Zilch, Nada, Nothing – Cubs 0, Astros 3

Game One Hundred Sixty-One – Cubs 0, Astros 3
WP – Bud Norris (7-13) LP – Chris Volstad (3-12) Save – Wilton Lopez (10)

For the second night in a row, the Cubs were not able to push a run across the plate. Five different Astros’ pitchers combined on a four-hit shutout the 16th time the Cubs have been shut out this season. The Cubs had chances early on and left runners in scoring position in four of the first five innings. The Cubs managed just seven baserunners all night while two of the Astros’ three runs were unearned.

Chris Volstad notched his first quality start since August 26, and the first for the Cubs since September 20, with a strong seven-inning performance. Volstad equaled his season-high in strikeouts (6) that he set in his first start of the season. Volstad allowed two runs, one earned, on five hits without a walk and six strikeouts on 92 pitches, 66 for strikes. Volstad made only one mistake in his last start of the season. Jason Castro lined a 1-2 pitch into the first row of the bleachers in right field. Volstad departed after seven innings with his team down 2-0.

Alberto Cabrera gave the Astros their third run in the eighth inning. Cabrera could not find the strike zone and allowed a run on two walks, his own throwing error and a wild pitch. The Astros put one ball in play, and it was a groundout to first base.

Jeff Beliveau and Michael Bowden did not allow any runs or hits in what was likely their final appearances of the season.

After being shut out on two hits on Monday night, the Cubs were shut out on four hits on Tuesday night. Starlin Castro (2-for-4 with two doubles) reached on two gift doubles, one in the second and the other in the fourth. The Cubs put runners in scoring position in the second, third, four and fifth innings but came away empty. The offense managed only two baserunners the rest of the night after Castro’s double in the fourth. The Cubs were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and stranded seven runners on base.

Alfonso Soriano (1-for-4) collected a hit in what was likely his final game of the season. Brett Jackson (1-for-2 with a walk) reached twice in three plate appearances but was picked off second base with one out in the third.

With Tuesday’s loss, the Cubs dropped to 60-101 for the season with one game left to play …

Chris Volstad retired the side in order in the first inning on 11 pitches, seven for strikes.

The Cubs did nothing in the first. Jose Altuve took a hit away from Darwin Barney on a ball ticketed for centerfield. Bud Norris threw only 10 pitches in the first inning, seven for strikes.

The Astros jumped on Chris Volstad in the second and took advantage of an error by Starlin Castro. Matt Dominguez grounded out to Barney and Brett Wallace tapped back to the mound. Volstad then got ahead of Jason Castro 1-2. Castro lined Volstad’s next pitch into the first row of the bleachers in right field. Justin Maxwell ripped a 1-2 pitch back up the middle that Castro should have fielded. The ball went under his glove and into left center. Maxwell hustled out of the box and slid in headfirst at second. Castro’s error ended up costing the Cubs a run. Tyler Greene lashed Volstad’s first pitch into right. David DeJesus charged the ball and made a strong throw toward the plate. Anthony Rizzo cut off the ball, threw to second and Greene was caught in a rundown. Greene avoided Barney’s tag by running out of the baseline. The call was not made. Greene was allowed to stay at first and Volstad struck out Norris swinging to end the inning … 29 pitches for Volstad after two, 21 for strikes.

Alfonso Soriano struck out swinging to start the second. Starlin Castro popped a 1-2 pitch into shallow right center. The wind pushed the ball back toward right. Scott Moore ran in, the ball hit off his glove and Moore landed awkwardly, rolled over on his shoulder and injured himself. Castro ended up at second with what was ruled a double. Moore left the game and was replaced by Brandon Barnes. Luis Valbuena popped out to left and Welington Castillo popped out to center for the third out. Norris needed 23 pitches, 18 for strikes, to complete two innings.

After two, the Cubs trailed 2-0.

Chris Volstad set down the side in order in the third. Volstad threw 42 pitches, 31 for strikes, over three innings.

Brett Jackson worked a walk to start the third. Volstad bunted Jackson to second. David DeJesus also walked (3-1 pitch) and the Cubs had runners on first and second with one down. Darwin Barney squared to bunt on Norris’ first pitch. Barney took the pitch … and Jackson drifted off second too far. Jason Castro threw behind Jackson to second and Tyler Greene eventually tagged him out. DeJesus made it to second but was stranded when Barney grounded out to third. Norris needed just 38 pitches, 25 for strikes, to complete three innings of work.

Chris Volstad gave up a one-out bloop single to Brett Wallace in the fourth but that was all. Jason Castro flied out to left and Justin Maxwell flied out to right to end the inning. Volstad needed 59 pitches, 42 for strikes, to complete four innings.

Anthony Rizzo struck out swinging (1-2 pitch) to start the fourth. Alfonso Soriano drove a 2-2 pitch into right for a single … the Cubs’ second hit of the game. Starlin Castro collected his second gift-double of the game. Castro drove a 1-0 pitch into right center. Brandon Barnes and Justin Maxwell did not communicate. The ball fell in between the two outfielders and rolled to the wall. Soriano held at third on Castro’s 29th two-bagger of the season. The Cubs inability to change their approach with runners in scoring position hurt them once again. Luis Valbuena took a full swing on a 2-2 pitch and struck out … and so did Welington Castillo (struck out swinging on 2-2 pitch).

After four, the Cubs trailed 2-0 and were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position with four left on base.

Tyler Greene led off the fifth with a swinging bunt toward third. Greene broke his bat on the 1-1 pitch and Valbuena could not make the play. Bud Norris bunted Greene to second. Jose Altuve hit Volstad’s first pitch to Castro. Greene held as Castro threw to first for the out. Greene swiped third on the first pitch to Barnes but was stranded when Barnes grounded out to Valbuena to end the inning … 68 pitches for Volstad after five, 48 for strikes.

Jose Altuve left due to an injury (left groin) prior to the bottom of the fifth. Jed Lowrie took over at short and Tyler Greene moved to second. Brett Jackson pulled a 0-1 pitch into right for a leadoff single. Volstad bunted Jackson to second. Brett Wallace made an excellent diving stop to take away a hit and a RBI from DeJesus. Jackson advanced to third but was stranded when Barney grounded out to Lowrie. Bud Norris threw 74 pitches, 47 for strikes, over five innings … and the Cubs were 0-for-7 with RISP and left five runners on base.

Chris Volstad struck out J.D. Martinez looking to start the sixth. Matt Dominguez blooped a single into shallow center … but Brett Wallace hit into a 3-6 double play to end the inning. Volstad threw 79 pitches, 57 for strikes, in six innings of work.

The Cubs did nothing in the sixth … 80 pitches for Norris after six, 52 for strikes.

Chris Volstad retired the side in order in the seventh. Volstad threw 92 pitches, 66 for strikes, in seven innings.

The Cubs did nothing against Xavier Cedeno in the seventh … 1-2-3 for the lefty on 10 pitches, eight for strikes.

Alberto Cabrera started the eighth and gave the Astros a run. Cabrera walked pinch-hitter Brian Bogusevic on five pitches to start the inning. Cabrera then uncorked a wild throw to first before a 1-1 pitch to Lowrie. Bogusevic advanced to second on the Cubs’ second error of the game. Lowrie grounded out to first, Bogusevic advanced to third then scored on a wild pitch. Cabrera ended up walking Brandon Barnes and Dale Sveum decided that was enough. Cabrera threw 15 pitches, six for strikes. Jeff Beliveau retired pinch-hitter Brandon Laird on a foul out to Rizzo. Matt Dominguez stepped in but before a 1-1 pitch, Beliveau caught Barnes leaning and picked him off first to end the inning (1-3-4).

Chuckie Fick started the eighth and retired pinch-hitter Dave Sappelt on a grounder to third. Wesley Wright took over with the top of the lineup due up. David DeJesus hit a 3-2 pitch up the first baseline. Wright fielded the ball with his barehand but as he was running to first, he stumbled then tried to flip the ball to Wallace at first. The ball got past Wallace and DeJesus ended up at first on the Astros’ first error of the game. But Darwin Barney looked at a 2-2 pitch for the second out and Anthony Rizzo struck out swinging to end the inning.

The game went to the ninth with the Cubs down 3-0.

Michael Bowden retired Matt Dominguez on a flyout to center for the first out in the ninth. Brett Wallace walked but Bowden struck out both Jason Castro and Justin Maxwell swinging to end the inning.

Wilton Lopez retired Alfonso Soriano (groundout to third) and Starlin Castro (flyout to right center) quickly to start the ninth. Luis Valbuena worked a walk but Welington Castillo popped Lopez’s first pitch into shallow right to end the game.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Travis Wood will face Edgar Gonzalez in the last game of the season on Wednesday afternoon.

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  • Ripsnorter1

    Hoyer says we need starting pitching. He has said nothing about acquiring a bat. He left San Diego without any bats. After 16–SIXTEEN!–shutouts this year, how about a bat?

    And all the silly talk of dumping Soriano–and paying his salary, too, no less–ought to cease.

    • Tony_Hall

      They will be in the 3B and OF market in FA.

      Soriano will be interesting as this will be the best shot to trade him, yet so was the trading deadline and no one was willing to give up anything of value and pay enough of his salary. At this point if that doesn’t change he will be in LF until his production goes down, which we all have to believe we just saw his last high point, and need to expect a decrease of some sort over the next 2 years. As long as he stays coachable and stays with the lighter bat, he should be a productive player. We just need a 1-2 year deal on a 3B (Youkilis or Rolen) and we need a 1-2 year deal on an OF, but other than that our lineup is set.

      C Castillo
      1B Rizzo
      2B Barney (barring a trade)
      SS Castro
      3B (FA Youkilis or Rolen)
      LF Soriano
      CF DeJesus (until they call BJAX back up)
      RF (FA many short term options)

      • cubtex

        I heard Sveum is talking to Soriano about wearing lighter spikes and a lighter glove to improve his outfield range for next year :)

        Tony, I hope there are more changes than what you have there for next year. That team will struggle again to score runs. I know you like DeJesus…..but they need more production than what he gives a team at this stage in his career. He is not a basestealer,he is not a RBI producer and he doesn’t hit with enough power. Look at that lineup and tell me how they will score runs. They need to shake up this team more than that. Where is the team speed? All they have is Castro who can steal a base. I hope Theo does more than add a Rolen/Youkilis and another DeJesus type player to fill in RF or Theo will set another record of being the ONLY team in Cubs history to not be over .500 following a 100 loss season.

        • paulcatanese

          Cubtex, I see Campana is in the lineup for the last game.
          I hope he remembers where the batters box is.
          After he has been relegated to sweeping seeds up in the dugout from Sveum and Castro, and running out to short between innings to do the same making sure the other shortstop dosent trip over Castro’s garbage,
          he is getting the opportunity to play.
          At least Campana used his speed for the cleanup.
          Only playing 1/3 of the season and still, still leading this bunch with stolen bases.
          I realize (john) that he is not the future with this team and wish he had been released,traded or anything rather than be totaly wasted with the Cubs.
          I don’t expect much from him today, but am just happy that he has the chance to play.
          Probably be lifted for a pinch hitter (LaHair)
          anyway, the K that LaHair provides will match what Sveum expects from Campana .

        • Tony_Hall

          Lighter spikes and gloves…now that’s funny. Don’t believe they will increase his production as much as that lighter bat did.

          There could be more changes. It would be great if they were able to make DeJesus their #4 OF, that would be a pretty good starting OF in front of him. Also, I don’t think they will add a DeJesus type in RF, they would just use him. I expect the player to have more power moving DeJesus to CF until BJAX is ready to come back up.

          They won’t be losing 100 next year, and they wouldn’t have this year if that was goal, as they would have kept the rotation in-tact to win more games.

    • Scott

      Pitching and defense are what wins ballgames and championships. That is where we need to start. There are 13 teams with an ERA over 4, two have a winning record and neither will be in the playoffs. Of the top 10 teams in terms of ERA, only one has a losing record and there are 7 playoff teams. You can try to outslug teams if you want, and that can work in the regular season, but to win in the postseason, you need pitching and defense. (Only 4 of the top 10 teams in runs scored will be in the playoffs.)

      • cubtex

        Agreed….but you can’t win a game if you can’t score at least 1 run.

        • Scott

          You definitely can’t steal first, that’s for sure. I agree with you. But as bad as our offense has been, our team batting average is actually higher than that of Oakland (.240 to .238). But they can pitch, we have Volstad, Germano, Berken….lol.

      • Ripsnorter1

        St. Louis won in 2011….1st in NL in runs scored….next to last in NL in defense (27th in MLB in defense)…12th in MLB in pitching–8th in NL–(that’d be middle of the pack)….

        Forget the pitching and defense thing. It doesn’t work. Over the history of modern era baseball, there have only been 3 teams that have won the WS with top of the line pitching, and middle of the pack hitting. The winning formula is near the top hitting (ie, runs scored), and middle of the pack or better pitching.

        • SuzyS

          St Louis won in 2011 because they added several hot relievers at the trade deadline.
          Without those moves they don’t even sniff the playoffs…no one talks about that.

      • Ripsnorter1

        Who’s #1 in MLB in pitching in 2012? Are they going to the playoffs? Nah. Tampa Bay is going home. Dodgers are #3.

        Top fielding teams, Chisox, and #2 Seattle (who was #1 last year), are both going home. Oakland is #23 and they are going to the playoffs. Detroit is #13. Fielding is less important than you’d think with the “pitching and defense” cliche.

      • Ripsnorter1

        What about the 2009 WS between Philly and Yanks. Yanks were #12 in MLB in pitching. Philly was #8. Both were middle of the pack. Defense? Philly was #4, Yanks #9. Offense was Yanks #1, Philly #4.

        It’s the bats, baby. Top or near the top hitting, plus middle of the pack pitching will get you there.

  • paulcatanese

    Adding extra seats behind home plate to increase revenue?
    Why not just convert the seats they have now to “bunk bed type”
    built on top of the seats they have now.
    If they don’t start putting a winning team on the field, the extra seats won’t matter, extra room will be readily available.
    The money they will spend for those seats would be better spent to find at least one pitcher who can find home plate and a pitch that will make it all the way to the catcher.
    That brings up another point, Cub catchers are overpaid, they catch half the pitches as the others dont even make it to them.