Game One Hundred-One – Cubs 2 Marlins 5
WP – Brendan Donnelly (1-0) LP – Carlos Marmol (2-2) Save – Leo Nunez (9)
The Cubs long 10-game road trip began on a sour note Friday night at Land Shark Stadium. The difference in the game ended up being one team’s patience … and it wasn’t the Cubs. The Cubs offense was incredibly aggressive in the first game of the series. Lou Piniella’s crew managed only one free pass, a leadoff walk by Milton Bradley in the ninth, while the free-swinging Fish walked six times … but none bigger than the two in the eighth off of Carlos Marmol.
Carlos Marmol took the hill in the eighth with the game tied at two. In his first appearance since the opener of the four-game series against the Astros (July 27), Marmol issued back-to-back walks to Jorge Cantu and Dan Uggla to start the inning. Jeremy Hermida attempted to sacrifice both runners into scoring position but Marmol made a great play to nail Cantu at third. Cody Ross then flied out to left and it appeared Marmol might dodge another bullet.
John Baker stepped in and hit a grounder through the hole at second on a 1-1 pitch. Dan Uggla scored from second and the Marlins took a 3-2 lead. With runners on second and third with two outs, Ross Gload pinch-hit for Brendan Donnelly and was hit on a 0-1 pitch to load the bases. Lou Piniella brought in Sean Marshall and for one of the few times this season, Marshall could not strand the runners,
Wes Helms pinch-hit for Chris Coghlan and lined a two-out double off the wall in left on a 2-2 pitch. Jeremy Hermida and John Baker scored, 5-2 Marlins. After Friday night only five of 33 inherited runners have scored against Sean Marshall.
Rich Harden put together another good start. Harden tied a career-high with 11 strikeouts and allowed two runs on five hits in five innings. Harden also walked three, which ran up his pitch count and forced him out of the game after just five innings. Harden appeared to plead his case to go out in the sixth but after 99 pitches (60 for strikes) on a warm night in Florida, the Cubs turned the game over to their pen down 2-0 at the time.
John Grabow made his Cub debut on Friday night in the sixth. After issuing a leadoff walk to Jeremy Hermida, Grabow retired the next three batters he faced … two fly outs and a strikeout of Chris Volstad. Aaron Heilman pitched a perfect seventh that included a strikeout of Hanley Ramirez.
The Cubs offense showed no patience against Chris Volstad. Volstad retired the first 12 batters he faced. After Volstad retired Kosuke Fukudome to start the fourth his pitch count was up to just 45 pitches … and 18 of them were thrown in two at bats to Kosuke Fukudome, they simply were not making him work.
The Cubs first hit was not until the fifth, a lead off single by Aramis Ramirez.
Jake Fox got the start in left on Friday night and tied the game at two in the seventh. Fox hit his seventh home run of the year off of Volstad, a two-run shot into the second deck of the park previously known as Dolphin Stadium.
The Cubs had a chance in the seventh to take the lead but could not come up with the clutch hit when they needed it … they finished the game 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and left six on base.
Despite the loss on Friday night, the Cubs finished a good month of ball with an 18-9 record. Only the fourth time in the last 30 seasons the organization posted 18 wins in the month of July … the other three: 1998 (19-9), 1989 (18-9) and 1984 (18-10).
The Cubs offense set the tone early and they must start being more patient on the road. They looked like a different team, with the exception of Kosuke Fukudome, the first two times through the lineup. Too many early swings, no walks and the Cubs managed only two three-ball counts against Chris Volstad all night … Kosuke Fukudome in the first and Jake Fox in the second. That kind off aggressiveness is not how they win games.
Rich Harden made only two mistakes in his five innings of work. A two-out double by Chris Volstad in the second that drove in the first Marlins’ run (his first career RBI) and a solo home run by Jorge Cantu in the third.
Harden dominated the Marlins for the most part. Of the 15 outs he recorded, only four were on balls put in play. Harden was not helped by the Homeplate umpire’s inconsistent strike zone … John Hirschbeck appeared to have one for the Cubs and another one for the Marlins.
The Marlins first run came in the second inning after a leadoff single by Jeremy Hermida. Harden struck out Cody Ross and John Baker but Chris Volstad hit a long double to center over Kosuke Fukudome’s head. Volstad’s fourth hit of the year and his first double gave him a 1-0 lead.
Aramis Ramirez started the Cubs’ two-run seventh inning with a one-out bloop single to right. After Milton Bradley struck out looking, Jake Fox launched the first pitch from Volstad over the wall in left center. Mike Fontenot reached on an error by Dan Uggla following Fox’s blast. It was the first error by the Marlins in nine games. Koyie Hill bunted his way on and Piniella went to his bench for Micah Hoffpauir with the go-ahead run on second.
Fredi Gonzalez lifted Chris Volstad after Hoffpauir was announced and brought in the southpaw, Dan Meyer. Piniella countered with Jeff Baker but he struck out swinging on a 3-2 pitch to end the inning.
The Cubs put single runners on in the eighth and ninth but were not able to bring them around.
With the loss the Cubs fell out of first place, a half game back of the Cardinals …
Carlos Zambrano is scheduled to face Burke Badenhop on Saturday night … let’s hope Big Z does not realize it is August.