It’s Never Easy … Cubs Hang on in Houston – Cubs 5 Astros 4

Game Ten – Cubs 5 Astros 4
WP – Ryan Dempster (1-2) LP – Nelson Figueroa (0-2) Save – Carlos Marmol (4)

wflag.jpgThe Cubs took control of Monday’s game in the first four innings. Q’s squad scored five runs, all with two outs, and Ryan Dempster was seemingly in complete command. Dempster held the Astros in check through six innings, just one run allowed, and at one point Dempster struck out five in a row.

An error by Aramis Ramirez extended the sixth and caused Ryan Dempster to run up his pitch count. Due to the bullpen day Tuesday, Mike Quade left Dempster in too long and he started serving up longballs in his final inning. The Astros knocked Dempster out in the seventh after he gave up three runs on two home runs and what seemed like a comfortable 5-1 lead turned into another close game.

Dempster allowed four runs, all earned, on six hits with three walks and nine strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings. Dempster threw 115 pitches, 69 for strikes.

Q’s pen did an excellent job in relief of Ryan Dempster. John Grabow worked his way in and out of trouble without allowing a run. Sean Marshall did his job in the eighth and Carlos Marmol picked up a four-out save.

The Cubs offense was very effective against Nelson Figueroa … and non-existent against the Astros’ pen. The Cubs did not record a hit after Marlon Byrd’s RBI single in the fourth inning.

Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney set the table early in the game. Castro hit leadoff for the second time and put together another solid game at the plate. Castro was 3-for-5 and scored three of the Cubs five runs. Castro also swiped a bag in the fourth, the Cubs first stolen base of the year.

Darwin Barney was excellent hitting out of the two-hole. Barney reached base four times in five trips to the plate. Barney finished 2-for-3 with a triple, a RBI, two walks and two runs scored.

Starlin and Darwin were a combined 5-for-8 with a triple, a stolen base, two walks, a RBI and five runs scored.

Marlon Byrd drove in two of the Cubs five runs with a 2-for-5 night … but it was a double in the first inning by Alfonso Soriano that seemed to relax the offense. Soriano came through with a two-out, two-run double that gave the Cubs an early lead.

With Monday’s win, the Cubs improved to 5-5 on the young season (2-2 in one run games) … nine of the Cubs ten games have been decided by three runs or less.

Starlin Castro led off the game with a single to center on a 1-2 pitch. Darwin Barney then worked a walk. The table setters did their job and got on base to start the game.

Marlon Byrd struck out swinging and Aramis Ramirez popped out to short … the Cubs were 2-for their last 19 at that point with runners in scoring position. Carlos Pena walked to load the bases.

Alfonso Soriano blooped Nelson Figueroa’s first pitch into right. Castro and Barney scored … 2-0 Cubs on Soriano’s first double of the year. Tyler Colvin grounded out to second to end the inning.

After the top of the first, the Cubs were 3-for their last 21 with runners in scoring position.

Ryan Dempster retired the Astros in order in the first on just 12 pitches, eight for strikes.

Starlin Castro jump-started the offense again in the second. Castro reached on a two-out bloop single to left center. Castro broke for second on a 0-1 pitch to Barney … and the Cubs’ second baseman deposited the ball into left center. Castro scored on Barney’s first big league triple.

The Cubs took a 4-0 lead on a single to right by Marlon Byrd. Aramis Ramirez grounded out to short to end the inning.

Ryan Dempster got into a little trouble in the bottom of the second after giving up a leadoff single to Carlos Lee. Dempster then walked Brett Wallace. With runners on first and second with no outs, Chris Johnson hit a grounder to first, Pena fielded, bobbled and had to settle for the out at first. Both runners advanced on the play.

Joe Inglett struck out swinging and Humberto Quintero grounded out to first on a 3-1 pitch to end the inning.

After the Cubs went down in order in the top of the third, Dempster struck out the side in the home half of the inning.

Starlin Castro started the offense again in the fourth … and once again with two outs.

Castro singled to left on a 0-1 pitch. With Barney at the plate, Castro stole second base on a 2-1 pitch … the Cubs first stolen base of the season. Barney then reached on an infield single to third. Castro advanced to third on the play.

Marlon Byrd worked the count to 3-2 before hitting a single back up the middle. Castro scored and gave the Cubs a 5-0 lead. Barney advanced to third on the play.

With Aramis Ramirez at the plate, Nelson Figueroa uncorked a wild pitch. The ball bounced right back to Quintero, Barney was not able to scored but Byrd took second on the miscue. Ramirez hit a rocket to the hole at short, Chris Johnson made an excellent diving stop and threw out Ramirez to end the inning.

Ryan Dempster struck out the first two batters he faced in the fourth … five strikeouts in a row for Dempster. Brett Wallace grounded out to first to end the inning.

The Astros broke through in the bottom of the fifth. Chris Johnson led off with a single to right … Houston’s second hit of the game.

Tyler Colvin made an excellent over the shoulder running catch to take a hit away from Joe Inglett. Humberto Quintero grounded out to third for the second out. With Johnson at third, Matt Downs hit for Enerio Del Rosario and blooped a single into right. Downs broke his bat but got just enough to put the ball in play and score the runner from third.

Ryan Dempster struck out Michael Bourn on a 3-2 pitch to end the inning.

After five complete, the Cubs led 5-1.

The Cubs defense struck again in the bottom of the sixth. Dempster retired Angel Sanchez on a ground out to second. Hunter Pence hit a grounder to Ramirez at third. Aramis threw low, Pena could not scoop and Pence reached on the error.

Ryan Dempster struck out Carlos Lee looking but walked Brett Wallace on five pitches.

Chris Johnson put together an excellent at bat and worked a walk on the tenth pitch of the at bat. With the bases loaded, Joe Inglett grounded out to second on the first pitch. Inning over but Dempster’s pitch count elevated to 101 after the error and the inability to put Johnson away.

Dempster took the hill to start the seventh … and the extra work in the sixth cost the Cubs. Dempster struck out Humberto Quintero but gave up a pinch-hit homer to Bill Hall. Hall lined a 1-1 pitch off the foul pole down the right field line.

Quade left Dempster in to face Michael Bourn and the Astros’ leadoff man hit a 1-1 pitch off the top of the wall in right. The ruling on the field was a double, the umps reviewed and the call stood.

With the Cubs up 5-2, Dempster stayed in to face Angel Sanchez and he served up a 1-0 pitch to the Astros’ shortstop. Sanchez deposited the ball into the Crawford Boxes for the first homer of his career.

Dempster left after 115 pitches.

For some reason Mike Quade brought John Grabow into face Hunter Pence and Carlos Lee. Grabow walked Pence on the eighth pitch of the at bat. Carlos Lee singled to left and put the tying run on second base.

Brett Wallace flied out to left on a 1-2 pitch for the second out … and Chris Johnson grounded out to second to end the inning.

After a shaky start, Grabow did his job and preserved the one-run lead.

The Cubs did nothing in the top of the eighth … and the Astros went back to work in the bottom of the inning.

Joe Inglett led off with a bloop single to right off of a leaping Darwin Barney. Humberto Quintero bunted Inglett to second. Bill Hall then reached on a single off Ramirez’s glove. Aramis dove and the ball deflected off his glove into shallow left. Inglett advanced to third.

With runners on first and third with one out, Michael Bourn struck out.

Quade went to his pen and brought in Carlos Marmol to face Angel Sanchez.

Marmol missed the zone on his first two pitches … but then threw three that Sanchez could not make contact on. Sanchez struck out swinging to end the inning.

The Astros’ pen completed their domination of the Cubs offense. Brandon Lyon retired the Cubs in order in the ninth. The Cubs managed zero hits (four walks) against the Astros’ pen Monday night.

Carlos Marmol struck out Hunter Pence to start the inning and retired Carlos Lee on a line drive to Starlin Castro. Brett Wallace put together an impressive at bat and singled to right on Marmol’s eighth pitch.

Jason Bourgeois ran for Wallace and stole second on a 2-1 pitch to Jason Michaels. Marmol ended up walking Michaels to put the winning run on first.

With runners on first and second with two outs, Joe Inglett looked at strike three to end the game.

Carlos Marmol picked up his first four-out save of the young season. It took Marmol 31 pitches to earn his fourth save of the season.

It’s never easy … that’s the way of life for the Chicago Cubs.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

James Russell and the bullpen will face Brett Myers in game two of three Tuesday night.

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
  • Ottawabob

    How long do we keep running Colvin out to right. If that was Fukudome hitting a blazing .130 he’d be getting ripped beyond!!!

    • Wickitkevin

      Colvin is also a kid and is still learning. Fukudome is a finished produce.

    • Tony

      You keep running him out, 4 or 5 days a week. If they feel he is not going to snap out of it, send him to AAA to get some confidence.

      Fukudome, we know what his ceiling is, Colvin’s we do not. Fukudome is getting paid a big contract, where we know he is not worth it, and will go to reality next year, with whoever gives him a job.

      • Serothis

        I would also add to tony’s post that colvin has been struggling for just shy of 2 weeks, fukudome has been struggling for 3 years.

        • Calicub

          Not to mention koske gets way too tired in the ealy season the less starts he gets the longer he will be able to remain offensively potent.

          Colvin is a youngster and part of the future of this team. Stars are not made over night. Colvin proved that he was worth a spot on the roster and giving up on him after two weeks is not only nonsence but down right stupid.

          Keeping fukedome in would have been something pinella would have done. This is not the old cubs and I must congradulate Q on keeping things in focus rather than tostick with the so called proven talent”

    • Ripsnorter1

      I’m worried about him. He’s so Soriano-like flailing away at that low slider. The diffo between the two is that Soriano is swing at a down and away slider, and Colvin is hacking at one breaking right into his shin bone. Both has the same result: a swing and a miss.

      I hope he can make the adjustment, or else I can see Quade calling up Augie Ojeda to play RF. Or maybe Brett Jackson will be called up and Colvin sent down.

      I really think that by May 1 or so, Jackson is here, and Colvin is not, if Colvin continues to slump.


  • xaxinho

    Castro last 2 at bats were too arrogant. He didnt show any respect and just didnt accept the walks.

    • Tony

      Not sure why you pick out Castro to have an issue?

      Without him, where would this team be?

      I would rather have a guy who fouls off a pitch, then takes strike 3, any day.

      He wasn’t arrogant. He took a called strike early in each AB, and after 3 pitches, had taken 2 of the 3, and was down 1-2, in the count, and not from swinging at bad pitches.

      Then he does a great job of fouling the ball off, to keep the AB alive. Noramlly long AB’s the pitcher makes a mistake and the batter has an advantage. This time he K’d. I’ll take his approach over everyone else on this team.

      Remember he is only 21 years old! He will get better, yet he is already our best player.

      6th inning AB
      1st pitch Ball 1-0
      2nd pitch Strike in the zone swinging 1-1
      3rd pitch Called strike 2 1-2 (it was a ball, and shows he can see the zone)
      He know has to protect the plate
      4th pitch Foul ball (inside)
      5th pitch Foul ball (inside)
      6th pitch Ball (took a pitch) 2-2
      7th pitch Foul ball (steps out and takes a moment)
      8th pitch Foul ball (was a ball, he should have taken)
      9th pitch Foul ball (low)
      10th pitch Foul ball (low)
      11th pitch Foul ball (outside)
      12th pitch Foul ball (outside)
      13th pitch Strike 3

      8th inning AB
      1st pitch CALLED strike 0-1
      2nd pitch Ball
      3rd pitch Strike (check swing) 1-2
      He now has to protect the plate
      4th pitch Ball (check swing) 2-2
      5th pitch Foul ball 2-2
      6th pitch Foul ball 2-2
      7th pitch Strike 3 in the dirt

      Also, the low pitches and inside pitches, I have no problem with, the outside pitches are the ones I hope he learns to let go, in these situations.

      This team has so many problems, Castro fouling off balls, is way, way down the list.

      • paulcatanese

        Ah, shades of Luke Appling.

        • Tony

          Ah, I remember those days watching Luke Appling…sorry Paul before my time. I like when you do this, though, because it makes me put actions, with names I have known.

          • paulcatanese

            Appling was a shortsop with the White Sox who drove the apposing team and the fans crazy with his ability to foul pitches off with two strikes, once I believe in the 20- 22 count. He was amazing with that ability and more often than not he would end up with a hit.

          • paulcatanese

            Tony, one other thing about Appling. He played in an old timers game that was telivised from Washington stadium and he was well into his 80’s and wouldnt you know, he hit one out. Don’t remember the year. Dorasaga,that one’s for you also.

      • xaxinho

        Tony, is not an issue with him… He is our best hitter, no doubt about it. But he is a kid and kids needs to be educated. and i am talking about discipline. Im sorry if i disagree but i still think that he wanted a hit at all cost. And it is normal with very talented kid.

    • paulcatanese

      With two strikes he protected anything close, or what he thought would be strike three, Tony is correct,cannot fault the kid for what I thought was a brilliant at bat and piled up a lot of pitches. He actually had some good swings on a number of them. My opinion,but thought he did well.

  • Tony

    Why do we make teams, that are at the bottom of the food chain, look competitive, or even good…it’s gonna be a long year.

    • Ripsnorter1

      Because we are playing at their level. I fear what will happen when we run into the better teams: Phils, Atlanta, Reds, etc. And remember: ESPN says this is the easiest part of our schedule (Apr/May). It’s all uphill from here.

      • paulcatanese

        Rip,agree, Houston is sooo bad that we even play them as close as we did is humiliating. No hits after the fourth? Well we all know what thats about. I realize on any given day anyone can beat anyone, but really, Houston?,Have to figure out how to get Castro and Barney to the plate 15 times a game.

      • paulcatanese

        To make matters worse the line in the Redding paper has the Cubs as underdogs in today’s game.

        • Ripsnorter1

          The game simulator, playing 10,000 games between Astro and Cubs one play at a time, says that James Russell has only a 39% chance of a quality start.

          WELL . . . if his pitch count is limited to 45-50 pitches, I’d say that there’s a ZERO chance of a QS from Russell. It looks like 3 IP to me. Marmol threw 31 pitches in 1.1 IP last night. He’s toast.

          No wonder the Cubs are road dogs. The Astros have a good chance to win this one. Think about it: who comes in after Russell is done in 3 IP? Your long man is: JEFF SAMARDZIJA. And if the polite and kind Neil will publicly state that he does not belong a ML roster, then he really doesn’t belong on a ML roster.

          Mateo has an electric arm. If this guy continues to throw strikes, he is your next Angel Guzman–a very effective setup man with closer stuff. This guy could mean an extra 10 wins for the Cubs in 2011, if he supplants Grabow and Wood, as I think he can. You watch him work. If I’m right, by late June he has moved up the rotation in the bullpen.

          But right now, you’ve got this scenario for tonight:

          If we win. . ..
          Russell 3 IP
          Samardzija 2 IP
          Stevens 1 IP
          Grabow 1 IP
          Mateo 1 IP
          Wood 1 IP

          If we lose, it could get real ugly out there in the pen.

          Quade, imo, was unwise to start a 3 inning pitcher. He is going to rag out his bullpen.

          • paulcatanese

            Rip,very astute obsevation, and I really like Mateo, have since last year, he will do well. Quade is always unwise, and it is magnified with this team and its limits. Managerial skills really play an important part as 0 mistakes are allowed with this club.

  • Ripsnorter1

    31 pitches for Marmol. That means he cannot pitch tonight.

    • paulcatanese

      Thats true Rip. And I think I have proved my point, although not happy that I did, that Dempster is a usualy solid pitcher for five innings and the Quade better have someone loose in the bullpen. Hopefuly its because its early in the year and he will stretch out more and be a little more durable.

      • Teluton

        WE were extremely lucky to win this game. Quade should have lifted Dempster after 6 innings. He should have had someone warming early.-a poorly managed game. I recall our season was over in May last year;I’m not optimistic about ‘2011 being any better. Lack of speed and shoddy defense will catch up against strong clubs. Why are Byrd and Ram back to back in the lineup? Yes,this team is too weak to contend.

        • studio179

          I can understand Quade’s reasoning for leaving Dempster in there. Today is Russell’s first start. Since he is not stretched out much, the bull pen will be used a lot in today’s game. Maybe Quade would have managed it differently knowing the pen was in play today, maybe not. He has left Dempster in too long for the other couple starts, especially opening day.

          • paulcatanese

            I respect youre opinion on the decision for leaving Demp out there but don’t necessarily agree with it. Kind of looks like a team in the fifth game of the World Series needing that win to stay alive, but the manager decides to hold a pitcher out for the next game. Can’t do that, if you think about tommorow and plan that way in Baseball there may not be a tommorow. You need to win today and then worry about the next day. Not always the rule but what I believe.

          • studio179

            I have to disagree with you. You can’t win for today with less than two weeks into the season. Not with this Cub pen. That bull pen is going to be gased out soon enough and it will be back to the Chicago-Iowa shuttle again. Add the fact Shark is down there and it is the eqivalent of not having someone in the pen. That means you are basically an arm short with his no-options left presence. If this were late in the year and the Cubs were smelling a division or in the playoffs, then I agree with your win for today explanation. Then they let tomorrow happen to deal with it at that point. But it’s a long year and they just started.

            I have not seen much top shelf managing from Quade so far. But I can’t pound on Quade for trying to squeeze an extra inning out of Dempster in that situation. I can blame Hendry for not managing the roster and have an extra arm down there. This, especially knowing Russell will be short today and the pen will be used up and Shark is like not having someone there. I will give Quade the benefit of the doubt for yesterday.

          • paulcatanese

            The only problem I see with the post you have put out would be and this would be with what you said regarding later on in the year and the Cubs were looking at a division or in the playoffs supports what I posted. The wins or losses you have today will show up later in the year, and what they do today reflects on later dates. Why would you let tommorow happen if you can win today? You cannot replace a loss today but you can put the win on the board now. Remember the loss column at the end of the year? I guess we just have to agree to dis-agree. Good response,I enjoyed it.

          • studio179

            In no way am I saying the Cubs are poised for a division or playoff title. Ha! That would be great, huh. No, I was saying if…the big ‘if’…they were in that position, then the win for today at all costs is something I agree with on the Dempster thing. I just think it being a long year and a manager has to keep a close eye on the pen’s usage so they are not worn out. Ofcourse, yesterday might not matter. They will likely be worn out anyhow. Ha! The fact they were facing the Astros, Quade might have been guessing to go a bit longer. It nearly cost him, but they hung on. I agree April wins and losses matter, too. I get irrate when players say, ‘it’s early yet’. You are right, it is a good debate and subject matter. Thanks.

          • cubtex

            that was my thought last night as well! I heard they are only hoping(key word…hoping) to get 3 innings out of Russell tonight, so bullpen will be getting a workout!

  • Ripsnorter1

    Pujols is hitting .150. Can’t hit thinking about that $300 million. On Opening Day he hit into 3 double plays, the first time a play has done that in 80 years.

    • Wickitkevin

      We gave Pena 10mil for batting under 200:

    • studio179

      “Pujols is hitting .150”

      There you go. Pena is hitting 24 points higher. So our guy is better than their guy. 😉

      • Ripsnorter1

        I can’t argue with you. :)

  • Ripsnorter1

    Last night the Cubs had 8 hits: 1 by Soriano, and all of the others by their first three hitters: Castro, Barney and Byrd.

    • paulcatanese

      Yes, and of course we can count on Pena to take a ton of pitches hoping for a walk. Although one of those walks seemed to be intentional, he couldn’t hit those four pitches with a broom,don’t know what that was all about with his strikeout potential. Maybe Houston didnt read the book on him. I keep saying it, move him down in the order if he is playing.

  • paulcatanese

    Good report Neil,again and again.

  • Cheryl

    Send DeWitt down until he straightens out his batting and bring up another pitcher. Why wear the bull pen out this early?

    • studio179

      Hendry is not managing the club’s roster the correct way, that’s why. He loves to collect second baseman at the ready for his manager.

    • paulcatanese

      Cheryl, I agree with you, he should be sent down for a bit and play 2b while he is there. I think cubtex posted that a day or so and I agree with that. Also it is probably choking JH to admit that DeWitt needs help. It would be a smart move as DeWitt is young and very well develop into a good player.

  • cubtex

    I just heard that the Cubs are close to signing Doug Davis to a minor league deal. Yesterday…Ortiz and now Davis?

    • paulcatanese

      I hate to admit it but who are these guys? I guess thats what happens when I focus only on the Cubs. One little add-on Aram with another bad throw?

      • cubtex

        Has been pitchers…..Ramon Ortiz and Doug Davis. If Carlos Silva had accepted a minor league stint with the Cubs he would be getting a start now instead of Russell. Hopefully this doesn’t mean Cashner or Wells injuries are more serious than anticipated.

        • paulcatanese

          Thank you sir.

    • studio179

      With any luck, tomorrow will bring another name. I assume these are to fill the minors and not a chance they get a couple starts up at the bigs. Then again, I guess when there is not much MLB ready starting depth for the Cubs in the minors at this point, we get to see these signings. I don’t think they really view Russell as the 5th spot answer until either Wells or Cashner come back. Granted, they will take a good 4-5 innings out of Russell and see how it goes today and make the call for the next 5th day.

    • Ripsnorter1


      This tells you some things:

      #1 Cashner is going to be out much more than one month. You may as well face up to it now. They ain’t saying this, but their deeds show you that it is true.

      #2 Jim Clueless thought he didn’t need Gorzelanny. It takes at least 7-8 starters to get through a season. I don’t know what he was thinking, cutting him lose for nothing. INSANE. Doug Davis never was, and never will be, a real MLB starter. When Milwaukee doesn’t want you as a pitcher anymore–you’re really done as a ML pitcher. Last year he had an excellent 7.51 ERA, WHIP of 1.983 and 1-4 record in 55 IP. And Jim Clueless signs him.

      Hey, Jim Clueless: Gorzelanny is better!

      Ahh, he didn’t hear me. He never does.

  • Cloycub13

    Folks I have to echo the sentiment about Quade and leaving guys in too long! I was darn near screaming at the TV last night after the Bill Hall bomb, the other guys near inch away bomb…there was absolutely no excuse to have Demp pitch to the SS, but he did, and lo and behold BOOM… a 3 run lead evaporates to a nail biter. Quade has done it a few times already this year… that does not bode well. As we all know managers have little impact on the general play of a game or season, but they can win or lose the occasional game… Quade damn near lost us that one.

    I also have to send out HUGE props to the 2011 Daily Double of Castro and Barney…Castro is showing that all of this talk about him not being able to handle the pressure of the leadoff spot is weak and unfounded thus far.

    And another HUGE thumbs up to the way that GEO handled that game. His walk outs to the mound, time outs, and general way of calling the game were impressive. Normally I do nto notice stuff like that, but he was on his game last night. You could tell when the team was out congratulating each other, many of the players specifically patted Geo, knowing he did a real solid job on the intangibles last night.

    Go Cubs!

    • paulcatanese

      Good observation,and agree with you on the whole post. Again and again little things are popping up on the negative side with Quade and I wonder how long it will take before the Ricketts family interferes and make changes.

  • studio179

    I get why people are on Quade. I have seen moves that I don’t like, too. Last night, his decision to leave Dempster in there and try to squeeze out an extra inning is not something I can say was a horrible call. Russell is going today and everyone knows the pen will be used quite a bit. That’s just today. They are hoping for three to four good innings and will be happy to get five.

    Do we need three second baseman when the bull pen needs help? No, plus Shark can’t throw strikes and is like being an arm short down there. I guess I am not defending Quade as much as I am calling out Hendry for not properly managing this roster.

    • John_CC

      Well I guess you can go back to Quade making the call on Russell getting the start, and announcing that he’ll only throw 50 pitches. That was Quade’s call. So the fact that he had to leave a struggling Dempster out there in order to save his bullpen for the NEXT day…well, it’s a pretty lousy defense. Dempster has not had a good start, Houston (as crappy as they are) are tough on him, it is ridiculous to go into that game hoping that Dempster makes it though 7 innings. Once he starts to loose it, he always gets bombed. The entire series plan was flawed from the get go. But they won, so he got away with it….this time.

      • studio179

        Yes, they got away with it this time…

        They do not have many options other than Russell right now. It is not like Quade picked Russell from a list of starting pitchers and announced he only goes 50 pitches. Thus, the scarp heap signings, hoping someone can pitch decent enough to eat innings once they are somewhat ready…or someone is ready.

        I am in no way defending Quade as a manager here. On this move, I see his reasoning. To me, Hendry should have more options than Russell.

  • Cheryl

    Maybe those empty seats will tell Hendry something. They may be going over to watch the Sox. It’s beginning to look like a lost season.