Game One Hundred Forty-Nine – Cubs 4 Reds 0
Rich Hill returned the favor to the Reds and recorded the first complete game of the season for the Cubs. Hill dominated the Reds from the first pitch of the game to the last and even struck out Edwin Encarnacion to end the game. Hill struck out 10 on the day, allowed only 2 hits, a double and an infield single that should have been an out, walked just 1 and faced 4 over the minimum….Royce Clayton did not get out of the way of a Hill curve ball in the 8th. Hill threw 118 pitches, 85 for strikes and improved his season record to 6-6 with his 6th win since his last call-up.
Aramis Ramirez had another tremendous day in the field and at the plate. Ramirez continues to play impressive defense at 3rd base but most importantly for the Cubs he was 2 for 4 on the day with 2 RBI’s. Every starter with the exception of Ryan Theriot recorded a hit and Theriot walked and scored the 3rd run of the game in the 5th. Geovany Soto had a good day….he went 2 for 4 with his first career RBI. Hill’s performance on Saturday kept the Cubs from another dubious distinction this season. Hill was the first starter to throw a complete game for the Cubs this year, something that no team has failed to do in the history of Major League Baseball….so at game 149 the Cubs can scratch that off of their “To-Do List”. While this season as been miserable on the Northside of Chicago at least that stat will not be associated with this tam as well. To say Hill was brilliant would be an understatement but the most impressive part of the game from Hill came in 6th. With 2 outs he issued a walk to Ryan Freel, Freel promptly stole 2nd and moved to 3rd on what should have been a ground out to Ronny Cedeno. Norris Hopper hit the grounder to Cedeno and was safe at 1st because of a late off target throw to Henry Blanco. Hill did not allow the walk or poor defensive play to effect his game. He refocused and retired Rich Aurilia on fly out to right. Hill continued being aggressive on the mound and went after hitters instead of attempting to throw “the perfect pitch”. His 10 strikeouts was the second time this season he has recorded double digit strikeouts and in fact both of those games have come in 2 of his last 3 starts. Rich Hill became the first rookie since Mark Prior in 2002 to throw a complete game.
Hill was the story of the game on Saturday but the offense did record 10 hits on the day and got on the board in the 1st inning. After Hill retired the Reds in order, Juan Pierre singled to start the 1st and scored on a double by Aramis Ramirez. In the 4th the Cubs added a run thanks to an error by the Reds. Jacque Jones was hit by Chris Michalak to lead off the 4th, went to 3rd on the Reds error off the bat of Ronny Cedeno and scored on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Geovany Soto. In the 5th the Cubs scored after a walk to Ryan Theriot, he stole 2nd with Ramirez at the dish and scored on a single to center by Ramirez that appeared to hit the 2nd base bag. Jacque Jones added his 25th homer of the season in the 8th to complete the scoring.
Rich Hill’s performance against a team fighting for the playoffs was beyond encouraging. While the Cubs have nothing to play for but jobs, the performances by Hill and Theriot on a regular basis have made a dismissal season a little easier to handle of late….they are making cases to leave Mesa next March on the 25-man roster.
Sean Marshall was scheduled to take the ball on Sunday for the Cubs in the series finally but Saturday afternoon the Cubs announced that Carlos Zambrano will make his first start since Labor Day against the Pirates. Marshall will start on Monday in Philadelphia. The Cubs will face another lefty in Eric Milton; this should be a good pitching match up if Zambrano is indeed healthy enough to pitch.