Game One Hundred Three – Cubs 2 Marlins 3
WP – Justin Miller (3-2) LP – Bobby Howry (3-4) Save – Kevin Gregg (21)
Bases loaded in the 6th….2nd and 3rd in the 7th….and 2nd and 3rd in the 8th, the Cubs had their chances but could not buy a hit when they needed one the most. Lou Piniella’s crew left 6 runners in scoring position in 3 of the last 4 innings and a total of 11 left on base on Friday afternoon at the Friendly Confines. The Cubs out hit the Marlins but lost in the column that matters most.
Lou Piniella was fired up for obvious reasons after the game. Piniella said, “The defense is fine. What we need is offense. OFFENSE! We need some hitting. I’m looking for people that can hit….that’s what I’m looking for. We need to put runs up with a little more consistency.”
Ryan Dempster gutted out a decent performance on a day he struggled with his command. Dempster walked a season-high 6 batters but gave up only 2 hits and made the big pitch when he needed one. Dempster allowed only 1 run in 6 innings and when he turned the game over to Jeff Samardzija he was in position to win his 12th of the year.
Jeff Samardzija made his Major League debut in the 7th inning with mixed results. Samardzija hit the high 90’s consistently with his fastball and struck out Alfredo Amezaga, the first batter he faced. Samardzija gave up a single to Hanley Ramirez on a 0-2 pitch then allowed Ramirez to take 2nd on a pitch out, Samardzija threw the ball over Geovany Soto’s head. With the tying run on 2nd, Luis Gonzalez flied out to center, Ramirez advanced to 3rd and scored on a double to left by Jorge Cantu. Samardzija blew the save but might have given Lou Piniella a power arm in the pen that can throw strikes. The Shark retired the Marlins in order in the 8th and struck out 2 without a walk in 2 innings on 31 pitches, 23 for strikes.
When asked about Samardzija following the game Piniella said, “The new kid threw the ball well. Good stuff and showed some good poise. He’s going to help us.”
The Cubs offense continued to struggle and has yet to show any consistency in the second half. The 2 runs they scored came off solo home runs by Geovany Soto and Reed Johnson. Soto’s 17th in the 2nd tied the game and Johnson’s 5th gave the Cubs a 2-1 lead in the 5th. Derrek Lee appeared to add a tack on run in the 5th with a 2-out single to left but Alfonso Soriano was thrown out at the plate to end the inning.
Many will point the finger at Bobby Howry for Friday’s loss and while he gave up the pinch-hit home run to Jeremy Hermida in the 9th, and has been horrible of late, he should have not been on the mound in a 2-2 game….the offense had plenty of chances to put the game away before the game’s final inning.
The Cubs lost for just the 13th time at home this year and slipped to 17 games over .500 on the season. Lou Piniella has said repeatedly over the last week that his team is not pressing but the performances on the field are saying otherwise. The offense is pressing and just needs to relax and start hitting the ball. While some have complained about the lack of home runs, basehits with runners on win just as many games as the long ball. The Faithful have seen the final outcome of Cubs’ teams that depend on hitting home runs for more years that any would like to count.
The entire offense must start going with pitches, using the entire field and stop taking full swings on every pitch. When the Cubs are putting crooked numbers on the board this season….that has been the recipe for success.
The Cubs put runners in scoring position in the 2nd, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th innings and generated no runs. Ryan Dempster grounded out to short to end the 2nd….Alfonso Soriano was thrown out at the plate to end the 5th….Daryle Ward struck out swinging with the bases loaded in the 6th….Kosuke Fukudome struck out with runners on 2nd and 3rd to end the 7th….and Alfonso Soriano popped out to 2nd base with runners on 2nd and 3rd to end the 8th.
Too many left on, and not enough runs. Anytime a pitching staff allows 3 runs at home should lead to a win….not a disappointing loss in the 9th.
Rich Harden will try to pick up his first win as a Cub on Saturday at noon against one of the best young pitching prospects in the game, Chris Volstad.