Sunday night baseball on ESPN. That of course means Joe Morgan and Steve Phillips with their "expert" analysis. Underhand flips, Dave Concepcion, slide pieces, stories of drafting David Wright, how the Mets need to get rid of Carlos Beltran... you'll hear it all. You could of course just put it on mute, and read my live-blogging while you watch the game.

Game: Los Angeles Dodgers(34-17) vs. Chicago Cubs(25-23)
Game Time: 7:05 PM CT

Pitching Matchup:
Cubs- Sean Marshall(3-3, 3.70 ERA)
Dodgers- Eric Milton(1-0, 3.00 ERA)


1. Juan Pierre, LF
2. Rafael Furcal, SS
3. Orlando Hudson, 2B
4. Russell Martin, C
5. James Loney, LF
6. Matt Kemp, CF
7. Mark Loretta, 3B
8. Jamie Hoffmann, RF
9. Eric Milton, P

1. Alfonso Soriano, LF
2. Ryan Theriot, SS
3. Milton Bradley, RF
4. Derrek Lee, 1B
5. Reed Johnson, CF
6. Geovany Soto, C
7. Bobby Scales, 2B
8. Mike Fontenot, 3B
9. Sean Marshall, P

Batter vs. Pitcher Notables:

Dodgers vs. Marshall
Orlando Hudson- .167(1-6), 1 HR, .952 OPS
Rafael Furcal- .200(1-5), 1 HR, 1.133 OPS

Cubs vs. Milton
Alfonso Soriano- .500(6-12), 0 HR, 1.083 OPS
Derrek Lee- .222(4-18), 3 HR, 1.008 OPS

Well the matchup is quite favorable for the Cubs. Milton was a solid pitcher for years for the Minnesota Twins, but had reconstructive surgery on his pitching elbow(left) in 2007 as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies, and just made it back to baseball with the Dodgers. He was very effective at Coors Field last week against the Rockies though, going 5 innings without allowing a run. He's been maybe the biggest flyball pitcher in baseball over his career, so the wind conditions at Wrigley could play a major part in his success in this one.

Sean Marshall matches up well against this Mannyless lineup, but there's lots of ability there 1-6, so you never know. Juan Pierre is 16 for 31 against left-handers this year, so it doesn't matter which side they throw from right now for him.

Wind is blowing in from right field apparently. We'll see what that does to flyballs in left field, which is what Milton should be giving up a bunch of.

I feel so bad for Jon Miller.

Casey Blake still out with a strained hamstring.

Top of the 1st

Ball 1 way inside to Pierre to start the game. Next pitch almost in the dirt, 2-0. And there's a strike right down the middle, 2-1, followed by a foul ball to even the count. Hits a rocket line drive one-hopper that Theriot makes a great diving attempt at to knock it down, but no way you're going to get Pierre with his speed. Leadoff runner on.

Furcal takes a strike. Almost comes out of his shoes fouling one off, 0-2. Furcal with a great piece of hitting and singles in the hole in the right side of the infield. Pierre easily to 3rd, 1st and 3rd no outs for Orlando Hudson. Not a good start for Marshall.

Strike to Hudson. Check swing and pitch in the dirt, but not far enough away from Soto for the speedy runners to advance. 2-1 to O-Dog now. I bet the runner is going here. Nope, but a line drive single into left field, 1-0 Dodgers. 1st and 2nd no outs.

Pitch in the dirt to Martin, Marshall has nothing so far. Hopefully it's no more than 2-0 after this inning. 3-1 to Martin, and he singles on a line drive to left. 4 singles to start the game. Rothschild out to visit Marshall.

DP candidate here with Loney and Marshall needs one badly. 1-1 count. Blooper into center, 5 singles to start the game now. 2-0 Dodgers, still bases loaded, still nobody out.

Kemp pulls a groundball foul, 0-1. Nice curveball from Marshall that Kemp takes, 0-2. Barely gets a piece of another curveball to foul it off. High fastball and an awkward swing by Kemp, strike 3. 1 out. Now you can definitely get a double play from Mark Loretta.

Nasty curveball in for a strike. Marshall has that pitch working now, should stick with it. And he does, but outside, 1-1. Loretta drills one down the left field line for a 2-run double, it's 4-0 already. Bullpen is already getting ready. I'd intentionally walk Hoffmann and try to get the double play with Milton.

They're pitching to Hoffmann, David Patton warming up, yikes. 2-1 on Hoffmann, just put him on, it's already 4-0. Can't let it get worse. Pulls it foul and just misses another Dodgers double. Almost just missed hitting James Loney. Flyball deep into centerfield for an out, but it scores the 5th run. Stupid, stupid. 5-0 Dodgers.

And Milton shuts me up with another crush job to center, but Reed runs it down. All 8 hitters that made contact hit the ball hard(edit: well Loney's single was a bloop, but yeah...).

Bottom of the 1st

Soriano takes a strike. Soriano pops up a foul ball. Milton up in the zone with everything as he always has been, and that's why he's given up 40+ bombs in seasons. Another high fastball but that's not what Soriano likes, and he pops out to center.

Theriot lines an 0-1 fastball into left field. The Cubs should be able to score over 5 runs today, but we'll see.

Bradley takes a letter-high fastball, called a strike. Fastball outside to even the count. Takes a curveball for a strike, 1-2. Changeup gets Bradley swinging, 2 outs.

Lee takes a curveball for a strike. 2-1 to Lee. Takes a fastball to even the count. Lee hits a line drive that Mark Loretta jumps as high as he possibly can for, and somehow makes the catch. Inning over, still 5-0 Dodgers.

Top of the 2nd

Juan Pierre strikes out at a high fastball to start the 2nd. So Marshall couldn't fool anybody last inning, and now he strikes out one of the most difficult hitters in baseball to strike out.

Fontenot makes a nice dig on a groundball to 3rd from Furcal, 2 down. Marshall seems to have it now... although I fear it might be too late.

2-0 to Hudson, gets a groundball to Theriot. High throws from Fontenot and Theriot, but it's nice having a 6'5" first baseman.

Bottom of the 2nd

Reed who had a sensational game yesterday will lead it off. I think he'll get great swings off Milton. Takes a curveball for a strike. Fouls off the next pitch, 0-2. Change in the dirt, 1-2 count. Lays off a breaking ball in the dirt that he was swinging at earlier in the season, 2-2 now. Blooper into center, Kemp dives and just misses it. Reed hustles all the way and gets a double. Kemp could've easily broken his wrist on that, looks a little banged up but okay to stay in.

Soto takes a hanger, 0-1. Fastball just misses inside, 1-1. Deep flyball by Soto to left, but Pierre makes the play. Very smart baserunning by Reed as usual, running on Pierre's noodle arm and gets to 3rd base with 1 out.

Scales takes a ball. Stop with this backstop camera ESPN. Hoffmann makes a diving catch on a blooper in right field, gets up quickly and makes a perfect throw to the plate and gets Reed. Right call by Quade/Reed to run there, just an outstanding play.

Top of the 3rd

2-0 to Martin. Fontenot makes another nice play at 3rd, 1 out.

2 down, but Matt Kemp crushes one deep into the left-center field bleachers. 6-0 Dodgers.

1-1 on Loretta. 1-2 count, groundball up the middle, Theriot slips in the outfield grass, but gets off an accurate throw, albeit in the dirt to make the play. Awesome dig by Lee there on the bang-bang play. Inning over.

Bottom of the 3rd

Well, this is going to be just another loss or the best win of the year. Plenty of time left and the right pitcher is on the mound to make a comeback against.

Groundball up the middle from Fontenot, but if it's near Hudson, might as well just head back to the dugout already. 1 down.

0-2 to Marshall. Strikes out, 2 outs.

Soriano is due to park one, but Milton's a high fastball pitcher and we know Soriano loves the sinkers. Just misses a double by about 2 feet. It's that kind of night. 2-2 count, another one just foul in the bullpen area. Full count now. Ball 4.

Might see Soriano in movement here with 2 outs. Although, it IS Babe Theriot at the plate. Theriot takes a curveball for a strike. Milton has great command of that right now, but there's been a lot of hangers. Another hanger, and Theriot pops it up to Hudson. 6-0 still.

Top of the 4th

"I'm Jon Miller here with Joe Morgan and Steve Phillips." Next in his mind I'm sure he was thinking, "And that's why I'm drinking heavily."

Line drive hit right on the button but Fontenot doesn't have to move, 1 out.

Marshall hits the pitcher with a breaking ball. Sums up the night.

Another breaking ball almost hits Pierre as he's squaring to bunt for a hit. Soft liner to Theriot and tries to double off Milton, but he's not too far off 1st. 2 outs.

Furcal hits a groundball in the hole to left, Theriot sets his feet and makes a nice play to get the speedy Furcal. Inning over.

Bottom of the 4th

Need to scratch a run or 2 across, especially with the 3-4-5 up.

Ah, the annoying interview with the manager in between innings. Those managers have nothing to do.

Bradley takes 2 fastballs for strikes. Another one well outside, and again. 2-2. Bradley with a high pop out to right field. 1 out.

Lee crushes one to right-center, but the wind knocks it down in front of the track. That's gone on many days at Wrigley.

Some more super news: Dempster's battling blisters.

Hudson with a spectacular play up the middle but too much speed from Reed. So I guess it is possible for Hudson to get to a play and beat it out.

Soto with a mile-high flyball to right on the 1st pitch, easy play in right. Inning over.

Top of the 5th

Interview with Lou now. Lou and Phillips communicating! I'm sure he'd prefer to just give Phillips a nice punch to the face.

Hudson flies out to start the inning. 3-0 to Martin. Ascanio warming up. Ball 4.

0-1 to Loney. Loney hammers one deep into right-center for a double, easily scoring Martin. 7-0 Dodgers. I'd imagine that's it for Marshall. And it is.

Ascanio in. Single to left by Kemp, 1st and 3rd, 1 out.

Ascanio almost picks off Kemp at 1st. 2-2 on Loretta. Kemp running, awful throw from Soto, gets away from Scales. Kemp safe at 2nd, Loney scores as well. 8-0 Dodgers. Loretta apparently struck out looking on that, 2 outs.

Routine groundball to Fontenot, Hoffmann hustling and almost beats it out, but inning over.

Bottom of the 5th

Scales grounds out.

As does Fontenot. Cubs can't get anything going against Eric Milton. That's the most frustrating part of this game to me.

Jake Fox pinch-hits for Ascanio. Misses a couple of changeups badly, then some high heat for the strikeout.

Top of the 6th

Cubs debut for left-hander Jason Waddell. I can't wait!

According to the odds, the Cubs have a 1% chance to win this one. Waddell hitting 89 on the fastball. 1-2 on Milton. Nice breaking ball taken for strike 3.

Jake Fox in to play 3rd base, this should be interesting.

Strikes Pierre out on a fastball looking. 2 batters, 2 strikeouts for Waddell. I'm quite shocked.

1-2 on Furcal, can he strike out the side? No. Furcal singles into right again.

Theriot makes a nice play on a groundball in the hole, gets the force at 2nd. Inning over, great job by Waddell. I'm worried this means Lou is going to use him like crazy now though.

Bottom of the 6th

0-2 to Soriano. Used to saying that. Strikes out on a breaking ball. Used to saying that as well.

Theriot with an infield single up the middle.

1-1 on Bradley. Fouls one off his leg, awesome. David Patton warming up. Doesn't have to worry about the sun tonight so maybe he'll do okay. Bradley rips one off the wall in left field, takes a good bounce to Pierre though and he's held to a single. 1st and 3rd, 1 out.

Lee fouls one straight back. Getting good swings off Milton. Lee apparently got hit, doesn't seem to think so, but he goes to 1st base. He wanted to hit.

Bases loaded, curveball in there for a strike. I thought it was high, so did Reed. 2-run double for Reed! 8-2 now. Runners on 2nd and 3rd.

"Reed who had a sensational game yesterday will lead it off. I think he'll get great swings off Milton." I'm right about something! Reed up to .299 and a .848 OPS.

Milton done, Ronald Belisario in to face Soto. Slider outside, 1-0. Fouls a high fastball back, 1-1. Soto takes a fastball on the outside corner, 1-2. Soto goes down looking, questionable call, but you have to swing the bat there with a runner on 3rd and less than 2 outs. K-zone shows it was a ball.

Micah Hoffpauir pinch-hitting for Waddell. 1-2 on Hoffpauir. Slider down and in, 2-2 now. Belisario's slider at 88 mph. Fouls off a hittable fastball. Hoffpauir drills one to center, but like Lee's earlier, the wind knocks it down and it's an easy out. Cubs get 2 runs, but had to get at least another with runners in scoring position and less than 2 outs when you're down 8-2.

Top of the 7th

Single up the middle for Martin off David Patton. Shocking.

Loney crushes one to deep left, I thought it was gone just with the sound of the bat. Soriano catches it on the track though, 1 out.

Morgan and Phillips analyzing basketball now. I don't know how much longer I can take it, but I'm taking one for the World Wide Web team here.

Martin steals 2nd, stole it on Patton. Awful throw by Soto but I don't think he had much of a chance. Kemp chases a pitch in the dirt, good throw by Soto this time and he gets the out. 2 outs.

Curveball misses to Loretta, 2-1 count. High and away, 3-1. Curveball in the dirt on a full count, Loretta walks.

Hoffmann takes a fastball on the corner for a strike. Now pulls a curveball foul. Patton blows away Hoffmann with a 92 mph fastball. 7th inning stretch now which we don't get to see.

Bottom of the 7th

3-1 count on Fontenot. Takes a high strike. Fontenot fouls off a few, then hits a deep flyball to left field that looked like it had a chance, Pierre makes a catch at the wall.

Fox strikes out again.

1-2 on Soriano. 2-2 now, fouls a pitch off. Soriano rips one down the left field line for a double.

Theriot takes a ball. High and inside fastball just misses Theriot's face. He falls flat on his back quickly. Big swing and pops the next pitch foul. Hits a hard groundball right to Loretta to end the inning.

Top of the 8th

Marmol in to get some work with the off day tomorrow. 3-0 to the first batter as always. Now hits Ausmus and Ausmus stares him down. No way that's intentional, he just always struggles to find his control to the first hitter. Ausmus hadn't even been in the game.

Juan Pierre goes down looking, 3rd strikeout. I don't think I've ever seen that from him.

2-0 to Furcal, questionable strike call then on a slider. 2-1. Slow bouncer that Marmol can't field cleanly. Error on him.

1-1 on Hudson, runners on 1st and 2nd, 1 out. Fontenot ranges far to his right and gets the force at 2nd. 1st and 3rd, 2 outs now.

2-0 on Martin, Marmol struggling with his command. Slider outside, 3-0. Ball 4. Marmol's thrown 18 pitches, 11 of which for balls.

1-2 on Loney. Strikes out Loney with a fastball. As it's been for Marmol this year, usually gets interesting, but usually nobody scores and that's all that matters.

Bottom of the 8th

Ramon Troncoso in for the Dodgers. Bradley hits one well to center that might have a chance on another day, but routine out today. Dodgers have hit 2 like that and the Cubs 3 now. Each team could have a bit more runs with different weather conditions. Dodgers would still be up big though.

Lee bloops a single into right with 1 out.

Reed with a great bid for his 4th hit, but a sensational play by James Loney at 1st. Gets the force out at 2nd. 2 outs.

That's what Soto needs to do, go to right field. Does it nicely on a 2-1 count. 1st and 2nd, 2 outs.

Fukudome pinch-hitting. Kevin Gregg up in the bullpen, he'll come in for the 9th. Reed gets a great read on a pitch that gets away from Martin, gets to 3rd with no throw. Unfortunately Soto didn't get to 2nd. Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton warming up. 1-1 on Fukudome. Chases a breaking ball in the dirt, 1-2. Check swing on another breaking ball, but the third base umpire says he went around. Inning over, and game pretty much over if it wasn't hours ago.

Top of the 9th

Kemp fouls off a 3-2 pitch from Gregg. Kemp walks.

Morgan: "I think when you're suspended you should be suspended." Funny thing Joe, when they are suspended, they indeed are suspended.

Gregg looked to have Loretta struck out but called a ball, now a single. 1st and 2nd no outs.

Morgan is all over Manny, yet I'm pretty sure he still believes his buddy Barry Bonds is clean.

Fontenot with a nice backhand play up the middle, flips to Theriot to end the inning.

Bottom of the 9th

Just need 6 off Jonathan Broxton to keep it going.

1-2 on Fontenot. Broxton's fastball at 97, just getting loose. Broxton has struck out over 40% of batters faced this year, quite impressive. Fontenot bouncer up the middle but Furcal has too much range, easy play for the 1st out.

So maybe Jake Fox isn't Albert Pujols after all. Struck out twice so far and 0-2 now. Goes down swinging on a 99 mph fastball. Silver sombrero in 3 at bats.

Alf will get around on Broxton, here comes the useless home run. 0-2 slider just misses, 1-2. I doubt Alf will see another fastball now. Welp, he does, and he can't catch up to it over his head. Fail on me, and fail by the Cubs.

Series split at 2-2. Disappointing effort for the Cubs tonight. Turns out it was over about three minutes into the game. Milton did a great job throwing strikes but they there were many hittable pitches they should've done better on. Marshall was awful, one of his worst starts in a long time. When you give up five runs in the first, it's putting a lot of pressure on your team. Just changes the mindsets of the at bats and it's tough to get comfortable out there, on your 1st at bat even.

Coming into the series I just wanted a split, but not too happy after tonight. Dodgers are a terrific team though so I'll accept it. The problem is a nine-game road trip ahead, including Derek Lowe and Jair Jurrjens looming in the first series at Atlanta. If the Cubs can somehow go 5-4 over that stretch, I'll be ecstatic.

No game tomorrow, 7:05 PM ET Tuesday in Atlanta. I'd assume we'll be live-blogging again and feel free to join us. Some action in the comments tonight, thanks to all of you that participated. Had a Braves and Dodgers fan join us which is nice to see. As you can probably tell, we're not too biased here. Obviously we're pulling for the Cubs, but not going to trash the opposing teams or anything. Love some good baseball discussion.

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75-year-old television host Larry King is a huge Dodgers fan that frequently attends the games in Los Angeles. Today, he had the honor of throwing out the first pitch and perform the seventh inning stretch at Wrigley Field as his Dodgers played the Cubs. He sported a Cubs jersey today(as he was likely asked to). His "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" rendition wasn't too bad, but lacked enthusiasm as is usually the case with him. It ranks high on the best "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" performances to fall asleep to.

You also get to see Reed Johnson's home run in this video to put the Cubs up 7-0, which was the final score as well...

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Live Blog: Cubs vs. Dodgers 5/30/09

Posted by Matt Clapp | 5/30/2009 01:53:00 PM

Game: Los Angeles Dodgers(34-16) @ Chicago Cubs(24-23)
Game Time: 3:05 PM CT
TV: Fox

Pitching Matchup:
Cubs- Ryan Dempster(3-3, 4.99 ERA)
Dodgers- Eric Stults(4-1, 4.29 ERA)


1. Juan Pierre, LF
2. Rafael Furcal, SS
3. Orlando Hudson, 2B
4. James Loney, 1B
5. Andre Ethier, RF
6. Russell Martin, C
7. Mark Loretta, 3B
8. Matt Kemp, CF
9. Eric Stults, P

1. Alfonso Soriano, LF
2. Ryan Theriot, SS
3. Milton Bradley, RF
4. Derrek Lee, 1B
5. Reed Johnson, CF
6. Geovany Soto, C
7. Bobby Scales, 2B
8. Mike Fontenot, 3B
9. Ryan Dempster, P

Oh the Fox saturdays. Thankfully I get this game today, and odds are you do too.

The key to this one is Ryan Dempster throwing strikes. It's what he struggled to do against them in the playoffs, and struggled to do last week. I'm expecting a bounceback performance, but we'll see. And still the Cubs have to hit the ball of course, and there's obviously no guarantees that happens these days.

Some were hoping to see Jake Fox in the lineup at third base against the lefty. I'd been against starting him, until I saw Bobby Scales boot a routine play himself at third base yesterday. Might as well take the risk and get Fox's bat in the lineup, especially with how bad Fontenot is against lefties.

Ah, Buck and McCarver. Can't wait to hear Buck rip on the Cubs all day and McCarver tell us that the loss of Ronny Cedeno is the reason we're struggling.

Top of the 1st

Ball 1 to start the game. Same with the 2nd, high and away, finally gets a strike in, 2-1. Full count now, no walks please. Pops it up to left field, Theriot backpedaling near the bullpen area but still in fair territory, makes the catch.

@payoff_pitch points out on Twitter that the wind is blowing out at 6 mph today. Furcal bounces out to Scales on a 1-2 pitch.

Nice slider dropped in there for a strike to O-Dog, followed by a slider high to even the count. Fastball just misses low, 2-1. Little blooper lands in front of Fontenot at 3rd base, great job to play the short hop and throws Hudson out on the run. There's a play Jake Fox might not make.

Bottom of the 1st

Stults is struggling with control as well coming into this one. But Soriano swings at the 1st pitch and pops out to Loney in foul territory.

1-1 to Theriot. Doesn't get the call on an inside fastball, 2-1.Theriot chases the same pitch this time, comes up empty, 2-2. Same spot again on slider or cut fastball, Theriot whiffs again.

Makes Bradley look awful on a changeup to make the count 0-2, then some chin music on the next pitch, 1-2. Broken bat blooper into right-center, Hudson dives but can't quite get there, Milton with a single.

Lee hits hit hard into left field but Pierre doesn't have to move too much, inning over. Loretta bounces it up the middle, nice play by Dempster who knocks it down, has plenty of time and throws to 1st to end the inning. Dempster's saved lots of singles this year by his ability to field his position, very underrated part of his game.

Bottom of the 2nd

Reed bloops a single into left to start the inning.

Pitch in the dirt that Reed may have been able to get to 2nd on, but probably the wise decision to not chance it with no outs. Soto hits a 1-0 pitch a mile high in the air but Kemp makes the play in center, 1 out.

Scales hacks at the 1st pitch high and away, misses. Scales swings and misses at 2 change ups in a row for a strikeout. He wasn't close in that at bat.

Fontenot takes a ball. Fontenot takes a strike and Reed steals 2nd. Perfect pitch to throw on and an accurate throw, Reed just beat it. Got a great jump. Fontenot crushes it deep into right-center, bounces up against the wall for an RBI double. Cubs lead 1-0!

Dempster trying to bunt for a hit, pops it up, it hits off Martin, he taps it to himself again and catches it running away from the plate. I didn't do a fair job of explaining that play and I don't really know how to. That was one of the best plays I've ever seen from a catcher and you'll see the highlights of it for awhile I'm sure. Inning over.

Top of the 3rd

Dempster wisely starts Kemp off with a slider, he swings and misses. Another slider, taken for a strike. That's all you should throw Kemp. Misses with a slider outside in a good 0-2 spot, now outside on a fastball. 2-2 count. Finally gets Kemp swinging on the slider, 1 out.

Ken Rosenthal talking about the huge loss of Joey Votto for the Reds, who was placed on the 15-day DL with "stress-related issues". He's the most underrated hitter in the league to me.

Stuls strikes out as well, 2 outs.

0-2 on Pierre now, great changeup that Pierre stares at. Dempster is throwing strikes so far. Somehow Pierre makes contact on a pitch over his head AND in the other batter's box to foul it off. Takes the same pitch for a ball now, 1-2. Changeup in the dirt, 2-2 count. Gets him swinging on a slider. Very tough guy to strikeout, shows just how good Dempster's stuff is today. Strikes out the side.

Bottom of the 3rd

Soriano takes a changeup for a strike, then wait in front of a fastball and fouls it off the Cubs dugout, 0-2. Ducks out of the way of a high fastball, 1-2. Takes an offspeed pitch in the dirt to even the count. Slider in the dirt again now, 3-2. Finally strikes out on a changeup outside.

1-2 count on Theriot. Stults with good command so far. He obviously was just trying to get Soriano to pitches out of the zone, which usually works. And as I say that, he hits Theriot. Slider that just barely got the jersey.

Cubs get movement on the bases again, Bradley lines a single just in front of Ethier in right field, 1st and 3rd, 1 out.

Pitch in the dirt and Bradley runs, but it doesn't get very far away from Martin. Martin gets out of the shoot quickly and fires to 2nd, gets Bradley. Made it look rather easy but it wasn't. 2 outs. 3-1 count to Lee, pitch is outside for ball 4. 1st and 3rd, 2 outs.

Reed bunting for a hit, beautiful! Stults falls down trying to field it, not sure if he would've had a play anyway. 2-0 Cubs!

Ball high and inside to Loney, Soto tries to pick off Hudson at 1st but he's back standing up. 1-1 count now. Fastball strike on the inside corner, Loney not sure of that call. Same spot and Loney swings this time, flyball into left field down the line and Soriano takes an odd route, but makes the catch, 2 outs.

1-1 on Ethier. There's that swing pitch again, and again not in the Cubs' favor. 2-1 count. Beautiful changeup had Ethier out in front, 2-2 count. Runner goes, Ethier flies out to Soriano in left. That stupid hop...

Bottom of the 4th

Scales with a leadoff walk on 4 pitches.

Pickoff throw almost goes into right field, but Loney makes a nice play. Ball 1, pitching coach out to visit. Guillermo Mota starting to throw in the bullpen for the Dodgers. Ball 2 just misses Fontenot's head, then he swings at a pitch in about the same spot, fouls it off. That would've been a 3-0 count. 3-1 right now, don't swing. He has no idea where it's going right now. Okay, swing. Fontenot crushes it again to deep right-center, again 1 bounce up against the wall, again driving in a run. RBI triple, 3-0 Cubs!

Stults done, Mota in. 0-2 on Dempster with nobody out. Strike 3 on the outside corner. 1 out.

Contact, Soriano. Contact. 1st pitch up and in for a ball. 2nd pitch called a ball, shouldn't have been. Well he made contact, but on the ground to James Loney with the infield in. 2 outs.

1-1 on Theriot, tries to hit it a mile again. Just hit a single. Thank you, 4-0 Cubs! Singled through the left side of the infield. He looks like Dustin Pedroia right now on his swings.

Theriot running a few pitches into the at bat, called out, replay shows he may have been safe. Still, Bradley had 2 strikes with 2 outs in the inning, I like the call to get in movement there. Bradley now gets another at bat to leadoff next inning and he's 2 for 2 on the day.

Top of the 5th

Martin hits a rocket but right at Fontenot. 1 out.

1-1 count on Loretta, last pitch called a strike, looked like a ball to me. Bounces out to Dempster.

Full count on Kemp, hits one hard that Fontenot can't handle, but it would've been an incredible play. A 2-out single.

Brad Ausmus pinch-hitting for Mota. 2-0 count. Jeff Weaver going to come in for the Dodgers. Soto out to talk with Dempster. Very high bouncer, Theriot comes in and waits for the hop, fires it over to 1st to get Ausmus by a couple steps, inning over.

74 pitches for Dempster through 5.

Bottom of the 5th

Bradley singles into right, 3 for 3. Batting average up to .225, OPS up to .754.

Lee fouls a pitch back, 0-2 count. Backed off by a fastball way inside, 1-2. Foul ball. Buck and McCarver haven't been nearly as annoying as usual today, quite a surprise. Still lots of time to change that though. Lee pulls a slider that was outside, hooks it down the left field line for a double. That was a Soriano-like swing. 2nd and 3rd, no outs.

Reed takes a slider for a strike. Bad strike call outside, 0-2. Weaver tries to sneak a fastball by Reed and he likely won't do that again, Reed absolutely destroys it but way foul down the left field line. Well he goes back to the fastball, but way high, 1-2. Comes sidearm this time and about 3 feet outside, nice job by Martin to save a run from scoring there. Far outside again, 3-2 count now. Soto waits on deck. Reed fights off a well-spotted fastball to keep the count full. Slider down and away for the walk. Weaver was fine with walking Reed and setting up the double play for Soto. At this point, if you allow another run or two the game is more than likely out of hand so they're okay with putting a runner on 1st.

Ball 1 to Soto. Low for ball 2. Weaver not looking comfortable out there. Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt sprints out there to have a talk. Soto takes a fastball right down the middle, 2-1. Should've crushed that. Next pitch is just a little high and inside, 3-1 count. Crowd getting into it. Another meatball and he pops it up but behind the backstop, full count. Ball 4 just barely outside, 5-0 Cubs! Still nobody out.

Bobby Scales steps to the plate. Ball 1. Weaver all over the place. 22 pitches for Weaver in the inning, half of which are balls. Fastball right down the middle to even it up. Scales swings and misses on a sinking fastball, nice pitch. 1-2, fouls off the next pitch. Grounds into a 4-6-3 double play, but it's 6-0 Cubs now.

Intentionally walking Fontenot with the base open and Dempster on deck, this is an obvious move to make, especially since Fontenot has already tripled and doubled on the day.

Russell Martin with some 1st and 3rd signs for the middle infielders. I highly doubt those will come into play with the pitcher batting and 2 outs. Fouls the first couple pitches off, 0-2. 3 pitches later, Dempster goes down swinging. Inning over.

Top of the 6th

Top of the order up for the Dodgers. 1-2 count on Pierre. Pierre grounds out to 2nd.

Furcal grounds out to Theriot, 2 out.

0-2 on Hudson now. Dempster looks great. Gets Hudson looking at a fastball on the outside corner for strike 3.

85 pitches so far.

6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K

Bottom of the 6th

Soriano swings and misses at the 1st pitch.

Theriot walks.

Bradley looking for his 4th hit, hits into a 4-6-3 to end the inning.

Top of the 7th

2-0 count on Loney, big swing but he got it off the end of the bat, Bradley runs it down.

Ethier turns on one down the right field line, Bradley makes a nice play and makes it about as close as it could be, but Ethier in safely.

1-2 on Martin. Flies out to right, Bradley sets and fires, great throw, but Ethier doesn't chance it with 2 outs.

2-1 to Loretta. And the weather knocks out my satellite. According to MLB Gameday, Loretta flies out to right field to end the inning.

Bottom of the 7th

Satellite feed in and out. Larry King apparently sang the 7th inning stretch. Now they'll playing it. He's a huge Dodgers fan, goes to all the games in Los Angeles. Sporting a Cubs jersey for this.

Lee pops out on a 2-2 pitch, 1 down.

Reed's great day continues as he hits a long homer into left, 7-0 Cubs! Earlier they had an interview with Lou after Reed had gotten the RBI bunt single. Buck against Lou how much he loved Reed Johnson, and Lou just smiled and began speaking glowingly of Reed. I feel the same way Lou.

Soto draws a 1-out walk. Jeff Weaver probably shouldn't be in the league right now.

Brent Leach into pitch. There's seagulls everywhere, this is crazy. They must know the Dodgers are in town. Scales hit into a 6-3 double play with probably 100 seagulls sitting 10 feet away.

Top of the 8th

Dempster done: 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K.

Angel Guzman in to pitch, Andres Blanco comes in to play 2nd on a double-switch, he'll bat in the #9 spot.

Matt Kemp almost kills a couple of seagulls with a single into left.

Now a beautiful play by Fontenot on the short hop to start a 5-4-3 double play. Great job by Blanco to stay in at 2nd, take a barrel roll from Kemp and throw a strike to Lee.

Bouncer back to Guzman to end the inning.

Bottom of the 8th

Corey Wade in for the Dodgers on the mound. Fontenot grounds out.

Hoffpauir pinch-hits for Guzman. Buck screwed up earlier, Blanco did not come in on a double-switch, just came in for Scales and into his spot of the order. Hoffpauir strikes out on a pitch in the dirt, 2 outs.

Soriano continues his cold streak, grounding out to 3rd. His batting average is down to .246.

Top of the 9th

Aaron Heilman in, Rafael Furcal up at the plate. 2-1 count. Full count. Eventually singles on the 8th pitch.

Ball 1 on Hudson, now ball 2. Heilman continues to struggle with his control and the crowd isn't liking it. Lou's looking frustrated in the dugout. 3-0 now, although that looked pretty good to me. Now ball 4. Rothschild comes out to the mound. Marmol is warming up.

Finally a strike and some sarcastic cheers, but then a ball, 1-1 count. 2-1 now with a pitch in the dirt. Crowd is really getting on him now. 3-1 now and there's some boos. Now a strike, and the sarcastic cheers much louder this time. Now a 4-6-3 double play. Man, Heilman needed that.

Highest attendance of the season today: 41, 153. So about 41, 200 with the birds. 1-2 count on Ethier. Takes a splitter in the dirt, 2-2. Crowd on their feet. Ethier fouls off a high and inside fastball. Grounds out to 2nd, CUBS WIN!

All-around, easily the best game the Cubs have played in weeks, maybe all season. Great win, and great to see Dempster throwing strikes. There's not many better pitchers in baseball than him when he's doing that. Nice to see Fontenot drive the ball twice against and a left-hander, and a superb game from Reed Johnson. Good chance to take 3 of 4 tomorrow night, with Sean Marshall going against Eric Milton. We'll see you then.

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1st Edition Of The Friendly Linkfines

Posted by Matt Clapp | 5/29/2009 08:30:00 AM |

Those of you that have been to Sharapova's Thigh surely notice the thigh-fiving of links we do over there. It's usually 20+ links covering a variety of topics. I decided we'd do a link dump over here as well, although I'm not sure how frequently it will be. Probably 5-10 links that will be 90% about the Cubs or maybe NL Central teams, and maybe just some good baseball links I come across. With running these two blogs and all, I sometimes miss out on some great stuff out there, so feel free to send us any tips at

As Justin wrote about, Randy Wells is doing an incredible job on the mound. Unfortunately, the Cubs aren't getting Wells any runs. (Zoner Sports)

How much longer is Rich Harden going to to be out?
(Bleacher Nation)

Carlos Zambrano's ejection blow up was some great entertainment, and some of the quotes following it were great as well.
(Not Qualified To Comment)

We're frequent readers of this Cubs parody blog that our good buddy Ace runs(along with Bleacher Nation)... This particular article is called "Cubs Dugout Machine: I Never Should Have Slept With Zambrano's Wife" (The Cubs Brickyard)

And because I spent a good amount of time working on this one... Around The Bigs: Injuries & Pitching Woes Continue To Sting The Rays (Sharapova's Thigh)

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Wells has looked great in his first 4 starts, but thanks to the offense, is winless.

The Cubs have now lost 9 of their last 11 games. 5 players have been placed on the disabled list and fans are getting frustrated. The Cubs offense had another real tough game tonight against the Dodgers, leaving runners on and blowing opportunities in the 8th and 9th innings, losing the game 2-1. Lou Piniella skipped out on his post-game press conference and the fans are starting to let the Cubs players have it. There was one bright spot however, and its a very unexpected one. His name is Randy Wells.

When Wells was first called up in early May to replace an injured Carlos Zambrano, I'll admit I thought he was going to be a disaster. I wanted Jose Ascanio to get some starts, or Esmailin Caridad, or even Jeff Samardzija, who struggled mightily in his first stint with the big club this year. I thought Lou may have been relying too much on AAA numbers. Wells has proved me to be very wrong so far.

In his first start against the Brewers, he pitched 5 scoreless innings. He was not particularly sharp though, and had to get himself out of several jams. I wasn't really impressed by his stuff and figured his next time out he was going to get shelled. However, he looked even better in his next start against the Astros, throwing 6 shutout innings with a live fastball and a good ground-ball ratio. He continued to look good in his 3rd start against the Padres. He finally gave up some runs, but went 7 strong innings, with 7 strikeouts and a better breaking ball than I had seen out of him previously.

Fast Forward to tonight, Wells takes the mound against the team with the best record in baseball, the Los Angeles Dodgers. Last night while chatting, Clapp and I both agreed we thought this was the night Wells was going to get his rude awakening in the bigs. I even told my Dodger-fan brother, that I expected them to light Wells up. Once again he proved us wrong. Wells looked very good tonight, going 7 strong innings, striking out 7 and allowing just 2 runs to the best offense in baseball. Of course for the 4th time in a row Wells pitched into hard luck as the cubs offense continues to struggle. his record now drops to a very undeserving 0-2.

So how has the 26-year-old rookie produced a 1.80 ERA so far this year? The key may be very simple: Throwing strikes. Lou Piniella has looked far and wide for anyone to come in to games and throw strikes this year. Walking opposing hitters has been the biggest problem with the cubs pitching staff this year. Wells has stayed aggressive and thrown strikes. He has walked just 7 batters in 25 innings and a couple of those were intentional.

So now the Cubs rotation is getting healthy. Zambrano is back and Rich Harden is expected to return from a mid-back strain very shortly. When he first came up, everyone expected Wells' stay in the 5-man was temporary, but that may not be the case now. Lou Piniella has already announced that Wells will stay up with the big club even when everyone is healthy, either in the bullpen or the rotation. The Cubs still have 5 very strong starting pitchers outside of Wells and that has been the very least of their problems this year, but don't be surprised if Sean Marshall is the guy that gets sent back to the pen.

The Cubs still have a lot of hitting talent and if they can ever get things turned around and win this division, they will have guys like Randy Wells to thank for keeping them in the race while they were putting 1 run per game on the scoreboard.

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Live Blog: Cubs vs. Dodgers 5/28/09

Posted by Matt Clapp | 5/28/2009 04:35:00 PM

Ryan Freel placed on the 15-day DL with a strained hamstring, Bobby Scales called back up. So Fontenot and Scales will get the majority of playing time at third base for awhile now.

Carlos Zambrano's suspended for 6 games and will not appeal. He's eligible to comeback next Thursday in Atlanta.

Ted Lilly fined $1500, but will not be suspended after being ejected Tuesday night.

Rich Harden threw a pain-free bullpen session I believe I heard from Gail Fischer. It was something good about Harden anyway, saying that he's on track to return next week when he's eligible to come off the DL.

Tonight's game is going to be a tough one. I'm expecting Randy Wells to finally get shelled one of these days, and I fear that might be tonight against one of the best offenses in the league, even without Manny Ramirez. Hell, Matt Kemp is their #8 hitter tonight.

Game: Los Angeles Dodgers(33-15) @ Chicago Cubs(23-22)
Game Time: 7:05 PM CT
TV: WCIU, MLB Network, Prime Ticket

Pitching Matchup:
Cubs- Randy Wells(0-1, 1.50 ERA)
Dodgers- Randy Wolf(2-1, 3.02 ERA)


1. Juan Pierre, LF
2. Rafael Furcal, SS
3. Orlando Hudson, 2B
4. James Loney, 1B
5. Casey Blake, 3B
6. Andre Ethier, RF
7. Russell Martin, C
8. Matt Kemp, CF
9. Randy Wolf, P

1. Alfonso Soriano, LF
2. Ryan Theriot, SS
3. Milton Bradley, RF
4. Derrek Lee, 1B
5. Reed Johnson, CF
6. Geovany Soto, C
7. Mike Fontenot, 3B
8. Andres Blanco, 2B
9. Randy Wells, P

Well I have to watch on MLB Network or Prime Ticket with it being a WCIU game that isn't carried on MLB Extra Innings. So far going with Costas and Plesac on MLB Net, but so far just highlights of the 08 playoffs and talking about how good the Dodgers are, how crappy the Cubs have been, etc. Fun stuff.

Top of the 1st

Cubs going with the blue jerseys again. Juan Pierre continues to hit, singles to lead it off.

Pierre runs on the 1st pitch, Soto gets too itchy back there and forgets to catch the ball. Pierre likely would've had it stolen anyway. 1-1 count to Furcal. Furcal a push bunt, gets through the hole with the infield in all the way to left field. Pierre scores, Furcal at 1st with no outs. 1-0 Dodgers.

Nice slider on a 1-2 pitch by Wells, gets O-Dog swinging. 1 down, Furcal still at 1st. Might see him running this at bat.

0-1 on Loney, prime double play candidate. A couple of nice two-seam fastballs from Wells on the inside corner, 0-2 now. Wastes a pitch over Loney's head, then Loney rips one up the middle on the next pitch. Speed making a big difference for the Dodgers early in this one, showing it's far from an overrated thing to have. 1st and 3rd, 1 out.

Still another double play candidate here with Casey Blake. 1st splitter of the night is inside, 2-1 count. Fouls the next pitch back. Great location on a 4-seam fastball on the inside corner, strike 3. Blake doesn't like it. Questionable call, but great spot there. 2 outs, Andre Ethier up.

Breaking ball in for a strike to start it off. Wells has great command today, but doesn't want to leave any over the plate too much or these Dodgers will hit it across the street. 89 mph fastball fouled off, 0-2. Can't give him anything to hit here. High and inside fastball jams Ethier, and he hits a weak flyball to Soriano in left field, inning over. That could've been a lot worse.

MLB 2K9 is awful, they're showing a simmed Cubs-Dodgers game that is cracking me up. They have Fontenot playing shortstop for the Cubs. Cubs win it 3-2 though!

Bottom of the 1st

Soriano takes a strike right where he usually likes it, 0-1. Gets another one on the next pitch and lines it into left-center for a single. Could've possibly turned it into a double but not worth the risk.

Theriot hits a 6-4-3 double play on the 2nd pitch of the next at bat. Start going to right field again.

Bradley strikes out swinging on some high cheese from Wolf, inning over.

Top of the 2nd

Wells continues to throw strikes, 0-2 on Martin. Then he almost hits the Dodgers catcher on the next pitch. Andres Blanco awkwardly fields a play backhanded up the middle, but makes the play, 1 out.

Wells with a nice slider on Kemp, I'd feed Kemp sliders all day. Another slider just misses. 3-1 count now, fouls off a meatball. Now a single on a fastball to left.

Big at bat here for Wolf, who will be bunting. Pierre is going to put the ball in play and on fire right now so a single then would make it 2-0. Well actually swings at the 1st pitch, misses. Now he shows bunt, misses. 0-2 count. Slider down and in fouled off, strike 3 as he was bunting. 2 outs.

I'd expect Kemp to try to get to second base for Pierre now early in the count. Wells thinking the same thing and fires over to first but Kemp back standing up. Now he's running and is safe. It was a pitch out. Wow, I think he's out seeing the replay. You know Pierre is getting a single now. There's few hitters I'd rather have up here with 2 outs where it just takes a single. Bouncer down the first base line, Lee makes a nice play going into foul territory, flips to Wells, and they get Pierre by a couple steps. I'm very surprised it's only 1-0 right now.

Bottom of the 2nd

Lee on a 3-2 pitch drives it off the wall in right-center field, after Dan Plesac was ripping on him. Face treatment. Runner on 2nd base, no outs.

Bad at bat by Reed Johnson, grounds out to third base, Lee can't advance. 1 out.

Soto falls behind 0-2 and gets a pitch he wants back, fouled it straight back. Well, I think he just struck out and so does Randy Wolf, but called ball 1. Bad call. Now he takes again, right down the middle on a curveball. 2 outs.

Let's see how Fontenot hangs in tonight against the lefty. Takes a ball to start out. Ends up striking out looking. Nobody advances Lee past 2nd base. Awful execution.

Top of the 3rd

This will be an interesting half inning, to see if the Dodgers 2-3-4 gets better swings the 2nd time around against Wells. Wells walks Furcal on 4 pitches, awesome start.

Now the Dodgers can put their speed in movement again. A slider on 0-2 that just misses the inside corner. Now on a 1-2 pitch, a high fastball just above the letters, 2-2. Finally gets him swinging on a 2-2 pitch, 1 out.

Loney singles into left, the ball dies in left field. Soriano tries to get Furcal at 3rd, but Furcal beats it, and Loney advances to 2nd. Bad decision by Soriano.

A groundball up the middle that Theriot gets to and throws out Blake at 1st. 2-0 Dodgers. Runner still on 2nd, 2 outs.

Slow roller to 2nd from Ethier, Andres Blanco with a great play flipping the ball to Lee with his glove and the Cubs are out of the inning, 2-0 Dodgers now though.

Bottom of the 3rd

Blanco foul tip strikeout and loses his bat, goes flying into the crowd. A little girl is crying, hopefully she was just scared and not actually struck by the bat.

Now Randy Wells hits a line drive right into that same crowd area. Full count now, nice at bat from the pitcher. Fouls one off. The girl is apparently okay but they're escorting her out for right now. She gets to keep the bat and is getting applause from the fans. Wells hits one hard up the middle but Furcal gets to it and throws the pitcher out, 2 down.

Soriano grounds out softly to Furcal, inning over. Randy Wolf is really locating his pitches well right now.

Top of the 4th

Wells with a generous strike call to even the count at 2-2, it was definitely high. Doesn't matter now though to Martin who laces a single into left field. Another leadoff runner on.

Matt Kemp hits into a 6-4-3 on the next pitch though, 2 outs. Nice quick turn by the Cubs' keystoners and they get the speedy Kemp by a lot.

Bottom of the 4th

Theriot continues to try to hit a homer every swing, pulling everything. Shorten it up Theriot. 2-2 count now. Full count now. Breaks his bat and hits a one hopper to Hudson. Plesac is very misinformed about the DeRosa situation.

3-0 count to Bradley. Walks on the next pitch.

Lee with a big swing on the 1st pitch, misses. He drives it to right-center field again, but Ethier runs it down at the track. Lee getting the best swings off of Wolf so far.

Reed's chasing a lot more pitches out of the zone this year. Swings at a couple that aren't close in this at bat. 1-2 count now. Reeds grounds out to 3rd to end the inning.

Top of the 5th

67 pitches for Wells, 62 for Wolf. This one's going about as expected so far. Blanco makes an outstanding play, diving for it in right field, but can't get Pierre. Much closer than I expected it would be. Leadoff hitter on base at least 4 of the innings so far, probably 5, I don't remember.

I have a feeling this is the inning that puts it out of reach. 2-1 count, Wells with a nice pickoff throw and a quick tag by Lee, but Pierre gets back safely. Pierre runs and Furcal hits a rocket, but right at Reed Johnson in center. Easy double play.

3-1 count on Hudson and he grounds out to Blanco at 2nd. Still 2-0 somehow.

Bottom of the 5th

Wells really doing a nice job throwing strikes for the Cubs. Falling behind some hitters, but throwing a strike when he needs to.

Soto stays on a curveball nicely on a 1-2 count and lines it back up the middle for a single.

Going to be tough for the Cubs to get much out of this bottom of the order tonight, with Fontenot facing the lefty, and Blanco being Blanco and having no clue which side of the plate he wants to bat from. Lefty tonight.

Fontenot looks uncomfortable against Wolf right now, 1-2 count. Strikes out on a foul tip.

Blanco goes down swinging predictably.

And so does Wells. Like I said, not going to get much out of this part of the order tonight.

Top of the 6th

That young girl is okay, back in her seat. Good to see.

Loney flies it out to left field, Soriano makes a nice running catch.

2-2 on Casey Blake. Blake whiffs on a nice splitter, 5th strikeout for Wells.

Plan on doing an "Around The Bigs" over on the Thigh later tonight so make sure to swing over there to see if I took the time to do it yet. It's 50/50, especially since I'll surely start drinking soon with how this game's going.

On a 3-2 count, Ethier gets around on a fastball and hits it deep into the right-center field gap for a 2-out double. 8th hit for the Dodgers, but the 1st one for extra bases.

Wells appears to be losing it now. Labored through these 98 pitches so far. Bullpen getting up. Martin hits a hard groundball and Fontenot plays a tough hop, then fires to 1st to end the inning. Wells doing a great job of escaping trouble. 100 pitches, and he's had to work through difficult situations for many of them, so I'd guess that's it.

Bottom of the 6th

Big inning here for the Cubs, with their 1-2-3 due up. Jonathan Broxton looms in the 9th so the Cubs likely have to do it soon. Well, Costas just informed me that Broxton threw 38 pitches last night so maybe he doesn't throw tonight.

2-0 on Soriano. Fastball on the outside corner for a strike, Soriano doesn't like it. Now fouls one off that he should've hit a long way. Costas thinks it's gone, but Kemp runs it down a couple feet in front of the wall in left-center.

Theriot shows bunt on an 0-1 count and it almost hit him. Jason Waddell and Aaron Heilman up in the bullpen for the Cubs. Theriot with a sharp single up the middle.

Come on Bradley, park one. He takes a curveball for a strike. Another curveball and he hammers it foul. Hit hard up the middle but Furcal doesn't have to range much to his left, 6-3 double play.

Top of the 7th

92 pitches for Wolf, he'll go one more. Wells still in for the Cubs to my surprise. And of course he strikes out Kemp looking to start the inning.

2-2 on Wolf. High fastball by him for strike 3. Wells isn't hitting higher than 91 or so on the gun but he's locating his pitches well.

Pierre hits one about as far as he can, but that's about 150 feet short of the wall in right-center and Bradley makes the catch to end the inning.

Bottom of the 7th

Lee crushes it to right-center for the 3rd time, and Ethier runs it down at the wall. Sigh.

Reed with a bloop single into center.

Soto hits into a 5-4-3 double play to end the 7th. Wolf can go one more now with that quick inning.

Top of the 8th

Aaron Heilman in for the Cubs, great job by Wells again. Heilman sporting some old school stirrups. Furcal swing bunts again but right back to Heilman.

Hudson up. Great play by Fontenot at 3rd base on a rocket that he backhands short hop. 2 outs.

I get sick just seeing James Loney in the box on a night game at Wrigley. Heilman blows him away with a fastball here though, good to see him throwing strikes. He's going to be very good when he does that.

Bottom of the 8th

We'll probably see Jake Fox pinch-hit this inning. I assume Bobby Scales is available off the bench tonight also.

And as I say that, he's pinch-hitting, Scales that is. He's hitting for Fontenot who looked lost against the lefty. Fox is on deck. Well what are they going to do with the infield then? 1-2 on Scales. I guess this means Fox is going to play 3rd. 2-2 on Scales. Works it to a full count now, crowd getting into it. BOBBY SCALES HOMERS INTO LEFT-CENTER!!!!! 2-1 NOW!

What an at bat. It was an 0-2 count, works it back to a full count and he goes yard. That's going to be it for Randy Wolf.

Fox rips one up the middle for a single off of Ramon Troncosco.

Fukudome pinch-hitting after some confusion. 2-1 on Fukudome. Crowd really into it now. Fukudome walks. 1st and 2nd, no outs.

Won't be any bunting with Soriano up. This is one spot I'd like it though, if somebody else were up. Well, squares but takes a strike. Now he swings at a slider nowhere close. The first pitch was a fastball right down the middle. And another one even further outside to strike out.

Now Theriot on the first pitch, 4-6-3 double play. Inning over. Man was that pathetic after such a great situation.

Top of the 9th

Jose Ascanio in. Jonathan Broxton will not pitch tonight. Ascanio on a 3-2 pitch throws an offspeed pitch to Casey Blake, foolish. It's out of the zone for ball 4. Make them hit the ball here.

2-0 count and Rothschild comes out. Ethier with a lazy flyball out to left, 1 out.

2-1 on Martin. Ascanio is all over the place. 2-2 now, and now full. Now another walk. Guzman coming in.

Slider outside from Guzman against Kemp. Jake Fox's horrid defense already comes into play, can't cleanly field a tailor made double play, just get the force at 2nd.

The pitcher Troncosco is batting. 0-2 count. Kemp takes 2nd, nice job by Soto of a slider way outside. 95 mph fastball and he has no chance, inning over.

Bottom of the 9th

Troncoso in for his 2nd inning of work. Bradley a pop up bunt in a perfect spot, beats it out!

Lee singles into center, 1st and 2nd no outs!

Johnson fouls off a bunt try. Troncoso with a wheel play to see if Reed showed. Now fouls the bunt off again. Incredible. 0-2 count. Luckily he hits a slow bouncer to shortstop that is too slow to get a force, 2nd and 3rd 1 out.

Intentionally walking Soto, fine by me. He's a great K candidate. Scales up, bases loaded. Nobody up in the pen for LA, this is Troncoso's game. Torre with a mound visit.

1-1 count on Scales. 2-1 now, good take. Slow bouncer foul, 2-2. Come on, contact. Scales strikes out, did anybody expect otherwise? Guess I would've rather had Soto up.

It's up to Jake Fox. 1-1 count. 1-2 now as he fouls it off. And Fox strikes out on a slider. Most frustrating loss of the year.

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Although Cubs fans are questioning many of general manager Jim Hendry's recent moves, one of them has infuriated much of the fan base quite a bit more than the others: the trading of infielder/outfielder Mark DeRosa to the Cleveland Indians for three minor league pitchers this past winter.

Many thought DeRosa was the MVP of a Cubs team that won 97 games last year, with his best offensive year of his career, and the ability to play all over the diamond. Nobody was really quite sure why the trade was made, as the three pitching prospects in return were considered average prospects that might one day find a bullpen spot.

Some thought the trade was made to clear up some salary space with the Cubs not having much money to work with, as a new owner hadn't been chosen yet, and perhaps that money would help to acquire Jake Peavy from the Padres. There was speculation that the Cubs had decided they weren't going to re-sign DeRosa who is a free agent after the season, and maybe they wanted to get something in return rather before they let him walk, although what they got in return doesn't appear to be all that special as I mentioned. Lastly, it was known that the Cubs were hoping to get more left-handed in the lineup, and with second baseman Mike Fontenot impressing so much at the plate in 2008, getting rid of DeRosa would allow Fontenot to be a nice left-handed bat to put in the lineup.

Well it's possible the first two reasons played a part in the move and we may never have that confirmed anytime soon, but Hendry is saying the move was indeed done to get more left-handed:

"I remember when we signed DeRosa [on Nov. 14, 2006] and there was more second-guessing about that than anything," Hendry said. "Mark's a terrific guy and he was a good player for us. But the thinking in the winter was that we already had five right-handed hitters penciled in that weren't going anywhere. And we were concerned with how [Kosuke] Fukudome was going to come back [as a left-handed power hitter]. ... If he hadn't come back well and we kept Mark, we were probably looking at seven out of eight right-handed hitters every day in the lineup. Then we would have that issue again."

"Nobody likes to lose a guy like [DeRosa]," said Hendry. "But there wasn't anywhere else to get left-handed, you know. And over time, I think we will see that we got pretty good guys for him. So we mixed and matched some of the dollars that were made with [DeRosa] and other guys who are not here, and added the guys that we did."
Link("Chicago Cubs' Jim Hendry Defends Mark DeRosa Trade", Chicago Tribune)

Interesting, I have mixed feelings about that. As for the team getting more left-handed, I do think that was a need. Right-handed pitchers like Brandon Webb and Derek Lowe carved up the Cubs' right-handed dominated lineup the last two years in October. While many will say, "I don't care what side they bat, a hitter is a hitter", there is something to having a balanced lineup.

I spent over a decade pitching from little league days through high school. When you're facing a lineup that is so similar all the way through, you can get in a groove. It greatly helps your comfort level and getting used to where you're throwing each pitch. All of a sudden a left-handed hitter walks up there, and it's a different feel, it's a different target you feel like you're throwing to. It then makes you throw pitches you hadn't been before. That slider you were making the right-handed hitter chase on is all of a sudden moving right into the wheelhouse of a left-handed hitter. When there's a lineup that's lefty-righty balanced throughout, I really believe that can be detrimental to the pitcher.

With that being said, I was not really a fan of the DeRosa deal when it first took place. I didn't think getting rid of the most versatile player on the team, and arguably the 2008 Cubs MVP to get more left-handed was a wise decision.

I wanted to find a way to get Fontenot to get 400+ at bats, so that part I was very understanding of. It was DeRosa's ability to backup at the corner infield and outfield spots that I felt would be a huge loss. There wasn't anybody on the roster that I thought could do it adequately, particularly at third base and in right field. Actually, that hasn't been an issue at all. Mike Fontenot's played a solid third base and seems to be improving greatly as the season goes on. Obviously with the injury to Aramis Ramirez, it would be nice to have DeRosa and Fontenot in the lineup rather than Fontenot and Bobby Scales/Ryan Freel/Aaron Miles, but nobody could've predicted a dislocated shoulder.

In right field, Micah Hoffpauir struggled in his first few games out there, but appears to be adapting to the position very well and doesn't seem to be a liability at the position. What he's done offensively has greatly outweighed any issues in right field. He's played a couple games without trouble in left field as well.

So really I don't understand all of the nonstop complaining I'm still hearing from the fans about this move. If Milton Bradley and Fontenot were hitting, it certainly would look much better, and they're going to. Bradley was the AL OPS leader last year. He's finally starting to come around at the plate, and Fontenot's looked much better the last few games as well. He's hit into some bad luck this month on some line drives right at players. I still think he'll have better slash stats(batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) than DeRosa actually when the season's done.

One point I haven't heard many bring up, Hoffpauir's getting much more playing time because of the move. Heck, it's possible he doesn't even find his way onto the roster if DeRosa's still on the team, since DeRosa was the primary backup at the corner outfield spots and first base last year. He's been a key contributor on this team offensively and will continue to be.

Anyway, I may not completely agree with why Hendry traded DeRosa, even if I agreed with the idea to get more left-handed. However, the reasons I disliked it for didn't end up being an issue with Fontenot's ability to play third base and Hoffpauir's ability to play right field. Hopefully Fontenot and Bradley start mashing soon so we'll hear much less about this. The team should be better suited to face right-handed pitching in the playoffs as well, if they can get there. If they don't, it won't be because of the DeRosa trade.

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Carlos Zambrano's Ejection(Video)

Posted by Matt Clapp | 5/27/2009 05:12:00 PM | ,

UPDATE: Carlos Zambrano has been suspended six games, so he'll miss just one turn in the rotation. So this WAS funny after all.

As long as Carlos Zambrano doesn't get suspended for more than one turn in the rotation, I loved what I saw today. He didn't create the contact with the umpire, but he'll likely be suspended for the other stuff: throwing out the umpire(well, acting like he was), throwing his glove, and throwing the ball into left field. I would've gotten ejected on this play too. He felt he made a play in a huge situation, and he felt the call screwed him of a win. You might call it childish, I call it passionate hilarity.

Anyway, I have no ability to get videos on to YouTube myself, and I reloaded YouTube for about an hour hoping somebody else would do it. I then had to leave the house for an hour, not by choice, and of course I get back to the see the video all over the place. Well, I'm still putting it up!

Tip of the cap to MLB Fanhouse where I first saw this:

UPDATE: Carlos Zambrano has been suspended six games, so he'll miss just one turn in the rotation. So this WAS funny after all.

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Live Blog: Cubs vs. Pirates 5/27/09

Posted by Matt Clapp | 5/27/2009 12:12:00 PM

Game: Pittsburgh Pirates(21-25) @ Chicago Cubs(22-22)
Game Time: 1:20 PM CT

Pitching Matchup:
Cubs- Carlos Zambrano(3-2, 4.64 ERA)
Pirates- Zach Duke(5-4, 2.77 ERA)


1. Nyjer Morgan, LF
2. Delwyn Young, 2B
3. Nate McLouth, CF
4. Adam LaRoche, 1B
5. Andy LaRoche, 3B
6. Brandon Moss, RF
7. Ramon Vazquez, SS
8. Jason Jaramillo, C
9. Zach Duke, P

1. Alfonso Soriano, LF
2. Ryan Theriot, SS
3. Milton Bradley, RF
4. Derrek Lee, 1B
5. Reed Johnson, CF
6. Geovany Soto, C
7. Ryan Freel, 3B
8. Andres Blanco, 2B
9. Carlos Zambrano, P

Top of the 1st

Cubs sporting their blue jerseys with the white pants as Carlos Zambrano usually chooses to do.

Nyjer Morgan leads off for the Pirates and hits a soft liner to Theriot, 1 down.

Now he gets Delwyn Young looking on a fastball on the outside corner.

McLouth rolls over one to Derrek Lee at first base. Good to see him back, and good to see Z looking good early on.

Bottom of the 1st

Len mentions how Soriano is 14 for 25 in his career against Duke. Sorry I started this a little late today and meant to provide you such numbers earlier. Soriano gets a good swing and drives it deep to right-center, but as we're used to seeing in this series, McLouth runs it down for the 1st out.

Theriot lines a single into left-center.

Bradley rips one down the right field line that goes to the wall. Long run for Brandon Moss and he doesn't field it cleanly anyway. Theriot scores, Bradley all the way to 3rd with a triple and he's -pumped-. Slaps his hands screaming. 1-0 Cubs.

Duke falls behind 3-0 to Lee, gets it back to a 3-2 count, but ball 4 in the dirt. Didn't seem to want to give Lee much to hit there to set up the double play with Reed Johnson.

And that's exactly what they get, a 6-4-3... NOT! Delwyn Young throws it away on the turn, Reed would've been out by 10 feet. Run scores, Reed advances to 2nd. No Wilson and Sanchez in the middle infield is a nice thing to see for the Cubs today. 2 outs, 2-0 Cubs!

Soto hits one hard on a 3-1 count that I thought was ticketed for left field, but couldn't find the hole left of third base, so it's a groundout. Inning over, Cubs are smoking the ball.

Top of the 2nd

Zambrano walks Adam LaRoche to start the inning. Not what you want to see after just getting a couple of runs. Well, not what you want to see ever.

Zambrano is nowhere near the strike zone right now. He's gone 3-0 to Andy LaRoche. Finally gets a strike, but then ball 4 the pitch after it. 1st and 2nd no out.

This is frustrating. Hopefully the Cubs still have the lead after this inning but I wouldn't bet on it.

Ryan Theriot is very good friends with Bulls forward Tyrus Thomas Len tells us. Not exactly the two smartest guys, so that doesn't surprise me. Theriot made a leaping catch on a soft liner to prompt that comment. 1 out.

Ramon Vazquez lines a single into left, bases loaded.

3-1 on Jaramillo. Here comes the walk. He ends up popping out actually. 2 outs.

Zach Duke who is a very good hitting pitcher lines one to where I think will end up rolling to the right field wall off the bat, but just ends up in Derrek Lee's glove at first base thankfully. Z escapes without allowing any runs somehow.

Bottom of the 2nd

Farney continues to struggle, grounds out to 3rd.

Andres Blanco up. So used to seeing this guy in Spring Training. He grounds out Duke.

I'm feeling a Zambrano extra-base hit today, just getting that out there. Well, only a single to right field this time up.

Soriano wants that pitch back. He just missed hitting it a mile and probably should have. Instead he pops out to the shortstop in left field.

Top of the 3rd

Split-screen shows us that Zambrano's delivery to the plate changed in the 2nd inning. He was rushing the ball to the plate.

Freel playing in for the bunt and it's a good thing because he's able to range to his left in the grass on a play Theriot wouldn't have had time to get Nyjer Morgan. Bad throw, but Lee able to stretch and keep his foot on the bag.

Zambrano gets Delwyn Young looking at a fastball again. 2 strikeouts looking, and a throw from 2nd that would make Chuck Knoblauch laugh. Thank you for not playing Freddy Sanchez, John Russell.

McLouth now strikes out looking on a fastball as well. It was right down the middle, but he's complaining to the umpire for some reason.

Bottom of the 3rd

The Riot is 2 for 2 now as he lines a single up the middle. Gets his average over .280 and his OPS over .800.

Bradley takes a 2nd strike that was right down the middle and he's fighting himself. Now on a 1-2 pitch over his head he fights it off. Full count now. Draws a walk and he's pumped again, fires his bat away and starts clapping his hands.

Lee swings and misses at a pitch in the dirt. Next pitch he takes, it's just outside. Next pitch he takes again, just inside. Either could've gone either way. Groundball to the left side of the infield, 5-4-3 double play. Lee thought he was safe and the replay shows he was right. As it is, it's his first double play grounded into of the year.

Reed with a slow roller up the middle, Vazquez makes a nice running play and gets Reed by a couple of steps. Nice job by Duke to work out of trouble, although good umpiring and he gives up another run.

Top of the 4th

More bad umpiring. Zambrano had Adam LaRoche struck on a 2-2 pitch. Now a single on the next pitch of course.

Len points out how Zambrano turns 28 on Tuesday. 2-2 count to Andy LaRoche. Full now. Fouled off with the runner going. 66 pitches for Zambrano. Hard hit groundball off the leg of Zambrano, Blanco moves back to the left side of where he was positioned at 2nd base and gets the out at 1st. Would have been a single up the middle most likely. The trainer is out to look at Zambrano but he says he's fine, of course he always does.

Moss with a weak flyball maybe 10 feet in the air to Theriot. 2nd time Moss has done that today, very weird.

Soto with a nice block on a ball in the dirt, 1-1 count to Vazquez. Little blooper over Freel's head. As Len said, if it's hit hard they probably would've held the slow-moving Adam LaRoche at 3rd base. Z laughs it off. Pirates trim the lead to 2-1.

The crowd cheers as the sun comes out. Jaramillo bounces a groundball to Blanco at 2nd, inning over.

3-1 on Young. Full count now, and as expected, Young takes a fastball looking for strike 3 for a 3rd time. The silver sombrero in the 5th inning.

Falls behind another hitter, and McLouth isn't the one you want to do that against. Even at 2-2 now. I thought McLouth hit this ball twice, but apparently not, high bouncer to Lee at 1st. 2 outs, runners on 2nd and 3rd.

Intentionally walking Adam LaRoche to get to his brother Andy. I don't know if I like this very much, especially with Z struggling with his control.

Well it worked. 1st pitch a one-hopper to Blanco at 2nd, he flips to Theriot to end the inning. 97 pitches for Zambrano, 1 inning if any left for him.

Bottom of the 5th

Soriano turns on one for a groundball double down the left field line.

Theriot shows bunt, takes for a ball. Swings this time and fouls it off. Go to right field Theriot. Soriano must be getting a big lead off 2nd. Now he's bunting again, back to Duke and with no force out it's good enough to get the job done. Runner on 3rd for Bradley with 1 out.

Infield is in. Bradley fouls off the 1st and 2nd offerings from Duke. Duke looking for a strikeout and throws the next pitch way outside. Then a brushback fastball up and in, 2-2. Bradley with a high flyball, not deep enough to right field. Soriano comes halfway down the line and Moss throws a rocket in the air. Good choice to not try to score.

On a 2-1 pitch, Duke gets a very generous strike call. Lee is furious and voices his displeasure to the umpire, that's a big swing pitch. Now on 2-2 he hits a groundball hard up the middle that Knocks Young back in the outfield, but he's able to stay on his feet and get Lee by a few steps to end the inning.

Top of the 6th

Now Moss strikes out looking. 5th strikeout for Z today, all looking.

Another bloop single. I don't think the Pirates have a hit that was very well struck today.

2 down now as Jaramillo flies out.

Duke strikes out swinging. That should be it for Zambrano, 108 pitches. Remember he just came off the disabled list lsat week and this is the most he's thrown in a few weeks. Carlos Marmol and Angel Guzman haven't thrown out of the pen in a few days either.

Bottom of the 6th

Reed hits it hard but McLouth doesn't have to move much in center.

Soto pulls the first pitch on the ground to 3rd base, 2 down.

Fontenot continues to his hot hitting, singles into right field, off of a lefty even. Up to .225 now.

Blanco batting left-handed this time. Lazy flyball out to right field, inning over.

Top of the 7th

Crazy couple of plays just happened. Nyjer Morgan hits one down the left field line, Soriano misplays a single into a triple.

Delwyn Young pops out in the infield for the 1st out.

Wild pitch that doesn't get far away from Soto. Morgan tries to score and it appears he is out, he's called safe. Zambrano freaks out and there is contact with the umpire, but instigated by the umpire, not Zambrano. Zambrano throws his glove, throws the ball into left field after being ejected.

Didn't see what caused the next out, then a fly out to the wall in center to end the inning. Reed with a great catch running into the ivy.

Bottom of the 7th

Hoffpauir pinch-hits for Guzman who entered to face 2 batters after the ejection, and pops out.

Soriano strikes out swinging.

Theriot singles up the middle.

Bradley misses a double which likely would've given them the lead by a foot, then just misses one and flies out to left to end the inning.

Top of the 8th

Andy LaRoche flies out to center field with Carlos Marmol now in the game.

Brandon Moss singles to right.

1-1 now on Vazquez, Marmol drops in a nice slider to make it 1-2. Vazquez thought he checked his swing, but the home plate umpire says he swung, strike 3.

Jaramillo softly flies out to left field to end the inning.

Bottom of the 8th

Jesse Chavez enters for the Pirates. The crowd thinks Lee's flyball might have a chance but it's a routine out.

Reed Johnson deep into left field and it's gone! 3-2 Cubs!!!

Geovany Soto with a nice piece of hitting, singles into right-center. Sean Burnett now coming in for the Pirates.

Fontenot flies out to center, 2 outs.

Andres Blanco batting left-handed again against the left-hander, remember he's a switch-hitter, batted right-handed the first time. Rips one down the right field line, Quade sends Soto... SAFE! Incredible slide. 4-2 Cubs.

Triple Crown leader in all of the minor leagues, Jake Fox, at the plate. On a full count, he crushes it to the wall in right-center for an RBI double. Looks like it doesn't matter what level he's hitting at right now. 5-2 Cubs!

The sun just came out again and it causes trouble for the Pirates infielders, but Adam LaRoche is able to snag a pop up to end the inning.

Top of the 9th

Kevin Gregg in, Freddy Sanchez pinch-hitting. Falls behind 3-1, 3-2 now. Looks like he strikes out Sanchez but it's called ball 4. Disagree with that call.

Freddy Sanchez finally does something wrong! Very wrong. For some idiotic reason, he kept running on a deep flyball off the bat of Nyjer Morgan which Bradley ran down. I'll admit, I thought it was gone off the bat, but his run does not matter, he should not be going more than halfway. Instead, he's all the way at 3rd base when Bradley catches it, Cubs double him off on a ball that almost went to the wall.

A couple borderline calls go Delwyn Young's way. Len is laughing that Young isn't swinging still on those after striking out looking 3 times already today.

0-2 on McLouth. He goes down swinging, CUBS WIN! A WINNING STREAK!

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It appears Lou Piniella has finally had enough of Neal Cotts not being able to get anyone out. After sucking the entire season and allowing a 1.200+ OPS to left-handed hitters, Neal Cotts was finally sent to AAA Iowa this morning. To take his place the Cubs purchased the contract of LHP Jason Wadell and added him to the 25-man roster.

It appears Jake Fox is also finally going to get an opportunity with the big club. As many had suspected, with 6 interleague road games coming up, Fox was recalled from Iowa and will likely get some starts at DH over the next month. He will also be a nice bat off the bench. The Cubs also added Andres Blanco from Iowa to backup Ryan Theriot at SS. They take the places of Bobby Scales, who has been sidelined with the flu and Aaron Miles, who was placed on the disabled list with a bad shoulder. release

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