Game One Hundred Sixty-One – Cubs 4 Reds 0
WP – Rich Hill (11-8) LP – Aaron Harang (16-6) Save – None
Rich Hill saved his best for his last start of the regular season. Hill, Sean Marshall and Scott Eye combined on a 1-hit shutout in the penultimate game of the regular season. Hill dominated in his 6 innings of work and allowed only 2 baserunners. He had a perfect game going for the first 4 1/3 innings until he walked Edwin Encarnacion in the 5th. Hill retired the next 4 batters as the crowd at Great American started to figure out what was happening. Former Cub, Buck Coats broke up Hill’s no-hit bid with a 2-out bloop double in the 6th. Hill retired Jeff Keppinger to end the inning and left the field to a standing ovation. Sean Marshall picked up where Hill left off and did not allow a hit in his 2 innings of relief. The shutout was the Cubs’ 10th this season.
With the Cubs clinching the Central Division Championship on Friday night, Lou Piniella emptied his bench. The result looked more like the starting lineup for the 2006 Iowa Cubs. Piniella gave all of his starters but Ryan Theriot the day off, inserted Henry Blanco at 1st base and the young Cubs responded with an impressive win against Aaron Harang. Matt Murton hit his 8th home run of the year with 2 outs in the 1st inning, added a double in the 5th and scored 2 runs in 4 trips to the plate. Ronny Cedeno filled in for Aramis Ramirez and added his 4th homer of the year in the 2nd. Felix Pie was 2-for-4 with a RBI. Geovany Soto continued to make his case to be the Cubs’ starting catcher in the post season. Not only did Soto call an excellent game but he was 3-for-4 with 2 doubles, a run scored and a RBI. Since being recalled on September 1st, Soto is hitting .444 with a .480 OBP, 6 doubles, 3 home runs and 7 RBI’s.
Great American Ball Park was once again filled with the Faithful. Most of the announced crowd of 38,936 was pro-Cub and continued to celebrate the Division Championship. Several handmade signs with various messages filled the stands behind the Cubs’ dugout, it was a joyous occasion with a ballgame as its backdrop. The Reds announced the song of the game was “NothinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ But A Good Time”, the late 80′s song by Poison, how apropos.
With the win, Lou Piniella’s crew is 9 games over .500 with one left to play. Rich Hill needed this outing. While the Reds’ lineup did not feature the likes of Ken Griffey and Adam Dunn, anytime a pitcher can hold a Major League lineup to just 1 hit in 6 innings is impressive. Hill seemed confident and in complete control throughout the game. And this is very important.
Hill is likely to be Piniella’s third starter in the playoff rotation. With the fact he feeds so strongly off of his performance, a bad outing on Saturday would not have been a good way for the young Mr. Hill to enter the second season on Wednesday. The Cubs need the “good” Rich Hill in the post season, his performance on Saturday should have given him a lot of confidence going in.
Hill struck out only 4 and like Carlos Zambrano on Friday night pitched to a lot of contact. He threw only 79 pitches, 54 for strikes and of the 14 other batters he retired (20 total faced in the game), 3 were ground ball outs and 11 were in the air.
Sean Marshall likely pitched his last two innings of the year on Saturday. Marshall does not figure to make the post-season roster and if this was his last outing, he went out on a positive note.
Stevie Ire…. Scott Eyre only allowed one baserunner to reach in the 9th. He plunked Jeff Keppinger with 1 out but retired Brandon Phillips on a fly out to Sam Fuld to end the game.
Rich Hill and Sean Marshall will finish the regular season with identical ERA’s…. 3.92.
The Cubs pounded out 9 hits against Aaron Harang, but struck out 13 times. Matt Murton and Ronny Cedeno hit longballs in the first 2 innings to give the Cubs the early lead. Mike Fontenot singled, after a very impressive at bat, with 1-out in the 3rd. Matt Murton hit what appeared to be a 4-6-3 inning ending double play, but Brandon Phillips showboated a little and Murton beat out Keppinger’s throw to 1st. Geovany Soto then lined a double down the 3rd base line, Murton scored all the way from 1st. Felix Pie followed with a broken bat, bloop single to right center that plated Soto.
Saturday was a fun game, no pressure, no one yelling, just baseball….Cubs Baseball!
The Starting Lineup:
- Ryan Theriot – SS
- Mike Fontenot – 2B
- Matt Murton – LF
- Geovany Soto – C
- Felix Pie – CF
- Ronny Cedeno – 3B
- Henry Blanco – 1B
- Sam Fuld – RF
- Rich Hill – P
Saturday was the 17th Anniversary of Lou Piniella’s Cincinnati Reds clinching the Western Division Title on their way to winning the World Series.
The Cubs complete the 2007 regular season on Sunday just where it started. Ted Lilly is scheduled to start the game but pitch just a couple of innings. The Cubs will get their first look at the Reds’ top pitching prospect, Homer Bailey.