Shutout by Mr. Complete Game

Game Sixty-Two – Cubs 0 Dodgers 3
WP – Hiroki Kuroda (3-5) LP – Sean Gallagher (3-2) Save – None

Hiroki Kuroda earned the first complete game shutout of his Major League career with a dominating performance against the Cubs. Kuroda completed 74 games in 151 career starts in Japan and showed the Cubs how he earned the nickname ‘Mr. Complete Game‘ during his career in Japan. Kuroda shutout the Cubs’ offense with pinpoint control and Lou Piniella’s crew managed only 4 hits, all singles. Kuroda recorded 11 strikeouts, a Major League career high, without a walk.

The Cubs only scoring opportunity came in the 4th but a bad call at 1st base by Derryl Cousins ended the inning. With the Cubs down 1-0, Ryan Theriot led off with a single to right, Derrek Lee reached on an infield single and Theriot advanced to 3rd on a throwing error by Kuroda. With runners on 1st and 3rd and no outs, Kuroda struck out Aramis Ramirez and Kosuke Fukudome appeared to tie the game on a fielder’s choice. But Cousins called Fukudome out at 1st….replays showed Fukudome was safe.

Sean Gallagher struggled with his command and the 3 walks he issued turned out to be the difference in the game. Gallagher gave up just 2 runs on 3 hits in 5 innings with 6 strikeouts…but both runs he allowed came off of free passes. Kevin Hart did not help his cause and gave up the Dodgers’ third run on 4 hits with a walk and a strikeout in 1 1/3 innings. Scott Eyre struck out both batters he faced and Jon Lieber tossed a perfect 9th inning.

The Cubs lost to the Dodgers for the first time this season on a great pitching performance by Hiroki Kuroda. With the loss, the Cubs are 16 games over .500 and 3-2 on the current road trip with two games left before a day off on Monday.

For all of the positives to come out of the first 62 games of the season, one concerning trend of late is the amount of walks being issued by the Cubs’ pitching staff. The starters are running up their pitch count and the relievers are forcing Lou Piniella to depend on Carlos Marmol to bail the team out of trouble. Whether this is coaching, pitch calling or just lack of execution is irrelevant. Lou Piniella must find a solution to this problem soon….or the great start will be erased by a pitching staff that cannot throw strikes.

Sean Gallagher has better than average stuff, but two of the three batters he walked came around to score….and the Dodgers’ third run of the game was put into scoring position by a walk. A pitchers inability to throw strikes is deflating to a team. It puts pressure on a defense as well as the offense to score as many runs as possible.

While Friday’s game could be summed up by saying the team was flat, as Bob Brenly pointed out, sometimes a team runs into a pitcher that has everything working for him. That was the case on Friday but with two of the runs not having to work to get on base, it makes it easier for a team to score….especially one that is struggling to plate runs to begin with. The Cubs’ pitching staff must remember what their offense has done to the opposition this year and quit giving teams free passes. The Cubs have a solid defense, there is nothing wrong to pitching to contact….aren’t strikeouts fascist to begin with?

The Dodgers’ first run of the game came after a 1-out walk to Delwyn Young in the 1st inning. Jeff Kent ripped the first pitch from Gallagher off the centerfield wall to plate Young from 1st.

The Dodgers’ added to their lead in the 4th after a lead off walk to James Loney. Matt Kemp singled to left and Blake DeWitt reached on an infield single to load the bases. Danny Ardoin grounded out to short, Ryan Theriot forced DeWitt at 2nd but Loney scored. Gallagher struck out Chin-lung Hu and Hiroki Kuroda to end the inning.

Jeff Kent was ejected in the 5th inning for arguing balls and strikes.

Danny Ardoin drove in the Dodgers’ third run on a suicide squeeze in the 6th. Kevin Hart gave up a lead off infield single to James Loney. Hart walked Matt Kemp and induced a grounder off the bat of Blake DeWitt. Derrek Lee tossed to Theriot at 2nd to force Kemp but DeWitt beat out the return throw from Theriot. With runners on 1st and 3rd, Joe Torre had his back-up catcher lay down the bunt…it was a perfect suicide squeeze. Loney scored and Ardoin was safe at 1st without a play.

Hiroki Kuroda pitched a very good game and the Cubs offense was not able to make him work….only 112 pitches in 9 innings, the Cubs threw 151 in 8 innings.

Carlos Zambrano is scheduled to face Derek Lowe on Saturday afternoon on FOX.

Quote of the Day

"Build up your weaknesses until they become your strong points." – Knute Rockne