Cubs Left Another Game on Base – Cubs 4 Braves 5

Game One Hundred Twenty-Nine – Cubs 4 Braves 5
WP – Mike Minor (4-2) LP – Casey Coleman (2-6) Save – Craig Kimbrel (40)

Once again the Cubs had plenty of opportunities to put runs on the old scoreboard … and once again Q’s Cubs could not hit with runners in scoring position. After going 2-for-14 with RISP on Monday night with 15 runners left on base, Q’s Cubs was a miserable 1-for-13 with RISP on Tuesday night with nine runners left on base.

In the first two games of the series, the Cubs have left 24 runners on base and are 3-for-27 with RISP … with just one hit that plated runs.

Aramis Ramirez recorded the first five-hit game of his career and for the most part Ramirez was the Cubs offense. Ramirez extended his hitting streak to 12 games and is hitting .563 (27-for-48) during his streak with three doubles, four home runs, five walks, nine runs scored and 14 RBI. Ramirez finished the game 5-for-5 with a double, a run scored and two RBI. Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano combined for seven of the Cubs’ 10 hits and collected all three of the Cubs’ RBI.

Alfonso Soriano (2-for-4 with a double and a home run) broke up the shutout with his 21st longball of the season leading off the fifth inning. Soriano hit the first homer of the year off Mike Minor.

The Cubs could not take advantage of three Braves’ errors and a night after walking a season-high seven times Q’s squad did not work a single walk on Tuesday night.

Marlon Byrd continued his season-long struggles with runners in scoring position. Byrd was 0-for-4 on Tuesday night. A day after stranding six runners on base, Byrd left four on base Tuesday. Byrd made three outs on a total of four pitches.

A two-out bases empty infield single by Dan Uggla in the fourth was the beginning of the end for Casey Coleman. Coleman had allowed only one hit over the first 3 2/3 innings. Coleman struggled with his command somewhat but kept the Braves off the board.

Aramis Ramirez tried to pick up a swinging bunt barehanded but bobbled the ball and Uggla reached on the Braves second hit. After a single by Chipper Jones and back-to-back two outs walks to Eric Hinske and Alex Gonzalez that forced in the first run of the game, Jason Heyward hit the first grand slam of his career. Mike Quade’s pitching staff has served up six grand slams this season while the Cubs offense has not hit one.

Casey Coleman had another bad outing at Wrigley Field. Coleman allowed five runs on five hits with two walks and four strikeouts in five innings (86 pitches, 51 for strikes).

The Cubs bullpen did a solid job and kept the Braves from tacking on after the fifth inning. John Grabow loaded the bases in the sixth but escaped without allowing any runs. Kerry Wood was nasty in the seventh. Wood retired the Braves in order with a pair of swinging strikeouts (Brian McCann and Dan Uggla). Sean Marshall was not particularly sharp but did not allow any runs thanks to defensive plays by Starlin Castro, Darwin Barney and Marlon Byrd.

Craig Kimbrel earned his 40th save of the season on Tuesday night. Kimbrel tied the All-Time Major League rookie mark for saves in a single season set by Neftali Feliz last season.

With Tuesday’s loss, the Cubs dropped back to 17 games under .500 with a 56-73 record …

Tuesday night’s game began on a positive note for Casey Coleman. The young right-hander retired the Braves in order on just eight pitches (five for strikes).

Starlin Castro led off the bottom of the first with a single to right center. After Reed Johnson struck out swinging, Aramis Ramirez extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a single to center. Castro held at second on the play.

Jeff Baker flied out to left center, Castro tagged and advanced to third but Carlos Pena struck out swinging. Two more runners left on base … 17 left on in 10 innings against Braves pitching.

Casey Coleman worked around a two out double by Eric Hinske in the top of the second. Alex Gonzalez popped out to shallow center on a 3-1 pitch to end the inning. Coleman struggled with his command in the second and it took 24 pitches (12 for strikes) to record three outs.

The Cubs did nothing against Mike Minor in the bottom of the second.

Coleman stayed on track in the third and sat down the Braves in order on six pitches, five for strikes.

Mike Minor retired the Cubs in order in the third.

Casey Coleman struck out Martin Prado looking to start the fourth and retired Brian McCann on a lineout to right (first pitch) for the second out of the inning.

Dan Uggla swung at a 2-1 offering from Coleman and tapped it toward third (swinging bunt). Aramis Ramirez tried to barehand the ball and throw to first but Ramirez bobbled the ball … and opened the floodgates.

Chipper Jones ripped Casey’s first pitch into right. Uggla ended up at third with two outs. Coleman issued a four-pitch walk to Eric Hinske to load the bases. Coleman could not find the strike zone and walked Alex Gonzalez to force in Uggla with the game’s first run.

Jason Heyward stepped in and Coleman got ahead of him 1-2. Heyward just got enough of Coleman’s next pitch to deposit the ball into the basket in left center. Heyward’s first career grand slam gave the Braves a 5-0 lead. Minor looked at strike three to end the inning.

The Braves scored five runs on three hits and two walks … all five runs after two were out and the bases were empty. Coleman tossed 29 pitches in the fourth inning (66 total, 38 for strikes).

Aramis Ramirez led off the bottom of the fourth with a single to left. Jeff Baker hit a weak grounder to short that Gonzalez got to and tossed to second. Ramirez was forced but Uggla’s throw got past Hinske and Baker ended up a second on the error. Pena grounded out to Uggla in short right and Byrd popped out to second on the first pitch to end the inning.

Michael Bourn led off the fifth with a bloop single to center on a 0-2 pitch. Bourn stole second on Coleman’s first pitch to Martin Prado. Prado tapped back to Coleman, Casey looked Bourn back to second and threw out Prado at first.

Brian McCann lined out to first on a 3-2 pitch and Uggla looked at strike three to end the inning.

Alfonso Soriano led off the fifth with his 21st homer of the year. Soriano’s solo shot put the Cubs on the board with their first run of the series (13 innings).

Mike Minor hit Soto on the foot on a 0-1 pitch. Darwin Barney hit for Coleman and singled to center to put two on with no outs for Starlin Castro.

Castro flied out to deep right, both Soto and Barney tagged and advanced ninety feet. Reed Johnson tried to check his swing on a 1-2 pitch but was called out.

Aramis Ramirez ripped a 0-1 pitch down the left field line. Soto and Barney scored on Ramirez’s third hit of the game, a two-out, two-run double.

Jeff Baker hit what appeared to be a routine grounder to short. Gonzalez fielded the ball but threw low to first. Hinske could not scoop, then lost the ball. Ramirez scored … 5-4 Braves. Carlos Pena flied out to Bourn in deep center to end the inning.

The Braves loaded the bases again in the sixth but came away empty against John Grabow.

Chipper Jones led off the inning with a single to left (first pitch) Grabow struck out Hinske and Gonzalez but gave up a single to left to Heyward. Julio Lugo hit for Mike Minor and walked to load the bases. Bourn grounded out to second on a 1-2 pitch to end the inning.

Alfonso Soriano reached on a hustle double with one out in the bottom of the sixth … Soriano hustled out of the box and slid in headfirst safe with a double. Soto flied out to left and Barney struck out swinging to end the inning.

Kerry Wood retired the Braves in order in the seventh … with two strikeouts (McCann and Uggla, both swinging).

Cristhian Martinez started the bottom of the seventh for the Braves. Reed Johnson singled to left center with one out and advanced to third on a single to right center by Aramis Ramirez. Quade sent up Blake DeWitt to hit for Grabow and Fredi Gonzalez countered with left George Sherrill.

Sherrill hit DeWitt on the first pitch to load the bases with one out.

Carlos Pena struck out swinging on a 2-2 pitch. Gonzalez went back to his pen and brought in Arodys Vizcaino to face Marlon Byrd.

With the bases loaded and two outs, Byrd swung at the first pitch and grounded out to second to end the inning.

Sean Marshall gave up a leadoff single to Chipper Jones in the eighth. Hinske hit a grounder up the middle that Barney fielded, bobbled but was able to pick up and toss to Castro to force Jones. Alex Gonzalez hit a ball up the middle that Castro made a diving stop on, tossed to Barney and the young middle infielders started the 6-4-3 inning ending double play.

The Cubs did nothing against Arodys Vizcaino in the bottom of the eighth.

Jason Heyward led off the ninth with his third hit of the game, a single to center off Sean Marshall. Brooks Conrad hit for Vizcaino and struck out. Bourn grounded out to Barney, Heyward was forced for the second out. Bourn stole second but was stranded when Marlon Byrd made a tremendous diving catch on a ball ripped into left center. Byrd took an extra base hit and possibly more away from Martin Prado.

Craig Kimbrel retired Castro (struck out swinging) and Johnson (ground out to third) rather quickly to start the ninth. Aramis Ramirez recorded his fifth hit of the game, a bloop single to right. Ramirez advanced to second when Heyward bobbled the ball. Tyler Colvin hit for Marshall and was incredibly overmatched. Kimbrel struck out Colvin swinging on three pitches to end the game.

Another game the Cubs had plenty of opportunities … and another game the Cubs refused to change their approach at the plate.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Randy Wells will face Derek Lowe in game three on Wednesday night.

Quote of the Day

"Never discourage anyone who continually makes progress, no matter how slow." - Plato
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  • paulcatanese

    Excellent post Neil, I didnt miss a thing.

  • studio179

    Soriano homers and hustles out of the box for a hard double…Grabow does not allow a run in his inning of relief…Ramirez goes 5-5 for the first time and hustles out of the box for a sliding double. I would not believe it unless I saw it myself.

    • Tony_Hall

      That is definitely a trifecta that would have paid alot of money!  Soriano’s hustle was, by far, the most surprising.

      Got to give it to ARam, he has been the upper echelon 3B, for the last 3 months.  If only someone could figure out the beginning of the season.  It will be interesting to see what happens with him for next year.  I would not give him a long term contract, but is 2012 option, may be well worth it, as you can always try to trade him, and he can demand a new contract from the new team, before accepting the trade.  

      • studio179

        I would agree picking up Ram’s club option for 2012 is the best way to go. Ramirez is an easier decision for a one year option.     

      • John_CC

        You know, Tony, Aramis is a conundrum right now.  I’m sure they are not putting him on waivers because they want to let the new regime make a decision on 3B.  I mean the Cubs 3B situation is a conundrum and Aramis himself is also.

        I wonder what he does all winter?  When is the last time he put together a solid 4 or 5 months, May through September? 

        At this point, picking up his one year option seems like the best bet.

        We shall see.

    • paulcatanese

      Soriono probably looking for an extension of his contract. Kidding aside, I think that when his legs feel good he does hustle. But its good to see under any circumstance.

  • Tony_Hall

    http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/15301/spend-wisely-prince-or-pujols
    Pretty good article, discussing the upcoming FA of Pujols and Fielder.  If you have the opportunity to sign either player, which one would it be?  The conclusion, is simple, he would take either on a 5 year deal, it’s after that, that it gets to be a bad deal.

    Why not do a 5 year guaranteed deal, with a combo of team and player options, that kick in based, on performance. I wouldn’t care if either deal, had the potential to go 10 years, if the last 5 were based on performance.  I wouldn’t even mind a career bonus program, where, based on MVP type votes, and World Series appearances, victories, MVP’s, it created a pool of money, that got paid out, after they retired, to be paid over the next 20 years…anything to get creative, and base it on the ultimate goal, winning a World Series.  The question really becomes, if either doesn’t resign (Brewers just don’t have the $$ to keep Fielder as well), who bites and signs these guys?  I do know one thing, if I’m the owner, I would want to agree on the money, and front-load the contract, to be paying as much of the money as possible, when they are at their youngest, and most likely, most productive time frame.

    • cc002600

      Its very simple as to why the contract won’t have options or incentives based on performance – cause the player will never sign that. Simple.

      If some other team is out there willing to guarantee the dough beyond the 5 years, why would the player EVER sign a contract based on performance ?  And trust me, some team will do it.

      • Tony_Hall

        IF – I didn’t think you like that word…if this prospects…

        You missed my point entirely.  The deal would be a large contract, that would pay the player A LOT of money, by bringing a World Series to the Cubs.  The option years, the pool of money for post retirement, would be very good, IF the player performs, and we are all celebrating.

        Read Cubtex below as to why it may not take 7 or 8 years.

  • cubtex

    I think 99% chance PuJols resigns with Cards. That leaves Fielder. Will another team offer a 7 or 8 year deal? Yanks,Red Sox, Phillies, Reds, Nats said they won’t pursue Fielder. Angels? They have Trumbo and Morales coming back. Not a huge market….so hopefully if the Cubs pursue Fielder…they won’t go more than 6 years.

    • Ripsnorter1

      What did that bust up in DC get? You know, the ex-Philly, aged 32 years, who had one great year? The one who was yelling at–get this–Tom Riggleman, the losingest manager in MLB history, that all of this losing has to stop!!! HAHAHAHAHA!

      His name is Jason Werth. He’s killing the ball at a .232 clip, with 15 taters and 48 RBI. Oh yeah, he’s fanned just 129 times in 453 AB. He’s slugging at a .389 clip–down there with Funko! Yup, Funko is #20 among ML RFs; Werth is #19. PATHETIC! 

      Funko has a higher BA; higher OPS; higher BB rate; lower K rate. 

      ANYWAY, Jason Werth got a seven yr $126 million dollar deal to hit .232 for the Nats. Remember: his career BA is .265…..

      Therefore, I expect Fielder to get at least 7 yrs.

  • Brp921

    The one thing about Pujols and Fielder is if the Cubs or their respective teams don’t sign them is they will be in a different division and maybe/ likely the other league. It is likely St. Louis will go all out to resign Pujolz, and he seems to be a loyal guy which is good for the game, but if they do sign him it will take all the extra $ they have. So the division shouln’t be any more difficult for a team to win than it has been in past years.

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

      I do not understand for the life of me the idea that either Fielder or Pujols would come to the Cubs. There are a couple reasons why I think that. One being chance to win, not going to happen for a while yet. The other being playing conditions, our clubhouse and ball park are a joke compared to most of the modern stadiums. That may change but right now I can not see why any premium free agent will choose Chicago over say Texas, LAA, or the Nationals. In the case of Fielder those are the guys that are probably in the running (maybe not the Angels). You can’t even over bid to get a shot at them either because the Nats have already shown that they will go way over market to get the guys they want into town.

      • cubtex

        Nats have already stated they won’t pursue Fielder. Money talks Richard! I am sure if the Cubs were to be in the balllark money wise with Fielder…they would have a great shot of signing him.

        • Tony_Hall

          See we actually agree on most everything, but there’s that one topic we seem to disagree…

          • cubtex

            Lol!

      • John_CC

        Those are good, valid points Richard, but I think that Ricketts can promise that he is changing all of those things about the clubhouse conditions, the spring facilities, etc.  As for not winning in a long time, do you really think that there is no chance for the Cubs to compete again for more than 5 years? Even with a marquee offensive player like one of these guys as the anchor?  I am not a kool-aid Cub fan, you know that, but I am not going to say that do not have a chance to be competitive for longer than 5 years.

        The other issue, which Tony brought up is that all the teams with the $$ to afford one of these guys are locked in with either up and coming studs or long-term studs under contract.  Maybe if Prince wanted to be a DH, then the Yanks would an obvious choice.

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

          I was thinking more like 2 to 3 years. But it may be longer if we do not get our starting pitching upgraded because Garza will be gone in 2 years if he does not feel like there is a chance to win here.

      • paulcatanese

        Totaly agree, Richard. There is no way that Pujols would leave St. Louis, and pretty much the same with Fielder, Chicago is too close to Milwakee and dont think that Fielder would want to go thru the repercussions that would bring about. Plus all the other reasons you mentioned, and Theriot elaborated on that yesterday with the park. Never thought that mattered and had not looked at it that way, but guess it does have an important part in the decision process.

  • studio179

    Sure, Pujols and Fielder can get paid big by the Cubs. They would want to know what the Cubs are going to do about player personnel, the clubhouse, ec. Looking at Wells, Lopez and Coleman as starters can not be a selling point. 

    • Ripsnorter1

      I’d hate to pay Fielder and he start hitting like Adam Dudd. 

      ALL of the big FA contracts result in a huge bust the next year. They can’t handle the mental side of it all. Hitting is 90% mental–so says Ron Santo. 

      Look at Adam Dudd. He ain’t a .163 hitter folks. 
      BUT HE IS NOW……

      • cubtex

        Lets’ hope if tge Cubs do sign Fielder he doesn’t have an appendectomy! A big man like that will be really off balanced! :)

        • Ripsnorter1

          I haven’t been able to find a link that says Lilly was released, or Gorzelanny. 

          Looking at Lilly’s performance….27 HR allowed in 149 IP, but WHIP was a good 1.20 and ERA was 4.68. ERA is better than Z, Dumpster, Wells, Coleman, Davis, Lopez and Ortiz. In other words, he’s still serviceable in the right situation. He’ll catch on with someone else.

          • cubtex

            Mlb trade rumors listed all the players the other day.

          • cubtex

            He has 27 mil left on his contract. No one will pick up that claim. Dodgers would have to pay a huge chunk of that to deal him.

  • Ripsnorter1

    I didn’t think they were ever going to take Minor out of there last night. That tells me that the Braves’ manager had no fear of the Cubs’ offense.

  • John_CC

    Anyone know the status of the waiver on Pena?  48 hours should be up. He either cleared or was claimed…

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Just announced that he was claimed by an unknown team

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    According to Buster Olney, Carlos Pena had been claimed by an unknown team

    • cubtex

      Good.. I know Heath Bell was claimed by the Giants today.

    • cubtex

      That would be funny if it were the White Sox and Pena puts Adam Dunn on the bench the rest of the year. The Sox need some lefthanded thump badly.

      • paulcatanese

        Pena was claimed by an unknown team ? Makes sense to me, I wouldnt want anyone to know I was claiming him either.

  • paulcatanese

    Byrd making two more “diving” catches, wow, there are plenty of center fielders around that carry a good glove and have more speed, and maybe put the ball in play a little more often. Very few players are put in center if they dont have speed and at least a decent arm, and I watch Byrd with his dives and believe that others would be standing under the ball to make the play. Defensivly Byrd is behind many others even in the system.