Cubs Caught Looking – Cubs 5, Brewers 7

Game Four – Cubs 5, Brewers 7
WP – Shaun Marcum (1-0) LP – Shawn Camp (0-1) Save – John Axford (1)

The Cubs came up short Monday night against the Brewers after they loaded the bases with two out in the ninth. The Cubs entered the final inning down 7-3 and scored two runs off Milwaukee’s pen. Aramis Ramirez’s first error of the season gave the Cubs an opportunity and Steve Clevenger came in off the bench and drove in his first big league run. With two outs and the Cubs down by two, Darwin Barney walked to load the bases for Starlin Castro. Castro was caught looking at a 0-2 pitch from John Axford, game over.

Dale Sveum’s team never quit playing on Monday night … and that cannot be said about many recent Cubs’ teams.

The Cubs’ offense had opportunities Monday but could not cash them in. Darwin Barney (1-for-3 with a home run and a walk) hit the Cubs’ first homer of the season in the bottom of the first off Shaun Marcum. Bryan LaHair (2-for-4 with a home run) launched his first homer of the year in the second … the ball ended up on Sheffield. Geovany Soto (1-for-2 with a triple, two runs scored and two walks) and Ian Stewart (1-for-4 with a double and a run scored) produced but as a team, the Cubs were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and left seven on base.

Starlin Castro’s 14-game hitting streak and 43 game streak of reaching base safely came to an end Monday night. Castro finished the game 0-for-5 with two strikeouts and left four on base.

For the first time in the young season, a Cubs starter struggled and the less than average bullpen was exposed once again.

Chris Volstad received a no decision after he allowed three runs on five hits with two walks and six strikeouts in five innings. Volstad was lifted for pinch hitter Blake DeWitt in the fifth and DeWitt tied the game with a sac fly. Volstad pitched from behind in the count and up in the zone for a majority of his outing. Volstad ran up his pitch count and was done after throwing 87 pitches, 49 for strikes, in his Cubs’ debut.

Shawn Camp could not keep the Brewers off the board and showed why the Mariners’ released him during Spring Training. Camp threw batting practice and allowed three runs on five hits with two strikeouts and no walks in two innings.

Lendy Castillo made his big league debut Monday night and showed his inexperience. Castillo gave up a hit on the first pitch he threw, hit a batter and allowed a run on a hit in 2/3 of an inning.

Shawn Camp and Lendy Castillo allowed a combined four runs on six hits in 2 2/3 innings.

James Russell finished the game with 1 1/3 innings of shutout ball. Russell walked a batter but struck out two and did not surrender a hit.

It is early but the problems in the pen do not figure to get any better with the current personnel. The Cubs pen owns a 10.38 ERA and a 2.54 WHIP … teams have hit .395 against Cubs’ relievers over the first four games.

Chris Volstad labored through a long first inning but allowed only one run. Rickie Weeks struck out swinging (3-2 pitch) to start the game. Nyjer Morgan followed with a single to center. After the boos settled down, Ryan Braun blooped a 2-2 pitch into shallow left. Morgan rounded second and headed for third. Soriano fielded the ball and threw to third, instead of second. Morgan slid in safe and Braun ended up at second with what was ruled a double.

With runners on second and third and one down, Aramis Ramirez stepped to the plate. Ramirez hit a 1-1 pitch into right. DeJesus caught the ball and threw to the plate. The ball took a weird hop and Morgan slid in with the first run of the game. Volstad struck out Corey Hart swinging (3-2 pitch) for the third out.

David DeJesus struck out swinging (3-2 pitch) on the eighth pitch of the at bat to start the home half of the first. Darwin Barney followed and lifted a 0-1 pitch into the basket in left … game tied at one on the Cubs’ first homer of the season.

Starlin Castro grounded out to second on the first pitch … and Alfonso Soriano popped out to Mat Gamel on a 3-2 pitch to end the first.

Other than a one-out single by Alex Gonzalez, the Brewers did nothing against Chris Volstad in the second. After two, Volstad’s pitch count was very high … 41 pitches, 25 for strikes.

Ian Stewart started the second by grounding out to Rickie Weeks. Bryan LaHair put together a very good at bat that ended with a monster-shot over the wall in right. The ball ended up on Sheffield Avenue and the Cubs took a 2-1 lead on a homer that traveled an estimated 420 feet. Soto struck out on three pitches after LaHair’s homer and Byrd reached on a throwing error by Alex Gonzalez. Volstad grounded out to short for the last out in the second.

The Cubs one-run lead did not last long. Rickie Weeks led off the third with a line drive homer down the left field line. Volstad refocused and struck out Nyjer Morgan swinging. Volstad wanted nothing to do with Braun and walked him on four pitches. Aramis Ramirez struck out swinging on a 1-2 pitch for the second out.

On a 0-1 pitch to Corey Hart, Braun took off for second. Soto’s throw was on time but to the first base side of the bag. Braun slid in safe with his first stolen base of the season. Hart ended up walking but both runners were stranded when Gamel blooped out to Castro (in the shift behind second) to end the inning.

The Cubs did nothing against Shaun Marcum in the third.

The Brewers took the lead in the top of the fourth after Alex Gonzalez led off with a double off the base of the ivy in right center (1-1 pitch). Jonathan Lucroy hit a 1-1 pitch back up the middle that Barney got to and made an excellent throw to nail Lucroy at first.

Shaun Marcum dropped down a bunt on the first pitch and Gonzalez scored the go ahead run on the suicide squeeze. Volstad fielded the ball and threw out Marcum for the second out. Weeks flied out to left center (3-2 pitch) to end the inning.

After three and a half, the Cubs were down 3-2 and Chris Volstad’s pitch count was very high … 76 pitches, 43 for strikes.

Shaun Marcum sat down the Cubs in order in the fourth. Marcum threw 54 pitches in the first four innings, 39 for strikes.

Chris Volstad retired the Brewers in order in the fifth … the first time he sat the Brewers down in order on Monday night.

The Cubs received a gift from Nyjer Morgan in the bottom of the fifth.

Geovany Soto hit a 1-0 pitch into center. Morgan lost what appeared to be a routine fly ball. The ball fell behind him and Soto ended up at third with a gift triple. After a horrible at bat by Marlon Byrd (struck out swinging on 2-2 pitch), Blake DeWitt hit for Volstad and popped a 1-1 pitch into right center. Soto tagged and scored … game tied at three.

David DeJesus followed with a single but was thrown out at second on a delayed steal to end the fifth.

Shawn Camp started the sixth and gave up two quick runs.

Corey Hart led off the sixth with a single to left center. Mat Gamel pulled a 1-0 pitch from Camp into the right field corner. Hart scored easily and Gamel ended up at third with a triple. Sveum brought his infield in. Gonzalez chopped a 1-1 pitch to third. Stewart fielded, checked on Gamel and threw out Gonzalez at first.

The Brewers scored their second run of the night on a sac fly to medium-depth right field. Jonathan Lucroy lifted a 1-2 pitch to DeJesus. The Cubs’ right fielder caught the ball but his throw was up the line and hit Gamel as he slid in with the Brewers’ fifth run. Camp struck out Marcum swinging to end the inning.

Darwin Barney (flied out to right) and Starlin Castro (struck out swinging) went down quickly to start the bottom of the sixth. Alfonso Soriano singled to right center (2-2 pitch) but Ian Stewart flied out to left (3-2 pitch) to end the sixth.

After six complete, the Cubs trailed 5-3.

The Brewers continued taking batting practice off Shawn Camp in the seventh. Weeks flied out to Marlon Byrd at the wall in right center to start the inning. Nyjer Morgan singled to center on a 1-1 pitch and Braun singled to left.

With runners on first and second with one down, Morgan broke for third before the first pitch to Aramis Ramirez. Camp stepped off, threw to Ian Stewart and he tagged out Morgan as Braun advanced to second. Aramis Ramirez ripped a 1-0 pitch into the gap in left center. Braun scored easily on Ramirez’s double. Camp struck out Hart swinging to end the inning.

The bottom of the seventh began on a positive note … but ended poorly. Bryan LaHair singled to left and Jose Veras walked Geovany Soto on four pitches. Marlon Byrd flied out to center on a 0-1 pitch, Reed Johnson hit for Camp and flied out to shallow left and DeJesus struck out swinging to end the inning.

Lendy Castillo made his big league debut in the eighth … and showed his inexperience.

Mat Gamel ripped Castillo’s first pitch into right field. Gamel took off for second on a 2-0 offering to Alex Gonzalez. With Gamel at second, Gonzalez flied out to deep center. Gamel advanced to third with one out. Castillo then hit Lucroy and put runners on first and second with one down.

Carlos Gomez came into the game in the bottom of the seventh as a defensive replacement. In his first at bat, one of Santo’s favorites pushed a bunt up the first base line. Gamel scored as Castillo threw out Gomez for the second out. Sveum went to his pen and brought in James Russell.

James Russell struck out Rickie Weeks looking (3-2 pitch) to end the inning.

Darwin Barney walked to start the eighth but Castro popped up Francisco Rodriguez’s first pitch into right center and Alfonso Soriano hit into a 6-4-3 inning ending double play.

James Russell retired Nyjer Morgan on a fly out to right and struck out Ryan Braun swinging (3-2 pitch) before issuing a free pass to Aramis Ramirez. Cesar Izturis hit for Francisco Rodriguez and blooped a 0-1 pitch to Barney in shallow right for the third out.

The Cubs went to the bottom of the ninth looking up a four-run deficit.

Manny Parra started the ninth and gave up a double to Ian Stewart (left field, 3-2 pitch). Bryan LaHair hit the first pitch to Mat Gamel, Stewart advanced to third and Ron Roenicke went to his pen for Tim Dillard.

Geovany Soto worked a walk to put runners on first and third with one out. Roenicke went back to his pen and brought in John Axford to close it out.

Marlon Byrd hit a 3-2 pitch to Aramis Ramirez. Ramirez booted what could have been a game ending double play. Stewart scored on the error … 7-4 Brewers. Steve Clevenger hit for James Russell and blooped a 2-2 pitch into left center. Soto scored, Byrd advanced to third when Gomez bobbled the ball and Clevenger went to second on the throw to third.

With runners on second and third with one out, David DeJesus struck out swinging (2-2 pitch). Sveum sent Jeff Samardzija into run for Clevenger with two down.

Darwin Barney walked on five pitches and set the stage for Castro.

With the bases loaded, two outs and the Cubs down by two, Starlin Castro looked at a 0-2 pitch from Axford to end the game.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Paul Maholm makes his Cubs’ debut Tuesday night against Chris Narveson.

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  • John_CC

    I can’t believe Starlin went down with the bat on his shoulder. Since when does he not swing at fastballs…anywhere, let alone down the pipe?

    Man o man. All three losses are pretty easy to hang on the bullpen so far.  

  • http://gladiatorblog.blogspot.com/ SirGladiator

    Every game so far the starter has exited with the lead or tied.  The bullpen has blown all but one of the games so far.  Byrd and DeJesus look incredibly expendible, as does Soriano of course.  Maybe trade all of them, eat all of Soriano’s contract, just get us some good arms for the pen, and put LaHair, Jackson, and Campana (or whoever else) in the outfield.  A move like that would make both our bullpen AND our outfield better than it is right now.  We need a boost to the pen or we’re in danger of the pen ruining our season.

  • paulcatanese

    I’m sorry, but Byrd has one of the worse swings I have seen in a long time. Reminds me of a statue and the only thing that moves are his arms. No stride whatsoever, how he generates any power at all is a mystery.
    I don’t think DeJesus is going to cut it either.
    I just hope Theo isn’t going to let this play out to see when they come around, too many games will go by the wayside.
    Only three games or twenty, it will be the same, make the change Theo.
    Camp should go to camp, somewhere out of state.
    I don’t know Stewart either, but at least he looks like he may work out, and Clevenger should be a good bet for platooning with Soto, I think he can do the job.
    LaHair, that was some shot, some shot,some shot. And Rizzo would do nothing but compliment him now,now,now.

    • Baron_S

      Definitely … Byrd is only swinging his arms these days — his lower body does not move 1 inch — what kind of swing is that!!! What is Jaramillo doing with him

  • Nathan

    From what ive seen from Stewart so far I like. But somehow someway the Cubs need to find everyday playing time for Jackson and Rizzo asap. Make Dejesus the fourth outfielder, get rid of bryd and dewitt

  • GaryLeeT

    Whew! Took me a while to drag this dead horse over here.  A good pen can make the difference between winning, and loosing?  Certainly can’t blame management for falling down on that one. Maybe Jed can trade for a bullpen stud using some of their junk, and a highly regarded single a prospect? Who wouldn’t go for that?

    • paulcatanese

      True Gary, there is no blame on management for going what they believed on paper to be the best option.
      The one thing I had mentioned earlier would be not to let it linger on for any length of time if it does not improve quickly.
      Better to give other’s a chance and develop them.