Astros Squeeze One Out at Wrigley – Cubs 3, Astros 4

Game Seventy-Three – Cubs 3, Astros 4

WP – Jose Cisnero (2-0) LP – Kevin Gregg (2-1) Save – Jose Veras (15)

Travis Wood was cruising right along until two outs in the sixth inning when Jose Altuve and Chris Carter reached on back-to-back singles and J.D. Martinez launched a three-run homer onto Waveland that tied the game at three. And Ronny Cedeno bunted in Justin Maxwell for the game winner in the ninth off Kevin Gregg.

The Cubs had chances to take the lead in the eighth but Alfonso Soriano was picked off second base for the second out in the inning and Darwin Barney did not get the call on a 3-1 pitch that would have forced in the go ahead run. The Cubs offense continued to struggle on Saturday and wasted numerous scoring opportunities. The Cubs went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position and left eight men on base in a one-run loss at home. The Cubs offense has one hit in their last 17 at bats with runners in scoring position.

Luis Valbuena (1-for-5 with two RBI) delivered a two-run RBI single in the second that broke a scoreless tie and Nate Schierholtz (1-for-3 with a home run and a walk) hit a solo homer in the fifth that gave Travis Wood a three-run lead. Schierholtz set a new career high with his tenth home run of the season on Saturday.

Starlin Castro (1-for-5) collected the 600th hit of his career with a single in the third inning while Welington Castillo (2-for-3 with a walk) had another good day at the plate. Alfonso Soriano (1-for-4 with a double) and Anthony Rizzo (0-for-2 with two walks) continued to struggle with men on base. The Cubs’ four and five hitters left six men on base on Saturday.

Travis Wood picked up another quality start on Saturday after dominating the Astros for the first 5 2/3 innings of the game. Wood set down nine in a row and 12 of the 13 batters he faced before giving up the two-out single to Jose Altuve. Wood retired Justin Maxwell to end the sixth inning after hitting Carlos Corporan following Martinez’s three-run homer. Wood started the seventh but was lifted after issuing a leadoff walk to Matt Dominguez.

Travis Wood allowed three runs on five hits with a walk, a hit batsman, and five strikeouts in six-plus innings. Wood threw 89 pitches, 55 for strikes. Following the home run, Wood did not pitch with the same confidence that made him very successful over his first 14 starts.

Shawn Camp and Blake Parker kept the Astros off the board in the seventh and eighth innings. Kevin Gregg took the hill in the ninth and gave up a leadoff double to Justin Maxwell, two sacrifice bunts later, the Astros had the lead.

With Saturday’s loss, the Cubs dropped back to 13 games under .500 for the season (30-43)

Travis Wood worked around a one-out double by Jose Altuve in the first inning without allowing any runs. Wood retired Carter on a grounder to short and struck out J.D. Martinez swinging to end the inning. Wood threw 15 pitches, 10 for strikes, in the first inning.

Wood faced the minimum in the second (23 pitches, 15 for strikes) while Bud Norris did not allow a hit and faced the minimum over his first two innings of work. After Wood worked around a two-out error by Starlin Castro in the third, the Cubs took advantage of two Astros’ errors in the home half of the third.

Welington Castillo led off the third with the Cubs’ first hit, a single to center. Darwin Barney chopped a 1-1 pitch toward the hole at short. Matt Dominguez cut the ball off and threw to second. But his throw was high and Altuve could not get his foot back down before throwing to first. Castillo was called safe as Barney beat the throw to first. Travis Wood stepped in and tried to bunt both runners up ninety feet. After Norris’ second pitch to Wood, Carlos Corporan threw to second to try to pick off Castillo. The ball hit Castillo, ended up in shallow left and both runners advanced on the Astros’ second error of the inning. Wood bounced out to third for the first out.

Luis Valbuena ripped a single into center on a 1-2 pitch. Valbuena drove in Castillo and Barney with the Cubs first hit in ten at bats with runners in scoring position. Sveum called for a hit and run on a 1-1 pitch to Castro. Starlin Castro singled to center and put two on with one down for Nate Schierholtz. Norris walked Schierholtz to load the bases.

Alfonso Soriano popped Norris’ first pitch to first base and Anthony Rizzo struck out swinging to end the inning. At the end of three, the Cubs had a 2-0 lead … but it should have been a lot more (1-for-4 with RISP, three men left on base after three innings).

Travis Wood settled in after the third inning and retired 12 of the next 13 batters he faced.

The Cubs wasted a chance to tack on in the fourth inning after Welington Castillo and Darwin Barney reached on back-to-back singles with one out. Travis Wood failed to bunt the runners up and fouled a 1-2 bunt attempt for the second out. Luis Valbuena lifted Norris’ first pitch to deep right to end the inning.

Nate Schierholtz added to the Cubs’ lead in the fifth with a solo homer to the party deck in right. Schierholtz’s tenth home run, a new career-high for a single season, put the Cubs up 3-0.

Travis Wood started the sixth up 3-0 and retired Norris and Barnes to start the inning. Wood had retired nine in a row and 12 of the last 13 before Altuve stepped to the plate.

Jose Altuve worked a full count before blooping a single into right field. Chris Carter followed with a single to left on a 1-0 pitch and the Astros had two on with two down. J.D. Martinez launched the first pitch he saw over the wall in left and onto Waveland Avenue … and just like that, the game was tied at three.

Travis Wood was not the same after the long home run. Wood plunked Corporan with a 3-2 pitch and Justin Maxwell smoked a 2-0 pitch to left … but right at Soriano to end the inning. Wood labored through a 24-pitch inning and it took him 85 pitches, 55 for strikes, to complete six innings.

The Cubs did nothing in the sixth and Wood took the hill to start the seventh.

With the game tied at three, Wood issued a four-pitch walk to Matt Dominguez to start the seventh. Sveum wasted no time and went to his pen for Shawn Camp. Camp got out of the seventh without allowing any runs and Blake Parker pitched around a leadoff walk and a Welington Castillo error in the eighth.

The game went to the bottom of the eighth tied at three.

Alfonso Soriano doubled to left off Jose Cisnero with one out. Anthony Rizzo looked at two out of the zone before Cisnero issued the last two intentionally. Ryan Sweeney stepped in with two on and one down. Before a 2-1 pitch to Sweeney, Cisnero wheeled around and picked off Soriano from second base. It was a very close play. Soriano thought he was safe, Sveum argued and replays were inconclusive. Sweeney singled to center on a 3-2 pitch and the Cubs had runners on first and second with two outs.

Welington Castillo worked a walk to load the bases for Darwin Barney.

Barney worked a 3-1 count then took what appeared to be ball four. The ball was inside and down but Phil Cuzzi thought it was a strike. Instead of Barney walking and forcing in the go ahead run, Barney popped out to center to end the inning.

Justin Maxwell greeted Kevin Gregg with a double to left on a 1-2 pitch to start the ninth. Matt Dominguez bunted him to second and Ronny Cedeno surprisingly gave himself up. Cedeno bunted in Maxwell with the go ahead run … 4-3 Astros. Gregg struck out pinch hitter Lucas Harrell to end the inning.

The Cubs did nothing against Jose Veras in the ninth. The Astros’ closer recorded all three outs on just six pitches.

Jeff Samardzija faces Jordan Lyles in the series finale on Sunday afternoon.

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Quote of the Day

"You try to get that game out of your mind, but it never leaves you." - Cool Papa Bell
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  • Ripsnorter1

    Detroit needs a closer. IN-credibly, Detroit’s GM said that Valverde could still close games for Detroit EVEN AFTER HE DFA’d HIM!

    Detroit GM Dave Dombrowski insists that, in spite of designating Valverde for assignment, the team “still think[s] he can close games for us.” As Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press reports, the team hopes Valverde will clear waivers and accept an assignment to Triple-A.

    DUH!

    Everyone knew Valverde was done last year. Kevin Gregg would look just fine blowing games in Detroit. His magic this year for the Cubs would have been much appreciated in 2009. Why, oh, why couldn’t he have pitched this well then?

    • Ray Ray

      I am sure the Tigers will pick up a closer. If they want to go big they could try for Papelbon or smaller like Veras or Gregg. Veras and Gregg shouldn’t cost the Tigers too much.

  • Ray Ray

    DJ LeMahieu has been doing very well since his promotion to Colorado. He hit his 1st HR today(off Dan Haren) He is hitting .299 and get this….is 9 for 9 in SB. That light air in Colorado must have improved his speed.

    • Ripsnorter1

      And they finally recalled Colvin. 3 HR and 9 RBI in 38 AB, hitting .184 thus far.

    • Tony_Hall

      DJ is a good hitter with no power, even at Coors. He is who we thought he was….and we traded him for a shot at a real 3b with power. And it didn’t work.

      • Ray Ray

        I would rather see LeMahieu playing 2B or 3B with the Cubs now than who they are putting out there.

        • Tony_Hall

          Why do you dislike Valbuena and like Lemahieau? I think it is all because Theo traded one and signed the other.

          281/359/438/797

          Vs

          321/361/409/709

          One has higher avg, same obp, and the other has a little more slg which leads to higher OPS

          These are their minor league stats as you decided which one was better before either played in the majors for the Cubs Rockies.

          • Ray Ray

            Why is it always Theo or not with you? You seem to only judge players that way. I actually said 2B as well. Who signed our 2B player? I would rather see a player who is a potential starter than 2 guys who we know are not starters. You are the one who distinguishes. You think Rizzo walks on water because Theo traded for him. You justify the Stewart trade by saying the 2 players we gave up are nothing, you call the Sean Marshall trade….Great???? Lets see if Wood can put together a full year first. Sappelt is a stiff and Torreyes will more than likely never start here. I think it is you who should judge players on merit instead of how they were aquired.

          • Tony_Hall

            I always say you never read my posts…..

            Castillo has a chance to be a really good catcher, one can only dream of being as good as Molina, but that should be his model.

            Rizzo doesn’t walk on water, I always say Top 10 with no thoughts that he is an all-star. He is no votto or pujols in their prime.

            Barney I want traded. Defense is nice but need a bat as well.

            Castro is a very good player, but could end up at another position or even traded in the right deal.

            Valbuena is best suited as a utility guy.

            Soriano is at the end of his career.

            Dejesus is better suited as a 4th Of

            Schierholtz is holding his own in a platoon but that is about it.

            Garza is a 3 at besdt anymore

            Samardziha has ace ability but will never realize his full potential

            Wood is a 3/4 pitcher at best

            Feldman is a 4/5 and needs to stay in the nl
            Jackson is a another 4/5 and is nothing special

            These are all things I have said before .

            Rebuilding means you have a roster that has imperfect players, otherwise we wouldn’t be rebuilding.

          • Ray Ray

            I ignore your posts when you put up minor league stats. Sorry if you get offended but it means nothing to me. I responded to your statement that I dislike Valbuena because Theo aquired him and traded LeMahieu. Isn’t that what you said? I said…I would rather see LeMahieu playing 2B or 3B instead of who were are putting out there and that was it.

          • Tony_Hall

            I am not sure how you are suppose to judge minor league players or new major league players other than look at their minor league stats. Unless you are a scout and have seen them play everyday, you know,like the Cubs FO does with all of the players, everyday.

          • Ray Ray

            Valbuena is a new mlb player? He has over close to 1400 PA. LeMahieu isn’t anywhere near that.

          • Tony_Hall

            1316 to date.

            But before we had him, the most in one season was 398

            This will be his 1st full season of being a major league player.

          • Tony_Hall

            I liked DJ coming up through the minors, but he is nothing to be worried that he got away. Not every player we trade or cut will go on to be a bum, some might actually have some baseball left in them.

          • Tony_Hall

            Here is the link that broke down the idea of why is it made no sense to sign Bourne for 2013 , let alone for 4 years.

            http://www.chicagonow.com/cubs-den/2013/02/bourn-again-analysis-on-why-the-cf-simply-doesnt-make-sense-for-the-cubs-even-in-the-short-term/

            I am sure you will pick it apart but Arguello is smarter than both of us when it comes to this.

          • Ray Ray

            I will read it. Thanks

          • Ray Ray

            A little outdated? lol He was worried about taking playing time away from Dave Sappelt and Brett Jackson? Actually, if you read that article it proves more reasons on why he should have been signed.

          • Tony_Hall

            No not really. It was from when he was a FA

          • Ray Ray

            Here is the thing I say about adding better players….they bring back a better return. That article was about WAR and getting more wins..blah blah blah. I know Bourn is not the difference in making the playoffs or not(just like signing EJax to a 4 year 52 mil contract) but the Cubs have no leadoff hitter ready to play everyday in the near future. Have you seen Bourn’s splits? He hits LHP very well. You do not a platoon situation with him(unlike DeJesus) You can have a better,everyday mlb player patrolling CF over the next 2 or 3 years and then trade him when one of the younger prospects are ready. Why should the Cubs be putting the DeJesus’,Hairston’s,Sappelts out there during this rebuild when Bourn is better and would not be blocking anyone.

          • Tony_Hall

            Bourne will be a very overpriced trade commodity at the end of the deal, especially if he has anything go wrong with his legs, his entire game.

            I am soooooo done arguing about Bourne……………….

            HE IS NOT HERE!!!!!

          • Ray Ray

            You brought him up. lol And his name is spelled Bourn.

          • Tony_Hall

            I wanted you to read the article.

            I think of him as a secret agent more than a CF :)

    • Tony_Hall

      Once again check out his HOME and ROAD splits. Even on the short sample size, COORS Field is giving him a LARGE BOOST in his stats.

      Valbuena would be awesome in Coors field, he seems to hit a lot of fly balls that get caught that look like he got all of it, and at Coors they would be doubles, triples, and HR’s.

      • Ray Ray

        And his bat flip would get more elevation. Hopefully the Rox would try to aquire him. Would help him pack

        • Tony_Hall

          His bat flip might never come down…

  • DWalker

    Jackson back on the DL? damn. Somehow, I don’t see him even getting a chance to get his feet under him this year.

  • Ray Ray

    Go Blackhawks! Kaner 2 Bruins zip!

    • Bryan

      Great game so far!

  • calicub

    Looks like Almora is responding nicely to being pulled

  • Ripsnorter1

    Let’s see now…..if the Astros win Sunday, that will……

    1. Tie the Astros with the Cubs for wins at 30 each.
    The Astros have already lost 47, and the Cubs currently have 43 losses, so we’d still be ahead of them in the standings.

    2. If the Mets win Sunday while the Cubs lose, then the Mets also will have 30 wins, but only 42 losses. They will be ahead of the Cubs.

    3. The Awful Marlins are 24-50, and can’t buy a run for any price. They seem to have a lock on last place.

    Tampa Bay….picked in the top 10 in the draft for ten years straight. They had 4 #1 picks during that time. That’s how you rebuild a farm system and a team. And yet…only 1 WS appearance despite all the talent, and 4 of the last 5 years, having won 90+ games each year.

    Look at these #1 picks for those ten years:
    1999…Josh Hamilton….

    2000…Rocco Baldelli….medical disorder ruined his career. He had a promising career cut short.

    2001…

    Dewon Brazelton8-25…6.35 ERA
    el busto.

    2002…B.J. Upton….a career .250 hitter with .417 slugging. Currently hitting .171 for Atlanta…..

    2003…Delmon Young. Career .280 hitter with .424 slugging. Never realized his full potential.

    2004…Jeff Nieman….a 4th starter….can win 10 games a year for a team.

    2005 Wade Townsend….el busto

    2006…Evan Longoria..stud 3B with career .520 slugging.

    2007…David Price. Stud starting pitcher.

    2008…Tim Beckman…seemingly a bust

    Now look at how they draft as they draft #30 or higher:

    2009..Levon Washington…did not sign. Cleveland got him in the 2nd round the next year, and he’s hitting .351 in A ball for them. Nice looking OF.

    2010…Josh Sale, SS….a BB machine. Team Theo must be salivating over him . .264 BA with .391 OBP and .464 slugging. Not a bad glove, either.

    2011
    Taylor Guerrieri..nice looking P.

    2012….Richie Shaffer a 3B that hasn’t got it all figured out just yet.

    • Tony_Hall

      Now imagine if the Rays had the resources to keep their best players. How would their team look now?

      THAT is what the Cubs will be able to do!

      And its not just about the 1st round.

      • Ripsnorter1

        10 years of last place finishes (one year was next to last) ought to be hard on any fan base, with the possible exception of those lovable losers…..

        Note that they didn’t hit on all of those picks. They had some real busts.

        Out of all of those 1st rounders, only Price and Longoria amounted to real stars. Hamilton never made it with the Rays.

        • Tony_Hall

          No one hits on all their 1st rounders….no one.

          I doubt that they had the resources for draft prep that the Cubs have allocated either.

        • Ray Ray

          You can get away with that in Tampa.

      • Ray Ray

        What hitters have they lost? Upton? They never drafted any really good starting 8 players.

  • paulcatanese

    Started watching today’s game at 1:00 PM Ca. time,
    finished watching at 8:30 PM CA. time. Cannot watch these two teams play all at once. Taped it and went back to it every so often until completed.
    Looked like two AAA teams out there.
    Now the Cubs will be torn up again, sold off, traded and a bunch more to be brought in to trade again.
    Very difficult to absorb for 2/3 hours in a row.
    Keep watching and hoping for someone to emerge and lead this team, but it looks like no one is able to do that.