August 2012

August 24 – 26, 2012; vs. Rockies – Series Preview

Oh right, the Colorado Rockies are still in the National League, maybe the reason I forgot about them was that the Cubs haven’t played them all season!  That’s right, the first matchup between these two teams will take place at Wrigley tomorrow, August 24th, just another example of the crazy Major League schedule.  The Cubs will welcome a familiar face to town for the first time, as Tyler Colvin makes his return to Wrigley Field.  Colvin is enjoying a bounce back year out in Colorado as he is hitting .294 with 14 home runs, and 52 RBI’s.  The Cubs are coming off of another horrendous road trip as they went 1-6 against the Reds and Brewers to bring their road record to a dismal 17-48.  The good news is they are much better at home, and the Cubs will be at the Friendly Confines for the next ten games where they look to improve upon a 30-28 record.  The Rockies are concluding a disappointing season as they sit in last place in the National League West and are 23 games under .500.  However, the Rockies are playing well, winning their last five games as they head into town.  As you can imagine, the Rockies can score runs, they sit second in the National League in runs scored, BUT they are dead last in the National League in runs scored on the road.

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Friday August 24, 2012
Colorado:  Drew Pomeranz (1-7, 4.87 ERA)
Cubs:  Jeff Samardzija (8-11, 4.17 ERA)

Saturday August 25, 2012
Colorado:  Alex White (2-6, 5.55 ERA)
Cubs:  Brooks Raley (1-2, 7.63 ERA)

Sunday August 26, 2012
Colorado: Jhoulys Chacin (1-3, 6.16 ERA)
Cubs: Chris Volstad (0-9, 6.88 ERA)

Season Series:  First Meeting

Prediction:  Rockies win series, 2-1

Thanks for reading, go Cubs!
- George

Cubs Claim Miguel Socolovich From Orioles

The Cubs clearly aren’t afraid to snag players off of waivers this year, today’s waiver claim is 26-year-old right-handed pitcher Miguel Socolovich from the Orioles.  Socolovich has not seen a lot of time with the Orioles this year, but when he has pitched it has been out of the bullpen.  The majority of Socolovich’s career, which has been spent with the White Sox, Red Sox, and Orioles, has been in the minor leagues.  This was a no brainer move for the Cubs as Socolovich has been outstanding at AAA this year posting a 1.90 ERA, and a 0.904 WHIP.  His K/BB ratio has also been tremendous, currently sitting at 3.71.

To make room on the 40 man roster the Cubs DFA’s Blake Lalli.  Socolovich was optioned to Iowa after being claimed but should be up with the Cubs sooner than later, most likely on September 1st and should have a real shot to make the team out of Spring training next year.

Thanks for reading,
- George

8/22: Around the Cubs Minor League System

The Cubs minor leagues were in full effect on Wednesday with the AZL Cubs and Daytona each playing 7-inning double headers.

FULL BOX SCORE

The AZL Cubs scored three in the first inning of the first game and that was all Ryan McNeil and company would need beating the Diamondbacks 3-0.  McNeil was outstanding pitching four scoreless innings giving up five hits and striking out two.  Rafael Dolis continued his rebab pitching the next 1.1 innings and getting the win.  Jasvir Rakkar earned his first save of the year, striking out four of the five outs he recorded.  Anthony Giansanti also continued his rehab assignment going 1-for-2 with a double and two RBIs.  Justin Marra also had a hit and an RBI in the victory.  Shawon Dunston continued his impressive stretch at the plate going 2-for-3 with a run scored.  Ben Carhart and Yasiel Balauert also had a hit in the game.

FULL BOX SCORE

Game two was scoreless until Anthony Giansanti stepped to the plate in the bottom of the seventh.  Giansanti delivered hitting a walk off homer as the Cubs swept the double-header against the Diamondbacks.  The Cubs used three pitchers in this one as Corbin Hoffner got the start striking out two and allowing three hits in three innings.  Some more good news was the return of Ben Wells who began his rebab assignment in style striking out the side in his one inning.  Alvido Jimenez ended the scoreless day pitcing the final three innings and getting his second win of the season.  Carlos Penalver, David Bote, and Yasiel Balaguert all had a hit in game two of the double-header.  The Cubs remain three games behind the A’s for first place, but are leading the wild card by three games over the Giants.

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FULL BOX SCORE

Boise just keeps rolling as they beat up Vancouver 11-6.  The offense was the story in this one as they pounded out 17 hits to go along with those 11 runs.  Stephen Bruno is just raking right now as he went 3-for-6 with two runs scored and two RBIs.  He is now hitting .344 on the season and .439 in his last 10.  Izaac Garsez and Wilson Contreras each had really nice games both having three hits and driving in two runs a piece.  Garsez also scored three runs and stole his first base of the season.  Carlos Escobar and Darien Martin both had two hits with Escobar knocking in two.  Marco Hernandez also had two RBIs and Gioskar Amaya had one of his own.  Justin Amlung got the start, but only lasted two innings as he gave up three runs on six hits.  Michael Heesch then pitched two scoreless innings and got his second win of the season.  James Pugliese struck out six over the next three innings, but did give up three runs before getting the ball to Nathan Dorris.  Dorris closed this one out striking out two over the final two innings of the game.  Boise remains six games up on the Yakima Bears with their magic number down to four.

****

FULL BOX SCORE

Beloit got off to a great start, but Peoria came roaring back scoring four in the sixth and one in the eighth to tie it up before scoring three in the 13th and beating Beloit 9-6.  Timothy Saunders continues to impress at the plate going 4-for-6 with a stolen base, three runs scored and two RBIs.  He is now hitting .391 with Peoria in 11 games.  Jorge Soler was back at it going 2-for-6 with a stolen base, three runs scored and an RBI.  Jacob Rogers and Bijan Rademacher each had a hit and an RBI and Pin-Chieh Chen had two hits.  Starling Peralta started, but struggled with his command walking five in five innings.  He also gave up five hits and allowed four runs, three earned, and struck out four.  After Bryce Shafer gave up an unearned run the rest of the Chiefs staff threw up zeros.  First Pete Levitt struck out four in 2.2 innings, then Sheldon McDonald struck out four in his two innings.  Luis Liria came on to shut the door in the 13th and recorded his fifth save of the season.

****

FULL BOX SCORE

Game one of Daytona’s double-header was decided early as Clearwater scored two in the first and Daytona scored one in the second.  Nothing would change as the Cubs lost game one 2-1.  PJ Francescon started and took the loss striking out four and giving up two runs in three innings.  Eduardo Figueroa, Matt Spencer, and AJ Morris all did their job not allowing another hit and shutting Clearwater down over the next three innings.  The offense just couldn’t get it going, which is to be expected as they haven’t played in several days.  Taylor Davis was 2-for-2 and drove in the only Cubs run in this one.  Christian Villanueva hit a double and scored the Cubs lone run in the loss.  John Andreoli and Elieser Bonne also had hits and Javier Baez was 0-for-3.

FULL BOX SCORE

Game two didn’t go much better for Daytona as Clearwater jumped out early scoring three in the first and never looked back beating the Cubs 4-2.  Frank Del Valle was on the hook for all four runs, only three of which were earned in four innings of work.  Ryan Searle and Hunter Cervenka each pitched a scoreless inning a piece.  Offensively there were a couple bright spots, one of which was Ronald Torreyes who was 3-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored.  Vladimir Frias had two hits of his own and Nelson Perez added a hit and an RBI.  The offense is obviously having a hard time getting in any kind of rhythm as games have been few and far between.

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FULL BOX SCORE

Tennessee was embarrassed on Wednesday losing to Chattanooga 11-1.  Dae-Eun Rhee started and took the loss giving up three runs on nine hits in 5.2 innings.  Things didn’t get any better as Casey Weathers gave up three runs after recording just one out.  After Zach Rosscup struck out the side in the seventh, Casey Harman gave up five runs, only one of which was earned in the eighth inning.  Dustin Harrington struck out two in the ninth, that’s right Dustin Harrington, the same guy who plays third base.  He was 2-for-2 at the plate as well, hitting a double and scoring a run.  Matt Szczur was the only other Smokie to have a hit as he had a triple and drove in the lone Cubs run.

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FULL BOX SCORE

Iowa was winning 3-1 into the eighth, but gave up five over the next two innings and lost 6-3.  Horacio Ramirez was great on Wednesday giving up one run on seven hits in seven innings pitched.  Blake Parker struggled and took the loss giving up three runs in the eighth and Jairo Asencio allowed two unearned runs in the ninth.  Dave Sappelt had a nice day at the plate going 2-for-4 with a triple and two RBIs.  Brian Esposito had a hit and an RBI and Blake Lalli had a hit and scored a run in the loss.  Adrian Cardenas finally got to play baseball again and was 1-for-4 with a run scored.  It is tough to see Parker give this one up, as his rehab has been going quite well thus far, but I am sure he will come back strong in his next outing.

Thanks for Reading,
-Mark

Cubs Can’t Find Contact or a Win in Series Finale

The Cubs struck out a grand total of 13 times today, that comes on the heels of 12 strikeouts last night, and 12 strikeouts in game one, that’s not very good.  The result was the same for all three games, a loss, as the Brewers finished off the sweep this afternoon with a 3-2 victory.  Travis Wood started for the Cubs and pitched well enough to win, unfortunately he finished the day with his 10th defeat of the season.  Wood tossed seven strong innings giving up three runs on six hits while walking one and striking out six.  The Brewers had seven hits on the day, five of them went for extra bases, that doesn’t usually bode well.  Hard to score runs when you don’t put the ball in play and as I mentioned, the Cubs didn’t do nearly enough of that again today.  They only managed five hits in the loss, this coming after only four hits the night before.  Bryan LaHair, yes that Bryan LaHair, launched his first home run since July 4th to bring the Cubs within one in the seventh, but that was as close as they would get.  The Cubs will have tomorrow off to lick their wounds as they head home to start a weekend series against Colorado on Friday.

FULL BOX SCORE

Game Highlights:
DeJesus’ Lead-Off HR
LaHair’s Home Run

Thanks for reading,
- George

Bartolo Colon Suspended Fifty Games

Another west coast playoff contender has been dealt a big blow, the Oakland A’s will be without Bartolo Colon the rest of the way has he has been suspended 50 games.  Per Tim Brown of Yahoo sports, Colon has tested positive for testosterone.

Numbers from MLB Trade Rumors:

The veteran right-hander has pitched to a 3.43 ERA with 5.4 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 in 24 starts and 152 1/3 innings for the Athletics this season after signing a one-year, $2MM contract. After missing all of 2010 and most of the 2006-2009 season, the 2005 AL Cy Young Award winner resurfaced with the Yankees last season and posted a 4.00 ERA in 164 1/3 innings.

I guess stem cells weren’t the only reason for his resurgence.

Thanks for reading,
- George

August 22, 2012 – Cubs Lineup vs Brewers

The Cubs will try to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Brewers this afternoon in Milwaukee.  Travis Wood will take the ball for the Cubs and faceoff against Brewers ace Yovanni Gallardo at 1:10 PM CST on WGN.  Here is how the Cubs will line up today, Alfonso Soriano gets the day off.

1. DeJesus – LF
2. Valbuena - 3B
3. Castro – SS
4. Rizzo – 1B
5. LaHair – RF
6. Clevenger – C
7. Jackson – CF
8. Barney – 2B
9. Wood – P

Thanks for reading,
- George

Nine Innings With Justin Germano

It’s back!  It took a little while to make its return, but Nine Innings is ready for round two.  In this feature we will interview (9 questions of course) a current Cubs player or Cubs prospect for your reading enjoyment.  This is a big accomplishment for us as we hope it brings you, the reader, even closer to the team and players you love.

In the second  installment of 9 innings, we sit down with Cubs starting pitcher Justin Germano, I hope you enjoy it.

BornOn3rd: In your short time in Chicago, how have the fans been with you?  Has anything surprised you?

Justin: So far the fans have been top-notch.  This is a team with a lot of history and tons of loyal fans everywhere we go.  It makes it really fun.

BornOn3rd: You’ve pitched some out of the bullpen and some in the rotation, how is the preparation different?

Justin: Preparation is different because as a starter you know when you’re going to pitch; you have four days to work on what you need to.  Out of the pen you never know when you’re going to go, so sometimes you have to get extra work in before the game knowing you may still pitch that night.

BornOn3rd: Favorite City to visit when you are on the road, why?  You can throw Chicago in this discussion because you haven’t been here too long.

Justin: Well, Chicago would definitely be up there if I didn’t play here.  So top of my list would be San Diego, because I live there and get to stay at my house and sleep in my own bed!

BornOn3rd: You’ve bounced around the Minor Leagues and Major Leagues your whole career, what is the toughest thing about that?

Justin: The toughest thing is making new impressions.  The older you get and starting over with teams the leash for failure gets shorter and shorter.

BornOn3rd: Who is the best hitter you have ever faced, at any level. 

Justin: The toughest hitter for me would probably be Matt Holliday.  He is a very good all around hitter; he hits for average and power, and hits all pitches well.

BornOn3rd: What is it like to be only 30 years old and be a “veteran” on this team? 

Justin: It’s pretty crazy.  We have a very young team but tons of talent.  We have the chance to be very competitive in the coming years.

BornOn3rd: I’ve touched on bouncing around, but you have pitched all over the World.  Tell us about that experience, how different is it compared to baseball in the States?

Justin: Going overseas was a cool experience.  It gave me a chance to see other cultures.  On the baseball side of it, it taught me how to attack different kinds of hitters.  That has helped me even back in the States.

BornOn3rd: What is your best baseball memory?

Justin: My best memory hands down would be my perfect game I threw last year in AAA.  That’s something all pitchers dream about.  I don’t care what level you’re at, to go 27 up and 27 down is a great accomplishment, and one that I will always remember.

BornOn3rd: Have you always seen yourself as a pitcher?  Feel free to discuss your little league home run record now.

Justin: Pitching has always been my passion.  I could always hit, from little league all the way through High School.  I still feel like I can be a good hitting pitcher too, just have to get enough batting practice in.

BornOn3rd: Is there anything that you want Cubs fans to know about you that they can’t already find on the internet?

Justin: Hmm, probably the toughest question.  I’d say maybe just my hobbies, I enjoy all outdoor activities.  I mountain bike in the offseason, and I plan on taking up stand up paddle boarding this year.  I have two awesome 90 pound boxers that I love and treat as my kids.  Even though I already have a son and another on the way, my big boys are a huge part of my life and couldn’t imagine not having them.

An absolute huge thank you to Justin Germano (Follow him on Twitter) for sitting down with me and answering some questions from Milwaukee where the Cubs will try to avoid a sweep today.  Justin really is a great guy that gets it, he is always interacting with fans via twitter and has definitely paid his dues to be where he is at.  Best of luck to Justin the rest of the year!

Thanks for reading,
- George

Cubs Beat Themselves in Rusin’s Debut

It doesn’t get weirder than that one, neither team could generate any offense, but somehow the Brewers managed to score five runs on three hits.  The Cubs weren’t any better as they were only able to manage four hits on the night on their way to a 5-2 defeat.  Chris Rusin made his major league debut and was very good, unfortunately he didn’t get any help from his offense and ended up taking the loss.  Rusin went five innings giving up one run on one hit while walking two, hitting two guys, and striking out four.  The Brewers “big” inning against Rusin was the fourth, they pushed across a run on one hit thanks to two hit batters and a walk.  Rusin got Lucroy to ground into a double play with the bases loaded and one out to avoid any further damage.  The Brewers broke it open in the 6th when Alberto Cabrera walked three guys then gave up one hit, all three guys scored, and it was all but over after that.  The Cubs were able to score twice in the ninth inning but it was too little too late.  Alfsonso Soriano had a solid day at the plate going  2-for-4 with a double and an RBI, he is now hitting .263 on the season with 76 RBI’s.  The Cubs look to avoid the sweep this afternoon in Milwaukee as Travis Wood takes the mound against Yovanni Gallardo.

FULL BOX SCORE 

Game Highlights:
Chris Rusin’s Major League Debut
Castro’s RBI Groundout
Soriano’s RBI Single
Rusin’s First Career Hit…a Triple

Thanks for reading,
- George

8/21: Around the Cubs Minor League System

Tuesday’s minor league report.  As you may have guessed Daytona was postponed yet again.

FULL BOX SCORE

The AZL Cubs lost to the Mariners 4-1 in one of their two games on Tuesday.  Duane Underwood got the start and pitched pretty good going three innings and allowing no runs on no hits, while walking one and striking out three.  Anthony Prieto pitched the next 2.1 innnings and took the loss giving up four runs.  At the plate Justin Marra had himself a nice day going 2-for-2 with a double and a triple.  He also scored the Cubs lone run when he was driven in by Trevor Gretzky who also had two hits.  Shawon Dunston also had a hit in the loss.

FULL BOX SCORE

The AZL Cubs scored four times in the seventh to beat the Mariners 7-6.  The offense did a nice job in not giving up in this one.  Shawon Dunston was 2-for-3 with a two runs scored and an RBI.  Anthony Giansanti who is working his way back from injury also had two hits and drove in three.  Justin Marra, Ben Carhart, and Garrett Schlecht all had a hit and an RBI in the game.  Carlos Penalver and Jeffrey Baez each had a hit in the win.  Carl Lang got the start only pitching one inning and allowing no runs.  Carlos Martinez-Pumarino continued to struggle as he gave up five runs, four earned on six hits in only three innings.  After Steve Perakslis gave up one run in two innings Chad Martin pitched a scoreless seventh and earned his third win of the season.

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FULL BOX SCORE

After a rough loss on Monday night Boise came out swinging beating Yakima 7-4.  Pierce Johnson started, but struggled a bit giving up three runs in two innings.  Felix Pena came in relief and pitched five wonderful innings allowing only one unearned run and striking out three.  Eduardo Orozco pitched the final two innings notching his sixth save of the season.  Offensively Gioskar Amaya had himself a nice night going 3-for-4 with a home run, two runs scored, and two RBIs.  Albert Almora had a hit and an RBI and Marco Hernandez also drove one in.  Stephen Bruno and Xavier Batista each had a hit and combined to score three runs.  It was good to get back in the win column after last nights debacle.

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FULL BOX SCORE

Peoria came back strong on Tuesday beating Wisconsin 4-2.  Jeff Antigua was good enough to win this one, but got a no decision.  He last 5.2 innings allowing two runs, one earned on five hits, while striking out five.  Austin Reed threw 2.1 scoreless innings in getting the win.  Larry Suarez pitched the ninth and recorded his fourth save.  After a couple rough games for Jorge Soler he got back on track going 3-for-4 with an RBI.  Sergio Burruel also had a nice night at the plate adding three hits and driving in one run as well.  Pin-Chieh Chen contributed with a hit and an RBI.  Timothy Saunders, Dustin Geiger, and Wes Darvill all had a hit a piece with Darvill also scoring a run and stealing a base.  It was good to see the Chiefs and Soler get back on track in this one.

****

FULL BOX SCORE

Tennessee lost a pitcher’s duel 3-1 in 11 innings.  Eric Jokisch started for the Smokies giving up no runs in five innings of work.  He left in line for the win and Trey McNutt and Tony Zych got it to the ninth inning scoreless, but Frank Batista gave up a run in the ninth.  Kevin Rhoderick took the loss as Casey Harman couldn’t get the final out of the 11th before the two runs scored.  Jae-Hoon Ha and Matt Cerda were the only Tennessee players to have multi hit games.  Justin Bour had a hit and drove in the only Smokies run.  Rubi Silva and Matt Szczur each had a hit in the loss.

****

FULL BOX SCORE

Iowa scored two in the seventh to beat Memphis 2-0 on Tuesday.  Seth McClung started for the Cubs and was brilliant pitching seven strong innings allowing no runs on six hits, while walking one and striking out six.  Scott Maine pitched a scoreless eighth and turned the ball over to Blake Parker who struck out two in recording his sixth save of the season.  The Cubs didn’t do much offensively, but a two-run homer by Jeff Frazier proved to be more than enough.  Blake Lalli also had a hit and scored on the Frazier home run.  Diory Hernandez and Matt Tolbert each had doubles  in the Cubs victory.

Thanks for Reading,
-Mark

Matt Garza Officially Done For The Season

Probably not shocking news for anyone that has followed the Cubs, but Matt Garza will be shut down for the remainder of the season.  He was transferred to the 60 day DL today to make room on the 40 man roster for Chris Rusin.  Really no point for Garza to push it to get back in September as it won’t prove anything.  I’m sure both Garza and the Cubs wanted to show other teams that he was healthy enough to pitch but he just isn’t right now.  Hopefully rest is all he needs and this isn’t something long-term that requires a more serious course of action.

Thanks for reading,
- George

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