Results tagged ‘ Alfonso Soriano ’
It wasn’t too long ago that the Cubs were contenders and would struggle whenever the lowly teams in the division would come to town, well they are now returning the favor to the Pirates. Not that it’s something to get really excited about because of course a team would rather be contending, but it’s nice to have meaningful win one way or another. Paul Maholm turned in another outstanding performance, this time against the only other team he has suited up for in the Major Leagues. Maholm went eight innings giving up one run on four hits while walking one and striking out seven to earn his ninth win of the season and lower his ERA to 3.88. It was the second start in a row that a Cubs pitcher was able to go eight innings as Jeff Samardzija did the same to the Pirates yesterday. Things got started in a big way as Starlin Castro took the first pitch he saw and deposited in the right center field bleachers for his ninth home run of the season to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead. The only mistake Maholm made all night was an elevated fastball to Garrett Jones, Jones matched Castro’s solo shot with one of his own to tie the game at one in the fourth. David DeJesus came through with the big hit for the Cubs in the fifth inning, with two outs and the bases loaded DeJesus laced a double into the right field corner scoring two to give the Cubs a 3-1 lead. Alfonso Soriano put the game to bed in the 6th as he blasted his 19th home run of the season, a two run shot to give the Cubs a 5-1 lead and that’s how it would end. The Cubs go for the sweep tomorrow morning behind Ryan Dempster, I guess. Full box score and highlights after the jump.
If you like pitching then this one was for you as Jeff Samardzija and Erik Bedard put on a clinic, fortunately for the Cubs Samardzija was just a hair better… get it? Samardzija was dominant as he matched Bedard pitch for pitch in his eight innings of work. Count me as one of the people who thought Samardzija should have been allowed to finish the game, he wasn’t, but Carlos Marmol was outstanding in the ninth close out a 2-0 victory over the red-hot Pirates. The final line for Samardzija was impressive, he shut out the Pirates over eight innings giving up only one hit while walking one and striking out five to earn his seventh win of the season against eight losses. As I mentioned Bedard was equally as good but the Cubs broke the deadlock in the fourth inning thanks to a double from Alfonso Soriano. Soriano wasn’t done there as he liked doubling home Castro so much that he did it again in the ninth inning to give the Cubs a 2-0 lead and some breathing room. Starlin Castro played table setter for the Cubs tonight as he earned a two out walk before Soriano’s first double, and singled in the ninth before scoring on Soriano’s second double. Castro finished the night 1-for-3 with a walk and two very big runs scored. I guess I should mention that as of 9:33 PM CST Ryan Dempster is still a member of the Chicago Cubs, it’s been a crazy day, glad it ended with a solid victory. Full box score and highlights after the jump.
Paul Maholm was pressing early in the year, and I don’t blame. He was trying to prove to a major market that he was worth the money spent on him in the offseason, he soon realized that he didn’t have to prove anything to anyone and has taken off since then. Today was the latest chapter in Maholm’s resurgence as he was outstanding over eight innings to earn his 8th win of the season against six losses, and give the Cubs a series win over the Marlins. Maholm gave up one run on five hits while walking one and striking out four and lowered his ERA to 4.09 on the season. Maholm didn’t get much help from his offense, but he got just enough as the Cubs came through with clutch hits yet again, which has been a staple of this team during their recent hot streak. The Cubs only needed one inning to do their damage as they pushed four runs across the plate against Marlins starter Mark Buehrle, which was started by an Alfonso Soriano solo home run, his team leading 18th of the season. Luis Valbuena recorded a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded and no outs to make it 2-0, and Reed Johnson came up with a huge two out single that scored two to give the Cubs a 4-0 lead. Reed Johnson, Alfonso Soriano, Jeff Baker, and Darwin Barney all had two hits in the win. Carlos Marmol came on in the ninth and had some trouble again before nailing it down for his 11th save of the season. The Cubs finished their six game home stand an impressive 5-1, full box score and highlights after the jump.
Judging by today’s performance I’m going out on a limb and saying the four-day all-star break was the most beneficial for Alfonso Soriano. Soriano led the charge for the Cubs as they opened the second half much like they finished the first half, blowing out an opponent. The Diamondbacks jumped on top of the Cubs in the first inning after a three-hour and forty minute rain delay, plating a single run on two hits off of Maholm, that was the only run Maholm would surrender as he was stellar again. After the Cubs tied the game at one in the second they went off against starter Ian Kennedy while dodging rain drops. The Cubs scored in the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh inning on their way to an 8-1 blow out. As I mentioned, Soriano led the way, he finished the day 4-for-4 with two doubles, two home runs, five RBI’s and three runs scored, probably Soriano’s best game since the 2007-2008 seasons. He wasn’t alone in his destruction of D-Backs pitching as Anthony Rizzo also had a good day finishing 2-for-4 with two runs scored. The offense didn’t need eight runs, though it was nice to see, because Maholm was on top of his game. Maholm secured his seventh victory of the season by going seven strong innings giving up one run on six hits while walking one and striking out five. After today’s effort Maholm’s ERA dropped to 4.33 on the season. The Cubs are putting it all together right now, they are 7-3 in their last ten, and have raised their home record to .500 on the season. Full box score and highlights after the jump.
Can’t believe that the Cubs have already played 81 games, seemed like just yesterday the season started. Here is a recap of what transpired over the first three months of the 2012 season, and my thoughts.
Let’s start with the bad -
- When talking about the bad moments of the first half it’s hard to ignore the 12 game losing streak which took place from May 15 thru May 27. Before the streak the Cubs were 15-20, and playing rather well, in fact given how well the Cubs played the majority of their games it wasn’t crazy to think that if the bullpen resembled anything close to Major League caliber that the Cubs would be at .500.
- That leads me to Carlos Marmol. Marmol was a disaster in the first 81 games of the season, although he has been pitching better of late. Marmol was placed on the DL after a May 11th game against the Brewers, at the time he had an ERA of 6.35 and had been removed from the closers role in favor of Rafael Dolis. Marmol had as many blown saves (2) as saves before being DL’d. Since coming off the DL, and being thrown back into the closer role Marmol is 6-for-6 in save opportunities and has lowered his ERA to 4.74, it might have a lot to do with this.
- Chris Volstad has to be mentioned here as well as he had and is having a horrific first half. Volstad finished the first half, which included a trip to Iowa, with an 0-7 record and a 7.94 ERA. Sometimes numbers don’t tell the whole story, in this case I don’t think they tell enough of it. Volstad has completely lost all confidence, he’s pitching as if he expects to lose. I guess that will happen to a guy that hasn’t won a game in a calendar year.
- The record. Coaches, players, fans, and executives alike knew that this season would be a rough one, they didn’t think it would be this rough. I for one have no problems with the 31-50 record because it means nothing, this year was a throw away year, whether the Cubs were 25 under or 15 under, it’s just a necessary season in the process of rebuilding and I’m okay with that.
- Geovany Soto, oh how the mighty have fallen. After alternating good and bad years since his 2008 rookie of the year campaign it seems as though Geo has found some consistency, not in a good way. It looks more and more like Soto was a one hit wonder, as he is in the midst of another wasted season. Soto hit .163 over the first 81 games, with only five home runs. He has been routinely outplayed by Clevenger and Castillo behind the dish. I will even say that Koyie Hill provided more of a spark, that’s how bad Geo’s been.
Now on to the good, yes there has been plenty of that -
- Alfonso Soriano, what a tremendous first half from a player that almost everyone, except Jed and Theo, thought was beyond done. Not only has Soriano provided improved offensive numbers he has been spotless in LF. Think about that for a second, Soriano has not committed an error all season in LF. He has also played an above average defense, getting to balls he could only once dream about getting to. He’s clearly hurt but he has earned a lot of respect back from me after I wrote him off. Soriano finished the first half (again in games, I know the Cubs have 4 games left in the “half”) hitting .269 with 15 home runs and 46 RBI’s.
- Bryan LaHair was another player that was bound and determined to prove himself, but for different reasons. Coming into the season LaHair never had a starting role in the big leagues, an oddity for a 29-year-old with just a handful on major league experience. But he took the opportunity and ran with it in the first month of the season by hitting .390 with five home runs and 14 RBI’s. As expected he cooled off during May and June, but he has been great in July which also coincides with finding out he was elected to his first All-Star game.
- Ryan Dempster entered the 2012 season amid trade rumors, and they just got louder and louder every time he pitched, mostly because he was outstanding. Dempster has been a man on a mission in the first half, he has been slowed by a lat injury but he has pitched at a Cy Young level up until then. If the Cubs bullpen or clutch hitting was consistent at all Dempster might be close to the lead league in wins. He has settled for a 3-3 record with a sparkling 2.11 ERA. I doubt he makes it past July 31st as a Cub, so enjoy it while it lasts.
- Travis Wood who was brought over from Cincinnati in the Sean Marshall deal, didn’t make the team out of Spring Training. He started the year at Triple-A and struggled, leaving some to suggest that Theo got fleeced in the deal. Wood got an opportunity in the rotation at the big league level once is was clear that Chris Volstad was not up to par. Wood has dominated ever since, thus shutting up all those people who questioned his existence on the Cubs roster. Wood made nine starts in the first half and finished with a 3-3 record and a 3.05 ERA. He might be a huge part of the future for this team.
- James Russell and Shawn Camp’s work out of the bullpen cannot go unrecognized. Both guys have been a stabilizing force in the back of the Cubs bullpen all year. Russell sports a 2.27 ERA in 39.2 innings, while Camp has been just as good in his 43 innings, he finished the first half with a 2.93 ERA.
- A late addition to this post has to be Anthony Rizzo. After basically two and three-quarters months of Cubs fans pleading for Rizzo they finally got their wish in late June. Rizzo has not disappointed one bit. Not only is he producing at a high level, and is exciting to watch, he is giving Cubs fans a glimpse of what Theo’s vision might look like down the road. That’s important for Cubs fans to see, to know they are not suffering through maybe the worst season in Franchise history for nothing. In the 8 games that Rizzo has been up with the Cubs he has hit .323 with three home runs and six RBI’s. Not to mention he has had the game winning hit in three of those eight games, and the Cubs are 6-2 since his call up.
The in-between -
- Long time Cub Kerry Wood retired during the first half of the season. It was bittersweet for sure. For a lot of Cubs fans, including myself, Kerry Wood was the face of the franchise growing up, in good times and bad. Kerry worked his tail off to get in shape and put his injuries behind him to have a pretty solid career. He was having a horrible season this year, and it was clear to him and many people surrounding the team that it was time to hang em up. He did the right thing, walked away, and will be apart of this organizations future one way or another.
There were a lot of things in the first half that made us cover our eyes as Cubs fans. But there were also a lot of things that opened them as well, this team competes, rarely gives up and is usually in a lot of games. Right now that doesn’t translate to a lot of wins, but it’s something to hang on to from the first half. This team will look much different in the second half once the trade deadline comes and goes. Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster, David DeJesus, Geovany Soto, among others could all be gone. Anthony Rizzo is already here, but he could be joined by Brett Jackson, and Josh Vitters at some point. It’s something to be excited about, we’ve suffered through quite possibly the worst first half in team history, the saving grace is that it shouldn’t be this bad ever again.
Thanks for reading, go Cubs!
June didn’t feature a horrific losing streak like May did but the Cubs still managed to lose 17 games. The Cubs did get a shot in the arm when Anthony Rizzo was called up near the end of June, I almost selected him as the player of the month but I thought better of it. Here are the players of the month for June.
Everyone is expecting Alfonso Soriano to slow down, and to his credit he hasn’t. A very productive month for Soriano as he hit eight home runs, and had 18 RBI’s, probably would have had more if he was in a better lineup. Soriano’s effort hasn’t really helped the Cubs add up wins, but it might help the Cubs future tremendously. If Soriano continues to hit the way he has he will be a sought after bat at the trade deadling at the end of July. The Cubs will pick up most of Soriano’s salary, but the better he performs the better chance the Cubs have of getting something of value in return.
Alfonso Soriano June Highlights:
Not many people predicted this one at the beginning of the month, but Travis Wood is my selection for the Cubs best pitcher of June. Wood was outstanding in the five starts that he made in June, and he had to be given the opponents he was facing. Justin Verlander, Barry Zito, Jake Peavy, and Johan Santana matched up against Wood, and Wood delivered going 2-2. Wood gave up 26 hits over 31.2 innings, and he only allowed 12 walks over those innings, he really did a great job limiting the base runners. Wood, who was acquired in the “Sean Marshall Trade” is really giving Cubs fans a taste of what Theo and Jed were thinking when they agreed to the deal with the Reds. He is performing much like he did in 2010, if he continues to improve that deal could turn out to be a steal.
Travis Wood June Highlights:
Special tip of the cap to Ryan Dempster as he went all of June without giving up a single run. Dempster only made three appearances because of injury, but went 22.0 innings only giving up 12 hits while walking three and striking out 12.
Thanks for reading, go Cubs!
It hasn’t taken long for Anthony Rizzo to make an impact at the Major League level for the Cubs, today he might have made his biggest one. After a punch less four innings the Cubs offense got going in the 5th inning. Starlin Castro has a tremendous two out at bat which resulted in a line drive base hit to right field to cut the Astros lead to 2-1. Anthony Rizzo followed with his biggest hit as a Cub, a towering two run home run off of left-handed starter J.A. Happ to give the Cubs a 3-2 lead heading to the 6th. The Cubs bullpen surprisingly took it from there and shut the door on the Astros over the final four innings. Matt Garza only lasted 5.1 innings, giving up two runs on nine hits while walking three and striking out one. But thanks to Scott Maine, Manual Corpas, James Russell, Shawn Camp, and Carlos Marmol, Matt Garza earned his fourth win of the season. Geovany Soto had a solid day at the plate going 2-for-3 with a walk, he also gunned down Jordan Schafer trying to steal second. Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo were the big reasons the Cubs won today, and I have a feeling that’s something we will be saying after a lot of games in the future. Cubs go for the sweep tomorrow, full box score and highlights after the jump.
Break up the Cubs, okay not really but after today’s win they have now won three out of four and for a team with 49 losses before July that’s something worth noting. Fans at Wrigley Field got the best of both Worlds today as they witnessed home runs and stellar pitching from Paul Maholm. Maholm was outstanding, as he had everything working and kept the Astros hitters off-balance all day. Unfortunately Maholm put two guys on in the ninth before he was lifted for Carlos Marmol, falling just short of his first complete game as a Cub. The final line for Maholm, 8.1 innings giving up no runs on four hits while walking one and striking out six to earn his 5th win of the season. As I mentioned, the fans were treated to the long ball today, three of them in fact. Luis Valbuena who has shown some solid power since getting recalled to the Cubs hit his third home run of the season to put the Cubs up 1-0 in the bottom of the second. Steve Clevenger joined the fun in the fourth inning launching his first major league home run, a two run shot to give the Cubs a 3-0 lead. Alfonso Soriano rounded out the scoring with his team leading 15th home run of the season to give the Cubs a 4-0 lead, Soriano finished the day 2-for-4. It was nice to see Bryan LaHair get back on track as he went 3-for-4 in the win, and Carlos Marmol continued his strong stretch since being plugged back into the closer role by earning his 6th save. Full box score and highlights after the jump.
Many people labeled the Sean Marshall trade in the off-season as a loss for Theo Epstein and company solely based on the fact that Sean Marshall was named the closer for the Reds and that Travis Wood didn’t make the Cubs out of Spring Training. Fast forward to tonight, and things aren’t looking like a loss at all for the Cubs as Travis Wood continued to take advantage of his opportunity in the rotation by shutting down the Mets en route to a 6-1 victory. Wood shut out the Mets over seven strong innings, only allowing five hits while walking one and striking out six. With the win Wood improved to 2-3 on the season and lowered his ERA to 3.54. Offensively the Cubs had maybe their best approach and game against a lefty all year. Johan Santana came into the game pitching very well, but the Cubs made the veteran lefty work, they earned four walks in addition to pounding out seven hits and six runs. Alfonso Soriano had another solid night at the plate as he shows no signs of slowing down, he went 2-for-3 with a walk and a run scored. Joe Mather had the big hit as he was 1-for-3 with his 4th home run of the season to put the Cubs up 2-0 in the fourth inning. That’s all they needed behind Travis Wood, a solo shot from Ike Davis off of James Russell in the ninth spoiled the shut out bid. It’s Anthony Rizzo day tomorrow as the Cubs top prospect makes his season debut, we will have full coverage. Full box score and highlights after the jump.
Another lefty on the mound and another loss for the Cubs in what is shaping up to be a historically bad season. The Cubs record against left-handed pitchers dropped to 3-16 on the season after Wade Miley shut the door in a 5-1 victory for the Diamondbacks. The Cubs did nothing all day, which is a shame because Matt Garza had one of, if not his best road outing of the season. Garza went seven strong innings giving up three runs on five hits while walking one and striking out seven. The loss drops Garza to 3-6 on the season with a 4.06 ERA. As I said, the Cubs did nothing at the plate, Alfonso Soriano hit his 14th home run of the season in the seventh inning to bring the Cubs to within one run. That was as close as they would get as the Diamondbacks tacked on one in seventh and two more in the eighth to make it 5-1. The Cubs did threaten however in the 8th inning, and just missed tying the game on a Darwin Barney double that hit the yellow line at the top of the left field wall. With 2nd and 3rd and nobody out, and down 3-1, Joe Mather stuck out, Luis Valbuena lined out to short, and David DeJesus grounded back to Miley to end the threat with no runs scoring. Soriano and Darwin Barney were the only Cubs with hits, each getting two in the defeat. Full box score and highlights after the jump.