Cubs enter the series 9-9 and exit the series 10-11.
Dodgers enter the series 10-10 and exit the series 12-11.
Friday April 22 – Dodgers 12 Cubs 2
WP – Billingsley (2-1)
LP – Coleman (1-1)
Holy hell, where to start with this turd. Casey Coleman, filling in for Randy Wells, looked pretty good in the first two innings and then fell apart in the 3rd. In that frame, he gave up six runs on six hits and was pulled with two outs in the inning. Coleman threw 90 pitches in 2 2/3 innings and I’m sure he is ready to put this start behind him. Jeff Stevens came in to relieve Coleman and threw a career high 89 pitches in the 3 1/3 innings, the longest outing of his career. After the game, Stevens said, “If they asked me to throw 200 pitches, I would’ve thrown 200 pitches. We needed to pick up Casey today.” Both pitchers had tremendous trouble finding the strike zone. The two combined for 10 walks in just six innings. Grabow followed Stevens, lasting two innings, giving up only one hit and striking out two. Marcos Mateo came in to pitch the 9th. So far in 2011, Mateo has looked pretty good….and pretty bad. His performance in this game would fall into the “pretty bad” category. He pitched one inning, giving up three runs on six hits.
Offensively, the Cubs couldn’t seem to generate anything. Darwin Barney had the only RBI for the Cubs as the other run was scored on a wild pitch. The lone bright spot for the Cubs at the plate was Fukudome, who went 3-4 with a walk.
Saturday April 23 – Cubs 10 Dodgers 8
WP – Samardzija (2-0)
LP – Guerrier (1-1)
S – Marmol (5)
For the first time in the young 2011 season, the wind was blowing out at Wrigley and it looked like a typical wild summer ballgame at the Friendly Confines. We at Ivy Envy, like most Cubs fans, were excited to see Ted Lilly return to Wrigley and share the mound with Ryan Dempster. Neither pitcher fared well in this offensive battle. Dempster lasted 5 2/3 innings, surrendering seven runs on nine hits. Dempster served up three long-balls to the Dodgers. However, it’s understandable because the jet stream must have been real low. Bob Brenly said that on windy days at Wrigley, if you can get a hit up in the air, the wind of the jet stream will push it out. I like Dempster, but he’s no match for the jet stream. Samardzija ended up earning the win, his second in four days. He went 1 1/3 inning and struck out three. Don’t look now Cubs fans, but Samardzija is pitching well and sporting a 3.65 ERA.
On Saturday morning’s podcast, Andy said that he hoped Lilly would pitch a great game and then the Cubs would score a bunch of runs off the Dodgers bullpen. Lilly didn’t fare so well, either. Lilly gave up five runs on 11 hits in 4 1/3 innings. Lilly was able to defeat the jet stream, however.
The Cubs were down 8-5 heading into the 8th and with Broxton looming in the 9th, the Cubs were able to take him out of the picture by rallying for 5 runs in the bottom of the 8th. The go-ahead and insurance run were scored on a Jeff Baker double. I was a little curious why Quade was leaving Baker in to face Guerrier, a righty, considering Baker’s horrible track record with hitting right-handed pitching. Going into the game, Baker was hitting .464 against left-handers and .167 against right-handers. But the result went Quade’s way and Marmol was able to save the game with the tying run at the plate.
The Cubs were once again offensively carried by the top of the order. Castro and Barney went a combined 7 for 10 with 6 RBIs. Each of them hit a double and they both were able to shed a Cubs habit by hitting 2-out RBIs. I can’t help but get excited by the way these two are playing. Having these young guys makes it easier to forget about the big names/payrolls that we are eager to see exit. The Cubs have been anemic at stealing bases so far in 2011, but they stole three bases in this contest.
Sunday April 24 – Dodgers 7 Cubs 3
WP – Kuroda (3-2)
LP – Zambrano (2-1)
You know things are not going to go well in a game when Aaron Miles leads off the game with a triple against you. In the first inning, the Dodgers scored all they needed to end Carlos Zambrano’s 10-game winning streak. Zambrano gave up six runs on eight hits in his five innings of work, which was his shortest outing of the 2011 season.
The Cubs were able to hit the ball, but couldn’t translate the contact into guys crossing the plate. Fukudome, Barney, Ramirez and Byrd all had two hits each.
1 and 2 are getting it done:
The Cubs have been getting incredible production out of the top of their order. The 1 and 2 spots in the order batted .517 in this series with the Dodgers. Fukudome, Castro and Barney are getting on base, now the Cubs just need the heart of the order to drive them in. I like Castro in the lead-off spot, but it’s April, so you might as well work Fukudome in as much as you can because his numbers are going to drop. I like Castro in the 3-hole too because he is a disciplined hitter that will do what it takes to move them over and drive them in. If you didn’t see it, Marlon Byrd posted about the battle between he and Castro for the 3-hole. You’ve got to love players with level heads and maturity.
At least it’s a 1-year deal:
Carlos Pena has been bad, bad, bad. Everyone knew, when the Cubs signed him, that he sported at .196 batting average last year. At the beginning of the season, we talked on the podcast about how we could look past some strikeouts and a low batting average if he can do well in clutch situations. He’s been awful in clutch situations. I could throw a ton of stats at you, but all you need to know is that, with runners on base (he’s hitting in the heart of the line-up and the top of the order has been on base, so this isn’t exactly a small sample size), he’s hitting .111. Pena’s got twice as many strikeouts (20) as he does hits and he’s been behind in the count a lot. When he’s behind in the count, Pena is hitting .067. The Cubs aren’t coming anywhere close to getting their money’s worth, but how do you do that when you hand a guy that hit .196 a $10 million check?
Does Quade let the fruit spoil?
Saturday’s game was just another example of Mike Quade seemingly leaving his starting pitching in the games too long. In the top of the 5th inning, Dempster struggled and the Dodgers scored three runs off two homeruns. Dempster came up to the plate in the bottom of the 5th with the bases loaded and two outs. I was shocked to see Dempster take the at-bat given that he struggled in the top half of the inning and this was a great opportunity for the Cubs to tack on more runs. Dempster struck out, and the Cubs came up empty-handed. Dempster came out in the 6th and served up a homerun to Rod Barajas, a triple to Tony Gwynn Jr and he then walked Casey Blake. At this point, Quade pulled Dempster. It was obvious to anyone watching that Dempster looked shaky in the 5th and that would have been an ideal spot in the order for a pinch-hitter. I like Mike Quade, but this scenario is presenting itself way too often.
A sign of a mediocre team:
The Cubs have pulled off a pretty amazing accomplishment. They have neither won, nor lost more than two games in a row this season. This has led to records of 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, 6-6, 7-7, 8-8, 9-9 and 10-10. The Cubs look to even their record again, at 11-11 on Monday against the Colorado Rockies at Wrigley. I don’t mind this mediocrity. The Cubs have struggled in April and if the Cubs can hang around the .500 mark and hopefully hit a hot streak or two, this could be a decent season. I think it’s showing some stability in this club and maybe they can avoid lengthy skids.