Cubs Sunday and Pitching Woes Continue – Cubs 3 Dodgers 7

Game Twenty-One – Cubs 3 Dodgers 7
WP – Hiroki Kuroda (3-2) LP – Carlos Zambrano (2-1) Save – None

The Cubs began play Sunday with a chance to win a series and improve to a game over .500 … but for the fourth Sunday of the young season Q’s squad lost the rubber game. The Cubs have not posted a victory on Sunday in 2011 and are 1-6 in the third and final game of a series.

Sunday’s game was essentially over after the first inning. The Dodgers came out swinging against Carlos Zambrano and before the Big Z could record an out the Dodgers had already plated three runs. The Dodgers ended up putting a five-spot on the board before the Cubs were able to step to the plate.

Z had a bad start and lost for the first time since last August (10-1). Zambrano completed a season-low five innings after giving up six runs, all earned, on eight hits with four strikeouts and no walks. Z threw only 85 pitches, 55 for strikes, on a day he did not have it.

The Dodgers offense pounded out another 11 hits, led by Aaron Miles, and scored seven runs. Miles seemingly tallied more hits Sunday at Wrigley (3-for-5 with a triple, a run scored and a RBI) than he did as a Cub throughout the entire 2009 season. The Dodgers scored 27 runs in the three game series while the Cubs managed only 15 runs … and not a single home run for Q’s squad.

Q’s offense had plenty of opportunities Sunday. They recorded 10 hits, three for extra bases, but not many with runners in scoring position. The Cubs offense finished 4-for-12 with RISP and left eight runners on base.

Despite the two errors Sunday, the Cubs played better defense and turned three inning ending double plays.

Justin Berg, Kerry Wood and Marcos Mateo finished the game with three scoreless innings.

The Cubs lost another series to the Dodgers and with Sunday’s loss dropped back below the .500 mark with a 10-11 record …

When Aaron Miles led off the game with his first triple since August of 2009, the writing was on the wall that it was going to be a rough afternoon for Carlos Zambrano.

Following Miles’ triple, Carlos Zambrano hit Casey Blake on a 0-1 pitch. Andre Ethier then hit a grounder to first that went off Carlos Pena’s glove. Pena appeared to rush the play as his momentum was taking him toward second base. Barney picked up the ball and tossed to first as Miles was crossing the plate. Ethier beat the throw and extended his hitting streak to 21 games.

Matt Kemp followed with a single to left. Blake scored and with Hiroki Kuroda on the mound, the 2-0 lead seemed insurmountable … but the Dodgers kept hitting.

Jerry Sands ripped a 1-0 pitch into right. Sands’ double plated Ethier with the Dodgers’ third run. With runners on second and third with no outs, James Loney grounded out to first, Kemp scored and the Dodgers were up by four.

With Jerry Sands at third, Rob Barajas hit a sacrifice fly into left. Alfonso Soriano positioned himself for a throw to the plate. Soriano’s throw was off-line and Sands scored the Dodgers’ fifth run of the game.

The Cubs argued Sands left early and replays showed they were right. Mike Quade argued but the run counted and the game was basically over at that point. Jamey Carroll flied out to right on Z’s 20th pitch (12 for strikes) to end the inning.

The Cubs tried to get back in the game in the bottom of the first, and almost did. The Cubs actually did a better job against Kuroda Sunday than they had in the past.

Kosuke Fukudome led off the inning with a double to right … his first extra base hit of the season. Darwin Barney followed with a single to left. Fukudome held at third. Starlin Castro then ripped a 1-0 pitch to short. The ball ate up Jamey Carroll and ended up in shallow left center. Fukudome scored on the error … 5-1 Dodgers.

The middle of the Cubs lineup then showed why Hiroki Kuroda has had so much success against the Cubs. Aramis Ramirez struck out swinging on a ball well out of the strike zone. With runners on first and third and one out, Carlos Pena ripped Kuroda’s first pitch into center. Barney scored and the Cubs were down by only three.

Marlon Byrd had a horrible at bat and struck out on three pitches.

A wild pitch on the first offering to Alfonso Soriano advanced Castro and Pena to second and third. A hit from Soriano would have turned the game around but Soriano struck out swinging on a 2-2 pitch to end the inning.

Hiroki Kuroda struck out the side with three pitches well out of the strike zone.

Z faced the minimum in the second thanks to the first of three double plays turned by the Cubs defense.

The Cubs began swinging at everything Kuroda threw up at that point. Kuroda struck out the first two batters he faced in the bottom of the second (Soto and Zambrano). At that point Kuroda had struck out four in a row and all five outs he had recorded over the first 1 2/3 innings were via a strikeout.

Matt Kemp led off the third with a double to left. Z struck out Jerry Sands but James Loney got just enough of a 1-0 pitch to plate Kemp with the Dodgers’ sixth run. Z jammed Loney and broke his bat but the Dodgers’ first baseman got the better end of a Cubs’ pitcher once again.

Zambrano dodged another bullet in the fifth but did not take the mound in the sixth. Quade turned to his pen and John Grabow.

The Dodgers tacked on another run off John Grabow and put the game away.

Rod Barajas reached on a one-out single to center. After Jamey Carroll flied out to right, Hiroki Kuroda reached on a error by Starlin Castro. Aaron Miles followed with a single to center. Barajas scored and Kuroda advanced to third on the play. Grabow could not find the strike zone and walked Casey Blake to load the bases … but Andre Ethier flied out to right to end the inning.

The Cubs had a chance to get the run back in the bottom of the sixth … but ran themselves out of the inning. Aramis Ramirez reached on a one-out single to center. After Carlos Pena flied out to right, Marlon Byrd dropped a single into left. Ramirez rounded second and thought about third. Sands threw behind Ramirez to second and nailed the Cubs’ third baseman to end the inning.

The Cubs final run came in the seventh. Geovany Soto doubled to left with one out. After Tyler Colvin pinch hit for Justin Berg and popped out to short on the first pitch, Kosuke Fukudome reached on an infield single off Kuroda. Darwin Barney singled to center, Soto scored and the Cubs were down 7-3.

With runners on first and third with two outs, Starlin Castro grounded out to short to end the inning.

The Cubs went quietly in the eighth and ninth to end the game. The way the roster is currently structured, the Cubs do not have hitters that can grind out at bats and beat good teams late. The last time a Cubs team won a game when trailing after eight innings was September 24, 2009.

One step forward, one step back …

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Weather permitting … the Cubs begin a three-game homestand Monday night against the Colorado Rockies. Matt Garza against Esmil Rogers in game one.

Quote of the Day

"People who write about Spring Training not being necessary have never tried to throw a baseball." – Sandy Koufax
  • paulcatanese

    Thats just amazing Aram says the hitting is okay(fine) but the pitching needs to improve. The mans a genius to figure that out. No wonder he makes the big bucks. Its obvious that if he feels the hitting is fine that he is playing for another team,in another city,cause he sure hasn’t looked at the runs scored by the Cubs.Why do these guys make those stupid statements? And clearly he has no idea what the term “in the clutch”means or how to run the bases.

    • The Maven

      Paul, what do you expect from someone who defended the slow starts by himself and Derrek Lee about this time last year?

      • paulcatanese

        I know, and its typical for some of these guys to blame the others, and I would think some of the pitchers would not take kindly to his remarks. And that would not be taken lightly in the clubhouse. When he starts driving in runs and thats what he’s being paid for not his mouth.He has slumped mightily since the year before last with men on base. He is fast raising a departure from the Cubs and maybe sooner than later.

  • paulcatanese

    I never expected the Cubs to take me litarely when I predicted they would spend the season over and under the .500 mark and here they are doing just that. Get out of it guys and put a streak together on the plus side. And Neil you make a very valid point about the roster and its prevention of the Cubs going forward.They sure need help.I dont know how long management can allow this.

  • Bryan

    Apologies for the sidetrack, but “way to go Blackhawks”! Let’s take Game 7!!!!

    • paulcatanese

      Bryan,someone had to be on the win side today,also hope they do.

  • paulcatanese

    Just flat out of suggestions and theories tonight, I give up,Happy Easter everyone.

    • The Maven

      Happy Easter to you and all of yours, Paul!

  • Endy

    It could be worse. Lousy starting pitching. And middle of the order isnt doin much. 30-30 would be ok and hopefully some kids can help in June+. Maybe hendry will get canned. One can only hope :)

  • Tony

    Marlon Byrd on the 3 hole in the lineup.

    4/23 The three hole
    Everybody wants to talk about the three-hole. My take on it is, Mike Quade’s the manager and he makes the decision. Who he wants in the three-hole is who’s going to be there. I’ll do anything to help this team. If the team is better off with Starlin in the three-hole, that’s fine with me. If they want me in the three-hole, same thing. You have to hit in this game to stay in the top spot and the hot spot. You have to go with the hot hand. Is Starlin ready? I believe so. But at the same time, I’m a male, I have my ego, and I want to do whatever I can to stay in the three-hole. The lineup is going to go back and forth. I have to do a better job of making Quade’s job easier. Starlin is doing the job he’s doing in the one spot, Barney is doing the job he’s doing in the two spot, I have to make sure I do my job, and then one, two, three, four stays solidified. Again, you have to go with the guy who’s doing the job and driving in runs, which is Starlin. A lot of people comment about it but it doesn’t bother me. I know the job I have to do. Everything I’ve done last year, what people really don’t know is last year was the first year I really started off hot. Sometimes it takes time, sometimes you lose your swing and you have to find it. I’m going to keep battling. When September comes, I’ll be exactly where I need to be, whether it’s three, six or wherever that is.

    – Marlon

    How did this guy go, from being a player, that ALL fans loves, for his all out effort, to one that is now having to defend himself?

    I will tell you, when you put players in position to fail, they will. Putting Marlon in the 3 hole, is an extremely bad decision. This guy would look good 6th, 7th, but not in the 3 hole. Remember he is a career 4th OF, that only got his chance in his last year of Texas, due to injury. Last year was the most he has played in a season, and it showed, with how he faded at the end of the year.

    • paulcatanese

      Nice article Tony. Went to bed last night hoping for good news today. Your’e article correctly sums up what happened with Marlon. Thats to his defense and understandable. He will do better 6-7 in the lineup or even 5 as we are getting zilch from that spot, but it seems Pena has a lock on it. And if Aram were a team player he would move to the 3 spot, but then he would have to produce, and that just dosent seem to be his style, he would be in the spotlight there and no excuses. I agree about Marlon and being put in a position to fail as so many others under Quade have been dealt the same hand, and it shows in the won-lost standings.

      • paulcatanese

        I hope people on this site dont have the impression that I am bashing Quade,because if they are,guess what,they are right. I didn’t like the choice for him to be manager since last year. I felt he was picked because of his leaning toward pleasing the front office more than being a manager. His reluctance to play younger players then told me that he did not have the best interest of the future on his mind. True, the vets put on a display for the fans,but all that meant was this is what they were going to do this year. His ideas have not changed,in fact have gone the other way to the point of “what is this man doing?” Look at the pitching staff, In particular Russell, who he keeps trotting out there to fail, and thats in direct contradiction to his feelings about him( a loogy ) And Dempster, when does Quade get a clue on how long to leave him in? Castro and Barney,,a no brainer, If Quade were not to play them I think he would be hung in effigy. If Ojeda had not been hurt or DeWitt showed a little more in ST who do you think would be at 2b? Personally he is a nice man but not a manager at the Major League level, sorry but thats how I feel on this Monday in April.

      • paulcatanese

        Tony,I replied to Byrd on his blog,dont know if it will be on or not, I’ll wait and see. It would be nice if more players would post, It gives reality to the player and importance to the reply,they don’t seem so stand-offish to the public and kind of lets people know that they are interested in more than a check.

    • BillyFinT

      I’m surprised Byrd kept a blog and spoke up. Now, Colvin might end up like Byrd, the way the Cubs shows uncertainty of what to do with him. I’m proposing moving Colvin to first base FOR GOOD this season.

      • Richard Hood

        And what gives you even an idea that Colvin would do better playing everyday at first? His struggles started when he was playing most days as Pena was banged up. What Colvin needed was to be traded this offseason before his limited abilities where found out.

        • BillyFinT

          Player development requires some patience, and sometimes a nutty knack. First base is easier to handle than right field; take some strain out of Colvin’s limited fielding prowess there. Maybe a change of defensive position will help him. Piazza, Mark Teixeira, and Pujols all benefited by changing to a different position.

          And I’m not even saying “make Colvin our future first baseman.” He has the power. He seems athletic. He might need time to develop another skill (say, plate discipline). He fits for this season, at least. After all, this season can’t be worse. A little versatility helps the team, too.

          And what’s the return for trading Colvin? Look at Travis Snyder! Who wants him now? If Colvin is that bad, the scouts of smarter ballclubs would have known while we are debating. Let him play, see what happens. Maybe it’ll add to his trade value.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Some Cubs stats to make your day–

    1. #2 in MLB for Batting Average. (Cards .293/Cubs .282)
    #8 in MLB for OBP (Cubs #3 in NL–Cards .358/Brewers .345/Cubs .334)
    #9 in MLB for Slugging (#5 in NL behind Cards, Brewers, AZ, Reds)
    That’s pretty good, esp. when you consider you have Carlos Pena on your team. I didn’t think it would happen, and it would not have happened except that–

    2. Funko is hitting .415
    Johnson is hitting .381
    Castro is hitting .376
    Baker is hitting .361
    Aram is hitting .329
    Barney is hitting .329
    All of these are hitting for more average than I expected from them.

    But today is Monday, so here’s some sour stats, too–
    1. Cubs are #17 in MLB for runs scored. That’s because we are also–
    2. #25 in MLB for HR’s. And also because we are–
    3. #29 in SB with 5 (but 3 CS vs. O’s 4 SB and only 1 CS).
    4. #19 in MLB with RISP at .243. Admittedly this stat has improved from just batting against the Dodgers, but still is far behind the Cards .290 who are #7.

    And my very favorite whipping boy, Mr. .196, is hitting below his own mark,
    .182 BA
    20 K’s in 55 AB
    11 BB
    5 RBI
    1 2B
    0 3B
    0 HR
    .200 Slugging

    My former favorite whipping boy, Aaron Miles, simply crushed the Cubs yesterday, and is crushing Mr. 196 on an everyday basis. Miles is hitting–
    .255 BA
    .317 slugging

    Maybe we could get Miles back to play 1B . . . . .

    • paulcatanese

      Rip, good stats, maybe we should start the top average guys in any position,couldn’t do any worse.My favorite( clean my stomach out ) guy Miles,ugh, cringe when I think of him,wouldn’t come back to the Cubs he dosent demand enough money from JH.Now if Miles were to tell JH he wants 10mil a year for five years, he would now be a Cub and Pena would be on the bench.