Over Before It Started – Cubs 2 Astros 11

Game Eleven – Cubs 2 Astros 11
WP – Brett Myers (1-0) LP – James Russell (1-1) Save – None

When the Cubs announced James Russell and the bullpen would face Brett Myers in the second game of the series in Houston, the writing was on the wall that it would be a long night … and it was.

The Cubs were horrible in every aspect of the game. James Russell, with help from the Cubs so-called defense, was knocked out in the second inning after allowing five runs, four earned, on seven hits. Russell recorded only five outs and while the Astros didn’t exactly hit the cover off the ball, seven of the 12 batters Russell faced reached base with a hit.

Alfonso Soriano and Darwin Barney committed errors on the same play that allowed the Astros to score two runs on a routine single to left. Barney missed a tag on Bill Hall, who actually ran out of the baseline.

Jeff Samardzija actually had a decent outing. Samardzija threw strikes and saved the pen. Samardzija allowed two runs on three hits with two strikeouts and only one walk in three innings.

Jeff Stevens made his first appearance of the season and put together a decent outing. Stevens gave up a hit and struck out a batter in a 1 1/3 inning of work.

Marcos Mateo continued to impress. Mateo struck out the side in the seventh.

The Astros other four runs came off John Grabow and the so-called defense in the eighth.

Tyler Colvin, Marlon Byrd and Starlin Castro supplied the only highlights from the Cubs offense. Colvin hit his second home run of the season in the seventh off Brett Myers and doubled to left in the ninth.

Marlon Byrd was a perfect 3-for-3 on the night before leaving in the seventh inning. Starlin Castro added another multi-hit game (2-for-5) and drove in the Cubs second run with a fielder’s choice groundout to third in the ninth.

The Cubs offense had plenty of chances all night. Q’s squad pounded out 11 hits but only one walk (Koyie Hill in the ninth) and finished the game 1-for-15 with RISP. The Cubs left 10 on base.

The Cubs are a miserable 3-for-32 in their last two losses with runners in scoring position.

With Tuesday’s embarrassment in Houston, the Cubs dropped to 5-6 on the season … back below the mediocre mark.

The Cubs had a chance in the first inning to give James Russell a little breathing room … but once again the Cubs could not hit with runners on base.

Starlin Castro led off with a single to left. Darwin Barney hit into a 5-4 force for the first out of the inning. Marlon Byrd extended his hitting streak to nine games with a single to right. Aramis Ramirez flied out to deep center and Brett Myers struck out Carlos Pena to end the inning.

The Astros took advantage of James Russell right off the bat. Michael Bourn reached on a bunt single to start the game. Angel Sanchez followed with another bunt single. Russell was late covering the bag and found himself in a ton of trouble.

Hunter Pence singled to left on a 2-2 pitch. Bourn scored easily … 1-0 Astros.

Russell seemed to settle down. He struck out Carlos Lee swinging for the first out … and retired Jason Michaels on a fly out to left. With runners on first and second with two outs, Bill Hall hit a lazy single into left on a 2-2 pitch. The ball got under Soriano’s legs which allowed Pence to run to third … and that is when it got ugly.

The Cubs caught Bill Hall in a run down between first and second. Darwin Barney failed to tag Hall as he appeared to step out of the baseline. Pence scored … 3-0 Astros. The Cubs were credited with two errors on one lazy single to left. Chris Johnson flied out to right to end the inning.

James Russell threw 31 pitches in the first inning, 22 for strikes.

Brett Myers settled in and dominated the Cubs in the second.

The Astros went back to work against Russell in the second. Humberto Quintero led off with a double to right on a ball Tyler Colvin lost in the lights. Brett Myers then blooped a single into right on a 0-2 pitch … the sixth hit off Russell by the first nine batters.

With runners on first and third with no outs, Michael Bourn hit a grounder up the middle. Russell deflected the ball, Castro dove back toward third, fielded the ball and forced Myers at second. Quintero scored … 4-0 Astros.

Michael Bourn then stole second and third on consecutive pitches. Angel Sanchez popped out to second but Hunter Pence reached on an infield single. Bourn scored … 5-0 Astros.

Mike Quade went to the pen and brought in Jeff Samardzija.

James Russell was able to record only five outs on 55 pitches, 40 for strikes. Russell allowed five runs, four earned, on seven hits with a strikeouts in 1 2/3 innings. The Cubs horrible defense did not help him but Russell is not a starting pitcher at the big league level. The Cubs did not put him in the right situation and it cost them a game.

Samardzija retired Carlos Lee to end the second.

Samardzija retired the Astros in order in the third … but walked Humberto Quintero to start the fourth. Brett Myers bunted the ball too hard to Pena who threw to second to force Quintero. Samardzija jumped out 0-2 on Michael Bourn before throwing three straight out of the zone. Bourn doubled down the left field line on a 3-2 pitch.

With runners on second and third with one out, Angel Sanchez singled to right center. Myers and Bourn scored … 7-0 Astros.

Hunter Pence hit a grounder to Barney, Sanchez was forced at second and Lee tapped back to the mound to end the inning.

The Cubs kept hitting the ball after the fourth … and kept putting runners on base but could not hit with runners on base.

Jeff Stevens and Marcos Mateo put together solid efforts Tuesday night. Mateo struck out the side in the bottom of the seventh … and he appears to be gaining confidence with every outing.

Brett Myers left after seven innings with a comfortable 7-1 lead.

John Grabow was lit up in the eighth. The Astros took batting practice against Grabow and while the Cubs defense not help, Grabow did not help himself either.

The Astros scored four runs, three earned, on five hits and a Blake DeWitt error off Grabow.

Brett Myers beat the Cubs for the ninth straight time dating back to 2005 (11-3 in his career).

Tuesday was an extremely ugly game with only a few positives …

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Carlos Zambrano against Wandy Rodriguez in the rubber game Wednesday night.

Quote of the Day

"Sometimes you have to stop worrying, wondering, and doubting and just have faith that things will work out." - Steve Jobs
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  • John_CC

    So…Russell and the pen got shellacked. Not a big surprise. What is really bad is the 11 hits and 2 runs.

    Marlon is hitting again and Quade will keep him in the 3 hole, though he is nothing like a 3 hole hitter.

    Castro should now be leading off, Byrd 2nd…uh…

    I forgot where this was going. O, wait, no I didn’t, this is going nowhere.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Not going to be easy tonight, either. Wandy Rodriguez vs. Zambrano, and Rodriguez is really a better pitcher than Z. If you compare 2010 stats, you’ve got a lower WHIP, fewer BB per 9 IP, more K per 9, about the same number of hits per 9, and fewer HR given up. Lifetime vs. Cubs he’s a mere 5-4 in 16 starts, and the Cubs have managed to do better vs. Rodriguez than he has done vs. the league, so there is some hope.

    But folks, I just have to laugh (to keep from crying) when I look at our slugging 1B. If you expect anything out of him vs. Rodriguez (a LHP)–FORGETABOUTIT!
    His stats for 2011 vs. LHP:

    14 PA
    1 H
    2 BB
    1 RBI
    6 K
    .091 BA (almost down to K. Hill’s .036 in ST)
    .091 slugging for $10 million

    So when the TV puts up the mighty .185 BA on the screen, just remember he’s
    hitting RHP to the tune of:

    .250 BA
    5 BB
    4 K
    .429 OBP
    .313 slugging
    His only extra base hit, 1 2B, came vs. RHP.

    Think I’m unfair vs. Pena because of the small sample size? In 2010 he hit LHP like this:

    190 PA
    .179 BA
    4 2B
    0 3B
    8 HR
    28 BB.
    60 K
    1 SB 1 CS

    DID YOU SEE HIS SB NUMBERS? This guy should be your leadoff man. He can walk–usually when there are already runners on 2B and 3B–but he can’t hit.Most of his walks have come with 1B open and runners on. Pitchers are setting up the double play against Soriano, knowing that he’ll pound that low and away slider into the dirt for a double play, or more likely, strike out. Then they can get the last out against
    Soto.

    My advice to Q: move Pena to leadoff. Then Quade’s lineup could look like this:

    Pena 1B
    K. Hill C
    DeWitt 2B
    Aram 3B
    Funko RF
    Byrd CF
    R. Johnson LF
    Castro SS

    • John G

      Then the Cubs would get their one run in the second after ARam leads off with a double, Funko moves him over with a grounder to the right side and Byrd drives him in with a sac fly. The rest of the game would be scoreless because Castro would lead off the third and die on base somewhere. etc etc etc.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Neil,
    You had such a bad night watching this garbage that you have become jaded.
    Listen to yourself:

    “Jeff Samardzija actually had a decent outing. Samardzija threw strikes and saved the pen. Samardzija allowed two runs on three hits with two strikeouts and only one walk in three innings.”

    That’s a 6.00 ERA. But then again, it lower his ERA for the year, and is lower than his ERA was for all of last year. So maybe you’re right if you are thinking “pretty decent compared to Jeff’s usual stats.”

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      I have not become jaded, I thought Samardzija had a decent outing. He threw strikes and showed improvement.

      • Aaron

        I’m with you on this one Neil…and I think Samardzija (always have actually) is best suited for a starting role versus reliever. He has great movement on his pitches like Zambrano used to have, which means he can’t locate as well. That means a lot of walks, and the occasional meatball, trying to groove one over the plate. That’s okay over the course of 6-7 IP, but NOT over 1-2 IP as a reliever.

    • studio179

      I guess you can say Samardzjia had a better outing last night. However, when he got to the part of the lineup that is better (considering it is the Astros lineup), he did get hit. So, his outing can be looked at both ways.

  • cubtex

    Soriano bashers…….He is on pace to hit 44 HR’s this year with 103 RBI’s. He is currently 4th in the NL in HR’s and 20th in RBI’s. You need to take the good with the bad with him. Understand he will break your heart at times but he will get on a hot streak and will carry the team for an extended period.
    Can he play defense? No, not at all……but he can hit!

    I usually don’t post projections this early in the year, but it seems as if many people are doing it already saying the Cubs are on place for 72 wins after 11 games. What are the Red Sox on pace for? I’ll take the over. Anybody want that bet?

    • RickinMSP

      I don’t think Soriano will hit 44 home runs any more than I think the Red Sox will win 29 games (their current pace). His power has helped the Cubs to a sub .500 record so far. Wait for his month long string of hitting weak pop flies to right and ground balls to the second baseman and let’s see what the Cubs record is then. Additionally, how many runs does he cost the Cubs? Not just the immediate unearned runs due to the error, but later in the game when the extra outs and extra pitches start taking their toll on the pitchers. How much stress is the Cubs poor defense put on the pitching staff, not to mention the lack of faith the pitchers have that the plays will be made behind them?

      Does anyone know if there is a stat besides unearned runs that can measure how many runs the defense actually costs the Cubs?

    • Ripsnorter1

      Please, Cubtex, please consider the following facts:

      1. Soriano has always been a fast starter. He hits fastballs; can’t hit sliders so well. Proof: examine his month by month stats for 2010:his best month is always May.

      Apr 3 HR / 11 RBI / .292
      May 6 HR/ 16 RBI / .308
      And it’s all down hill from here.
      Jun 4 HR/ 11 RBI / .234
      Jul 5 HR / 17 RBI / .225
      Aug 3 HR / 14 RBI / .245
      Sept 3 HR / 10 RBI / .244

      He always hits in Apr/May, and cools off considerably thereafter. Again, at this time, when its cool or cold out, the curveball and slider pitchers do not have the good feel for the ball. They have problems controlling the breaking stuff. And Soriano is a fastball hitter. So he feasts in the early months, and disappears in the later months.

      So don’t get too excited. He does this every year.

      • cubtex

        Rip. Do I think he will hit 44 home runs this year? No I don’t. Do I think he will have over 100 RBI? No to that as well. I am just pointed out how silly projections are at this time of the year as well to point out that Soriano is not as bad as “some people” are saying he is doing so far. Baseball is a long season! Soriano has put up some pretty good numbers in his career(some with the Cubs) and he is streaky. Do you think it is justified to say he should be released or benched when he is on pace for these numbers? Not talking about defense here. Just offense. By the way….have you seen what Juan Pierre is doing on the south side with routine fly balls?

        • Ripsnorter1

          Oh, I understand you now.

          No, I would not bench Soriano with the way the team is currently constructed. I would not eat the many million of dollars owed to him by releasing him. But I would manage him by making late inning defensive replacements for him.

          The way the team is currently constructed, it will be very difficult for the Cubs to win 81 games. It the manager was more proactive, I think the Cubs could be a .500 team. Such a manager would have to consider making careful match up between the opposing pitchers and his available hitters. I don’t think Quade does much of that. I could be wrong. I would also put a high percentage OBP guy as my leadoff man. The Cubs have no speed, so it wouldn’t matter if it was Soto or anybody else we have except Aram. The team is built to rely on the 3 run home run to win, and we don’t have anybody much capable of hitting that HR except Aram and Soriano. And Soriano strikes out way, way too much to rely on him.

        • paulcatanese

          Most of Soriono’s good numbers came from the leadoff spot, and if Castro had not come alive in that spot I would experiment with that option. As everyone knows speed has not been a strong spot and Soriono has hit decently when leading off an inning. I also think theres a good chance that he hits more HR than Pena does this year. Soriono looks at less pitches than Pena so it could increase his chances of hitting more.than the big P.

    • paulcatanese

      Soriono is always dangerous with the bat, unpredictable, yes ,but nontheless dangerous, look like an idiot on one swing and out of the park on the next, with the present Cub offense,I can live with his inconsistancy,as you just never know.

      • paulcatanese

        I have bashed Soriono in the past,,, for his defense,not his bat. But you know what? He has a lot of company out there.

    • John_CC

      You wanna play the “on pace to” game after a week and a half? That’s a fun game! Not sure how you got to a 44 homer pace for Soriano, but if Colvin gets 500 AB, he’s on pace to hit 33 HR. Garza is “on pace” to lose 17 games. Willie Bloomquist is on pace for 80 SB (probably more if he could just play against the Cubs a couple extra games)…

      • John_CC

        The only On Pace stat that I can get a handle on right now is Soriano’s fielding error pace – 1 every 5 starts. If he starts 140 games he is on pace for 28 errors. That, I can see.

  • Aaron

    Curiously, the comments that “It’s still early” that we saw last year haven’t really been talked about this year.

    I think fans are starting to wise up, and when they see a sh$t sandwich, they don’t try to sell it as a juicy steak. I believe a whole lot of realism has spread across Cubs Nation, and it shows with the attendance, and if you look around the blogosphere, it doesn’t really seem like many people actually believe the Cubs are going anywhere, which you almost never saw before.

    I hope the Cubs make some major moves, but I think a majority of people at this site last year were saying the same things, and nothing was done.

    • cubtex

      Then don’t watch and quit posting all this negativity! If that is what you expect than it shouldn’t surprise you.

      • RickinMSP

        You know, you have no obligation to read him.

        • cubtex

          I usually don’t and never the whole……long…….longer…….#####

          • Bryan

            As mentioned before, you always bring an “attitude” with people who bring a different perspective than yours. You bicker with Aaron non-step…I think just as many people get fed up with you as well…so that’s why (as Rickin mentioned) you can pick and choose what to read. Stop the personal slammin’ man.

  • Kojak Osborne Jr.

    Neil since Russell was horrible and Quade did not promise him a secont start who will start in Cashner spot the next time around . Would they used Jeff Samardzija. since he did pitch three innings so it might be easier to strech him out.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Early rumblings are Ramon Ortiz

      • Kojak Osborne Jr.

        Thanks Neil Ramon Ortiz that does not sounds promising.

      • studio179

        I thought so…

  • Clyder

    How can you say Samardzija had a decent outing? 2 er in 3.0 ip. decent for him maybe. what a waste of a roster spot and $10m!!!

    • Ripsnorter1

      You want more for your money?

      So do I.

      Actually Neil is looking at his outing from a coach’s perspective. He’s looking for improvement and a performance that demonstrates that he is listening to his coaches. And Samardzija did that last night. He just isn’t there yet with any consistency.

      And $10 million is too much to pay an apprentice.

  • John G

    I have a general “Rules” queston.

    Last night a Detroit Pitcher, Brayan Villarreal came on in the top of the 7th inning with two outs and a man on first. Before he ever threw a pitch, he picked off the man on first. Now the Tigers were ahead at the time, but suppose they weren’t and they went on to take the lead in the bottom of the 7th. A different pitcher comes in and holds the lead. Does Villarreal get the win, even though he never “officially” faced a batter?

    • Ripsnorter1

      yes, the win would go to Villarreal. He gets credit for pitching 1/3 of an inning, even though all he did was pick off a runner. And he would get the win if the game was tied, and in their half of the inning, his team went ahead to stay, provided the game was in the 5th inning or later.

    • cubtex

      short answer. Yes you can get a win without throwing a pitch. I recall BJ Ryan the lefty relief pitcher did this several years ago by picking off someone like you were mentioning.

      • John G

        Thanks. And what do you know? I got you two guys to agree on something. ;-)

  • paulcatanese

    Finally Quade makes a decision that has some merit. Putting Baker at first base tonight over Pena,and basically sticking with the same lineup for three days in a row.And there is some long ball power added to the lineup to go along with Soriono, Zambrano. Pretty sad when the pitcher is counted as additional power.

  • studio179

    I thought Quade’s ‘tip your hat’ to Samardzjia comment was odd. Usually, that is in reference to someone doing something well done. Samardzjia showed improvement, but was not ‘tip your hat’ good. But I guess Shark has been so bad that doing what he did last night 1) Comes off as a suprise to Quade 2) Encourage and pump positives.