GGotta Make ‘Em Earn It – Cubs 5, Braves 9

Game One Hundred Fifty-Four – Cubs 5, Braves 9

WP – David Carpenter (4-1) LP – Kevin Gregg (2-5) Save – None

The Cubs fought back from a 5-1 deficit in the fourth inning and tied the game at five in the seventh when Dioner Navarro launched a solo home run onto Waveland Avenue. But an unhappy Kevin Gregg could not throw strikes in the ninth. Gregg gave up four runs on three hits and the Cubs dropped the opener of the weekend series to the Braves on Friday afternoon.

The Cubs pitching staff was pretty brutal on Friday and gave the game to the Braves. Cubs’ pitching issued eight walks, four of the free passes scored, hit two batters, served up two home runs and six of the Braves eight hits went for extra bases, including a RBI double by Paul Maholm. The Cubs only struck out seven of the free swinging Braves and it took seven different pitchers to reach the low total.

Scott Baker simply did what a pitcher cannot do on a day in which the wind is blowing out at Wrigley Field, walk batters. After serving up a solo shot to Chris Johnson in the second, Baker issued back-to-back walks with one out in the third then Freddie Freeman cleared the bases with a three-run jack. Scott Baker made it through just four innings in his last start of the season and allowed five runs on four hits with three walks and one strikeout on 70 pitches, 47 for strikes.

Dale Sveum used six pitchers after Baker before handing the ball to Gregg in the ninth. And while it was neither pretty nor efficient, Zac Rosscup (22 pitches, nine strikes), Hector Rondon (13 pitches, eight strikes), Justin Grimm (11 pitches, seven strikes), Brooks Raley (two pitches), Blake Parker (nine pitches, five strikes) and Pedro Strop (eight pitches, six strikes) did their jobs and kept the Braves off the board.

A disgruntled Kevin Gregg took the mound in the ninth with the game tied at five and surrendered four runs on three hits and three walks before he could record three outs. Gregg threw 37 pitches, 17 for strikes, in one inning.

It is not too often a pitching staff gives up nine runs on only eight hits, but the Cubs found a way on Friday.

The Cubs’ offense outhit the Braves 11-8 and followed up their three home run performance in Milwaukee on Thursday afternoon, with a three homer game at Wrigley on Friday afternoon.

Starlin Castro (1-for-5 with a home run and two runs scored) cut the Braves lead to 5-2 in the fifth with his 10th longball of the season. Donnie Murphy (1-for-4 with a home run) took Maholm deep in the sixth and made it a two-run game with his 11th of the year. After Luis Valbuena (1-for-1 with a RBI) check-swing singled in Junior Lake (2-for-4 with a double and a run score) and made it a one-run game in the sixth. Dioner Navarro (1-for-4 with a home run) crushed his 13th longball of the season in the seventh that tied the game at five.

Anthony Rizzo (2-for-4 with a RBI) stayed hot and delivered a two-out run scoring single in the third that plated Starlin Castro with the Cubs’ first run.

With Friday’s loss, the Cubs dropped to 64-90 on the season with eight games left to play.

Scott Baker made quick work of the Braves in the first inning (15 pitches, 12 for strikes) and Anthony Rizzo collected his first hit of the game in the bottom of the first. But Maholm retired Navarro on a grounder to short for the third out to end the inning.

Baker retired Gattis (flyout to right) and McCann (deep fly to right center) for the first two outs in the second. Chris Johnson followed and launched a 0-1 pitch into the bleachers in left center. Johnson has always hit Cubs’ pitching rather well and his 11th home run of the season put the Braves up 1-0. Baker then walked Dan Uggla but was able to retire Andrelton Simmons on a pop out to center to end the inning. Baker threw 35 pitches, 25 for strikes, over the first two innings.

After the Cubs did nothing in the second, Baker retired Maholm on a grounder to Barney to start the third. Baker then issued back-to-back walks to Jason Heyward and Justin Upton. Freddie Freeman got all of Baker’s 1-0 offering and deposited the ball over the wall in center … and just like that, the Braves took a 4-0 lead. Baker retired Gattis and McCann to end the inning … 57 pitches for Baker after three innings, 36 for strikes.

The Cubs got on the board in the third, but it should have been more. Ryan Sweeney reached on an infield single to short. Baker bunted him to second but for some reason, Sweeney tried to advance to third on a grounder to short off the bat of Starlin Castro. Simmons threw him out. With Castro at first and two down, Darwin Barney singled to center. Anthony Rizzo followed with a single to right, Castro scored. Navarro grounded out to second to end the inning. The Cubs trailed 4-1 after three innings.

Chris Johnson led off the fourth with a double to right. Uggla flied out to center and Simmons flied out to right. It appeared that Baker would get out of the inning without allowing any further damage. But Paul Maholm drove a 1-1 pitch into right for a double. Johnson scored, 5-1 Braves. Heyward flied out to left to end the inning.

The game went to the fifth with the Braves up by four runs after the Cubs failed to capitalize in the fourth after putting two on with one out. Maholm retired Sweeney and pinch-hitter Brian Bogusevic to end the inning.

Zac Rosscup wiggled his way out of a mess in the fifth. Rosscup issued a leadoff walk to Justin Upton. After retiring Freeman on a pop out to Castro near the mound, Evan Gattis ripped a double into left. With runners on second and third with one out, Brian McCann popped out to Castro in shallow left. Rosscup intentionally walked Johnson and loaded the bases with two down. Dan Uggla worked a full count before Rosscup struck him out swinging to end the inning.

Starlin Castro led off the fifth and pulled Maholm’s first pitch of the inning into the bleachers in left center … 5-2 Braves. Maholm retired Barney, Rizzo and Navarro in order to end the inning.

Hector Rondon retired all three batters he faced in the sixth and Donnie Murphy led off the Cubs’ sixth with a home run to left. Murphy’s 11th longball of the season cut the Braves lead to 5-3. Junior Lake followed with a double to left. Maholm retired McDonald on a grounder to third and Fredi Gonzalez went to his pen for lefty Scott Downs. Sweeney just missed a home run to right. Upton caught the ball, Lake tagged and moved up ninety feet. Luis Valbuena hit for Rondon and tried to check his swing on a 3-1 pitch from Downs. The ball trickled into left, Lake scored, 5-4 Braves. Gonzalez went back to his pen for Luis Ayala and Castro struck out swinging to end the inning.

The Cubs trailed 5-4 after six innings.

Justin Grimm, Brooks Raley and Blake Parker kept the Braves from tacking on in the seventh.

Luis Ayala stayed in for the seventh and retired Barney on a flyout to center. Gonzalez went to his pen for lefty Luis Avilan. Rizzo flied out to deep left (3-0 pitch) for the second out. Avilan fell behind Navarro 3-1. Dioner Navarro hit a rocket onto Waveland and tied the game at five. Murphy grounded out to short for the third out.

Blake Parker and Pedro Strop retired all three batters they faced in the eighth but David Carpenter set down the Cubs in order in the eighth as well and the game went to the ninth all tied at five.

Kevin Gregg issued a leadoff walk to Jordan Schafer in the ninth and fell behind Justin Upton 2-1. Gonzalez started Schafer from first on the 2-1 pitch. Upton grounded out to short, but Castro had only one play and the go ahead run was in scoring position. Gregg intentionally walked Freeman and put runners on first and second with one out. Evan Gattis followed and hit a deep fly to right. McDonald caught the ball but Schafer tagged and advanced to third.

Brian McCann lined a 1-2 pitch over a leaping Darwin Barney, Schafer trotted in and the Braves took a 6-5 lead. Chris Johnson followed with a bloop single to right that plated Freeman, 7-5 Braves. Uggla walked after just missing a three-run homer down the left field line. With the bases juiced and two outs, Andrelton Simmons drove a 2-1 pitch into the alley in left center. McCann and Johnson scored, 9-5 Braves. Gregg struck out pinch-hitter B.J. Upton to finally end the inning.

Craig Kimbrel gave up a leadoff single to Nate Schierholtz in the ninth but Castro rapped into a 4-6-3 double play and Barney flied out to left to end the game.

Travis Wood faces Kris Medlen on Saturday afternoon.

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Quote of the Day

"Never let the fear of striking out get in your way of playing the game." – Babe Ruth

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  • Ripsnorter1

    I PREDICT……Kevin Gregg will not be rehired for employment with
    the Chicago Cubs after this season is over.

    • Tony_Hall

      They already told him this.

      • TheWrongGuy

        Maybe or maybe NOT.
        Yet I already said I would like him back.

        • Tony_Hall

          David Kaplan reported this on his show earlier. Really no room in the bullpen for him as without him they have more than 7 options and will have to send a guy like Parker to Iowa just because he has options left.

          • TheWrongGuy

            I understand.
            This is what he brings to the pen: stability/experience/consistency
            None of the other options already been named bring this.

          • Tony_Hall

            Just on the 40 man roster, for the bullpen for next year.

            * Options still available
            Fujikawa (at some point)

            That is a lot of RH options without adding anyone else to the 40 man roster

            LH options

            Not sure Gregg is worth bringing back.

          • TheWrongGuy

            The only guys with experience at closing are Bard, Lim, and Fujikawa.
            Lim has great stuff but he nibbles at the plate too much. I feel with his stuff and the movement on his pitches he needs to attack the strike zone more.
            Bard is a big question mark. Till proven otherwise.
            Fujikawa TJ recovery.

          • Tony_Hall

            Create value out of the closer spot.

            You do that by converting someone to that role. Grimm is the most likely candidate to do that with, but I could also see Vizcaino, if healthy being the closer to help control his innings. It might not be to start the year.

          • Ripsnorter1

            Let’s look at that list of All-Stars we have for our bullpen.

            But first, consider that our bullpen is not overworked. We rank

            25th in IP for a relief staff. That speaks well of our starting pitching.

            But we are 26 in ERA and 27 in OBP and 29 in slugging. Okay, so our
            guys get hit fairly hard.

            So-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o, which of these All-Stars should we keep, and who
            should we let go?

            These two men have been very effective.

            Lim–they spent $5 million to have him pitch 1.2 IP this year. Gotta keep him.
            Villanueva–buyer’s remorse here, but he’s under contract…..he stays.

            Russell needs to go, but nobody wants him.
            Rusin can stay, but he has options. If we have to keep Russell, he goes down.
            Raley isn’t ready, imo.

            So that’s two guys I’d really want to keep, and three guys that I’d be forced
            to keep, for a total of five guys.

            Everyone else is cannon fodder.

            We could use some bullpen help.
            And we’d have room for Gregg, if they wanted a closer.

          • Tony_Hall

            Lim wasn’t paid $5M for this year, it would have been prorated based on time in the majors.

            If I am making a bullpen for April of 2014 today (keep in mind that bullpens are constantly changing all season) I would go with these 7.

            LH – Russell – Rosscup
            RH – Strop, Villanueva, Lim, Cabrera, Bard and send the rst to Iowa

            Not sure what team has 7 All-Stars in the bullpen, but most teams are lucky to have 1.

          • Ripsnorter1

            What I can’t believe is that you’d send Parker down.
            He’s pitched very effectively this year. He’s good. But you’d
            bust him down just to keep ineffective Bard.

            Cabrera? Mr. Walk. I don’t want him.

            Tsk. Tsk.

          • Tony_Hall

            Today. I am keeping all of the guys with options in Iowa and going to let the guys out of options a chance in April.

            Of course this will all change once they create room on the 40 man roster for additions in the off-season. And RP out of options, who are question marks for making the team, are not likely to make it through winter.

          • TheWrongGuy

            I keep Raley and send Rosscup to Iowa.
            Keep Dolis and send Cabrera to Iowa.
            Keep Raley because he can start also and help keep Russell fresh.
            Keep Dolis because he keeps the ball low in the zone better than Cabrera and Cabrera’s pitches seem flat and very hittable.
            But that’s me

          • Tony_Hall

            Raley possible, but he still has options, so he is going to Iowa most likely.

            Cabrera is out of options, and with his season this year, is likely to be grabbed by somebody.

          • TheWrongGuy

            There will always be losses.
            Some losses may not work out for us in the long term.

          • Tony_Hall

            Yes sir! Cabrera could be one that they need to include in a trade this winter. He is not ready to start in the majors and so far, hasn’t seemed that good out of the pen.

          • Ripsnorter1

            Don’t sign Tim Lincecum. Just don’t do it.

          • TheWrongGuy

            I agree 100% Rip!

          • Tony_Hall

            Most likely he will get a qualifying offer from the Giants.

          • Ripsnorter1

            Really? He’s bad these days. The party is over for his glory days, I think.

          • Tony_Hall

            He hasn’t been as bad as people think.

            xFip 3.57
            FIP 3.78
            ERA 4.44

            He is no longer dominant, but still effective.

          • Tony_Hall

            Lincecum was worth 3.8 pts tonight in my effort to beat Dorasaga in the our fantasy baseball playoffs.

          • Tony_Hall

            Buster Olney tweeted this tonight.

            Exec said to me that a 1-year deal for about $15 m. for a pitcher who throws a lot of innings is solid value. Qualifying offer for Lincecum?

          • TheWrongGuy

            Buster Olney all bla bla bla to me.

          • SuzyS

            TL and the $$$ he’d command don’t even make sense for the Cubs…no matter how good or bad he is.
            Rip…change your name to Rip Riser instead of Rip Snorter….cause you’re just trying to get a rise out of folks.

          • Ripsnorter1

            No. And not true, either.

          • SuzyS

            Tell me, why would you think the Cubs might be interested in Lincecum??? Except for maybe on a minor league deal???

          • Ripsnorter1

            I do not think the Cubs should be interested in Tim Lincecum.

            But I noticed his box score tonight, and noted that he has stunk up the joint in
            every start except one, so I threw that out there for Tony to comment on.
            Tony is mulling the FA starting pitching market for Team Theo, and his
            comment is valuable. Perhaps Jed is considering signing another basket case
            in hopes of a rebound, and value on the deadline trade market.

            Me–I don’t want to risk it.

          • Tony_Hall

            I wouldn’t touch Lincecum for the Cubs.

          • Tony_Hall

            Lincecum would only make sense for a team who has their TOR set and needs another dependable starter for a playoff run.

  • Tony_Hall

    Joey Votto with a clutch HR in the top of the 10th to give the Red a one run lead over the Pirates off of Kyle Farnsworth.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Pittsburgh blew a 5-2 in the ninth lead and lost to the Reds tonight.

    Probably a sacrifice bunt was the difference….LOL.

    No, it was Pittsburgh’s error that gave it away.

  • Tony_Hall

    Red Sox clinch the AL EAST.

  • Tony_Hall

    Seems like playoff atmosphere going on around MLB last night. Our NL Central is getting closer to having both wild card spots locked up, while it is almost down to 3 teams in the AL, with one team fading fast.

    National League
    Division Leaders
    1. Atlanta 91-62 – Can clinch at Wrigley today
    2. St Louis 90-64
    3. Los Angeles 88-66

    Wild Card
    1. Cincinnati 88-66 (6-4)
    2. Pittsburgh 88-66 (5-5)
    3. Washington 83-71 (5 GB) (8-2)

    I don’t think Washington has enough time to close the gap. I think St. Louis wins the division and Cincinnati plays Pittsburgh for the Wild Card.

    American League
    1. Boston 94-61 Clinched Division
    2. Oakland 91-63
    3. Detroit 90-64

    Wild Card
    1. Tampa Bay 84-69 (6-4)
    2. Cleveland 84-70 (7-3)
    3. Texas 83-70 (0.5 GB) (2-8)
    4. Kansas City 81-72 (2.5 GB) (6-4)
    5. Baltimore 81-72 (2.5 GB) (4-6)
    6. New York 81-73 (3 GB) (5-5)

    Texas is fading but is still in good position, if they can stop the slide. But I think Tampa will play Cleveland in the Wild Card as KC, Balt and NY have a tough battle being 2.5 and 3 games back with so many teams to pass to get one of the 2 spots. It will take a 7-1 type finish for one of them to pass enough teams to win a Wild Card Spot.