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Cubs Take First Game in Series With Brewers

Brewers Cubs BaseballThe Cubs were able to get out of their offensive woes against Seth McClung and the Brewers, as they took down the NL Central division leaders 9-5.

Derek Lee lead the Cubs with a career-high seven RBI’s on two home runs, going 2-4 on the day.

Ryan Dempster had a decent start, allowing just three earned runs in six and 2/3 innings, tying a season high with nine strikeouts. Read the rest of this entry »

Cubs Complete the Sweep: 11-4 Win

The Cubs swept the Brewers on Thursday afternoon behind Jim Edmonds who had a stellar day going 2-for-3 with two homer-runs and five RBIs.

The Cubs got on the board first in the third inning after Jim Edmonds hit a solo home run giving the Cubs an early 1-0 lead. Jim Edmonds then came up in the very next inning and hit grand slam to give the Cubs a 5-0 lead.

The Brewers did not get on the board until the bottom of the seventh when Prince Fielder homered making the score 5-1. In the top of the very next inning the Cubs put four on the board the first run came in on a Alfonso Soriano homer.

Aramis Ramirez then doubled in Ryan Theriot to give the Cubs a 7-1 lead. Kosuke Fukudome followed up Ramirez’s double with a two-run home-run giving the Cubs a 9-1 lead. The Cubs added two in the very next inning on a Mike Fontenot double which gave the Cubs a huge 11-1 lead.

The Brewers did however add three in the bottom of the ninth, the first coming in on a Mike Cameron single that scored Ryan Braun. Bill Hall then hit a double that scored both Cameron and Jason Kendall to make the score 11-4.

Rich Harden picked up his first victory with the Cubs as he pitched seven innings allowing just one earned run on six hits while striking out nine and walking one.

As for Dave Bush he put in 7 1/3 innings allowing seven runs, six of which were earned on five hits while striking out three. With the loss Bush fell to 5-9 on the season.

With the victory the Cubs are now 65-44 and now are up five games on Milwaukee who have fallen into third place in the NL Central. while the Cardinals are in second and currently playing.

Tomorrow the Cubs will be back at Wrigley to take on the Pittsburgh Pirates. Jason Marquis who is 6-6 with a 4.69 era will take the mound for the Cubs as Jeff Karstens makes his first start for the Pirates. Game time is set for 1:20 pm ct.

Why I Feel Really Bad for Rich Harden

Rich Harden was the missing piece for the Cubs, and if you look at certain statistics, it doesn’t seem like he is really working out.

Sure, his 0-1 record doesn’t seem like the best way to start a season with a new team, but if you delve further than the most shallow of statistics, you will find that he has been lights out, but the Cubs offense when he pitches needs to show some light.

For example, a 1.04 ERA is spectacular, even if it over three starts, he has been unable to allow a lot of runs in a start.

Over 17.1 innings pitched, he has struck out 30 batters, which is almost two batters every inning. His WHIP is less than one, allowing only 16 batters in those 17 innings.

However, he can’t seem to get the offense that other pitchers have been afforded in their outings for the Cubs. Maybe it is just hazing the new guy, but the Cubs bats need to come to life a little more than they have been.

In Harden’s loss this season, the Cubs lost the game 2-0, not scoring a single run and leaving Harden’s seven inning, one run, one hit performance go unrewarded.

In his debut performance, he pitched 5.1 innings, struck out 10, allowed no runs, and was stuck with a no-decision because reliever Carlos Marmol blew the game for him.

Harden has allowed just two runs in his career with the Cubs, and has allowed no more than one run in any game, but he can’t seem to get everything going on the games where he pitches.

Harden may be happy to be a Cub and happy to be with the team with the best record in the NL, but he is going to start to be unhappy if he doesn’t start to get some help offensively and through his bullpen.

The Cubs take on the Brewers in a four-game series starting today, Harden is scheduled to start on Thursday where it is likely that he can finally get his first win as a Cub.

Although with his luck, Dave Bush is going to completely shut down the offense or somebody in the bullpen is going to blow the game.

Hopefully, though, it won’t happen that way and Harden can finally get a win.

Come to Think of it…Something Fishy Going on with the Cubs

As the Chicago Cubs continue their fall from grace, a familiar statement is etched upon the walls of Wrigley Field. Except you can’t see it because the ivy is covering it.

It says, “failed expectations,” year 100 version.

This was supposed to be our year. Just like 1969 was supposed to be. And 1984. And 2003. Get the picture?

Well, it still can be our year, but things have got to start changing immediately and I just don’t know how that is going to happen, given the trends.

First of all, the bullpen needs to improve and quickly. Yes, I know Kerry Wood is hurt, but a lot of the situations we’re getting burned by are earlier in the game, before Woody would even be in the game.

Let’s face it, Cub fans, this bullpen would try and use a wad of gum to stop a leak in the Titanic, for crying out loud.

It seems every time Bob Howry comes in, he gives up a run. Carlos Marmol got out of a jam yesterday but the old Marmol wouldn’t have even gotten into that jam in the first place.

And yes, let’s bring in the kid for his first ever major league appearance in a game situation, late and tied. Fit to be tied is how I’m feeling. Seems we’ve seen this plot before.

Lee and Ramirez, Ramirez and Lee. No matter how you slice it, those guys are not clutch hitters and both are prone to slumps that come in bunches. That’s what we saw in last year’s playoffs. And even when he’s not slumping, Lee couldn’t get a meaningful hit if you placed the ball on a tee for him.

Fukudome is starting to become a bust. OK, I said it, I went there. But hey, popularity isn’t why I write. And the truth is simply that we have three more, very expensive years of a powerless corner outfielder who can’t go anywhere.


What we do know is…

…that the Cubs can’t win on the road. Check.

…they are only 3-3 in their last six home games. Check.

…the bullpen is a mess. Check.

…Soriano is back. Check. (Hey I may be a realist, but I’m not a fatalist)

…After two more home games, they travel to Milwaukee for a four game series against the second place (but perhaps soon to be first place) Brewers.

The Brewers want to win as badly as the Cubs. Which isn’t fair, this is our year, dammit, so why can’t all the other clubs just lay down and let us win this thing? Let them wait their turn. The poor Brewers haven’t sniffed the playoffs since 1982? Well, boo f’ing hoo. You won’t get any sympathy from a Cubs fan.

Oh well, at least Rich Harden goes for the Cubs on Saturday. Hopefully, he’ll get his first win as a Cub. He’ll be opposed by tall righthander Chris Volstad, who has pitched well in the first three starts of his career.

Strap it on, Cubs fans, it’s a long season. Come to think of it, you might want to bring some newspaper to wrap the fish.

-Bob Warja

Come to Think of it…How Tough is the Cubs NL Central Competition

Now that the dust has settled a bit from the whirlwind of trade activity over the past week, let’s see where this division stands in regard to the three main contenders. Yes, I say three because you can’t count out the Cardinals just because they haven’t (and most likely will not) answer the moves of the Cubs and Brewers.

The NL Central has undergone quite a transformation over the past year. In 2007, it was considered the weakest division in baseball. Now it is probably the strongest in the National League. Amongst both leagues, I’d rank the NL Central second behind the AL East in terms of strength. That’s a credit to how well all three contenders have played this year, as well as recognizing the improvements made in the offseason and during the season.

I’ll analyze each of the three rivals and come up with my prediction of a division winner (I’ll give you a hint, they wear blue and sing a happy little song called “Go Cubs Go” after every home win. Other than that, I can’t tell you because then I’d have to kill you).

St. Louis Cardinals

Everyone is asking, what will the Cards do in response to the Brewers and Cubs recent trade activity? Well, heck, I’m asking how in the world are they still in this race and doing so well with all of the injuries they’ve had? If they haven’t made any trade splashes thus far, in response to injuries, then I hardly would expect anything major to occur just in response to what the Cubs & Brewers have done.

I mean, they lost their best hitter, Albert Pujols, yet kept right on truckin’ along. They still don’t know when their ace pitcher, Chris Carpenter, is coming back. Those two things alone would force most teams to make some desperate moves. But that just isn’t the Cards style.

They did make a very smart and cost efficient acquisition in the offseason of pitcher Kyle Lohse, and it has paid off handsomely thus far. But Wellemyre’s phenomenal May appears over, and they don’t know how much they can count on him going forward. Mark Mulder came off the DL then went right back on it again and his career may be over. Adam Wainwright will not return until August.

But offensively, All-star Ryan Ludwig has been a pleasant surprise and Ankiel and Pujols continue to rake. Aaron Miles and Yadier Molina are both hitting over .300.

St. Louis currently sits in third place, 4.5 games in back of the Cubs, and just .5 in back of Milwaukee. Despite its likely inactivity at the trading deadline, Tony LaRussa, Dave Duncan & Co. are too good to dismiss. They will be a factor most of the season, until fading in September, finishing third.

Milwaukee Brewers

Of course, the big news exciting Brewers fans has been the acquisition of star pitcher CC Sabathia. And with good reason, for Sabathia is the reigning Cy Young award winner in the AL, and had been pitching very well of late for the Indians. But the question always comes down to the health of Ben Sheets. There has never been any doubt about the talent of Sheets. It’s just that he’s had difficulty staying on the field. So far, so good as Sheets is 10-3 with a 2.85 ERA and might be the starting pitcher in the All-star game.

But as soon as the news of Sabathia came about, the Brewers had to put Jeff Suppan on the DL. Though he is scheduled to return the fifth day following the break, he has not been pitching well this season, sporting a 5-6 record with a 4.76 ERA. Dave Bush struck out a career high 13 batters on Thursday, and has been pitching well of late. Manny Para has been a pleasant surprise, going 8-2 with a 3.65 ERA so far. Overall, however, Brewer pitchers rank 7th in ERA and 9th in BAA. Expect Sheets to miss time in the second half.

Offensively, All-star Ryan Braun leads the attack, but shortstop JJ Hardy has been on fire recently. Fellow All-star Corey Hart is hitting well. And though his numbers are down across the board, Prince Fielder is always dangerous. But they are very much an “all of nothing” offense. Overall, they rank 6th in runs scored and only 9th in OBP.

The Brewers currently sit in second place, four games behind the Cubs. While there’s no question that the Sabathia deal has energized the club, and has sent a strong message that they want to win now, their bullpen struggles and they will come up just short again, shades of 2007.

Chicago Cubs

The Cubs have missed Alfonso Soriano, and if his hand is strong when he comes back, they will receive a boost offensively when he returns after the All-star break.

Theriot continues to bat above .300 and the Cubs hope to prevent him from enduring the same kind of second half slump that occurred last season. Another possible concern is the continued struggles of Fukudome. His average is down to .282 and he has struck out 72 times already. He looks weak at the plate. Perhaps some time off will re-energize him, because the Cubs certainly need his left-handed bat in the lineup. In addition to the mainstays, Lee, Ramirez and De Rosa, Geo Soto has also improved the lineup considerably this year.

On the mound, the Cubs now have a very strong 1-4 rotation, with Zambrano again healthy and looking dominant. He is joined by fellow All-star Ryan Dempster, who has been a very pleasant surprise, newcomer Rich Harden and Ted Lilly. Jason Marquis and Sean Marshall will battle it out for the 5th spot the rest of the season. The key here is keeping Harden healthy. If they can, there will be no stopping the Cubs.

The Cubs currently sit in first place and expect them to remain there. Sure, there may be periods of inconsistency, especially if they don’t improve their play on the road. But they have the most depth and the experience of winning the division last year, so it’s on to the playoffs for our Cubbies again in 2008.

Come to think of it, the winner is…the Cubs!