Astros Shell Q’s Staff – Cubs 7 Astros 12

Game Fifty-Two – Cubs 7 Astros 12
WP – Sergio Escalona (1-0) LP – Jeff Samardzija (3-1) Save – None

Monday’s game started on a bad note, picked up in the middle and ended with another embarrassing loss. The Cubs took a 6-3 lead into fifth but the pitching staff could not keep the ball down. The Astros hit four home runs, all from the fifth inning on, and scored nine unanswered runs. Houston quickly turned a three-run deficit into a route. The Astros pounded out 16 hits and scored a season-high 12 runs … the Astros’ previous high came back on April 12 when Houston beat the Cubs 11-2.

On a hitter’s day at Wrigley, the Cubs managed only one home run while the Astros hit four … the Cubs have been out-homered at Wrigley this season 29-16 and 17-2 when the wind is blowing out. Monday was the second time in three games that Cubs’ pitching has served up four home runs.

The Cubs lack of quality pitching depth was on full display Memorial Day.

Rodrigo Lopez made his Cubs’ debut and was serviceable over the first four innings but could not get out of the fifth after the offense had given him a 6-3 cushion. Lopez started leaving everything up and back-to-back homers off the bats of Clint Barmes and Hunter Pence tied the game. Lopez allowed six runs on 10 hits without a walk and four strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings. Lopez threw 87 pitches in his Cubs debut, 64 for strikes.

The Cubs’ bullpen was horrible in relief of Lopez. Jeff Samardzija gave up two runs on two hits with a walk, two strikeouts and two wild pitches in 1 2/3 innings. Samardzija served up one of the Astros’ four home runs.

John Grabow was credited with an unearned run (the Cubs defense was charged with three errors and it could have been more) in his 1 2/3 innings and Scott Maine gave up three runs on three hits with a walk in his inning of work. Maine served up the Astros’ fourth homer of the game, a three-run shot by Jeff Keppinger in the ninth.

The Cubs offense looked good early on but could not manage anything off the Astros’ pen. Seven of the Cubs 10 hits came off the Astros’ starter. Still on a day the offense gives the pitching staff six runs at home, the team should win the game.

The Cubs scored six of their seven runs in the first four innings. Carlos Pena (1-for-5 with a home run and three RBI) gave the Cubs a 3-2 lead with his seventh homer of the year, a two-run shot in the first.

Darwin Barney (1-for-5 with a triple and a run scored), Starlin Castro (2-for-5 with a double, a RBI, a stolen base and two runs scored) and Tony Campana (1-for-3 with a walk, a run scored and four stolen bases) sparked the offense early on but Houston’s three-run fifth seemed to take the air out of the entire team.

On his 25th birthday, Tony Campana had a big day at the old ballyard. Campana stole four bases (third base twice) and in the process became the first Cub since Juan Pierre on June 15, 2006 to swipe four bags in a single game. Campana stole second and third in the second that led to the Cubs fourth run of the game. Campana’s two steals in the second was the first time a Cub had stolen two bases in the same inning since Alfonso Soriano on August 25, 2008.

Alfonso Soriano left Monday’s game in the bottom of the first with a strained left quad. Soriano hit a smash down the third base line that Chris Johnson made a nice diving stop on to save an extra base hit. Soriano tried to beat out the throw and grabbed the top of his leg about three quarters of the way down the line.

D.J. LeMahieu made his big league debut Monday afternoon. LeMahieu pinch-hit for John Grabow and grounded into a 6-4-3 double play.

The Cubs let another one slip away on Monday afternoon. With Monday’s loss, the Cubs are now 3-4 on the homestand and back to six games below the mediocre mark on the season (23-29) …

Monday’s game began with Michael Bourn ripping Rodrigo Lopez’s first pitch into left center. Lopez struck out Clint Barmes swinging on a 2-2 pitch. Hunter Pence then doubled to right center on a 1-1 pitch. The ball rolled all the way to the vines and Bourn scored easily from first.

With the Astros up 1-0, Carlos Lee flied out to right and Pence advanced to third. Jeff Keppinger continued taking it to the Cubs and blooped a double into shallow center. Tony Campana tried to make a diving catch toward the infield; the ball went off his glove and allowed Pence to score and Keppinger to take second. Wallace grounded out to first to end the inning. Lopez threw 24 pitches in the first, 17 for strikes … and after a half inning, the Cubs were down 2-0.

Darwin Barney started the scoring in the first with a standing triple to left center, his third three-bagger of the year. Starlin Castro ripped Rodriguez’s first pitch into left and plated Barney with the Cubs’ first run.

With Ramirez at the plate, Castro swiped second. Aramis flied out to center, Castro tagged and advanced to third. Carlos Pena lined the first pitch he saw from Rodriguez into the basket in right. Pena’s seventh longball of the year gave the Cubs a 3-2 lead.

Alfonso Soriano ripped a 2-2 pitch down the third base line. Chris Johnson made an excellent diving stop, got to his feet and threw out Soriano at first. Soriano grabbed the top of his left leg three-quarters the way to firstand left the game with a left quad strain.

Rodrigo Lopez retired the bottom of the Astros’ order in the second on 10 pitches, nine for strikes.

Tony Campana led off the second with an infield single … and his speed led to the Cubs fourth run of the game.

Campana stole second on a 0-1 pitch to Geovany Soto. Soto ended up striking out and Rodrigo Lopez swung and missed at a 0-2 pitch for the second out. Kosuke Fukudome walked. Darwin Barney stepped in and Campana broke for third on the first pitch to Barney. J.R. Towles decided to throw behind Fukudome, who stopped and tried to retreat to first. The ball hit Fukudome on the leg and allowed Campana to trot in from third. The Cubs took a 4-2 lead into the top of the third.

Michael Bourn singled to left to start the third. After Clint Barmes popped out to second, Bourn stole second with Pence at the plate and advanced to third when Soto’s low throw ended up in centerfield. Pence lined out to right but Bourn did not tag in time and could not score on the fly out to right.

Carlos Lee blooped a 3-2 pitch just out of the reach of Darwin Barney in right center. Bourn scored … 4-3 Cubs. Jeff Keppinger grounded out to third to end the inning.

Aramis Ramirez reached on a one-out single to center in the bottom of the third. Carlos Pena flied out to right on a 3-0 pitch. Blake DeWitt stepped in for the first time since taking over for Soriano and ripped a 1-0 pitch into right center. DeWitt ended up at third with a standing triple as Ramirez scored the Cubs’ fifth run of the game.

Tony Campana walked and stole second but Geovany Soto struck out looking to end the inning.

Rodrigo Lopez retired Houston in order in the fourth … and the Cubs offense went back to work.

Kosuke Fukudome singled to right center with one out in the fourth. Following a foul out by Barney, Starlin Castro hit a deep drive to right. Hunter Pence lost the ball in the sun. Once he found it he could not catch it. The ball went off his glove and Fukudome scored all the way from first on the three-base error. Aramis Ramirez flied out to deep left to end the inning.

The Astros started playing longball in the fifth and chased Rodrigo Lopez from the game.

Bill Hall hit for Rodriguez and fouled out to third to start the inning.

Michael Bourn continued his big day and tripled to right center. Clint Barmes launched the first pitch from Lopez into the bleachers in left. Barmes’ two-run shot cut the Cubs lead to 6-5.

Hunter Pence then tied the game. Pence hit a 2-1-pitch way out to left.

Carlos Lee flied out to right but Keppinger singled to right and Brett Wallace reached on an infield single off the glove of a diving Carlos Pena. With the game tied at six and two on with two out, Quade went to his pen for Jeff Samardzija.

Samardzija struck out Chris Johnson swinging to end the inning.

The Cubs put a couple on in the bottom of the fifth against Sergio Escalona. Blake DeWitt reached on a one-out single to left center. Campana bunted the ball too hard back to the mound. DeWitt was thrown out at second for out number two. Geovany Soto walked and Quade sent Samardzija to the plate in a tie game with two outs and runners on first and second.

Campana stole third, his fourth stolen base of the game but Samardzija grounded out to short to end the inning.

The Astros took the lead for good in the sixth. J.R. Towles led off the inning with a wind-blown homer to left on a 2-1 pitch from Samardzija. The Cubs got out of the sixth without allowing any more runs but the Cubs’ offense could not figure out Enerio Del Rosario.

The Cubs went down in order quickly in the bottom of the sixth.

The Astros tacked on three more in the seventh, with a little help from the Cubs defense, and put the game out of reach.

Hunter Pence led off with a single to left. Samardzija uncorked the first of two wild pitches in the inning. Pence advanced to second and held after Samardzija walked Lee on four pitches.

Jeff Samardzija uncorked his second wild pitch of the inning on a 2-2 offering to Keppinger. Pence and Lee moved up ninety feet. Keppinger then reached and popped up ball four into foul ground. Barney snagged the first out of the inning.

Quade went to his pen and brought in John Grabow to face Brett Wallace.

Wallace hit a weak grounder towards short on a 1-1 pitch. Lee appeared to shield Castro; the ball got under his glove and ended up in left. Pence scored and Lee tried … but Blake DeWitt threw him out at the plate for the second out.

Chris Johnson hit a 2-1 pitch toward the line in left. DeWitt tried to circle the ball but slipped and kicked it into the sidewall. Wallace scored easily on the Cubs second error of the inning. Towles grounded out to short but the damage had been done … 9-6 Astros.

The Cubs’ seventh run came in the ninth after Starlin Castro doubled to right center. Ramirez grounded out to short; Castro advanced to third on the play and scored on a groundout to first off the bat of Carlos Pena.

The Cubs lost six of nine to the Astros at Wrigley last season … and with Monday’s loss, the Cubs are just 3-7 in their last 10 at home to the ‘Stros.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Carlos Zambrano will face rookie Jordan Lyles under the lights Tuesday. Lyles was the Astros’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year last season and will be making his big league debut.

Quote of the Day

"Baseball, just a game as simple as a ball and a bat. Yet, as complex as the American spirit it symbolizes." - Ernie Harwell
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  • Tedtop16

    Len and Bob threw softball questions to Ricketts during his interview. I thought that I was watching the Food Channel with their critiques of the food being served at the ball park. This is really becoming a farce. And there were plenty of empty seats today. I guess things aren’t bad as long as we don’t talk about what can be done to improve the ball club.

    • Brian

      The questions were softballs, but I don’t think Len and Bob were about to grill their boss on National Televsion.  

      I can’t blame Len and Bob for the questions.  It is not like they would have gotten a straight answer.  If you listened to a few of things Ricketts said, it appears he is all for playing the younger guys.  And is a fan of them.  I was actually encouraged.

      How many guys from the Tribune made multiple trips a year to each of the minor league cities including the Dominican?

      When asked about DJ, he replied, “I hope he gets a lot of playing time.”

      That was a statement to Hendry and Quade.  I feel like he was saying, well, if they are here, let’s play them.  

      Anyone else agree?  

      For him to say that on WGN during a nationwide telecast on a holiday … I think it means something.

      Am I crazy?

      • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

        Brian, you are crazy … but that is a topic for another day.

        All kidding aside, I heard Tom say the same thing you did and was glad to hear it. He just spent a couple of days with the Smokies and LeMahieu gets a call-up. Let’s just hope Hendry and Quade get the memo because his statements about DeWitt playing in place of Soriano did not sit well with me. Yes, DeWitt is hitting but he is not an outfielder. How many times have the Cubs, under Hendry, tried to play a second baseman in the outfield. My problem with DeWitt out there was not and is not the offense he could provide, but the defense he cannot. DeWitt drove in one, saved one and cost them one today.

        • Brian

          Neil,

          I agree about DeWitt playing outfield.  Someone else belongs out there.  And I am glad that you and I are on the same page regarding Ricketts’ statements.

          I think this franchise might, just might be moving in the right direction.

          • erniesarmy

            Ricketts isn’t serious about winning until he fires Hendry and  Kinney.

            When that happens, then you can start feeling like the organization is going in the right direction.

          • Anonymous47701

            Crane Kenney is NOT the Problem, Jim Hendry and Mike Quade are the Problem.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Richard-Hood/100000706523521 Richard Hood

            That is just it Crane Kenny is the problem. Hendry has been given too much control because he does not have a team president that is holding him accountable. You put a team president that actually has to answer to ownership instead of still working for the Tribune company you might actually be going in the right direction (Google Craig Kenny and get some info i am not far wrong). Leadership and direction start from the top.

          • Anonymous47701

            Ok, so who should be the new team president, Todd Ricketts?

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Richard-Hood/100000706523521 Richard Hood

            The one guy that has a contract coming up and would love the extra juice is Billy Beane but I do not think the Ricketts would go that route. There are plenty of Baseball guys that would want the job as long as the Ricketts agree to stay out of the way.

          • Ripsnorter1

            I am saying this politely: THINK AGAIN.

        • Jim_Tinley_Park

          Infielders who have played the OF, Hmmm, off the top of my head:

          Eric Patterson
          Aaron Miles
          Todd Walker
          Jeff Baker
          Ryan Theriot
          Freddy Bynum

          Enough said.

          • paulcatanese

            Not corecting you Jim, but you left one guy off the list. Ernie Banks. And
            with the range he has I would have to say Castro, almost every flyball
            to left or short center he is past the outfielder, and thats not a bad thing
            about him, just that he covers a lot of area in the outfield.

          • John_CC

            …Alfonso

      • GaryLeeT

        Ricketts is all for playing the kids, because their contracts are relatively inexpensive. I am sure he can’t wait to replace Ramirez with a Vitters or LaMahieu, and frankly, neither can I.

        • paulcatanese

          I too heard Ricketts today. After the commercials describing all the
          food that is available to the fans. He was asked how he liked Campana
          and the response was positive. As was his comment on LaMahieu.
          But he also mentioned people coming off the books next year and was
          asked by fans about Pujols (in so many words)

          Freindly interview, came off as a pretty nice guy who likes to rub elbows
          with the fans.

          He can say what he wants,but until he takes the bull by whatever and demands
          change and now, I think it is all the politician in him. And the remarks about
          traveling around to different parks to get ideas for improvement at Wrigley
          was cute as people know he does not have the bucks right now.

          I would have loved to read his mind as he watched the Cubs self destruct.
          If he would come out and say what he must really feel i would pay more
          attention to his comments. He would be  believable as the owner that the
          results of todays game were not to his liking and needs things to change.

    • PeteM

      In defense of Len and Bob I’m not sure if the Memorial Day broadcast in the bleachers is the time or the place for hard hitting questions.

      But I do have to ask what kind of questions /responses has Quade and the Rikketts got from the rest of the media this season. I’m not in Chicago so I don’t get to hear to much.

  • RICK B

    My theory is correct this Cubs team stinks and i knew it when they hired Quade.

    • erniesarmy

      “(Lopez) was fine,” Cubs manager Mike Quade said. “Look, I’m not here to
      make excuses or anything like that, but it is a tough place to pitch under these
      conditions. We actually have been dying for these conditions.”

      Seriously, Rick B., where on earth do they get these guys? And I thought Dusty was a moron.

      • Ripsnorter1

        Dusty was–he is–a moron. But WOW! This guy sets new records every single day!

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Pirates called up Josh Harrison today.

    • Ripsnorter1

      Yes, the Pirates are going to get a pay off for the Gorzelanny/Grabow trade. This guy was killing the ball in AAA to the tune of .321.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Great write up, Neil. You can make a 12-7 rout sound exciting. 

  • Tom U

    I’m continuing to monitor this situation, but Junior Lake did not start tonight for Tennessee. 

    In the absence of LeMahieu, manager Brian Harper has moved Vitters to the second spot in the batting order.

  • GaryLeeT

    Soriano pulled his quad running out a ground ball. That’s what happens when superstars are asked to go above and beyond.

  • cubs1967

    assuming soriano is to the Dl; time to stop w/ the 4A kids like synder or montazen and go straight to jackson in CF, colvin in RF and campana in LF and be done with it.

    as far as ricketts goes or is he mccaskey,,,,,,,,,,,i can’t tell the difference w/ that weenie voice and lack of fire he displays…………another incompetent owner that uncle bud signed off on………..like the mccourts or the wilpons that is ruining a top 3 city baseball franchise………………

    but what the hell…………..whose counting after 103 yrs…………

  • Ripsnorter1

    I am stupefied that the Pirates are playing Brandon Wood at 3B. The guy has had 520 career ABs, and is a career .169 hitter with absolutely NO POWER. Seems like a no brainer to me: play somebody else! DUH! 

    So now the Pirates are calling up Josh Harrison. He’d better play, because this Brandon Wood does not belong in MLB.

    • Keith Moreland

      Wood pretty much has sucked in the majors, and probably won’t work out, but if you look at his minor league stats you can see why teams keep giving him chances.  He has raked at AA and AAA, he just falls off a cliff at the major league level.

      And the Pirates don’t really have anyone else anyway

  • paulcatanese

    Interesting about Castillo when he got back and hit a 2 run homer. Watching him here with the Cubs it was apparant that he placed a lot of pressure on himself to succeed. Little shots by the camera with him on the bench showed an expression that could not be mis read. He had to know that Quade did not want him to play over Hill and that added to it. He gets back, no pressure and bombs one. I just don’t think he is in any way comfortable with Quade and let it affect him. There is talent with him and once he learns to handle the situation here he will do okay. Getting a spot here and there does not help, and he knew produce or he’s gone. Hard to do when one dosen’t have an extended period of playing time.

  • Anonymous47701

    2012 lineup idea

    B.Jackson-CF
    D.Barney-2B
    S.Castro-SS
    T.Colvin-1B
    G.Soto-C
    R.Flaherty-3B
    A.Soriano-LF
    L.Montanez-RF
    Pitcher

    bench

    M.Gonzalez-SS,2B
    Sc.Moore-3B,1B
    W.Castillo-C
    T.Campana-LF,CF
    B.Snyder-RF

    • gocubs

      With that lineup you have about 100 million dollars left to spend.  You wouldnt try to sign Fielder or any free agents?   

      • Anonymous47701

        I would rather see the Cubs try and play either Ridling or Bour at 1st Base than see another free agent signing by Jim Hendry. I wouldn’t mind bringing in Prince Fielder, but I think the Cubs need to go young and leave the veterans alone.

        • paulcatanese

          I agree, NO long term contracts. If the Cubs have’nt learned by now they never will. After all Ricketts was promoting another type of hot dog as a promo. He needs that money for something feasable, as it has been wasted so far on the lasting contracts.

    • ZT

      I like this except I would like the Cubs to give Matt Spencer(AA Smokies) a chance to play firstbase and I would move Colvin to right field.

      • ZT

        Sign Prince Fielder and put him at first, have Spencer as a backup and have D.J. LeMahieu instead of Scott Moore or Marwin Gonzalez.

        • Anonymous47701

          Not Really Sure about that, I would like to think that LeMahieu and Spencer will wind up somewhere on the 40-man roster.