An Uggla Night for Zambrano – Cubs 4 Braves 10

Game One Hundred Nineteen – Cubs 4 Braves 10
WP – Mike Minor (2-2) LP – Carlos Zambrano (9-7) Save – None

Some of the worst games of Carlos Zambrano’s career have come against the Atlanta Braves … and Friday’s debacle can be added to the list.

After serving up a career-worst five home runs and becoming only the third Cubs’ pitcher since 1955 to accomplish the dubious feat, Carlos Zambrano was ejected from the game in the fifth inning for throwing at Chipper Jones. Zambrano left the field quietly as the Braves’ dugout began to empty. Homeplate umpire, Tim Timmons, kept the peace and the two teams finished the game.

Carlos Zambrano reportedly cleaned out his locker and told a trainer that he was retiring from baseball while his teammates were still on the field. The Cubs have not issued an official statement.

Friday night was pretty much a replay of Opening Day in Atlanta in 2009. The Braves pounded the Cubs and Carlos Zambrano was rocked. Z allowed eight runs on eight hits, five home runs, without a walk, a HBP and three strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings … Zambrano has allowed 16 runs on 14 hits in his last two starts at Turner Field (5 2/3 innings). Zambrano served up a career-high five home runs on Friday night and became only the third Cub since 1955 to allow five longballs in the same game … Ismael Valdez in 2000 and Steve Stone in 1974.

Friday night marked the fifth time that Carlos Zambrano has been ejected from a game during his career.

Dan Uggla had a huge night (3-for-3 with two home runs, three runs scored, two RBI and hit by a pitch) and extended his hitting streak to 32 games. Uggla passed Rowland Office (31) for the longest hitting streak in Atlanta Braves history.

Chipper Jones’ three-run blast in the third gave the Braves a commanding 5-1 lead and it was the 1000th extra basehit of Jones’ career.

The Cubs offense pounded out 11 hits but walked only one time and scored just four runs. Q’s offense finished 2-for-10 with RISP and left seven on base.

Reed Johnson put together another multi-hit game (2-for-4) and drove in the Cubs’ first run of the game. Jeff Baker (2-for-3 with two doubles, a run scored and a walk), Alfonso Soriano (1-for-4 with a double and two RBI) and Aramis Ramirez (2-for-4 with a run scored) all contributed at the plate but not when the game was in question early on.

Starlin Castro belted his seventh homer of the season in the ninth inning. It was Castro’s only hit of the game. The Cubs have now hit 22 home runs over the last 10 games.

With Friday’s loss, the Cubs dropped back to 17 games under .500 with a 51-68 record …

The Cubs were extremely aggressive against Mike Minor throughout the game but especially early. Q’s offense did not make a pitcher that has trouble throwing strikes at the big league level work. The Cubs will continue to struggle winning games, not only this season but in the future, until they change their hitting philosophy.

Reed Johnson reached on a one-out single to left in the first inning … but was quickly erased when Aramis Ramirez rolled over and pulled Minor’s first pitch to third. Chipper Jones started the 5-4-3 double play to end the inning.

Carlos Zambrano sat down the Braves in order in the first on 13 pitches, eight for strikes.

Marlon Byrd just missed hitting a homer in the second and settled for a one-out double off the wall in left. Carlos Pena grounded out to Gonzalez in the shift, Byrd advanced to third but Soriano predictably struck out swinging to end the inning.

Dan Uggla led off the bottom of the second with a booming homer to left center on a 1-0 pitch. Uggla extended his hitting streak to 32 games in a big way and gave the Braves a 1-0 lead.

Chipper Jones stepped in and ripped Z’s first pitch into left. Alex Gonzalez looked at a questionable strike three for the first out. David Ross smacked Z’s first pitch into right center. Jones advanced to third with one out.

Jose Constanza stepped in and tried to bunt for a hit. Constanza tried to drag a bunt up the first baseline. Pena fielded the ball cleanly and tried to tag Constanza instead of throwing home to get the lumbering Chipper Jones. Constanza ran out of the baseline and was called out but Jones scored and the Braves took a 2-0 lead. Minor tapped back to Zambrano to end the second.

It was obvious early that it was going to be a long-short night for Carlos Zambrano.

Jeff Baker led off the top of the third and just missed a home run down the left field line. Baker ended up smacking a double into the right field corner to begin the inning. Zambrano struck out swinging. An extremely spent Starlin Castro grounded out to third, Baker advanced to third and scored on Reed Johnson’s second hit of the night. Johnson ripped a 0-1 pitch into left. Ramirez looked at strike three to end the inning … but the Cubs were back in the game and down by just one.

Zambrano started the bottom of the third by striking out Michael Bourn and retiring Martin Prado on a grounder to the hole at short.

Freddie Freeman fell behind 0-2 before Zambrano hung a curve. Freeman ripped it into right and kept the inning going for Dan Uggla.

Z ended up plunking Uggla on a 2-2 pitch to put two on with two outs for Chipper Jones. Zambrano fell behind Jones 2-0 before getting one over the plate. Jones launched Z’s next pitch over the wall in center … and pretty much ended the game.

Alex Gonzalez flied out to deep center but a four-run deficit against the Braves might as well have been 10.

Carlos Zambrano threw 54 pitches in the first three innings … and put his team in a big hole.

Marlon Byrd reached on a one-out single to center in the fourth but Pena (fly out to center) and Soriano (lineout to short) could not advance Byrd past first.

The Braves continued taking batting practice of Carlos Zambrano in the bottom of the fourth. After David Ross fouled out to Pena to start the inning, Jose Constanza hit a shoulder-high 2-1 offering from Z over the wall in left. Constanza’s opposite field homer gave the Braves a 6-1 lead. Minor struck out swinging and Bourn grounded out to short to end the inning.

Jeff Baker led off the fifth with his second double to right of the game … but Z grounded out to third, Castro lined out to center and Johnson grounded out to third to end the inning.

The Braves launched two more blasts off Zambrano in the fifth before Z was ejected for throwing at Chipper Jones.

Zambrano retired Prado on a lineout to left center to start the fifth … then all Z broke loose.

Freddie Freeman smoked Z’s first pitch into the stands in left center. Freeman’s 16th homer of the year gave the Braves more than a commanding 7-1 lead. Dan Uggla followed put a 0-1 offering in just about the exact same place as Freddie Freeman. Uggla’s second longball of the night put the Braves up by seven and all but ended Zambrano’s night.

Carlos Zambrano threw a first pitch strike to Chipper Jones … then threw one inside that Jones was able to avoid … then Z threw another one even further inside. Homeplate umpire Tim Timmons decided enough was enough and tossed Zambrano from the game.

Z left the field calmly as the Braves’ dugout started to empty. Both teams remained calm and Ramon Ortiz was summoned from the pen.

Ortiz took over with a 2-1 count on Jones and ended up striking out Jones for the second out of the inning. Alex Gonzalez grounded out to short to end the inning.

Aramis Ramirez led off the sixth with a single to center. After Geovany Soto was called out on strikes and Marlon Byrd struck out swinging, Carlos Pena singled to right. Ramirez advanced to third with two outs.

Alfonso Soriano put a nice swing on a 1-1 pitch from Mike Minor. Soriano watched the ball again instead of running and ended up at second after Martin Prado caught the ball but dropped it as he crashed into the wall in left. Ramirez and Pena scored … 8-3 Braves.

Mike Minor appeared to pitch around Jeff Baker and walked him with Ramon Ortiz standing in the on deck circle … Baker took the Cubs only free pass of the night.

Fredi Gonzalez went to his pen at that point and brought in Cristhian Martinez to face pinch-hitter Darwin Barney. Barney ended up striking out to end the inning.

John Grabow took over in the bottom of the sixth and made an ugly, embarrassing night even worse. Grabow gave up two runs and took away whatever momentum the Cubs might have created in the top of the sixth.

David Ross singled to center to start the sixth. Jose Constanza followed and hit a ball off Grabow’s knee. Aramis Ramirez picked up the ball and threw low to first. Ross ended up at third with no outs.

Brooks Conrad hit for Martinez and ripped Grabow’s first pitch into right field. Ross scored … 9-3 Braves. Constanza advanced to third and scored on a sac fly to deep center off the bat of Michael Bourn. Martin Prado grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning … but at the end of six, the Braves had a 10-3 lead.

Aramis Ramirez reached on a two-out single to center in the seventh … but that was it.

John Grabow gave up a one-out single to Dan Uggla in the bottom of the seventh but was able to retire Chipper Jones (fly out to center) and Alex Gonzalez (fly out to center) to end the inning.

The Cubs did nothing against Arodys Vizcaino in the eighth … and James Russell sat down the Braves in order in the bottom of the eighth.

Starlin Castro hit a two-out homer off Anthony Varvaro in the ninth. Castro’s seventh of the year made the final score 10-4. The other three Cubs in the ninth (Baker, Colvin and Campana) all struck out and the Cubs struck out 11 times on Friday night with one walk.

The Atlanta Braves always bring out the best in Carlos Zambrano and the Chicago Cubs …

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Randy Wells is scheduled to face Derek Lowe in game two on Saturday night.

Quote of the Day

"Our lives improve only when we take chances and the first and most difficult risk we can take is to be honest with ourselves." - W Anderson.
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  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    From the Tribune: General manager Jim Hendry on Z’s retirement: “We will respect his wishes and honor them and move forward.”

    • cubtex

      If Z does retire…..what does that save the Cubs? 18 Mil next year? Awesome! That would be the best case scenario. With his 18 mil off the books next year and with Silva,Fuko,ARam there will be some money to spend on some quality players. Just don’t look at free agents….trades can be made to aquire some players who might be entering free agency the following year on smaller market teams who will need to get something for them before they walk.

      • Ripsnorter1

        If they actually get him out the door, I guess you’d have to say that 2011 was a great season for the Cubs…..

        He’s as big a Crybaby as Little Milty, wouldn’t you say? 

    • Calicub

      The best news of the season. Who do you think they’ll call up?

      Or are the cubs gonna pull another loser off of wires?

      • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

        Casey Coleman pitched tonight, so I would imagine he would be called up and take Z’s spot. I’m glad Dave Bush opted out of his contract yesterday.

        Coleman is really the only pitcher they could call up. Possibly Nick Struck but I would rather see him stay in Triple-A.

        • Ripsnorter1

          Another quitter….

          • Ripsnorter1

            Dave Bush just called Hendry up on the phone wanting his job back!

    • cc002600

      it sounds as if hendry is trying to mask his joy over this. :-)
      inside he is jumping for joy.

      let’s hope he really does quit….good riddance

    • Ripsnorter1

      WONDERFUL NEWS! 

      In all actuality, he quit in 2008…..

      • Rbmercer

        Rip, good point!

  • Rbmercer

    Wow…really, Z? What a chump, but what a favor you are doing for us. What would this mean money wise if he stays gone and retires. And what starter out there can we sign with the money we had for him?

    • cubtex

      Prize arm is CJ Wilson but I don’t see that happening, but look at my post above. This does not just mean free agents….they can aquire players though trades who will walk from their team the following year.

      • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

        I like C.J. Wilson but buyer should beware. Take a look at the increase in innings pitched over the last three seasons, including this one. The team that signs him could be paying for him to do a lot of rehabbing.

        • cubtex

          good point but remember he was a relief pitcher before. This is only his second season as a starter.

          • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

            My point exactly. That is a big increase and as you pointed out if Texas does not re-sign him he will be the best starter on the market … and will be overpaid.

      • J Daniel

        CJ Wilson will NOT be signing with the Cubs.  First, the Rangers will do everything they can to re-sign him.  Second, the Yankees would be a better option than the Cubs and if it comes down to money that is another one the Cubs will lose.  Finally, the Cubs are in the mode of dumping all big salary and starting over.  

        Everyone should put CJ WIlson as an option out of their mind.

    • GaryLeeT

      I highly doubt the Sux will ever let him hit the market, but isn’t Buehrle scheduled to be a FA next year?

  • jw

    Carlos…your Mommy will take you back

    Actually I feel bad for the dude…he is a very troubled young man to retire from the dream of kids around the world.

    Hey Jim H…ever think about doing a character assessment before commiting the teams future

    I have new respect for Quade

    • Jim_Tinley_Park

      I wish I had his troubles, all $17,000,000 of them

  • paulcatanese

    Pretty clever title Neil, liked it.

    • Agustinrexach

      Yup Was going to post the very same thing. This tittle has to be on Neils’ top ten all time! Creative.

  • Baron_S

    talented guy, but oh what behavior — the quintessential man-child!!

    The last 2-3 years, his pitching stuff has diminished a lot …. a 93-94mph sinking fastball is now at the 89-90pm mark… His sensational hitting and competitiveness made him keep up some decent level of standard — but that too has gone by the wayside..

    Hendry should have traded him AFTER his great finish to 2010…. but no — now he has hit rock bottom and no one will want him — making for YET ANOTHER immovable contract….

    $17 million/~200 innings pitched = $80,000 per inning …. cry me a river!!!
    I loved the guy, but his ass needs to be gone!

    • cubtex

      If he retires…the Cubs are not responsible for his remaining salary.

      • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

        The Players Association is not going to just let him take his ball and go home. That is a lot of money.

        • cubtex

          This has been a pattern with Z. He entered anger management and has had trouble dealing with his emotions for years. I don’t think the players association would get involved if a player who is emotionally troubled decided to retire from the game a year early.

        • J Daniel

          Agreed.  He will not be retiring!  Way to much money left.  I would be absolutely SHOCKED if he actually retired.

          The biggest question to me is going to be how is this situation handled?  Are they going to suspend him?  How long will they be able to without pay?  Obviously, nobody wants him so the Cubs are stuck with him unless a baseball miracle happens.

  • cubtex

    Maybe they will get lucky like the Royals did with Gil Meche. He walked away from 12.4 million.

  • gocubs

    With Castro finding his power, is anyone else here worried about his strikeouts going up and his already minimal walks going down with him going homer crazy? 

    • cubtex

      I would definately trade a few more strikeouts for this huge increase in power. I wish LeMahieu would take some notes and do the same in the minors. 

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Brett Jackson was 1-for-5 with a
    HR, 3RBI, 2 runs scored and a walk in Iowa’s 9-3 win over Tacoma on
    Friday night.

    • Ripsnorter1

      Can he pitch at all…..?

  • roseyc

    You know for the Cubs to end this tragedy some unique tragedy has to happen to break the curse maybe the light has finally shed on the Cubs. Now if this all happens then the Cubs could just buy out Soriano at the end of the year and trade Byrd at the waiver deadline or over the winter and I would let Rameriz walk and trade Pena but they won’t. I would move Castro to third and play Barney at short and let us see what LeMahieu has at second. You know the only thing would make this bestes if Z could take out Hendry and Quade together and Maybe Ricketts will finally say I’ve had enough of this mess…..Whoa I am dreaming I got carried away I was walking into the light and that will do it for you. You see what good news does for us Cubs fans we don’t how to react. Of course as I said at the beginning this is a tragedy of what could have been. But he has 17ml to set back and think over it

  • Agustinrexach

    Z will pitch for the cubs next year and finish Out his contract. No way he leaves 17 million on the table. He is troubled indeed and crazy, but I credit him with being one of the few on this team who really care about wining. He is a good pitcher, just not nearly close as good as his contract is. But that is not his fault, you can blame JH for giving out those huge looooong contracts with no trade protection to every Cub player.

    Btw Atlanta Braves do not give a No trade clause to players…period.

  • Ripsnorter1

    I know this is off topic but….
    The Pirates are 2-32 the last 34 games in Miller Park in Milwaukee…..

  • Ripsnorter1

    CC Sabathia gave up 5 HRs to the Rays–TO THE RAYS!–last night, but he did not clean out his locker and quit.

  • Jdarby

    I don’t think there’s a chance in hell that we’ve seen the last of Z in a Cubs uniform, but if we’re so lucky, I hope he gives Soriano an idea …

  • J Daniel

    Revisionist history . . . at the time Zambrano was given his contract it was probably a pretty good move and many would have been upset if he was not re-signed, the same with Ramirez.  The mistakes would be several including giving the no trade.  Also, if they know he is a nut job, then maybe he should have been traded for real high value before the last contract ended.  A really smart club needs to know its players and maximize the value.

  • Tony_Hall

    Does anyone need a better example of why it is better to move on from players, versus, letting them continue to play for you?  

    It is time to move on from Zambrano, ARam, Soriano.  It will take buyouts with all 3, luckily Aram is only $2M, but Zambrano’s agent, will negotiate a buyout of his contract, and Soriano, needs to be offered a buyout as well.  Take Soriano’s and spread it out, if need be, but it is time to move forward, without all of this bad history hanging around.

  • Tony_Hall

    Buyouts

    Zambrano – I am not really concerned about 2011′s money.  The $18M owed to him for 2012 will get paid.  He isn’t that crazy and even if he is, his agent has to be smarter than that.  Cubs have the leverage to suspend him, like last year, and Z has the option of showing up.  Bottom line they will do a buyout.  The buyout should allow the Cubs to defer the money for as long as they want (with interest), but also the flexibility to pay more each year if they have money left in the players budget that year.

    Example – Minimum $1M/year until paid (plus interest),  This would allow the Cubs to not even have this effect their budgets on any given year, yet would give Carlos a steady stream of income for a long time  If he truly loves the Cubs, he would accept this type of offer.

    Soriano – Same thing, except the minimum amount each year would have to be $2M or $3M.  

    How to spend this money?????

    First fire JH (and Q) and hire someone who will know how to spend it.  Last time JH had a wad of cash in his pocket, he got us into this mess. (and I don’t want to hear it wasn’t him, as if you had  a wad of cash in your pocket, and had to spend it, it is still your responsibility to what you spent it on.)

    But some options to spend some payroll.

    Garza – Give him a contract, to have payroll certainty, he gets guaranteed money, and we don’t look stupid if he becomes a FA in 2 years.  No pitcher will turn down an extension, 2 years from FA, as even they know their arm could fall apart at anytime.

    Castro – Lock this kid up now.  Look at Evan Longoria’s contract if you need to understand “team friendly extensions”.

    Unfortunately, with this roster, that is about all that you can do.  The next step is to find teams in trouble financially, and get players that are a good fit.  This will take someone other than JH, as he only knows how to sign players, after their career year.

    • jw

      Tony_Hall

      Good idea if they can  spread out the contract like that.

      Your ideas about Garza and Castro make all the sense in the world… trouble is, the gears up in Hendry’s brain don’t work that way

    • paulcatanese

      Tony, agree with you on Garza,at this point he is worth locking up under the scnerio you put out there, better be soon as he now will feel he is truly number 1 in the rotation and could demand more money. The same holds true for Castro as his price goes up with each home run he hits. They may have missed the boat here and it should have been done when they were projecting his development. Power was all that had to come and now it is showing up. I think everyone knew it but the Cub front office, it will costthem more now.

  • Bryan

    What a franchise…just think…

    We had an over-the-hill manager in Lou Piniella who quit on his team before season end.

    We signed Milton Bradley….a head-case, and gave him an outragous contract with a gimme accelerator

    We’ve tolerated a hot-headed ‘ace’ pitcher, who time and time again has demonstrated that the game is all about him v. the team

    We signed an aging LF to a massive contract, only to watch him deteriorate in front of our eyes.  Not only that, the guy has a zero IQ on how to adjust in major league sports.

    We have another aging vet at 3B who historically decides to take an extended off-season, and then show up when the season is all but lost, but has the nerve to declare that his stats are pretty darn good.

    We have a current manager that most teams wouldn’t hire to carry the ball-bag. 

    We’ve had fights, screaming matches, no-shows, bailouts…

    THIS is our Chicago Cubs.

    What other organization can compare to this mess?

    Just a total tragedy, and an embarassment to sports enterprises everywhere. 

    • Spoda

      Right on point Bryan.

  • paulcatanese

    Pride,competeve,and a sinking ship with talent. Combine those three with the inabilty to handle it and you have Z, on the way out and down. He handled it the only way he knows how, with an act that he thought was proper. I dont think he condones what he has done and is sorry today. I would imagine that he thought what he did, retire, was the only option for him regarding his actions. He had to have known over the last couple of years that he was losing it but just as many before him refused to accept it. This is the only way he could think of, to strike out at the game itself, and then pack up and leave, and in his mind served as an apology to all.

    • Bryan

      I’m looking forward to Game 2 of the weekend massacre.  Let’s see the creative media spin we get today from Cubbie Blue.

      • paulcatanese

        Looks as you say, are you sitting in the same place? I think I saw you with the blue and white Cub shirt on, right in front,standing up on one of the plays. Do me a favor, wear a red rose today and wave. Hopefully it will be a regular game today, but who knows, its the Cubs. Enjoy the game, you lucky guy.On second thought maybe its not wise to wear the Cub shirt unless it says, “I dont like Z on it”. Then again Brave fans are not that way.

  • Jim_Tinley_Park

    Zespicable. He is a disgrace after that latest stunt. He’s lucky the braves didn’t go to the mound and beat his ass. He would have been all alone because none of his teammates even moved from the dugout. 

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

    Why are we even discussing Z? It doesn’t make sense to accelerate a situation by not just giving up on someone that has already giving up on all of us. The fans, teammates, and management should just say well we are done with him and since he has retired so be it. There is no need to continue talking about his lack of loyalty.

    • Jason88cubs

      Hendry is excited because all the money they would have had to spend on Zambrano will now go to his Donut and Jack Daniels fund

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

        Actually if Hendry is excited it is because he has another excuse for this year failure.

  • Henry

    I see everyone is excited about signing free agents.  Players have to want to come here!  I am not sure free agents will want to come to the mess we lovingly call the Cubs!  The ones that do will be the ones that others do not want or we will have to overpay.   The Cubs are now in the same situation the Blackhawks were in when they signed Brian Campbell.  The only way we are going to see improvement is through trades as Cubtex suggests below or through our system.  Once management figures this out the better we will be.  If  and I do say if Zambrano is done with this team, Management has to look at getting rid of some of the useless veterans we have on this team.  We went sideways this year after a bad year last year.  We are now at least 2 to 3 years away from turning this thing around!  We all know the Cubs were strapped with bad contracts and I think with the exception of the no trade clauses we know why we were strapped with these contracts. 

     The key now is who is going to be the architect for the next phase of Cub history!  Does management really trust Hendry.  I do not!  He holds on to players too long.  He rarely gets much in return in trades anymore. He bids against himself.  He overpays.  The transactions in  the next year will shape the Cubs for the next 4 to 5 years.  Are we ready to let the people that have failed us lead the way again?