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 …
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.