Sappelt Delivers in a Long Night in Houston – Cubs 4, Astros 1

Game One Hundred Forty-One – Cubs 4, Astros 1
WP – Chris Volstad (3-10) LP – Fernando Rodriguez (1-10) Save – Carlos Marmol (19)

wflag.jpgThe Cubs won their fourth straight game on Monday night in Houston. It took the Cubs and Astros three hours and 50 minutes to complete nine innings … and both teams showed why they are at the bottom of the standings in the National League.

The Cubs and Astros each used six pitchers and threw a combined 337 pitches. Dale Sveum’s staff issued seven walks while the Astros walked six and hit two batters. The two teams did not commit an error but left a combined 24 runners on base.

Dave Sappelt (2-for-5 with two doubles, three RBI and a run scored) had his hand in all four of the Cubs’ runs. Sappelt doubled in Welington Castillo (1-for-3 with two walks and two runs scored) in the second inning and scored the go ahead run on a wild pitch in the sixth. Sappelt capped his night with a two-out, two-run double in the seventh that gave the Cubs a little breathing room. Sappelt drove in a career-high three RBI and both of Sappelt’s run scoring hits came with two outs.

Joe Mather (2-for-5), Darwin Barney (2-for-4 with a walk) and Starlin Castro (2-for-4 with a double, a run scored and a stolen base) recorded multi-hit games and Alfonso Soriano (0-for-3 with two walks) reached base twice in five plate appearances.

The Cubs offense pounded out 11 hits, walked six times and both Anthony Rizzo (0-for-4) and Josh Vitters (1-for-4) were hit by pitches. The Cubs had plenty of chances, like the Astros, to blow the game open. The Cubs finished the game 3-for-11 with runners in scoring position and left 13 runners on base.

Chris Volstad picked up his third win of the season. Volstad labored through his five-inning outing and walked a season-high five batters. Volstad allowed one run on four hits with five walks and four strikeouts. Volstad was not sharp and threw 99 pitches, 56 for strikes, on Monday night.

The Cubs pen did their job and kept the Astros off the board. Miguel Socolovich survived a shaky two-thirds of an inning. Socolovich threw 12 pitches, only five in the strike zone. James Russell picked up the last out in the sixth. Jaye Chapman was sharp in the seventh. Chapman struck out two of the four batters he faced. Shawn Camp pitched a scoreless eighth and Carlos Marmol picked up his 19th save.

Darwin Barney made several outstanding defensive plays on Monday night and did not commit an error for the 126th straight game.

The Cubs equaled their season-long winning streak (June 29-July 2, July 8-July 15) with their fourth straight victory and improved to 55-86 on the year … The Cubs did nothing in the first, except hit grounders to the Astros’ infielders. Dallas Keuchel set down the Cubs in order on 18 pitches, 10 for strikes.

Chris Volstad retired Jimmy Paredes on a grounder to first (1-1 pitch) to start his outing. Fernando Martinez ripped a 0-1 pitch into left for a single. Volstad then issued a four-pitch walk to Brett Wallace. With runners on first and second with one down, Volstad caught Justin Maxwell looking at a 2-2 pitch for the second out. Jason Castro grounded out to second (2-2 pitch) to end the inning. Volstad threw 18 pitches, nine for strikes, in the first inning.

Alfonso Soriano flied out to center (2-1 pitch) to start the second. Starlin Castro grounded out to third (2-2 pitch) for the second out. Welington Castillo put together a patient at bat that resulted in a two-out walk. Josh Vitters lashed a 2-0 pitch into left for the Cubs first hit.

Dave Sappelt pulled Keuchel’s first pitch down the left field line. Castillo scored and Vitters held at third on Sappelt’s first two-bagger of the season. Keuchel missed on his first three offerings to Volstad … but Chris Volstad smacked a 3-1 pitch toward short to end the inning … 42 pitches for Dallas Keuchel after two, 21 for strikes.

Chris Volstad retired the side in order in the second. Volstad needed 27 pitches, 16 for strikes, to complete two innings of work.

Joe Mather grounded out to short for the first out in the third. Darwin Barney went the other way with a 3-1 pitch into right for a single. Anthony Rizzo grounded out to second, Barney was forced at second but Rizzo beat Tyler Greene’s throw to first. Rizzo advanced to second on a 2-2 pitch in the dirt to Soriano. Keuchel ended up walking Soriano but struck out Starlin Castro swinging (2-2 pitch) to end the inning. Keuchel threw 63 pitches over the first three innings, 33 for strikes.

Chris Volstad walked Dallas Keuchel on five pitches to start the third. Jimmy Paredes flied out to deep center. Joe Mather hauled in the deep drive but Keuchel tagged and advanced to second. Fernando Martinez hit a routine grounder toward third. Josh Vitters fielded the ball but did not look Keuchel back to the bag. Vitters threw out Martinez as Keuchel broke for third. The Astros’ pitcher beat Rizzo’s throw back across the diamond with a headfirst slide. Brett Wallace smoked a 1-1 pitch to the hole between first and second. Darwin Barney dove to his left, fielded the ball and threw out Wallace from his knees to end the inning.

The Cubs wasted a chance to tack on in the fourth. Welington Castillo ripped a 1-2 pitch into center for a leadoff single. Josh Vitters flied out to right (1-2 pitch) and Dave Sappelt flied out to left center (3-2 pitch). Chris Volstad singled to center (1-1 pitch) and Joe Mather pulled a 1-1 pitch into left. The ball fell just in front of J.D. Martinez. Houston’s left fielder made an excellent throw to the plate and cut down Welington Castillo to end the inning. Keuchel labored through another inning and needed 82 pitches, 46 for strikes, to complete four innings.

The Cubs were 2-for-4 with runners in scoring position after four at bats with six runners left on base.

Chris Volstad hung a 2-2 breaking ball to Justin Maxwell to start the fourth. Maxwell drove Volstad’s mistake over Joe Mather’s head and onto Tal’s Hill. Maxwell ended up at third with a standing triple. Volstad hung his next pitch. Jason Castro drove Volstad’s second mistake into right. Maxwell scored and tied the game one. Matt Dominguez popped out to Barney in short right. A wild pitch on a 1-1 offering to J.D. Martinez allowed Castro to advance. Volstad ended up walking Castro and the Astros had runners on first and second with two down. Volstad caught Tyler Greene looking at a 2-2 pitch for the second out. Brandon Laird hit for Dallas Keuchel and struck out swinging (2-2 pitch) on Volstad’s 75th pitch of the game, 44 for strikes, to end the inning.

After four complete, the game was tied at one.

Darwin Barney led off the fifth with a single to right off Chuckie Fick. Anthony Rizzo was plunked in the foot with a 1-2 pitch and the Cubs had runners on first and second with no outs. Alfonso Soriano chopped Fick’s first pitch back up the middle. Fick fielded the ball and started the 1-4-3 double play. Barney advanced to third with two down. Fick missed on his first three offerings to Castro and issued the fourth one intentionally. With runners on first and third with two down, Welington Castillo struck out swinging (2-2 pitch) to end the inning.

The Cubs were 2-for-6 with RISP and left eight on base in the first five innings.

Jimmy Paredes led off the fifth with a triple down the right field line. Volstad walked Fernando Martinez (3-2 pitch). With runners on first and third with no outs, Brett Wallace hit a soft liner to Castro. Justin Maxwell struck out swinging (3-2 pitch) for the second out. Volstad walked Jason Castro to load the bases with two down.

Chris Bosio went to the mound and had a one-sided conversation with Volstad before Matt Dominguez stepped in. Volstad got ahead in the count 0-2 before Dominguez grounded out to Barney for the third out … 99 pitches for Volstad after five innings, 56 for strikes. The Astros were 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position and left eight on base after five at bats.

Fernando Rodriguez took over for the Astros in the sixth and hit Josh Vitters on a 0-1 pitch. Dave Sappelt hit a 1-2 pitch toward second. Paredes fielded and tossed to Tyler Greene. Vitters was forced but Sappelt reached first. Bryan LaHair hit for Volstad and struck out swinging. Dave Sappelt took off for second on a 2-2 pitch to Joe Mather. Mather drove the ball through the vacated spot at second base. Sappelt advanced to third on Mather’s second hit of the night. Darwin Barney stepped in with runners on first and third and two down. Rodriguez threw a 1-1 pitch to Barney that hit just in front of Jason Castro. The ball got under Castro and Dave Sappelt took off for the plate. Sappelt slid in feet first with the go ahead run. Barney ended up working a walk and lefty Xavier Cedeno replaced Rodriguez.

With runners on first and second with two down, Anthony Rizzo struck out swinging on three pitches to end the inning.

Miguel Socolovich took over in the sixth and retired J.D. Martinez on a grounder to third. Anthony Rizzo made an excellent pick on a low throw from Josh Vitters. Socolovich then struggled with his command. Socolovich issued a four-pitch walk to Tyler Greene and missed on his first two pitches to Brandon Barnes. Greene took off for second on the 3-2 pitch to Barnes. Barnes grounded out to short for the second out and Sveum went to his pen for James Russell. With the go ahead run at second, Jimmy Paredes lined a 3-2 pitch down the third baseline. Josh Vitters dove and snared the ball to end the inning.

After six, the Cubs led 2-1.

Hector Ambriz walked Alfonso Soriano (3-2 pitch) to start the seventh. Starlin Castro pulled a 0-1 pitch into the gap in left center. Justin Maxwell cut off the ball and kept it from rolling all the way to the wall. Soriano held at third on Castro’s 24th double of the season. Ambriz intentionally walked Castillo and the Astros brought the infield in.

Josh Vitters stepped in with the bases loaded and no outs. And bounced a 2-0 pitch toward third. Matt Dominguez fielded the ball as Soriano froze between third and home. The Astros completed the 5-2-3 double play. Castro and Castillo advanced to second and third with two outs.

Dave Sappelt just missed hitting his first homer in a Cubs’ uniform. Sappelt pulled a 2-1 pitch to deep left center. The ball hit just under the yellow line. Sappelt drove in Castro and Castillo with his second double of the night. Ambriz intentionally walked pinch-hitter Adrian Cardenas. Joe Mather grounded out to short to end the inning.

The Cubs were 3-for-10 with RISP and left 12 runners on base after seven at bats.

Jaye Chapman was sharp in the seventh and he struck out two of the four batters he faced. Other than a one-out single by Justin Maxwell, the Astros did nothing against Chapman.

The Cubs did nothing against Hector Ambriz in the eighth.

Shawn Camp started the eighth … Joe Mather moved to left and Tony Campana took over in center. Camp issued a four-pitch walk to Matt Dominguez and missed on his first two offerings to J.D. Martinez. Martinez hit Camp’s next pitch toward Barney … 4-6-3 double play. Tyler Greene hit the first pitch to Vitters to end the inning.

Starlin Castro rapped a 0-1 pitch from Rhiner Cruz into center to start the ninth. Welington Castillo struck out swinging (0-2 pitch) for the first out. Josh Vitters struck out swinging on a 2-2 pitch. Castro was running and stole second, his 24th stolen base of the season. Sappelt grounded out to third to end the inning.

The Cubs went to the bottom of ninth up 4-1.

Luis Valbuena replaced Vitters at third base and Carlos Marmol retired Brian Bogusevic on a fly out to center. Jimmy Paredes struck out swinging (2-2 pitch) for the second out. J.D. Martinez ripped a 3-2 pitch into right for a single. Marmol struck out Brett Wallace swinging (3-2 pitch) to end the game.

Twelve pitchers threw 337 pitches on Monday night. The Cubs tossed 161, 92 in the strike zone, while the Astros hurled 176, 99 for strikes.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Justin Germano is scheduled to face Jordan Lyles on Tuesday night.

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  • Tony_Hall

    4 in a row!

    Volstad now has 3 wins, even though, last night wasn’t a great night.

    8 starts since coming back up

    46.1 IP
    48 H
    19 BB
    1.44 WHIP – rising.
    25 K’s
    3-3

    He is putting himself in a position to win a rotation spot out of ST next year. Mainly because I expect Vizcaino won’t be ready to go at the major league level to start the year.

    Garza, Samardzija, FA pickup, Vizcaino, T Wood is what I see the rotation for next year. They will need someone to fill in for Vizcaino.

    Volstad is not great, he is no more than a back end of the rotation pitcher. But, he could also convert to the bullpen and be effective for 1 inning, not for $3M of course.

    • SuzyS

      Tony, They will want more depth to start the season with…I see at least 2 FA pick ups…Maholm-like if they are lucky.

      • Tony_Hall

        Sorry Suzy, didn’t list them all this time.

        Here is a beginning list for back end guys and Iowa’s rotation for next year.

        Volstad
        RusinRaleyGermanoBerkenStruckJokischColemanWells
        I really don’t see 2 FA pick-ups, unless they trade Garza. Garza, Samardzija, Vizcaino has the makings of a good front of the rotation. Depending on who they add in FA, that could make for a nice 1-4, with T Wood or one of the above as #5, is not bad for next year.

      • Zonk

        Another Maholm pickup is a tough trick to pull-off. He had suffered a drop in velocity, and for that reason was non-tendered by the Pirates. Signing him was a risk, which is why Maholm agreed to the club-friendly option year.

        Obviously it worked out, but even so we wouldn’t get a good prospect for him without that option year, which was genius.

        You need some luck to “buy low and sell high” in only 4 months.

        • paulcatanese

          Enjoyed the post Neil, the suttle humor fits the game very well.
          Had to be hard trying to give the game any importance, given the status of both teams, but a couple of the kids just shined through
          (Sappelt and Castillo) and made some positive points.
          What are the odds that Sappelt sticks next year, he has looked pretty good so far. And the Cubs do need right handed hitters.

          • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

            Paul, thank you.

            I think the odds are pretty good, based on the roster right now, that Sappelt breaks camp in the spring with the team. He is supposed to go to Winter Ball to work on hitting right handers. I think they view him as a younger Reed Johnson.

        • Tony_Hall

          Actually there are some good options out there, whether they will be as cheap, and with the valuable option year or not is yet to be seen.

          Carlos Villanueva – 28
          Anibal Sanchez – 29
          Scott Feldman – 30
          Scott Baker – 31
          Francisco Liriano – 28

    • Ripsnorter1

      Did you know that Volstad has a history of having a good September each year?

      • Tony_Hall

        Honestly, I would bring him back and send him to Iowa. I don’t think if the scenarios for the rotation play out like I think they will, that he will beat out all the others. I don’t have him in the organization by mid year, unless something clicks…big time.

  • jtrain23

    Starlin Castro is looking more like his old self lately. How exciting is it to have this guy as the face of our franchise for the next decade. He gets tons of hits, steals bases, knocks in runs, and his power numbers are trending upward. I think he could be a perennial .300, 20+ home run, 25 steals, 80 RBI kind of player. If he can put the defense together, I think he’s the best shortstop in the league in 2 years, if not sooner.

    • triple

      I looked this up a couple days ago, but since when it was announced that they agreed to contract terms and were close to finalizing the deal (about a week before it was done), Castro has been hitting over .320. If you just look at the game logs you can see exactly when he started not just getting hits almost every day, but multiple hits.