Game One Hundred Thirty-Six – Cubs 4 Giants 7
Angel Guzman pitched a very good game and was in line to pickup his first Major League victory until his forearm cramped up on him and he had to leave the game with 2 outs and 2 on in the 5th. After Guzman left Michael Wuertz gave up a 2-run triple to Omar Vizquel to tie the game, closed the book on Guzman and then served up a 2-run homer to Shea Hillenbrand that barely made it into the basket in left field. Guzman became another starting pitcher in a long line over the last few years that have left the game in the middle of an inning due to injury.
The “Keystone Cubs” were back on the field again on Sunday afternoon. Base running blunders, more 2-out runs and horrible throws from the outfield were the lowlights from Sunday. Jason Schmidt threw good enough to beat the Cubs for the 7th straight time and Barry Bonds homered for the second consecutive day, #729 of his tainted career. The Cubs had chances against Schmidt but were unable to capitalize. With Michael Barrett in the hospital recovering from surgery, Derrek Lee on the bench with a scheduled day off and Henry Blanco starting at first base for the first time in his career….it was good to see them play as well as they did. Guzman was throwing with confidence again. He has held the Giants to just 1 run on 3 hits before he had to leave the game. He struck out Bonds swinging in the 4th on a breaking ball and struck out a total of 4 on the day. He was being very efficient, throwing strikes and keeping the Giants off balance. Guzman even drove in a run with a suicide bunt in the 4th to give the Cubs the lead. He had thrown just 79 pitches, 50 for strikes, and he appeared to be on his way to earn his first big league victory. Guzman gave up a single to Eliezar Alfonzo with 1 out in the 5th, Schmidt sacrificed him to 2nd and Steve Finley stepped to the plate. After 3 straight balls to Finley, Guzman stopped and held up his hand like something was wrong. Baker, Rothschild and O’Neal went to the mound; Guzman threw a couple of warm-up tosses and stayed in the game. He eventually walked Finley and after throwing a ball to Vizquel, the conference resumed on the mound and Guzman left the game.
Wuertz did not do his job and gave up the triple to Vizquel, one of two on the day for the veteran shortstop, and then the homer to Hillenbrand that put the game out of reach. Walrond gave up the home run to Bonds and Dempster had another horrible inning. He gave up the other triple to Vizquel after walking Steve Finley with 2 outs. WHY CAN’T THE CUBS PITCHING STAFF RECORD THE THIRD AND FINAL OUT OF AN INNING AFTER RETIRING THE FIRST TWO BATTERS THEY FACE? This problem has killed the Cubs for the past three seasons….if not longer. If Rothschild is the one teaching the pitchers to stop being aggressive after 2 outs then he must be placed on the same bus out of town with Dusty Baker. The inability to not record the 3rd out is beyond troublesome; it has become an epidemic that has spread throughout the entire pitching staff. Why change your philosophy and aggressiveness with 2 outs on the mound, this team sure as hell does not know how to do at the plate….just pathetic!!!!
Juan Pierre had another huge day at the plate….4-5 with a run scored. Geovany Soto recorded his first Major League hit….an infield single to 3rd in the 2nd inning. The Cubs scored their 2nd run of the game off of a balk by Jason Schmidt and their first off of a squeeze bunt with Cedeno at 3rd and Guzman at the plate. Cedeno was thrown out trying to advance to 2nd on a wild pitch in 8th….he was the tying run and the inning ended on that play. The Cubs did some positive things at the old ballpark on Sunday but when Guzman left the game it was like someone flipped the switch and they all forgot how to play the game again….unlike Saturday, the Cubs blunders cost them the win.
Carlos Zambrano is scheduled to take the hill on Monday afternoon against the Pirates. Thankfully for the Cubs the Pirates lost 2 out of 3 to the Cardinals and they are still 1 ahead of the Pirates for last place in the National League. Let the “Battle for the Basement” continue.