Soriano’s Big Flies Back Z and the Pen – Cubs 4 Diamondbacks 2

Game Twenty-Five – Cubs 4 Diamondbacks 2
WP – Carlos Zambrano (3-1) LP – Armando Galarraga (3-2) Save – Carlos Marmol (6)

wflag.jpgThe Cubs snapped their four-game losing streak Friday night in the desert. Carlos Zambrano put together a quality start and made only one mistake. Z served up a two-run homer to Justin Upton in the bottom of the first inning. Z lasted six innings and gave up two runs on four hits with three walks and two strikeouts. Z had a few long innings and ran up his pitch count (108 pitches, 62 for strikes) but the bottom line was he did not allow the D’Backs to add on to their lead.

Alfonso Soriano hit not one but two solo home runs Friday night … numbers eight and nine on the season. Soriano’s second of the game ended up over the wall in right … his third opposite field homer of the season broke a 2-2 tie. Soriano leads the Cubs in longballs by a wide margin, no other player on the roster has more than two home runs. Soriano tied a personal high for homers in April that he set in 2003. Seven of Soriano’s nine home runs this season have been solo shots.

Alfonso Soriano put the Cubs on the board in the fifth and broke a 2-2 tie in the seventh with his second dinger off of Armando Galarraga. Friday night was the 27th multi-homer game of Soriano’s career.

The Cubs hit back-to-back jacks in the fifth. Geovany Soto followed Soriano with his second of the season and tied the game at two. Friday marked the first time since June 9, 2010 that the Cubs hit back-to-back home runs (Derrek Lee and Marlon Byrd). The three home runs hit Friday night equaled the total from the recent eight-game homestand.

Darwin Barney tripled to lead off the eighth and scored the Cubs fourth run on a fielder’s choice ground out off the bat of Aramis Ramirez.

The backend of the Q’s pen did their job in relief of Carlos Zambrano. Kerry Wood, Sean Marshall and Carlos Marmol pitched three shutout innings. The trio allowed three hits but no walks and struck out four. Carlos Marmol was extremely efficient and picked up his sixth save with throwing only nine pitches, eight for strikes.

Q’s squad needed a victory Friday and after a rocky start Carlos Zambrano did his job and put his team in a position to win a ballgame.

With Friday night’s win, the Cubs improved to 11-14 on the season …

The Cubs played just well enough to win a game Friday night. The offense has a ton of work to do (0-for-4 with RISP, six left on base) and must change their philosophy at the plate. Each player is walking to the plate swinging and that is a recipe for losing a lot of ballgames. Cubs pitchers threw 148 pitches while Arizona’s tossed 120.

Friday night seemed to pick up where Thursday’s pounding left off. After the Cubs went in order to begin the game on six pitches, Carlos Zambrano walked Chris Young to start the bottom of the first. Z retired Kelly Johnson on a fly out to left but fell behind Justin Upton.

The D’Backs right fielder launched a 2-0 pitch well over the wall in left. Justin Upton’s blast was estimated at 455-feet and ended up in the second deck.

Z kept his composure and retired Stephen Drew and Miguel Montero to end the inning.

The Cubs pretty much went down in order through the first four innings. The Cubs did not square up a ball until Soriano lined his first homer of the night over the wall in left center. The Cubs first two hits of the night did not leave the infield and the Cubs first clean hit (Jeff Baker) did not come until the fourth.

While the Cubs were busy swinging early and often, Carlos Zambrano spent much of the first five innings wiggling out of trouble.

Alfonso Soriano led off the fifth by lining a 1-2 pitch over the wall in left center. Soriano’s eighth home run cut the D’Backs lead in half. Geovany Soto followed with one of his best at bats of the season. Soto was patient and took the first three out of the zone. After Galarraga battled back, Soto launched a 3-2 pitch into the stands in left … game tied at two after the Cubs hit back-to-back homers for the first time this season.

Chris Young led off the fifth with a double to left. Kelly Johnson then dropped a bunt to third. Aramis Ramirez made a fine play and threw out Johnson at first … but Young advanced to third.

With the game tied at two and the go ahead run on third with one out, Zambrano struck out Justin Upton swinging on a 3-2 pitch. The infield moved back with two outs and Z retired Stephen Drew on a pop out to center … inning over with the game still tied.

Z retired the D’Backs in order for the first time in the sixth to end his night.

Alfonso Soriano led off the seventh with his second longball of the night. Soriano launched the first pitch from Galarraga over the wall in right center … near the Chase Field swimming pool. The Cubs took a 3-2 lead after Soriano’s second dinger.

Kerry Wood held the one-run lead after giving up a leadoff single to Gerardo Parra in the seventh. Wood retired pinch-hitter Xavier Nady, Chris Young and struck out Kelly Johnson swinging to end the inning.

The Cubs tacked on an important insurance run in the eighth.

Darwin Barney led off with a triple to left center. Esmerling Vasquez then hit Starlin Castro on the left hand. Castro appeared to be in a lot of pain but remained in the game. With runners on first and third with no outs, Aramis Ramirez got just enough of Vasquez’s first pitch to get the weak grounder past the mound. Barney scored as Castro was forced at second … 4-2 Cubs.

Jeff Baker singled to left, his second hit of the night, but Marlon Byrd hit into a 1-6 fielder’s choice and Alfonso Soriano struck out swinging to end the inning.

A diving catch by Kosuke Fukudome in the eighth to take away a hit from Stephen Drew helped Sean Marshall preserve the two-run lead and turn the game over to Carlos Marmol.

Despite all of the troubles offensively, Friday was a much-needed win for Q’s squad.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Matt Garza against Ian Kennedy in game three Saturday night … a match-up of former AL East starters.

Quote of the Day

"Our attitude towards others determines their attitude towards us." - Earl Nightingale
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  • Tony_Hall

    Nice win last night. Soriano and Soto providing the power and Barney tacking on the additional run.

    Also, nice to see the pitching go, like it was drawn up. Zambrano 6 IP, then Woody, Marshall, and Marmol – game over.

    Hope Castro will be fine, but he seems to get dinged up all the time, and is young enough and tough enough to play through it.

    • JimBo_C

      Castro looked like a guy who broke a finger (left pinkie) but didn’t realize that it happened.

      • paulcatanese

        Was there any further information on the finger? Its entirely correct as you say that he could not realize it, and wondered if x-rays were done.

        • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

          Paul, Castro appeared fine. The trainers did not further examine the finger in between innings. The hand was off the bat when he got hit which was a good sign.

    • paulcatanese

      Yes it was Tony, on Soriono,if he keeps doing what he is doing now,that would certainly raise his trade value if the Cubs wanted to get out of his contract. Then again so far he is the only vet that is providing something for the fans to cheer about,and he does look like he is really trying on defense. Barney,what can I say except he is truly a sparkplug on this team. Everthing else seemed as you say,fall into place.

      • Last_ginger

        Soriano always trys. He gives his best day in and day out. First one to the park last one to leave. People rip on Sori all the time due to his contract when the should instead be ripping on the man who gave it to him.

        • GaryLeeT

          Or rip on both. In the real world, if you apply for a job, overstate your abilities, get a high salary, then don’t live up to expectations, you get fired. Since Soriano can’t be fired, he gets excoriated, and rightly so. He did not have to accept the money, but since he did, it’s his job to earn it. It should not be a case of “to bad so sad” .

        • Tony_Hall

          Actually his defense is one area he gets “ripped on” for and rightfully so. Another area has been swinging at pitches that would take out most left handed batters, once again, rightfully so. It wouldn’t matter what he was being paid, when he plays like that. Now, hit 10 Hr’s in a month and you can live with the rest.

  • paulcatanese

    The biggest downer of the night came when Zambrano didn’t get to hit and was lifted for DeWitt, you could see the expression on his face as he jammed his helmut into the box along with his batting glove. I think he would rather hit than pitch. Its not a negative for him, but just a little humorous as you could tell he wanted the chance to also hit one out. Good game for a change. The way Soriono is seeing the ball right now one could almost see the second home run coming before he hit it.

    • paulcatanese

      Interesting article yesterday in Bleacher Report on Starlin Castro. The sugestion was made to move him to second base as his errors have been mostly from rushing things and the move would give him extra time and he could easily adjust to the move,a comparison was made with Sandberg and his move from third base. They also said third base was an option. The move would bring Barney over to shortstop,as that is his natural position anyway. Also pointed out was that Barney would be a good move because of his sureness and range at the shortstop position. Dosent sound bad to me,actually I had indicated a move for Castro a while back,even to center field,but that was before Jackson had made his presence felt. Flaherty is certainly an option at third base, giving the Cubs an infield of Flaherty at third, Barney at short and Castro at second and then move Covin to first permanetly,a young constantly improving infield. I would approve of that move anytime.

      • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

        Here is the origin Paul …

        http://www.csnchicago.com/04/27/11/Kaplan-Is-Castro-better-suited-at-second/kapman_article.html?blockID=512067&feedID=667

        As for Flaherty, they are grooming him to be a utility player. Flaherty is showing signs this spring after a rough start last year. They are moving him around and is doing okay in the field. Misplayed a couple of balls Thursday night in left and missed a cut off man that led to a run. He’s working on his defense, which is good and is not taking it to the plate with him, which is good as well.

        • paulcatanese

          Thanks for the info Neil.

    • Calicub

      I’d take big z in the batters box over dewitt.

      The cubs handling of dewitt its pathetic unprofessional and typical. The kid has tons of up side and trade value but here heis with his thumb up his a$$ on the bench send him down call up bobby scales. Bobby on the bench as an occasional punch runner and hitter won’t take time from anyone who needs playing time drwitt will improve with more playing time and quade won’t have to sacrafice an out for the sake of saying he tried with dewitt.

      I tried giving Q the benefit of the doubt but I think he’s had his chance. I don’t care if its only been twenty five games this season, if your approach is this flawed after two months last season amd a month this season it is indicitave of what the (god forbid he completes he’s entire contract) next three years will be like.

      Ricketts: clean house. Beg ryno to come back get on your hands and knees if you have yo. Put maddux at the reigns as GM and offer dallas green a boatload of money to be the assistant. Fire that pencil pusher crane kenny and hire a real baseball executive. There is a reason mr. Ricketts why the White Sux are becoming more popular than our beloved cubbies and that is because poor managementt leads to poor baseball and poor baseball means no wins and no wins means no fans. Next time cubbies, do us a favor and loose ten straight next time and get this whole thing over with.

      Back to the Future 2 predicted a 2015 cubs world series and dammit it will happen but the time to develop is now.

      • Calicub

        plus, with the amazing success of barney and castro and the bewilderingly pathetic play of the vets, ala dempster (still love him but something is going on that he’s not telling us about) pena, STILL WAITING ON THOSE HOMERUNS HE WAS SUPPOSED TO BRING!!!, ARAM, i hate him, the biggest freaking pre-madonna, and byrd, it is amazing that the youth arent being brought up. Athletic energetic fun baseball is why people go to the game, not to go and hope a has been is going to hit a homerun but strike out silly three times a game. Its about stolen bases and doubleplays, diving grabs and leaping catches. FIrst to third and charging homeplate singles doubles and triples, not sitting at the plate and hoping you get a walk (pena, not that walks are bad but when your being paid ten mill i’d like at least one homerun in the first twenty five games of the season). Bring up Brett Jackson Play Colvin at first(i’m fine with keeping koyie hill though his salary is enraging, simply because he calls a decent game and wont force someone like Max Ramirez or Castillo to ride the bench, or is Chirinos, idk off hand i dont remember which got traded and always got them mixed up.) Enough with the bullpen days. Where is Todd Wellemyer? Doug Davis? Obviously Jay Jackson would be a plus but who knows if that’d happen.

        Bottom line, youngsters would be a lot more entertaining to watch than a lineup of has beens and shoulda beens. Enough is Enough

        Folks i haven’t been quite diagnosed but i think i have AARONITIS.

        • paulcatanese

          Your’e two posts a are very well put, and I can’t find anything to dis-agree with. I sense your’e frustration and have the same feeling,even to the point of posting some very dispariging remarks,but can’t help it with the management.

          • Calicub

            That’s true. But what’s a fan to do? Its avery unfortunate position managment has put us as fans into. I’m from the bay area of california and have to constantly fight off comments about the cubs especially against the bandwagon giants fans. Its frustrating that the right moves are plain as day for the rest of us to see yet management is too focused on making enough money. What incentive does the national audience and fans across america have to continue to watch games on tv, travel to mesa or buy memorabelia? For me it is tradition but that cannot take the place of winning.

            When half the fan base has deserted the cubs how full you think the pnc club will be? Who will be there to enjoy a beautiful park when the product on the field is no longer worth the ticket price.

            Money money money. You can have all the schemes you want to make money mr ricketts but if the cubs do not make the playoffs again in the next years why would an entire city be willing to dole out millions for your park? Why?

            Why wasn’t Mark cuban given a second look? A successful owner capable of putting a small market team into cintention year after year. Consistantly. Sure some of the rustic nature of the friendly conines may have been disturbed but was it not possible to do this with respect the way the BoSox have done? Sure the Ricketts were native Chicagoans and life long cubs fans but what right does that give them to take charge of arguably one of the the greatest oldest and most popular baseball franchise in all of history?

            Its a conspiracy. if not that then what? How can you justify choose snobby hometown pencil pushers over a young competent and proven sports owner.

          • paulcatanese

            So you are from the bay area? I moved from Chicago in 1963 to the bay area and now live in Redding,but I know exactly what you mean about Giant fans. Have not liked them since they moved from New York. On Mark Cuban I believe he was not considered because of a conflict of interest. I do think that he would have made an agressive owner,much more so than the Ricketts are. For sure we would not be looking at JH with the Cubs and changes would be made for the better,but that would not have been difficult for anyone other than what the Cubs have right now.

          • Last_ginger

            Cuban had to withdraw his name due to being investigated for insider trading. The other owners would have never approved him as a new has to have over 50% of the owners approve them when buying a team and it was stated that Selig and the other owners did not want Cuban anywhere near a team

          • paulcatanese

            Thanks Ginger,even though the reply was not meant for me,I did not know exactly what the reason was,now I do.

  • paulcatanese

    Neil,hopefully Quade will go with the same, group tonight, except get Soriono up in the lineup while he is hot and maybe Soto also. So far Aram is not responding with the long ball. That needs to happen or move him around also, Byrd,cannot figure that one,he needs to be in a spot where ground balls wont cause too much damage.I expect a good outing from Garza tonight and things will start going well for him. I think the home runs last night will spark these guys and they will respond in kind. I hope for the best,could be a start of a streak.

  • Chuck

    Congrats to Soriano for setting a new Chicago Cubs franchise record of the most homeruns hit in April. Previous record was 8 held by 3 Cubs.

    • Calicub

      I’ll congratulate him when its not the month of April. Two weeks from now Soriano will be in hardcore drought mode

      • Calicub

        although it is nice to see Phonsy do something he hasn’t done in eight years, back when he would have been worth $16 million a year. While i hear the above comments about him being an exceptionally hard worker, it is no excuse for the fall off in production from prior to his contract and after. some guys get there money and continue to play, some guys get there money and only appear to play

  • paulcatanese

    The more I think about the article involving Castro to second base the more it intrigues me. As I break down Castro at short it seems he is too free wheeling there, too loose so to speak. By that I mean too many moving parts, has to pump the ball to get into position to throw,absolutly does not know how to cover the bag on steals, and is generaly out of position trying to cover the whole field,nothing wrong with that as he is going to be a great player and well on his way right now. At second he would as the article went on to say have more time at tat position and be able to settle in. Barney on the other hand isa natural shortstop and a very good one. Nothing would be lost with a switch and in fact it would solidify the middle of the infield. Don’t misunderstand I really like the both of them and this is just an opinion on another long day waiting for the game to start.