Talkin’ Cubs Live – Cubs vs. Astros – 07/24/11

Game One Hundred Two: Cubs (41-60) vs. Astros (33-67)
Game Time – 1:20pm CDT
Coverage – TV: WGN TV – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 187
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago

Matt Garza (4-7, 3.80/1.31) vs. Jordan Lyles (0-5, 4.55/1.28)

Weather permitting … Will the Cubs finally be able to get that “three-game winning streak monkey” off their back? Nine times the Cubs have had a chance to win their third straight game and each time they’ve come up short. According to WGN Radio, the last team to go an entire season without posting a three-game winning streak was the 1952 Pittsburgh Pirates and before that it was the 1939 St. Louis Browns … only four teams in the history of the game have failed to win at least three games in a row once in a full season.

The Cubs are 4-5 in their last nine games and a win today would also give them a .500 record on their longest homestand of the season.

The 2011 Hall of Fame class will be inducted into Cooperstown today. Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven and Pat Gillick, who denied reports that he has spoken to Tom Ricketts, headline the class of inductees. Gillick made it clear Saturday that if something presented itself where he would have an opportunity to be a team president then he would consider leaving the Phillies organization. Gillick has been serving as a senior advisor in Philadelphia for the past three seasons. MLB Network and XM Radio will broadcast the event beginning at 10:30am CDT.

With the non-waiver trade deadline a week away, the Cubs figure to have a slightly different roster by the time they return to Wrigley on August 5 to open a three-game series against the Reds. Could today be the last time Kosuke Fukudome, John Grabow, Reed Johnson, Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Pena, Marlon Byrd and Alfonso Soriano suit up in the home clubhouse at Wrigley? Aramis Ramirez has told the Cubs he would not waive his 10-and-5 rights and some think Carlos Pena will finish out the season in a Cubs uniform … so far Fukudome, Byrd and Grabow have attracted the most attention.

Matt Garza has been the Cubs best pitcher over the last month with not much to show for his efforts. Garza is 0-1 in his last four starts with a 2.88 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP … and that includes his horrible start before the break against the Nationals. A good outing today by Garza and the Cubs could not only win their third in a row but improve on their 2-13 record on Sundays in 2011.

Today it all begins with Matt Garza

It is hard to ask Matt Garza to pitch much better than he has of late. Garza is coming off an impressive outing against the Phillies. Garza pitched seven-plus innings and allowed one run on four hits with three walks and five strikeouts. Garza did not allow a run while he was on the mound and should not have been sent out to start the eighth.

Even with his horrible two-plus inning outing against the Nationals before the break, Garza is 0-1 in his last four starts with a 2.88 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP.

Garza is a very good 3-3 in 10 starts at Wrigley this season with a 2.71 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP.

This afternoon will be Garza’s first start of the season against Houston … 0-2 in two career starts (with a complete game) and a 3.21 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP.

Astros Career Numbers against Matt Garza

  • Clint Barmes – 1-for-3 with a home run
  • Michael Bourn – 2-for-7
  • Carlos Lee – 2-for-7 with 2 doubles
  • Hunter Pence – 3-for-7

Jordan Lyles made his big league debut on May 31 against the Cubs at Wrigley. Lyles put together a good outing but not as good as the one Keith Moreland credited him as having. Lyles took advantage of the overly aggressive Cubs’ offense and allowed two runs on five hits in seven innings. Lyles struck out four and did not walk a batter.

The Cubs must make the rookie right hander work this afternoon.

Lyles is still looking for his first big league win and is coming off a long outing against the Nationals. Michael Morse and company scored four runs on five hits in 8 1/3 innings (three in the ninth). Lyles struck out six (two off his career high) and walked just one.

Jordan Lyles is 0-2 in four road starts this season with a 5.25 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP.

This afternoon will be Lyles’ second career start against the Cubs. Darwin Barney (0-for-3), Tony Campana (0-for-2), Starlin Castro (1-for-3 with a triple), Blake DeWitt (1-for-3 with a double), Kosuke Fukudome (0-for-3), Carlos Pena (0-for-3), Aramis Ramirez (2-for-3 with a double) and Geovany Soto (1-for-3 with a double) all faced Lyles back on May 31.

Boys of Spring – The Movie
Friend of the CCO, Tim Sheridan, is putting the finishing touches on a Cubs documentary about his time with the Chicago Cubs. Tim is the long-time P.A. announcer at HoHoKam Park in Mesa and the film is full of behind the scenes, never-before-see footage shot by Tim as he worked next to Cubs legends like Harry Caray and Ron Santo.

From the official press release: To be a part of Boys of Spring – The Movie, fans can donate as little as $10 using an account. As a thank you, fans will receive a copy of the Boys of Spring documentary before its official release next spring. There are a range of donation levels and rewards available on, including Cubs memorabilia and your name in the movie’s credits.

Boys of Spring isn’t about a team winning or losing. It’s about something deeper. An examination of life on its winding path and how, in spite of perceived failures, there is happiness and success. Cub fans will find joy this season and for years to come with the Boys of Spring film by donating and claiming their place in Cubs history. An epic World Series drought can’t stop the faithful Cubs followers, who know better than anyone – “There’s always next spring!”

The CCO will be running reminders during game previews for the next few weeks and I encourage the Faithful to check out ‘Boys of Spring – The Movie

Follow the CCO on Twitter: @TheCCO

Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball …

Quote of the Day

"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." – E.E. Cummings

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  • Neil

    Today’s lineup:

    Fukudome – RF
    Castro – SS
    Ramirez – 3B
    Pena – 1B
    Byrd – CF
    Soto – C
    Soriano – LF
    Barney – 2B
    Garza – P

    • Patrick_Schaefer

      I hope this is the last time we see this line-up lol.

  • Tom U

    Today’s minor league starters:

    Iowa – Nick Struck (0-3, 5.63)
    Tennessee – Austin Bibens-Dirx (0-1, 9.00)
    Daytona – Jeffrey Lorick (7-3, 4.57)
    Peoria – Matt Loosen (2-0, 1.35)
    Boise – Yao-Lin Wang (2-1, 1.87)
    AZL Cubs – James Pugliese (1-0, 3.63) projected

    • Patrick_Schaefer

      Hi Tom, The Cubs minor league starting pitching has been pretty bad in AA and AAA and guys who you think have shown a vast improvement as the season has gone on?

      • Tom U

        Patrick, I know I always have to be on my toes for you.

        I’m going to address this in my next quarterly report. but it is my feeling that the organization has made mistakes with their pitching. 

        At Triple-A, Jay Jackson and Alberto Cabrera have suffered from inconsistency, both from themselves and their teammates. However, both seem to be slowly coming around. I’d also like to see Chris Rusin more, but since the signing of Dave Bush, he’s been relegated to spot duty. Nick Struck may have been pushed too quickly, and Chris Carpenter needs lots of work on his control.

        I’m glad to see Marco Carrillo back at Double-A, as he wasn’t being used properly at Iowa. Carrillo thrives on work, and gets better the more you use him. He’s not a superstar, but is the type that makes the entire staff better.Trey McNutt may be finally over his injuries with the performance he had last night, and Dallas Beeler has been a hard-luck loser several times. Ryan Searle has a lot of potential, but needs to get used to starting. Like Carpenter, Rafael Dolis needs to work on control, but will be wicked if he can harness his stuff. Kevin Rhoderick and Jeffrey Beliveau can become solid set-up relievers.

        Look for some possible help from Jeffry Antigua and Frank Batista at Daytona, with Dae-Eun Rhee as a sleeper. Rhee has absolutely overpowering stuff, but can sometimes be a little wild.

        • Patrick_Schaefer

          Thanks alot Tom

  • John_CC

    “Three-game win-streak monkey” – I love it!!

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    Not a Good sign Brett Jackson and Ryan Flaherty both looked overmatched to this point in AAA Jackson is hitting .162, and Flaherty is hitting .216.

    • Patrick_Schaefer

      Flaherty and Jackson are probably both pressing too much with anticipation off a major league promotion.

    • Neil

      Patrick, good to hear from you … give them a little time. Not every player moves up a level and produces right away.

      • Richard Hood

        I have stated before the hardest adjustment moving through a system is the ability to recognize and drive curve balls that are strikes. I think that they will make the adjustments that are needed to succeed but it isn’t always right off the bat.

        • cubs1967

          the more brett jackson plays the more i start to think he is NOT grady sizemore lite…………..but nate mclouth………….time for tommy boy to realize the cubs farm is not ripe at all (and alot of people on here)…..and get the checkbook out for prince, cj, and whoever else.(vitters and simpson and colvin 3 more questionable # 1 picks)

          the goal a world series…………not a AAAA world series …………….

          103 yrs and counting…………….there is NO grace period.

          • Richard Hood

            I think it is a little early to say he is a bust. I always thought he was closer to a DeJesus type more than a Sizemore anyway. Good OF skills can play all 3 positions not great at any of them but with his eye he has a chance.

            See this is the problem with the Cubs farm system in general. A lot of the talent they do have that is almost ready are all the same type of players. Exceptional athletes that do not have plus skills at anything but average skills at everything.

             I think that we will see the Cubs front office to go all in on FA’s this year just because they have a need for certain skill sets that there prospects don’t project to have. Namely power.  What I expect to happen is an extension for ARAM being done in August and then going all in on Fielder or Pujols this winter to upgrade the middle of our lineup.

            The problem is that our OF will all be 2,6,7, or 8 hole hitters. You can project Jackson to be a leadoff hitter all you want but he isn’t yet. The closest thing we have to a top of the lineup guy is Szcur and he is a couple years off.

      • Tom U

        Also worth noting is that Jackson’s hand will probably not by better until resting it in the off-season.

    • diehardcubfan

      Agree with Neil, Patrick.  Give them some time.  I agree with you they might be pressing a little.

      Richard Hood and I were sharing viewpoints on this the other day.  At this point the most important thing is that Jackson and Flaherty are focusing on pitch selection, hitting the breaking ball, not swinging at balls and focusing on situational hitting. 

      In the end I think they will be fine.

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    Bryan LaHair deserves a look whether it is in RF-LF or at 1b he deserves a look. I think he can certainly match Soriano’s numbers.
    2012 OF.
    LeMahieu needs some time in the OF he has shown he can hit for average given regular playing time and is varsatile yet he hasn’t shown the power to this point. With all our top OF prospects who are near ML ready being left-handed hitters it would be wise to get him time in the OF.

    2012 OF LaHair/LeMahieu/Baker/ Marwin Gonzalez LF Jackson/Campana CF Colvin/Lemahieu/Marwin Gonzalez/ LaHair RF
    Marwin Gonzalez should get more time in the OF as well I’m wondering why he hasn’t played anytime in RF if he is a SS you would assume he doesn’t have a noodle for an arm ala Ryan Theriot.

    • diehardcubfan

      I think many on here agree LaHair probably deserves a shot given he has a 1.086 OPS this year. 

      I just do not see the Cubs giving him a serious look though unless Pena is traded then they could bring him up and see what he does the rest of the year.

      Personally, I just do not think he fits into the Cubs future plans. 

      As for DJ, in the end I think the Cubs plan on him starting at 2B.  Barney and Baker will be the infield backups on the bench.  I suspect that DeWitt will get DFAd

      As for the outfield, I think we are stuck with Soriano in LF,.  CF and RF will be wide open but Jackson will likely start in CF and Flaherty in RF.  Johnson and Colvin will likely be on the bench, unless the Cubs decide Colvin starts in RF and Flaherty is better on the bench.

      This of course is assuming Colvin makes it back.

      • Ripsnorter1

        I think the Cubs attitude is this: if the Cubs were to trade Pena, Baker, Covlin, and every other player in the entire Cubs system that plays 1B, they still would not call up LaHair and play him.
        That is what I think that the Cubs think of LaHair.

        • Cheryl

          Rip, It sure seems that way. But why?

          • Ripsnorter1

            It’s real simple: they have no faith in his ability to play MLB. Like Hoffpauir, Brad Synder, Scales, and others like them, they do not believe in their own MiLeague prospects. No faith whatsoever.

            And if you still want to ask “why?” I’ll simply have to say that the GM of the Cubs wants “Brand Name” major leaguers at every position. The Cubs believe ticket sales would be hurt by a no-name player. That’s why the Cubs very seldom promote minor leaguers to the bigs to stay.

          • Cheryl

            That’s sad. It sure tells you you eed to replace Hendry, Quade, ettc. if for no other reason.

          • paulcatanese

            Rip, the second paragraph is totaly correct and that explains why the word “fundementals” do not enter the Cub reasoning. All these “brand names” that they aquire don’t know the meaning of the word and just go up swinging. That wont change because of what you have said, no minor leaguers around, they play team ball,and ticket sales are paramount in the eyes of management.

    • Tom U

      Marwin Gonzalez has played all of the outfield spots at lower levels, but projects best to center.

      Gonzalez has very good functional speed and excellent agility. His arm strength is not overpowering, but “good enough” for regular outfield work. If Iowa didn’t have Lou Montanez, you’d probably see Gonzalez spelling Brett Jackson more often.

  • diehardcubfan

    I agree with Patrick Mooney on his latest article on that Penal and ARAM will likely be back next year. 

    I think the Cubs will focus on trying to sign or trade for a starting pitcher or two over the winter as there biggest moves given the lack of ready starting pitchers at the AAA level.

    Fukudome, Byrd, Grabow and Johnson are the only Cubs I see that are likely to move either before the trade deadline or in August. 

    The rest of the Cubs team we are stuck with.

  • Ripsnorter1

    The Cubs should win today, since Houston is the most awful team I’ve seen in a ML uniform in many, many years. 

    If the Cubs do win, they will sweep the series, and it will be the first 3 game sweep in Wrigley since July 24-26. 2009–almost two full years. They swept the Reds in 2009.

  • Ripsnorter1

    The Astros are so awful for the same reason the Cubs stink: no offense. They have no power once you get past Pence and Lee. And neither one of these are big stick guys this year, either. Lee has only 7 HR. Pence has 11. 

  • Brentcarmona

    you know whats funny. after the first month of five hundred ball and no hitting from pena/ramirez…we start to get production out of those two then start seeing our record slip farther away from mediocrity. what does that tell you? this team stinks. hard to say how much of an overhaul we need. but if 2007 can happen after the 06 season, hard not to be optimistic.

    • diehardcubfan

      You are right, even after ARAM and Pena started hitting that did not help.  That we can attribute to mostly poor starting pitching and defense.  Also, a lack of production with RISP.  That to me has been the biggest Achilles heel of all. 

      Also, there have been many questionable decisions by the manager who will not be named, particularly in how he has dealt with the starting staff and the young players. 

      Just take a look at the San Francisco Giants.  Not much offense but incredible starting staff and good defense and they are in first place.

      There are so many facets of the Cubs game that are poor that it makes it hard to pinpoint the greatest problem or what caused them.

      • BosephHeyden

        You’re right:  this IS all Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney’s faults.

  • Neil

    Back-to-back doubles from Byrd and Soto … game tied at one

  • Neil

    Three doubles, very good at bat by Barney

  • Neil

    Garza with his first career RBI

  • Neil

    And Garza walks Lyles and gives up a single to Bourn …

  • Neil

    Nice running catch in left center by Soriano

  • jw

    Will be interesting to see if Marmol starts the ninth if the lead of one run is the same

  • cubtex

    Garza probably will never want to come out of a game from now on!

    • paulcatanese

      Agree, he may not even pitch again, unless guranteed that he is allowed to go nine.

  • BosephHeyden

    Anyone not see that coming?

    • cubtex

      You know Garza did!

  • Neil

    Pen blows the fifth game for Matt Garza this season … Carlos Marmol
    3, Sean Marshall 1 and Jeff Samardzija 1

    • cubtex

      If I would have know the pen would have done this for Garza…I would have predicted 5 wins for Garza at the beginning of the year. Seriously…this guy should have 9 or 10 wins right now!

      • paulcatanese

        I dont dis- agree with you, and he should have those wins. However I dont think that it hurts Garza at all with his bargining power. He has proved he can pitch in the NL (somthing I had doubted, as well as his temperment) and he has proven that he can handle that too. Just an all around good aqusition for the Cubs and something to build around n the future. Also I loved the hit he got today,(but he has to learn how to act those hits out),good team man too.

    • Cheryl

      At this rate Garza may either refuse to come out of a game or ask for a trade where he can rely on a decent bullpen.

  • Jim_Tinley_Park


  • GaryLeeT

    Garza with a lead needing to be saved by the pen, it’s Sunday, going for series sweep, and win 3 in a row? That is just too much to overcome, even for a juggernaut like the 2011 Cubs……..or is it?

  • BosephHeyden

    I’ve heard of a bullpen costing the team the game, but that play takes the cake.  Yuk yuk yuk.

  • Neil

    Marmol with a good job of pitching around his defense

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    Grabow is in that’s the ballgame

  • Agustinrexach

    Seriously rooting for Grabow to shine here!!!
    GoGrabow, literally Go!!!!

  • Brentcarmona

    we do not deserve to win if we cannot get a run home after a lead off triple. period.

    • Brentcarmona

      thank you cubs for not making fools out of yourselves

  • Jdarby

    I didn’t watch the game, but I’ll bet these guys celebrated like they just won Game 7 of the World Series …

    • studio179

      Close to it.

  • Neil

    Cubs beat the Astros 5-4 in 10 innings on Sunday afternoon. Matt Garza: 2R, 5H, 3BB, 9K in 7 IP; Marlon Byrd: 4-for-5, 2B, 3B, 3R; Geovany Soto: 3-for-5, 2B, RBI, R; Darwin Barney: 2-for-4, 2B, RBI, R, BB

    Cubs win three in a row … 3-13 on Sundays in 2011

  • Neil

    Good to see Jeff “The Untouchable” Baker deliver.

    • paulcatanese

      Have to agree with you Neil, but the hit of the game was Garza’s, I had to laugh a little as he didn’t know what to do, run,stay there? Great play.

  • studio179

    Ha! You beat me to that comment. I was going to say something like I had no doubt the untouchable Baker would deliver.

    It took extras today against an even worse club than the Cubs, but they finally got their 3 game winning streak and sweep. Plus, as you point out, the Cubs boost their Sunday record to 3 wins. They showed Tom Ricketts standing in the 10th. He looked like he was going to get sick all over himself if the team did not drive in Byrd from third (no pun) after Soto struck out. I felt the same way.

  • Darrenmcculloch

    Whenever any of us get down about the lack of success of this years Cubs’ team….just think it could be worse……we could be Astro fans.  They have earned the right as worst team in baseball.   

  • Neil

    Koyie Hill and Reed Johnson were not available Sunday and Quade wanted to stay away from Marshall and Wood. Wonder if Wood is hurt, did not pitch in the series.

  • paulcatanese

    This game really highlights the lack of fundemental offense by the Cubs. The only people allowed to bunt are the pitchers and Barney.I do not understand this, except the mentality must be that all are sluggers and can drive the ball. Sorry guys, but Casto is not a two hitter either, he does not have the bat control for it,won’t bunt a runner down and just swings as if he’s in a batting cage. Barney belongs at number two behind Castro, they had success at the beginning of the year, dont know why that was changed. That was the two spots that worked well.

  • Agustin

    A Sweep and a winning streak at the same time! I feel like checking on the standings.