after Tim Hudson hit Alfonso Soriano with the first pitch of the ballgame but Jason Marquis continued to struggle and could not make it out of the 2nd inning. The Braves continued their dominance of Marquis and once again Andruw Jones led the onslaught. Marquis surrendered 6 runs, 2 earned, on 4 hits in 1 2/3 innings. Sean Gallagher made his Major League debut but the bullpen could not keep the Braves from adding to their lead. Edgar Renteria and Andruw Jones were a combined 5-10 with 7 RBI’s and two home runs.

Tim Hudson was knocked out of the game in the 3rd inning after he was hit in the leg by a grounder up the middle off the bat of Jacque Jones. Peter Moylan did not allow a hit in 3 innings of relief to earn the win. The battle of the bullpens was won by the Braves as the Cubs managed just 6 base runners after Hudson’s departure.

The Braves finally figured out a way to cool off Alfonso Soriano, just hit him with a pitch. Soriano’s hitting streak came to an end and he could not get back on track after Hudson rattled him in the 1st inning. After Soriano was hit, home plate umpire Tim Tschida warned both benches and effectively changed the game. While Derrek Lee showed signs of getting out of his slump, the Cubs are clearly missing both Aramis Ramirez and Cliff Floyd. With Soriano taken out of the game early, the Cubs offense could not string together any hits and mount another comeback.

After hitting Soriano with the first pitch of the game, Tim Hudson paid a lot of attention to Soriano at 1st and threw over five times during Felix Pie’s at bat. Hudson eventually walked Pie (1-3 with 2 walks, a run scored and extended his hitting streak to 7 games) before giving up a single to right by Derrek Lee that scored Soriano. Pie advanced to 3rd on the single and Lee went to 2nd on the ill-advised throw by Jeff Francoeur. Barrett struck out and the Braves intentionally walked Jacque Jones to load the bases. Mark DeRosa singled to right after an excellent at bat, Pie and Lee scored. Mike Fontenot singled to right to score Jones….Fontenot’s first career RBI. Izturis grounded out to 3rd to end the inning and the Cubs appeared to be well on their way to another victory. But Jason Marquis had yet to throw a pitch….

Jason Marquis retired Kelly Johnson on a groundout to 3rd to start the 1st inning but gave up a single to center to Willie Harris. Marquis bounced back and struck out Edgar Renteria on a 3-2 pitch but Harris advanced to 2nd on the strikeout. Andruw Jones entered play on Saturday with a .700 batting average against Marquis (7-10) with 4 home runs and Marquis’ demeanor changed as soon as Jones stepped in. Marquis had not been sharp against the first three hitters he faced, but everything he missed with was down….against Jones it was the extreme opposite, everything was up. After a wild pitch advanced Harris to 3rd, Marquis missed up and away before settling down and throwing a strike. Jones worked the count to 3-2 before Marquis missed high again and Jones deposited the mistake over the centerfield wall. After the home run, Marquis was done and the only question was, how long would he last?

Scott Thorman led off the 2nd inning with a tapper to the 3rd base side of home plate, Marquis made a good play off the mound but his throw sailed and Derrek Lee had to leap to pull it in and by the time he touched 1st, Thorman had reached. Yunel Escobar walked and advanced to 2nd on a sacrifice bunt by Tim Hudson. Kelly Johnson grounded out to 2nd to cut the Cubs lead to one but Marquis could not find the strike zone once again and walked Harris on 4 pitches. Renteria singled to center to score Escobar and tied the game. Jones stepped in and gave the Braves the lead for good with a single to right. Lou Piniella made the slow walk and went to the pen for Sean Gallagher.

Marquis gave up 6 runs, 2 earned, on 4 hits with 3 walks and a strikeout on 50 pitches, 26 for strikes. Marquis’ ERA kept from taking a hit on the error he committed. After this start by Marquis whatever light Larry Rothschild was able to turn on in Marquis’ head, he must find that switch again.

Sean Gallagher made his debut and his performance was that of a rookie making his first pitches in a big league game that counts. At times Gallagher looked unhittable and at other times made rookie mistakes, plain and simple. Gallagher has a bright future and most importantly, he threw strikes and walked just one in his 3 1/3 innings of relief (54 pitches, 32 for strikes). After a shaky start, Gallagher settled down and retired the last 6 batters he faced.

Gallagher took over for Marquis with 2 outs in the 2nd inning and runners on 1st and 2nd. He gave up a single to Brian McCann that scored Renteria and retired Francoeur to end the inning. Gallagher retired the first two batters he faced in the 3rd before walking the pitcher, Peter Moylan, but Johnson swung at Gallagher’s first offering and grounded out to 2nd to end the inning.

Willie Harris hit a ground rule double over the right center field wall to start the 4th and Edgar Renteria hit a 1-2 pitch from Gallagher over the line in right for a 2-run homer. Sean Gallagher was very impressive against Andruw Jones, went after him and struck him out swinging….his first Major League K. Gallagher then retired McCann and Francoeur on fly outs to end the inning and retired the Braves in order in the 5th to complete his outing.

Scott Eyre pitched the 6th and 7th innings and could not find the strike zone. He threw 35 pitches, 17 for strikes gave up 2 hits, 2 walks and one run but if not for the 7th outfield assist of the season by Soriano in the 7th, it would have been more. Soriano threw out Scott Thorman trying to tag and score from 3rd to end the 7th inning. Scott Eyre must find a way to throw strikes. The Cubs offense is very capable of putting up a lot of runs and seemingly every time this season when Eyre has taken the hill he has given up a least one run.

After the 4-run 1st inning, the Cubs were retired in order in the 2nd. When Soriano was retired by Hudson for the second out, he jawed at Hudson on his way back to the dugout and shortly after Gerald Perry and Tom Tschida exchanged a few words. Derrek Lee led off the 3rd with a single to center and advanced to 3rd on a throwing error by Yunel Escobar. Michael Barrett hit a hard shot down the 3rd base line that Escobar made a good play on but threw wide of Johnson at 2nd. Jacque Jones then stepped to the plate and hit a ball back up the middle that hit Tim Hudson on the leg. Hudson tried to throw home to get Lee but his throw was wide and Lee scored. Hudson left the game (poetic justice?) and is listed as day to day. Peter Moylan came in with runners on 1st and 2nd with no outs and retired DeRosa on a fly out to right and Fontenot grounded into an apparent inning ending double play, but hustled down the line and beat out the throw from Renteria. Barrett however rounded 3rd to far, Thorman threw to McCann and Barrett was caught in a run down and eventually tagged out to end the inning. The Cubs did not mount another scoring threat.

In the 4th inning, Moylan hit Sean Gallagher in his first plate appearance but home plate umpire Tim Tschida did not rule it intentional and Moylan was allowed to remain in the game. Lou Piniella objected and was told by Tschida to put his arms down. The Braves received several generous strikes in the inning, with the Cubs down by just one at the time.

It will be interesting to see if the Cubs pitching staff forgets about Soriano being hit in the series and season finale on Sunday night. Hudson denied after the game it was intentional but Piniella’s response was very accurate….“Hudson has very good control.”

The Cubs will try to win the series and the season series under the lights on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball. John Smoltz has been scratched from his scheduled start and Buddy Carlyle will take his place against Ted Lilly.

Quote of the Day

"There are places I remember. All my life though some have changed. Some forever not for better. Some have gone and some remain. All these places have their moments ... " John Lennon/Paul McCartney