For the second straight game the Cubs built an early lead only to watch it disappear in one horrible inning. Travis Wood‘s quality start streak ended at nine as he couldn’t get himself out of the sixth inning. With the Cubs leading 2-1 in the sixth, Wood issued a walk Joey Votto to start the inning, nine batters later Travis Wood was out of the game and the Cubs trailed 5-2. The Cubs didn’t even have enough for a fake rally in this one as they went quietly the rest of the way, and could only manage six hits all day. Six losses in a row, and the Cubs 2013 season seems to be on life support at this point.
PICTURE OF THE GAME
Scott Feldman and the Cubs pitchers have basically said that’s enough and are tired of waiting around for their offense to do anything so they are taking things into their own hands. Feldman launched a two run shot to give the Cubs an early 3-0 lead but you know those don’t last, silly. Feldman had one really bad inning which included a Ryan Hanigan 330′ three run homer, and the Cubs couldn’t find anymore offense the rest of the way as the Reds took game one of the series 7-4.
PICTURE OF THE GAME
I’m predicting ten runs tonight, for the Cubs, not the Reds, because frankly I don’t really care if I’m wrong, and I’m tired of watching losing baseball especially when the majority of the time the Cubs play well enough to win like sixty percent of the time, okay that doesn’t make any sense. Tonight is game one as Scott Feldman takes the mound, he will be opposed by the 54 MPH throwing Bronson Arroyo. Here are the lineups for tonight.
I think I mentioned that it was imperative for the Cubs to get off to a good start on this road trip to avoid a disaster, well that didn’t happen. The Cubs limp into this weekend series against the Reds after getting swept by the Pirates and losing five out of their last six. That’s why I said that the Mets series would have either been a step forward or a big step back, they lost that series and spiraled since, that would be a step back as they sit ten games under .500 now which is a low water mark. Things aren’t going to get any easier as the Cubs start a three game series in Cincinnati tonight, a place where the Reds are 16-6 on the season, and have won eight of their last ten overall. If there is any good news heading into this series it’s that the Cubs have played the Reds tough all year-long, that doesn’t necessarily mean wins, guess we’ll have to rely on moral victories at this point. The Reds are back to scoring runs in bunches again and have scored 225 on the season, that’s good for sixth in the majors. They hold a huge edge in the department over the Cubs and the 179 runs they have scored this season. Scoring runs isn’t the only thing the Reds do well, they are pretty good at preventing the other team from doing so. They have a 3.31 team ERA which is third best in the Majors, you add up that kind of offense, and pitching and you get a team that is 29-18 on the season. The Cubs will need a perfect series in order to take two out of three this weekend.
The Cubs were swept in Pittsburgh, three games that we should all just forget about.
The Reds are rolling as they have won three straight, and eight out of their last ten. They are coming off a three game sweep of the Mets in New York.
Game Times and Broadcast Information:
- Friday, May 24, 2013 – 6:10 PM CST on WGN
- Saturday, May 25, 2013 – 3:10 PM CST on WGN
- Sunday, May 26, 2013 – 12:10 PM CST on CSN Chicago
Starting Pitchers Scheduled:
Game One – Scott Feldman (4-3, 2.19)
– Career vs. Reds (first appearance)
Game Two – Travis Wood (4-2, 2.24)
– Career vs. Reds (3 GS) (0-1, 4.42)
Game Three – Matt Garza (0-0, 0.00)
– Career vs. Reds (4 GS) (1-2, 3.80)
Game One – Bronson Arroyo (4-2, 3.25)
– Career vs. Cubs (28 appearances, 26 GS) (11-9, 2.99)
Game Two – Homer Bailey (2-3, 3.09)
– Career vs. Cubs (10 GS) (5-2, 5.12)
Game Three – Johnny Cueto (2-0, 3.22)
– Career vs. Cubs (18 GS) (8-6, 3.01)
The Cubs send their number four, five, and one starters to the mound in this series, and oddly enough that might be their best chance to win. Travis Wood, and Scott Feldman have been as good as any pitcher this year, not just on the Cubs either. With that said, the Reds are finding their groove and the Cubs look disinterested so I think they lose two out of three this weekend. HOWEVER, of course there is a however, I think if they can steal the first game tonight they could win two out of three, fingers crossed.
Cub to Watch:
Time for Anthony Rizzo to get back on track as he has struggled since signing his big contract extension. Could that be a product of Rizzo trying to justify his contract, I don’t think so, I think he is just pressing at the moment knowing he is a big part of this offense and is struggling. Rizzo has had success against Arroyo in the past (3-for-8), if he has a big night tonight then expect a big series as Rizzo usually parlays one big game into a torrid week or so.
Maybe it was because it was getaway day, maybe it was the hour and forty-seven minute rain delay, but the Cubs were seemingly ready to get out of Pittsburgh as fast as possible in this one. The Pirates jumped all over Edwin Jackson early as they scored twice in each of the first two innings, and that was plenty to silence the already quiet Cubs. To the Cubs credit, they shut the Pirates down the rest of the way but once again couldn’t find enough offense. The Cubs were able to score once in the fourth and once in the seventh, but they couldn’t string together a rally, not even a fake one. For the series, the Cubs only scored six times and walk away with three straight losses. Not a great start to an eight game road trip as the Cubs now head to Cincinnati for a three game weekend series, this trip could end up disastrous.
At The Plate - The Cubs could only manage seven hits in this one, and were 2-for-6 with runners in scoring position, so not a lot of chances all day. David DeJesus was back in the starting lineup and was 1-for-4 with a double, his thirteenth of the season. Starlin Castro was 2-for-4 with two singles in the loss to get his average back up to .270 on the season. Alfonso Soriano, Darwin Barney were the only other Cubs in the starting lineup to get hits, Scott Hairston and Ryan Sweeney added hits off the bench.
On The Mound – Edwin Jackson had a rough go of it, then the rains game to end is day. Jackson worked three innings giving up four runs on six hits while walking one and striking out six, his record fell to 1-7 on the season. The Cubs pen was outstanding in this one, go figure. They worked a combined five scoreless innings giving up three hits while walking two and striking out five. Rafael Dolis, Carlos Villanueva, Carlos Marmol, and Kyuji Fujikawa were the ones that did the stellar work.
Up Next – The Cubs travel to Cincinnati to take on the Reds this weekend, another stiff test. Series preview coming up shortly.
Yet another outstanding effort from a Cubs starting pitcher ends up in a Cubs loss, as it has so often in 2013. It was Jeff Samardzija‘s turn to get screwed over as he was dominant all night only to see his record get worse as the Cubs couldn’t push a single run across the plate. Sure, Francisco Liriano was solid, but the vaunted “righty lineup” did what it usually does, come up empty, often. The turning point in this one took place in the third inning when the Cubs loaded the bases with nobody out with the top of the order coming up. The Cubs couldn’t score in that situation, it wasn’t the first time this year, and it won’t be the last, and a team that can’t score in that situation doesn’t deserve to win the game. It wouldn’t be a Cubs loss without another fake rally in the ninth inning and that’s exactly what happened as the Cubs had runners on first and second with only one out and came away empty-handed yet again. If it’s not the bullpen blowing a game, it’s the offense not helping out a starter after he has done way more than enough to win, these losses are really starting to get on everyone’s nerves.
At The Plate – The Cubs could only manage four hits in the loss, they walked only once, and struck out eleven times. Here are a couple more depressing stats, they were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and left eight guys on base. Julio Borbon, and Cody Ransom each had a hit in the loss while Welington Castillo had two singles.
On The Mound – Jeff Samardzija did everything he could to get the win tonight, I guess he was supposed to hit a home run as well, unfortunately he didn’t. Shark worked seven innings giving up one run on three hits while walking one and striking out eight. The loss drops his record to 2-6 on the season as he lowered his ERA to 3.25 for the year, amazing. Carlos Villanueva was available tonight, guess he wasn’t available twenty-four hours ago, he worked a scoreless inning while walking one.
Up Next - Game three of the series, hopefully the Cubs can find a way to salvage one game of this series. Edwin Jackson gets the start for the Cubs, he will be opposed by Jeanmar Gomez at 11:35 AM CST tomorrow morning.
Check back later, MLB.com has no Cubs highlights yet, oh right, they probably won’t.
From the you can’t make this up department: Shawn Camp to the DL with a ….. toe injury; Dolis recalled (UPDATE)
Oh, baseball is a funny game, down right hilarious, and infuriating at the same time. I spoke in length about how the decision to keep Shawn Camp and DFA Michael Bowden was a terrible one, well now things look even worse. Shawn Camp has been placed on the DL by the Cubs today with a toe injury, and I hope that he kicked something and got hurt. Do I wish any ill will towards him? Of course not, but this better not have been a nagging injury that now warrants a trip to the DL. That makes the decision to hang on to Camp an inexcusable one. The Cubs could have released him if he was banged up, or simply could have put him on the DL and kept Bowden. Like I said, I hope this injury happened yesterday and not something that has been there for a while as that will look terrible for the Cubs. With the move to the DL the Cubs needed an arm and recalled Rafael Dolis, what else is new, this seems like a weekly occurrence. I only ask one thing, use him. Don’t call him up to sit on the bench, put him in games, the pen can’t get any worse and Dolis is actually starting to kick it into high gear at Iowa, maybe that will translate to the big league level now.
In other bullpen related news, the bullpen and Dale Sveum just held a closed-door meeting in Pittsburgh… I assume the reason for this is now that Camp is hurt Sveum needs to find a new best friend out there. In all honesty, consider this a wake up call to the pen, which should have happened a while ago, if you don’t perform, you are out….unless your first name is Shawn and last name is Camp. Really just horrible timing and execution from the Cubs and Sveum with this bullpen crapshow.
UPDATE – What a wonderful update, Patrick Mooney is reporting that this is an injury that Camp has been dealing with for about a month now, there are no words or excuses now from the Cubs in regards to keeping Camp, ridiculous. Not to mention, there are reports that no one on the Cubs knew about the injury until today, Camp didn’t tell anyone, I have no words for this situation any longer.
I’ve never been one to call for a managers head, or question a manager openly, unless their first name is Mike, and last name is Quade, that’s not what this is. I’ve played the game, nowhere near the MLB level, and I’ve never been a manager so I cannot relate to what Sveum goes through on a daily basis with one eye on his team, one eye on his future, and one eye on the organizations future, wait, that’s too many eyes, I digress. Sveum has been a popular target on social media, specifically twitter the last week, and really all the season when the Cubs flame out, but rarely receives any credit when he does make the right move and it pays off. Now, I understand that this is usually the case with managers, but it’s worth pointing out that Cubs fans are slowly turning their hate and ire towards Sveum. Last night didn’t help, and it added fuel to the fire of the keeping Shawn Camp decision, more on that later.
I don’t care what word you want to use, disaster, debacle, mismanaged, I think they all apply to last night. After Matt Garza made a successful return to the mound going five scoreless innings giving up one hit while walking three and striking out five he was lifted by Sveum, this was after 82 pitches, and it was the RIGHT move. Sveum screwed up last night, but one of the things he did right was lift Garza, Garza means more to the Cubs healthy with a no decision, then hurt again, and 1-0 on the season. The head scratching came after he lifted Garza. Shawn Camp was warming up in the pen during the fifth inning in case Garza couldn’t get out of some trouble, Garza did get out of the trouble, then Camp sat down. Hector Rondon got up instead and was slated to come in for the sixth, that was the first issue I had. Shawn Camp has been awful this year, Shawn Camp has shown signs of a dead arm this year, you don’t get him up to come in then sit him down, doesn’t work, usually doesn’t. Rondon struggled, which can happen, then Sveum reached a new level of second guessing by bringing in James Russell, arguably the best arm in the pen…. in the sixth. Sure, one could argue that this was a turning point in the game, but what happens after the sixth if Russell gets out of it? Who’s left out of the pen to work the seventh, Camp? The same Camp that just sat down an inning ago? Marmol would probably come in for the seventh, but as you will read Sveum had no intentions of letting Russell get out of the sixth.
Let’s stop there for a second to discuss something else. When Garza’s return to the rotation was announced, last week, Sveum said that Villanueva was going to go to the pen. Okay, given that Garza was on a strict pitch count last night, Sveum had a day or so to figure out what he wanted to do when Garza was lifted, and he was most likely going to be lifted early. So one would think that it would have made perfect sense to bring in Villanueva to not only get through the sixth, but piece together the game and have Villanueva get the ball to the ninth assuming he was effective. But Villanueva was nowhere to be found, and I do understand that he might not have been available, but for argument’s sake I figured I would at least bring it up as another possible option for Sveum in the sixth.
Okay, back to what actually happened last night. So in comes Russell in the sixth inning with the bases loaded and one out to face Pedro Alvarez. I get the lefty/lefty match up thing in a big spot but after Russell walked Alvarez Sveum removed him. The best arm in the pen faced one batter in the sixth and that was it. If you are going to bring Russel in for that situation let him get out of it, or at least attempt to. I don’t care if it’s a righty or lefty at the plate, Russell can get both out, instead he faces one guy, and leaves the game in the same situation as he entered it. Now comes the decision to bring in Shawn Camp with the bases loaded and one out, he gets the first guy, but then is left in to face a lefty in Travis Snider, why? If Russell is being lifted after one hitter because of matchup’s why is Camp being left in the game for an unfavorable matchup? Probably because he was the third pitcher of the inning already. But if this was the most important spot in the game, important enough to use Russell, why wasn’t Fujikawa brought in, or Marmol, both have been better than Camp, and that’s alarming given Marmol’s struggles. Dale completely botched this whole situation as he then was forced to stick with Camp the rest of the inning because no one was left out of the pen if he went to a fourth pitcher in the inning.
So, what could have been done differently? Garza had to come out, no question, I absolutely agree with that move. I’m indifferent on bringing in Rondon in that situation, but I would have went with Marmol, but have a quick hook ready if he can’t find the zone. Ideally, Marmol works the sixth inning, Russell works the seventh, Fujikawa works the eighth, and Gregg closes it out. I don’t see any reason why Rondon HAD to be used, when in the past Sveum has shied away from using him late with a lead, but my biggest complaint is Russell for one hitter, makes no sense. Now, this is the scenario if Villanueva was not available, if he was available then this game was the perfect spot for a former starter easing into the pen. Use him for as long as he is effective then go from there, we’ve already seen our fair share of bullpen disasters, but I think this one could have been avoided with better decision-making from Sveum.
That brings us to the other question, why was Camp still available to be used in the first place? To make room for Garza one pitcher had to be designated for assignment, and that pitcher was Michael Bowden. Bowden was having a solid season on the heels of having a really good finish to 2012, but now the Cubs risk losing him completely, and he’s only 26, why? I can’t really answer that question, and ultimately that decision comes down to the front office. Both Theo and Jed said that all decisions regarding the roster are made with a large input from Dale, so my guess is that he lobbied hard for Camp, and the front office showed faith in their manager and player by keeping Camp around. The Cubs had options here, they could have placed Rondon on the DL with a “middle body” injury to by some time before making a decision, or they could have released Camp who looks done, there is nothing telling me that he is going to bounce back in any way, shape or form. Let’s not forget the only reason the Cubs got him was that he was released by Seattle during spring training the year before. He’s also 37 years old, all of these things just don’t add up in regards to keeping him, so Sveum and the front office have to share the blame on that one, and if I had to guess Camp won’t be on the Cubs by the All-Star break. Been a while since I’ve been able to share my thoughts in this space, felt I needed to after last night, today’s another game, let’s get a win!