Russell Rocked Again – Cubs 3 Rockies 4

Game Twenty-Three – Cubs 3 Rockies 4
WP – Jorge De La Rosa (4-0) LP – James Russell (1-3) Save – Huston Street (9)

Q’s squad dropped their third straight game for the first time this season following a bad performance by James Russell … and not enough offense. The Cubs overly aggressive offense managed eight hits but only one for extra bases, a solo homer by Alfonso Soriano in the ninth. The Cubs were a pathetic 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position and left seven on base. In the first two games of the series, the Cubs are 1-for-16 with RISP and have left 19 runners on base.

Marlon Byrd (0-for-4 with three strikeouts and four left on base) and Aramis Ramirez (1-for-4 with two strikeouts and three left on base) continued their struggles with runners on base.

While the Cubs were busy hitting singles, Todd Helton and the Rockies hit three solo home runs off James Russell. Russell served up three more longballs in four-plus innings Tuesday night. Todd Helton hit a pair, one in the first and his second of the night ended up being the difference in the game.

In Russell’s last two starts (eight-plus innings) he’s given up six home runs. The Rockies managed five hits off Russell, four for extra bases, and scored all four runs off a pitcher that should not be a starter at the big league level.

Justin Berg, Sean Marshall, Kerry Wood and John Grabow did their jobs Tuesday night. The bullpen kept the Rockies from tacking on and gave the offense plenty of time to mount a comeback … but that is real hard to do when half of the lineup walks to the plate swinging. The Cubs did not manage one walk in nine innings Tuesday.

On a night with the wind blowing out, the Cubs watched the Rockies hit balls with authority and out of the park. In three games this season with the wind blowing out at Wrigley, visiting teams have hit eight home runs … the Cubs just one, Alfonso Soriano in the ninth inning Tuesday night.

With Tuesday’s loss, the Cubs slipped to three games under .500 with a 10-13 mark …

The Cubs ‘Bullpen Day‘ experiment must be put to rest. The decision by Jim Hendry and Mike Quade to use James Russell as a starter cost them for the third time … and in the process they are overusing their bullpen in the first month of the season. James Russell is a situational reliever at the big league level … a fact the Cubs’ brass seems more than willing to ignore.

James Russell made his third big league start … and gave up his fourth homer in two outings to Todd Helton in the first. Russell fell behind Helton 3-1 and the veteran just reached out and popped the ball into the bleachers in right.

Russell gave up a two-out infield single to Troy Tulowitzki but retired Jose Lopez on a lineout to second to end the inning. Russell worked quickly and pitched better than expected in the first inning.

The Cubs tied and took the lead in the home half of the first. Starlin Castro led off with a single to left. Darwin Barney then extended his hitting streak to seven game with a single to left. Castro and Barney set the table … but Byrd and Ramirez could not deliver.

Marlon Byrd flied out to left center and Ramirez struck out … and neither of the outs advanced Castro and Barney.

Jeff Baker stayed hot and ripped a single into right on a 1-2 pitch. Castro scored and tied the game at one on the first run Jorge De La Rosa has ever allowed at Wrigley Field.

With runners on first and third with two outs, Geovany Soto hit a weak grounder to short … that Tulowitzki let roll under his glove. Barney scored and gave the Cubs a 2-1 lead.

James Russell put together a decent second inning. Russell issued a two-out walk to Chris Iannetta but struck out De La Rosa to end the inning.

The Cubs had a chance to tack on the second but failed to execute again. De La Rosa hit Reed Johnson to start the inning. James Russell tried to sacrifice him to second but bunted the ball back to De La Rosa. Johnson was forced at second.

Starlin Castro grounded out to second on a 3-1 pitch. Russell was forced but Castro beat Tulowitzki’s throw to first. Castro then stole second without a throw but Darwin Barney struck out swinging to end the inning.

The Rockies tied the game in the third after James Russell hit Dexter Fowler. Jonathan Herrera grounded out to third but Fowler was running on the pitch and advanced to second on the productive out. Todd Helton grounded out to second, Fowler advanced to third and scored on a double to right center off the bat of Troy Tulowitzki. Russell retired Lopez to end the inning.

Ty Wigginton gave the Rockies the lead in the fourth. Wigginton launched a 1-2 pitch into the bleachers in left … the fifth homer served up by James Russell in his last eight innings of work. Russell escaped the fourth after issuing another walk to Chris Iannetta (who stole second, the second stolen base of his career) and a walk to Dexter Fowler. Jonathan Herrera grounded out to hole at short to end the inning.

Todd Helton put the game away in the fifth with his second home run of the game off James Russell. Helton crushed a 2-1 pitch over the wall in center … the ball landed on top of the batter’s eye.

Justin Berg replaced Russell in the fifth. Ty Wigginton doubled with two outs off Berg, but that was the only hit Berg allowed in two innings.

Sean Marshall gave up a lead off single in the seventh … but that was all and Kerry Wood surrendered a one-out single to Ty Wigginton in the eighth but struck out Chris Iannetta to end the inning.

John Grabow gave up a one-out single to Jonathan Herrera but retired Todd Helton on a groundout to third to end the inning.

Alfonso Soriano led off the ninth by hitting his seventh home run of the season … a long blast to left on a 0-1 pitch. With the Cubs down by one, Reed Johnson (pop out to Iannetta), Kosuke Fukudome (ground out to first) and Starlin Castro (groundout to second) went down in order against Huston Street to end the game.

It’s a Way of Life …

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Weather permitting … Casey Coleman will try to salvage the finale of the three game series Wednesday afternoon while Jhoulys Chacin will try to complete the sweep for the Rockies.

Quote of the Day

"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow." - Albert Einstein
  • Baron_S

    in hindsight,

    perhaps Len n Bob aren’t as kumbaya as one might think. Twice during the later stages of the innings, they made comments that stuck out.

    1. A-Ram has the 2nd lowest pitches per plate appearance
    2. 70% of Byrd’s contact is of the groundball variety.

    they may lack they searing wit of Stoney and seem consigned to being good company guys, but I think those points were not made accidentally.

    • Ripsnorter1

      Derek Jeter’s BA has plummetted as his contact shifted from Flyball/line drives to ground balls. Last year he lead all MLB players in ground balls (1.96 to 1 GB/RB) [#10 in MLB was Span, (MN), a .264 hitter with a ration of 1.27!).
      Look at Jeter’s stats:

      Ground balls: 366…89hits…4 2B…..243 BA….254 slug
      Fly Balls: 100…27hits…10 2B…2 3B…8 HR….633 slug
      Liners: 89….60hits…16 2B…1 3B…2 HR…..682BA….955 slug
      Bunts: 6, 1 sac bunt, 3 hits.

      SO….65.2% of Jeter’s balls in play were ground balls.
      BYRD’S GROUND BALL AVERAGE IN 2011 is 54.7%.
      41 ground balls
      15 fly balls
      19 line drives
      =75 AB. 41 divided by 75=54.666

      Byrd (2010) 52.9% ground balls
      Byrd (2009) 41.9% ground balls in his career year.
      Byrd (2008) 45.3% (hit .298 with 10 HR that year)

      As you can see, it sure pays to hit liners! But the real dope here is that Jeter’s Fly ball & line drive rate has declined, indicating an aging, slowing bat. You probably remember the controversy between Jeter and the Yanks as Jeter wanted a bigger contract this year after hitting a career low .270 and slugged a miserable .370. The Yanks paid him well to stay, and this year Jeter has declined even more (from the leadoff spot!) at .244 and .269 slugging. Miserable. His ground ball avg is 3.11! #2 in MLB is TOR’s Escobar’s 2.00! OUCH!!

      Byrd’s bat is slow this year. And that explains the zero HR’s and lack of power. Pena’s bat slowed last year, and has declined further this year.

      MLB is a very, very tough sport.

      • studio179

        If Byrd’s bat is slow this year, maybe he needs to get new supplements.

      • capngeo

        Minka Kelly?

    • Ripsnorter1

      Let’s talk Carlos Pena’s ground ball/fly ball ratio:

      2009 39 HR .227 BA
      He made contact only 300 times in 570 PA. 87 BB. 163 K’s.

      Of those 300 contacts, only 88 were ground balls, for a ratio of 29.333%.
      That was a good year for him.

      2010 Carlos Pena
      582 PA 28 HR .196 BA
      Contact made 326 times. 87 BB. 158 K’s.

      Of those 326 contacts. …
      146 ground balls for a ground ball ratio of 44.8%.
      He hit only 55 line drives in all of 2010.

      2011 Carlos Pena
      73 PA. 12 BB. 22 K’s.
      Contact made 38 times. (The 2 bunts do not count as ground balls). 12 ground balls. 14 Fly balls. 10 liners. Ground ball ration is 31.6%.

      His ground ball ratio has declined (usually a good sign). SO why has Mr. .196 hit less HR and his average declined even further? He’s striking out.

      2011=30.1% K per PA.
      2010=24.7% K per PA.
      2009=28.6% K per PA.

      As I said before: big hole in his swing that ranges from the middle of the plate in. He can no longer get that bat around quick enough to handle those pitches with authority. He either swings and misses them, or else he hits a weak grounder to 2B, or pops them up.

      MLB is a very, very difficult game. And hitting a baseball in the ML is the toughest thing to do in all of sports.

      • paulcatanese

        Yes Rip,but Pena does look good stepping in and out of the box between pitches. But not good enough for the home plate umpire who in the wind and cold would not grant Pena time out. When the umpire’s know your’e a flake and do what they did about the continous in and out game Pena plays they will start telling him to stay in there and hit or go sit down, mostly it’s been sit down.

      • BillyFinT

        Yeah, Pena’s groundball is not alerting, but his age is. Officially 33 in two weeks, this is it for him. The bounce-back will tough. By the time he can reduce those K rate–how? I don’t know; slapping the opposite side to beat the shift does not look good so far–it’s too late. The Cubs will be playing meaningless games in September. No wonder why Boras found no multi-year contract for the veteran. Again, first base should be opened. Make Colvin play. Or if absolutely needs Baker to start, give him that. Pena needs to be benched.

  • Cloycub13

    Let me just make one thing perfectly clear…. I Really, Really REALLLY Love the decision makers on this team…

    Sounds like a positive post eh…. WRONG!!!!!!!

    Like the constant rain drops that have been pounding my head this spring, my sarcasm is overflowing the banks of my reason and sanity.

    It is sad when non-Cub fans question the ineptitude of the upper management…and it is sadder yet when we see the disgust for that ineptitude played out by the number of fannies in the seats, Yes the weather has sucked, but that has never stopped the fans before…Rise up Cub fans! Keep doing what you are doing… make Tommy Boy and his family take a good long look, and keep the number for the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs on speed dial… me thinks you are gonna need it soon. Make sure you hand it to your new GM as he walks in the door. It’s easy, just say that you were feeling out the business side and the organization to see what you had and didn’t have and after doing so you felt it was time to make a change… its a new day at Wrigley… Day One (oops tried that) OK Day one Part Deux….This time we get it right!!!!!

    Go Cubs…and Go Cub fans!!!!!!

  • Neil

    According to Gordon Wittenmyer on the Score this morning, Jay Jackson will likely be called up this weekend. He did not say for sure but Jackson is a starter and should take the fifth spot until Wells or Cashner returns …. Which could be a while. Wells mid-May at the earliest with Cashner being at least a couple weeks behind Wells.

    • studio179

      That would be good news indeed. We all know they have to do someting.

    • paulcatanese

      Good news Neil,and in the meantime Quade will probably trot out Pena and Byrd again today,in the 3spot and the 5spot.

    • Cloycub13

      Huh, so what you are saying is that after not one or two but three failed outings the Cubs “braintrust” has decided that going with a left handed bullpen specialist as a starter wasn’t a good idea….AND that it would be prudent to call up and actual starting pitcher to start games….Neil I am shocked! That is pure and simple silly talk!

      Seriously folks…this brilliant move by our “Players” manager has cost this team 3 losses! And that is just the start…that does not include the fallout from frying up your entire bullpen in just 23 games. And it does not include games where Dempster has been left in too long…by my count/estimation/speculation that is roughly 5 of the 13 losses that can be directly attributed to the manager! If I am not wrong here that basically is about the average for a major league manager for a season….and we are 23 games in!

      Wake up Ricketts!

    • Ripsnorter1

      That means Berg is out. Berg has pitched well so far. I would not expect Russell to be sent down, even though he hasn’t pitched well as a starter, he has as a reliever. Look at these splits:

      Starter Batting Average Against=.404
      Reliever: BBA=.182

      Starter: OBP =.462
      Reliever: OBP = .182

      Starter: Slugging = .872
      Reliever: slugging = .182

      Starter: 3 GS 9.2 IP 6 HR ERA=11.17


      • BillyFinT

        Thanks for point that out. That’s the thing about this current Cubs. There are talents. They are not great, but good enough, but you need the right roster management to make them fit. Russell is a good lefty specialist. Just like Byrd and Baker should not bat third, and Colvin should be tried at first base.

        I’m done today. Can’t be too vehement this early a season as a Cubs fan!

  • paulcatanese

    Well Neil,you said it all.

  • paulcatanese

    I think I heard the annoucer say 30-35thousand last night. Where were they,in the bathroom? Actualy I know that must be paid attendence with season ticket holders and the only way it will really drop is if the season ticket holders demand their money back,I know they won’t get it,but it would send a message to Ricketts. And also tell him “I’ll drink my beer at home”, and “my grill can cook hot dogs”.Who knows?

    • studio179

      Wow. They said 30-35 thousand, huh? You are right, they announce the ‘paid attendence’. Still…

      When I looked around, I did not see that number. You are right, they must have been in the bathroom…with long lines.

      • paulcatanese

        I must be,cause I know they won’t let you throw up in the stands.

  • paulcatanese

    Just read the lineup. Just as I thought,Byrd and Pena playing though not in the 3 spot Byrd is still in there after 3 punchouts last night. And Pena, everyone knows what he’s capable of. And the biggest insult of all, Barney’s on the bench. Need I say more about the capability of Quade? Are Quade and JH just determined to rub their control of power in the face of all who follow the Cubs? Even a lesser team (and at this point there are not many) would not do this, this is insane and un-professional, and stupid. Is there any doubt that Quade is a yes man?:(

    • paulcatanese

      I have also noticed with Quade,don’t have a good night as you will be sitting the next game. Barney,a seven game hitting streak, Soriono,the only legitimate long ball threat right now. Why not Baker at first Colvin in center and leave Barney and Soriono in the lineup. This guy (Quade) really has no clue about what he’s doing. And I really hope he reads these blogs or I would be happy to tell him in person,either way he has to get a grip.