Random Retro Cubs: Hector Villanueva

Posted by Justin Agla | 6/30/2009 11:09:00 AM | , ,


Our "Random Retro Cubs" series is back. This time we take a look at the Cubs former slugging backup catcher Hector Villanueva!

Years Played: 1990-1993.

Teams Played For: Chicago Cubs(90-92), St. Louis Cardinals (1993).

Positions: Catcher (123 games) First Base (26 games), was also used as a pinch hitter quite often for the Cubs between 1990 and 1992.

Bats/Throws: Right/Right.

Career Line: .230 AVG, 53 R, 109 H, 25 HR, 72 RBI, 1 SB, .293 OBP, .442 SLG, .734 OPS.

Best Cubs Season:

1991- .276 AVG, 23 R, 53 H, 13 HR, 32 RBI, 0 SB, 21 BB, 30 K, .346 OBP, .542 SLG, .887 OPS.

Awards/Leaderboard: Never on any leaderboard, except the one in my heart.

Fun Facts: Hector was a huge superstar in Puerto Rico. He was among the best players in the Puerto Rican winter league for years and even became just the 4th player ever to win the triple crown in league history.

It took Hector less than 300 At-Bats to reach 20 career Homers. One of the fastest in Cubs history.

After taking a few years away from playing baseball, Hector came back to play in the independent leagues in 1999 and 2000 and kept his power streak going, hitting 54 HR in around 170 games.

My Take: For whatever crazy reason. Big Hector is one Cub I will never forget. I was just a kid when he was a Cub and I was a HUGE fan. He was a big chubby strong player with a sweet mustache that could absolutely blast the ball. He hit a few huge bombs at Wrigley field during the 1990 and 1991 seasons. My older brothers would often tease me as I sat watching the games saying "Put big Hector in!" When he came up to bat I would get all excited hoping every at bat would be a homer.

I wasn't the only Cubs fan to fall in love with Big Hector as all kinds of signs and cheers would come out whenever he got a chance to hit. A funny looking guy that could hit a ball that far instantly becomes a fan favorite.

And of course who could forget all the ways Harry Caray mispronounced this guys name. He just couldn't say Vaillanueva no matter how many times he tried, from Villa-nuvea, to Vee-uh-nwave, he just couldn't say it. Eventually he just started calling him "Big Hector".

Link To Hector Villanueva's Baseball-Reference Page


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Some Truly Amazing Cubs Stats

Posted by Justin Agla | 6/25/2009 02:59:00 AM | , , , ,

As we have all watched all season, this Cubs offense has really struggled to put runs on the board this year. More than anything though they have struggled to get any sort of hit with runners in scoring position. It seemed to me watching the games that the Cubs are smacking the ball around the field in normal situations but completely stop hitting in any sort of key situation, so I decided to do some research and was pretty shocked by what I found. Here are some crazy stats:

- In Wednesday's game against Detroit the Cubs were just 1 for 15 (.067) with runners in scoring position (and that one hit still didn't produce a run), but were 10 for 20 (.500) when there were no runners in scoring position.

- On the current road trip the Cubs are a total of 1 for 29 (.034) with runners in scoring position but are 27 for 73 (.370) with no runners in scoring position.

- The Cubs are currently hitting .223 as a team with runners in scoring position, dead last in all of baseball.

- The Current .223 mark is worse than any team has hit with runners in scoring position during a season in the past 5 years.

- The Cubs have 3 of the worst hitters with runners in scoring position of all regulars in the big leagues: Geovany Soto at .204, Mike Fontenot at .205 and Alfonso Soriano at .157

- Only one Cub (Kosuke Fukudome) has hit higher than .264 with runners in scoring position. And only 2 qualifying players are higher than .242 (Fukudome and Theriot).

- In the month of June the Cubs are hitting just .205 with runners in scoring position.

- The Cubs are hitting .207 so far this year on the road with runners in scoring position.

- This season the Cubs are hitting .259 with no outs, .237 with 1 out and .217 with 2 outs.

- Cubs are hitting .147 on the season with runners on 2nd and 3rd.

- The Cubs have hit 47 solo home runs, only 24 with runners on base and only 11 with runners in scoring position.

So there you have it. The Cubs team this season so far is the worst clutch hitting team baseball has seen in at least 5 years. I gotta say after watching this team every day it really doesn't surprise me. I have literally never seen anything like it. This team just flat out can not hit in key situations. Until they do, they will not contend for a playoff spot.

I guess the one upside is the Cubs are starting to show more power and are really starting to hit well with no runners in scoring position. Despite the amazing awfulness of this offense, the Cubs are still only 3.5 games out of first place. With Aramis Ramirez coming back soon and the trade deadline nearing, maybe, just maybe, we can still turn it around.

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Live Blog: Cubs @ Tigers 6/24/09

Posted by Matt Clapp | 6/24/2009 03:45:00 PM | , , ,

Game: Chicago Cubs(34-33) @ Detroit Tigers(39-31)
Game Time: 7:05 PM ET
TV: CSN

Pitching Matchup:

Tigers- Rick Porcello (8-4, 3.54 ERA)
Cubs- Rich Harden (4-3, 5.10 ERA)

Lineups:

Cubs
1. Alfonso Soriano, LF (.224, 14 HR, 30 RBI, .715 OPS)
2. Ryan Theriot, SS (.284, 6 HR, 26 RBI, .757 OPS)
3. Derrek Lee, DH (.292, 11 HR, 37 RBI, .867 OPS)
4. Micah Hoffpauir, 1B (.262, 6 HR, 21 RBI, .778 OPS)
5. Milton Bradley, RF (.244, 5 HR, 16 RBI, .744 OPS)
6. Jake Fox, 3B (.308, 0 HR, 5 RBI, .756 OPS)
7. Kosuke Fukudome, CF (.260, 5 HR, 22 RBI, .803 OPS)
8. Geovany Soto, C (.222, 5 HR, 20 RBI, .682 OPS)
9. Mike Fontenot, 2B (.232, 6 HR, 26 RBI, .699 OPS)

Tigers
1. Curtis Granderson, CF (.263, 17 HR, 41 RBI, .835 OPS)
2. Placido Polanco, 2B (.264, 3 HR, 27 RBI, .700 OPS)
3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (.329, 14 HR, 44 RBI, .951 OPS)
4. Marcus Thames, DH (.302, 5 HR, 12 RBI, .942 OPS)
5. Don Kelly, LF (.385, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 1.005 OPS)
6. Brandon Inge, 3B (.278, 17 HR, 49 RBI, .906 OPS)
7. Magglio Ordonez, RF (.271, 2 HR, 22 RBI, .686 OPS)
8. Gerald Laird, C (.220, 2 HR, 16 RBI, .633 OPS)
9. Adam Everett, SS (.255, 2 HR, 26 RBI, .644 OPS)

Rick Porcello is a 20-year-old that is living up to the hype incredibly. He's a good one and should be a great one. He's going to throw a heavy dose of hard, sinking fastballs.

Rich Harden's been throwing too many meatballs and has yet to show the velocity he had at times last year when he was dominant. He needs to keep the ball down or this lineup can hit a few longballs off him.

This might be the best lineup the Cubs have tossed out there this year, at least without Aramis. So hopefully they can score a few runs.

Top of the 1st

Soriano grounds out to 3rd on the 2nd pitch.

2-2 on Theriot, fouls one off. Bounces out to short. So far Porcello's getting exactly what he wants with his sinker.

1-0 on Derrek Lee who brings a 20-game hitting streak into this one. Swings and misses. 1-2 pitch is a 95 mph sinker low, 2-2. Hits a groundball hard right at Everett. Again, Porcello getting what he wants, right-handed hitters trying to pull his sinker and all they're going to do is beat it into the ground.

Bottom of the 1st

1-1 count on Granderson. Now a high changeup, 2-1. 89 mph fastball fouled off. Another high changeup, full count. 94 mph fastball foul tip, strike 3. That's as good as I've seen a Harden fastball to the 1st hitter of the game this year.

92 mph fastball high on Polanco, now a changeup in for a strike, and another one that just misses. 2-1. On a full count, a 95 mph fastball misses. Lou looks angry in the dugout. If you keep putting guys on for Cabrera, he's going to really make you pay.

1-0 on Cabrera. A 1-1 fastball at 93 mph on the inside corner, 1-2. Flies out to center.

And Thames flies out to right.

Top of the 2nd

Hoffpauir lines a single into right.

Bradley loses his bat twice on swings, it's 0-2. Now he takes a breaking ball in the dirt, 1-2. Works the count full, now walks on a pitch to the backstop.

On a 1-2 pitch, Fox hits a bouncer to 3rd. Inge touches 3rd, throws to 2nd, and Polanco throws to 1st, Fox barely safe at 1st. Just missed a triple play, 2 outs.

Fukudome strikes out swinging. He's lost these days.

Bottom of the 2nd

0-1 to Kelly. Changeup inside, 1-1. Flies out to the wall in right, I thought it was gone.

2-2 on Inge. Full count, now a foul ball. Flies out to right-center.

Magglio with a soft liner out to Bradley in right to end the inning.

Top of the 3rd

Good to see Soto back in after being taken out of the game late last night. 2-1 count. He needs to lay off the sinker or he's going to ground out to the left side like he's done frequently this year. Doesn't lay off it here, and thankfully grounds out it foul. Takes it this time and the rookie Porcello wanted the call, doesn't get it though. Now on a full count he gets a pitch a bit more up and drives it to the corner in left for a double. Kelly fumbled the ball a time or two out there, but Soto is too slow to get to 3rd.

Fontenot hits one to the right side of 2nd, so naturally Soto is advancing, but Polanco makes a smart play and throws to 3rd, gets him.

Now Soriano grounds into a 6-4-3.

Top of the 3rd

Gerald Laird strikes out swinging.

Everett grounds out to 3rd.

Granderson rips a single into right. He'll likely be running in this at bat. Polanco bunting for a hit, the ball hits his bat, then hits him in the head, then deflects back out to the field and Harden makes a great sliding catch, called an out. Now they're changing the call as they should, it was a foul ball. 1-1 count, Granderson running as I expected him to, barely safe. Now Polanco loses his bat on a swing, 2-2.

Top of the 4th

Theriot with an infield single to 3rd, it's a play Inge should've made though.

Lee draws a walk on a 3-1 count. He swung mightily at a 3-0 pitch and came up empty.

Hoffpauir pops out in left-center, 1 out.

Bradley -crushes- one that would be a 3-run homer, but it's foul. Now he strikes out. 2 down.

Fox grounds out to end the inning, more runners in scoring position with no outs wasted by the Cubs.

Bottom of the 4th

Miguel Cabrera hits one to Wrigley, 1-0 Tigers.

Sorry I was dealing with the UPS guy, inning over somehow.

Top of the 5th

Fukudome grounds out to Polanco.

Soto drills one into left, clears the wall. 1-1! He's 2 for 2 now with a homer and double.

Soriano singles to right.

Len just said Reed Johnson is apparently going on the disabled list with his back issues, Ryan Freel going to be called up. Sigh.

I'd like to see Soriano run here to get into scoring position for Theriot with 2 outs. Well Theriot lines the 1st pitch into right-center for a single, Soriano to 3rd.

3-0 on Lee. Draws another walk. Getting nothing to hit.

0-1 on Hoffpauir as he swings and misses, now fouls one off, 0-2. Hoffpauir misses a bases-clearing double by 2 feet, I thought it was going to be fair off the bat. You knew he wasn't getting a hit after that, strikes out to end the inning.

Frustrating. Hoffpauir and Bradley just missed supplying the Cubs 6 more runs in this one. Instead, just 1.

Bottom of the 5th

Ball 1 from Harden. Ordonez strikes out.

Now Gerald Laird hits a bomb 400+ feet into left-center. Harden now allowed 13 homers in not even 60 innings this year, just 11 in 148 innings last year. He's leaving up way too many pitches.

1-2 on Everett. Now he walks him. A homer to the #8 hitter, and a walk to the #9 hitter after being ahead in the count.

Theriot catches a Granderson pop up in centerfield, 2 outs. Harden has about 1 more inning left in him, at 86 pitches.

1-0 on Polanco. 2-2 on Polanco who rarely strikes out. He singles which he does as much as anybody in the league.

Alright, this might be Harden's last batter. 1st and 2nd for one of the best hitters in the universe, Miguel Cabrera. 1-0 count. Changeup I assume because that's basically all he throws other than a fastball swung on and missed outside. Moved liked a slider though, 1-1. And again, even further outside and in the dirt, 1-2. Cabrera is trying to hit this one further than his last homer. Grounds to Fox and I get nervous, but Fox handles it cleanly and goes the short way to 2nd for the force to end the inning.

If I'm managing, Harden is done. 96 pitches, and he just had to work hard in hot conditions. I don't want to risk he gets hurt and it's too early in the season. Bring me Ascanio for a couple innings.

Top of the 6th

Should be a 3-1 count, but an awful call on a 1-1 pitch now has us at 2-2. Full now. He walks. His on-base percentage up into the .360 range now.

2-0 on Fox, bullpen getting up quickly for the Tigers. Drills a single into left, 1st and 2nd, no outs. That's it for Porcello.

Lefty Nate Roberston in for the Tigers. Ideally you pinch-hit for Fukudome here, but can't really do that with Reed unavailable of course. I want him bunting here, get 2nd and 3rd for Soto.

Fukudome showing bunt, takes a ball. Bunt rolls foul, 1-1. Bunts through a pitch right down the middle. Now he has to swing. Wow. A slider that he somehow reaches and pokes into left, bases loaded for Soto who has been the Cubs' offense tonight. Leyland going to bring in a right-hander to face him.

Zach Miner in, he's pitched very well lately. Getting a lot of groundballs and that's what they want here. Soto swings and misses at a breaking ball. Slider doesn't move, almost hit Soto actually, 1-1. Now a hanger and he has a great cut, fouls it straight back. Wants that pitch back. Takes a pitch low, 2-2. Slider in the dirt, nice block by Laird, full count. Takes strike 3 on the corner.

Incredible. Fontenot takes a curve outside, 1-0. 92 mph sinker low and outside, 2-0. Bounced to 1st, called foul. Cabrera had thrown home and that would've been the 2nd out. Not what you want on a 2-0 swing. 3-1 now. Grounds weakly to 2nd, and they get the force at 2nd, but too slow to turn 2, run scores, 2-2.

Soriano pops out weakly to center to end the inning. He took a fastball for a strike on the inner half, where he likes it. Then he swings at a slider. I swear he just decides before each pitch if he's going to swing.

Bottom of the 6th

Harden is still in, I don't like this.

Nowhere close on the 1st 2 pitches, 2-0. Now Soto drops a pop up for an error. 3-1 on Thames. And the walk. Lou goes out to visit Harden but is leaving him in.

Kelly fouls off a hit and run. Another hit and run, and he pops out to Theriot.

2-1 on Inge, and 3-1. This is just frustrating to watch. He should not be in the game still. Ball 4 nowhere close. NOW Lou is out there. This is on him.

Aaron Heilman in to face Magglio. 0-1 count. Jam shot into right, Bradley dives, misses it, and hurts his wrist in the process. Bases loaded, 1 out for Laird. Hits a line drive as hard as you possibly can, but right at Fox at 3rd. 2 outs.

2-1 on Everett. Tiger fans getting loud. Groundball to Fox, fields it running to his left, falls down, and throws late. A normal 3rd baseman makes that play. Instead, Tigers lead 3-2.

1-1 on Granderson. 2-2 count now. And Granderson walks, 4-2.

Polanco grounds to Theriot, inning over.

Top of the 7th

This game is way more frustrating to me than last night's game.

Theriot takes a ball from Miner. Theriot ends up walking.

Lee realizes he has a hitting streak on the line and swings at a strike right away, grounds it into left for a single. 21-game hitting streak for Lee, longest Cubs hitting streak since Jerome Walton had a 30-game hitting streak 20 years ago.

Very tough matchup here for Hoffpauir against the new pitcher, lefty Bobby Seay. 1-0 count. Takes a fastball strike. Fouls off a 1-2 fastball. Hoffpauir appears to have a single into center but Granderson has him played perfectly and makes the catch.

Another pitching change here. Brandon Lyon in to keep Bradley left-handed, which is the side he's batted from all night. 0-1 count. Big swing on the next pitch, but can't catch up to the 93 mph high fastball. Curveball in the dirt and the count is now 2-2. Cutter just misses inside, and Bradley barely did not swing. Full count. Nice sing on the 3-2 pitch, fouled it straight back. Bet he'll climb the ladder here. Cutter inside again actually, Bradley's 3rd walk.

Jake Fox up with the bases loaded. Swings at a slider/cutter nowhere close, 0-1. Now breaks his bat on a sinker inside. They'll go back outside again here and that will likely be strike 3. Fox drives one deep to right, caught on the track by Ordonez. 4-3.

Curveball for a strike to Fukudome. 0-2 to Fukudome. He's not getting a hit here. Sinker misses, 2-2 count. Fukudome grounds out to 1st to end the inning.

10 left on base, 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position.

Bottom of the 7th

Cabrera immediately singles into center.

0-1 on Thames. Zumaya going to come in again for the Tigers. Thames flies out to left.

0-2 on Kelly. It's getting so bad Brenly's pulled out Frosted Flakes/Tony The Tiger jokes because of who/where they're playing. Kelly strikes out.

2-2 on Inge. And he strikes out.

Top of the 8th

Soto, Fontenot, and Soriano to face Zumaya.

Soto takes a nasty curve to start the at bat. Now it's high, 1-1. Soto flies a 101 mph fastball out to right.

Fontenot swings through a 101 mph fastball now, 0-2. The WGN gun gets him at 104 mph again, Gameday has him at 103 mph. Anyway, he eventually strikes out.

Soriano hits a 101 mph one into left-center for a single, he can hit that, just wouldn't hit the breaking ball. Gotta get him on the move.

Theriot takes an insane curve for a strike. Same on the 2nd pitch, 0-2. Takes a slider outside. Holds up his swing on high heat, barely. 2-2. 101 mph over his head and he has zero chance, that'll end the inning.

Bottom of the 8th

Ordonez has a 1-1 count. Jose Ascanio is the new pitcher. I wanted him in to pitch the 6th and 7th innings. Bounces a single into left.

Crazy play. Bunt by Laird perfectly placed between Ascanio, Fontenot, and Hoffpauir for a hit. However, Josh Anderson who was pinch-running for Ordonez, for some reason tried to get to 3rd even though the ball was still in the infield, Fontenot threw him out. So still a runner at 1st, but 1 out now.

2-1 on Everett. Hit and run count and that's exactly what Leyland calls, but Everett fouls it down the right field line.

Ascanio pulled, Marshall in. He's the 11th pitcher of this game. 0-2 on Granderson. Strikes him out.

Now ANOTHER pitching change, the 12th pitcher of the game is Carlos Marmol. 2-0 on Polanco. If this game goes to extras, going to be really interesting to see who is pitching.

And here we go again with Marmol. Walks Polanco, now 3-1 on Cabrera. Cabrera swings as hard as he can and misses on a fastball, 3-2. And another walk. Unreal. 35 walks in 33.2 innings pitched. 5-3 Tigers.

1-0 on Thames, now 1-1. 1-2 count, and he gets Thames looking at a slider.

Top of the 9th

Fernando Rodney in , and like Marmol, he's struggled with control. 3-0 on Lee. He walks, 4th time he's been on base tonight. I wish Aramis were around to drive him in(crying).

0-1 on Hoffpauir. 2-1 now. Singles into left-center. 1st and 2nd, no outs.

1-1 on Bradley. He's due for a bomb. High strike call, 1-2. Not so sure about that one. Now he has to chase it, Bradley swings through it. 1 out.

Fox also due for a homer. Now that's an awful call for a strike, 0-1. Fox thinks he just hit a 3-run homer into right-center, but not at this park. Granderson catches it with plenty of room, 2 outs.

1-1 on Fukudome. Takes a fastball that splits the plate, what the hell? 1-2. Full count, runners will be moving with 2 outs. Delaying the inevitable. Pitch #8 I believe on the way. Strikes out looking, looked like ball 4 to me and that's what Kosuke thought. Brenly agrees.

Awful call to end the game, but I highly doubt they would've still come through after that anyway. 1 for 15 with runners in scoring position, unacceptable. This team continues to struggle to get clutch hitting, and it's why I wanted Raul Ibanez so much on this team after they were terrible at it the previous 2 playoffs. Aramis Ramirez cannot come back soon enough. Hopefully the Cubs are still within about 5 games of the division lead when he does.

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Game: Chicago Cubs(34-32) @ Detroit Tigers(38-31)
Game Time: 7:05 PM ET
TV: WGN

Pitching Matchup:

Cubs- Carlos Zambrano (4-2, 3.44 ERA)
Tigers- Edwin Jackson (6-4, 2.39 ERA)

Lineups:

Cubs
1. Alfonso Soriano, LF (.224, 14 HR, 30 RBI, .721 OPS)
2. Ryan Theriot, SS (.284, 6 HR, 26 RBI, .761 OPS)
3. Milton Bradley, RF (.247, 5 HR, 16 RBI, .746 OPS)
4. Derrek Lee, 1B (.286, 11 HR, 36 RBI, .854 OPS)
5. Micah Hoffpauir, DH (.261, 5 HR, 19 RBI, .750 OPS)
6. Geovany Soto, C (.225, 5 HR, 19 RBI, .694 OPS)
7. Kosuke Fukudome, CF (.266, 5 HR, 22 RBI, .818 OPS)
8. Mike Fontenot, 3B (.232, 6 HR, 26 RBI, .703 OPS)
9. Andres Blanco, 2B (.245, 0 HR, 6 RBI, .612 OPS)

Tigers
1. Curtis Granderson, CF (.263, 17 HR, 41 RBI, .836 OPS)
2. Placido Polanco, 2B (.263, 3 HR, 26 RBI, .690 OPS)
3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (.333, 14 HR, 44 RBI, .951 OPS)
4. Marcus Thames, DH (.302, 5 HR, 12 RBI, .952 OPS)
5. Don Kelly, LF (.417, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 1.045 OPS)
6. Brandon Inge, 3B (.274, 16 HR, 47 RBI, .892 OPS)
7. Magglio Ordonez, RF (.273, 2 HR, 22 RBI, .690 OPS)
8. Gerald Laird, C (.223, 2 HR, 16 RBI, .643 OPS)
9. Ramon Santiago, SS (.278, 4 HR, 21 RBI, .763 OPS)

This is the Cubs' 1st game at an AL park this year, and the beginning of a 3-game series at the AL Central-leading Detroit Tigers. This is going to be a really tough series, and the Cubs are going to need to swing the bats well which has been a huge problem on the road this year. They'll be facing good pitching and an offense that can score with anybody.

Tonight's a great pitching matchup, with Carlos Zambrano going up against Edwin Jackson. Zambrano's had awesome stuff of late, really as good as his stuff has looked in a few years. Jackson's been one of the best pitchers in the AL after being acquired from the Rays in the offseason. He has terrific stuff and is finally looking like the pitcher people thought would be a star when he came up with the Dodgers.

Top of the 1st

Temperature at 86 degrees to start the game. Cubs sporting their blue tops, Tigers in all whites.

Jackson's 1st couple pitches way upstairs, 2-0 on Soriano. Laird dropped both of them. Fastball with good zip in for a strike, 2-1. Dumps a single into right-center on another fastball.

Very high again, almost hit Theriot in the face, 1-0. Fastball with a lot of movement inside called a strike, 1-1. A little bit further inside this time, 2-1. Good hit and run spot here. Well, Jackson almost hits Theriot in the face again, 3-1. Theriot was showing bunt for some reason. Soriano runs, Theriot grounds a single into left but Soriano can't advance to 3rd with the play right there. 1st and 2nd, no outs for Milton Bradley.

Bradley is a .443 career hitter at Comerica Park. Fastball just misses upstairs, a 50/50 call there. Jackson's wildness may have been the reason it was called a ball. Now a fastball strike, 1-1. Fastball outside again, Jackson's pitches are almost moving too much. Now high and away again, 3-1. Bradley needs to shrink the zone here as Jackson's been all over the place. Ball 4 inside.

Bases loaded with no outs for Derrek Lee, who comes in with a 19-game hitting streak and a 29-game on-base streak. Fastball looks inside but called a strike. Gameday has it right on the corner, so a fair call apparently. Now a ball, 1-1. Bounces a fastball foul, 1-2. This is where the Cubs have been struggling all year. 2 weeks ago you knew for sure the Cubs wouldn't score here, let's hope that isn't the case again. Fastball just a bit inside, 2-2. Crowd groans, close pitch. Somehow he gets a piece of a slider way low and away, grounds to short and they get the force out at 2nd, but Lee beat the play at 1st. I thought he'd be out for sure. 1st and 3rd, 1 out, 1-0 Cubs.

1-2 on Hoffpauir. Swings and misses at a changeup, 2 outs.

1st and 3rd still for Soto. Takes a hanging curve for a strike. Grounds to short, they get the force at 2nd, inning over.

Just 1 run with the bases loaded and no outs and your 4-5-6 hitters coming up is considered a failure, but sadly, I'm quite happy to even score 1.

Bottom of the 1st

Granderson has 17 bombs. Takes a fastball for a strike. Zambrano working ridiculously fast as he often does. Granderson doubles down the right field line on a 1-1 count.

A cutter that looks pretty good called a ball on Polanco, now a foul ball, 1-1 count. Wow, he's getting squeezed, 2-1 now. Polanco drives one into left-center, an RBI triple. Tigers tie it, 1-1.

Miguel Cabrera pops one down the right field line, Lee makes a nice running catch, fires back home, and Polanco doesn't advance. Maybe he could've scored, but not worth chancing with 1 out.

Good strikeout candidate here in Thames, Zambrano needs 1. Swings through a fastball, now pops out to Lee just like Cabrera did. 2 down.

Don Kelly takes a strike. Fastball outside, 1-1. Home plate umpire says Kelly fouled this pitch off on a check swing, I didn't see it, 1-2. Now a pitch inside, 2-2. Changeup low, full count. Kelly pops out to Fontenot.

So each team had a runner at 3rd(in the Cubs case also 1st and 2nd) with no outs, and could only get 1 in the inning.

Top of the 2nd

0-2 on Fukudome. 1-2, Fukudome fouls it off. A 98 mph fastball in Fukudome's eyes and he understandably can't catch up to it, strikes out.

Fontenot fouls a fastball off. Same on a slider, 0-2. Fastball high, 1-2. Offspeed pitch in the dirt gets Fontenot chasing.

Andres Blanco grounds out to short.

Predictably, Jackson settled down and had a great inning. If either pitcher pitches like they're capable of, each team will likely be regretting their failures to bring in more runs in the 1st.

Bottom of the 2nd

Inge gets a 3-0 count. 3-2 now. Crushes one to deep center, gone at most parks, but you -really- have to hit it in Detroit. Fukudome runs it down, 1 out.

Magglio Ordonez back after a benching. Grounds out to the left side of the infield, didn't see exactly where. Do you really care? 2 outs.

Bradley makes a catch on a Laird flyball to right, and can do anything he wants with the ball now because the inning is over.

Top of the 3rd

Soriano somehow hits a breaking ball almost in the dirt, and flies out 410 feet into center. I can't believe how far he hit that.

Ball 1 on Theriot. Hits it hard up the middle but a really nice play by Santiago retires him.

Bradley taps out to Jackson, inning over.

Bottom of the 3rd

Santiago singles a 2-1 pitch into right.

2-1 on Granderson. Splitter in the dirt, Santiago moves up. 3-1 now, Granderson grounds to Blanco, advances Santiago to 3rd.

Infield in with 1 out, Polanco up. 1-1 count. The decision to bring the infield in pays off, as Polanco grounds right to Theriot and Santiago cannot advance. 2 down.

I'd put on Cabrera here. Cubs are pitching to him, 0-1 count as he swings and misses at a cutter. 96 mph fastball inside. 92 mph cutter just misses on the outer half, a bit up. 2-1. Nice block by Soto on a splitter, 3-1. Just put him on now. Rips one foul, full count. Cabrera chases a 94 mph cutter just a bit off the plate to strikeout and make me look stupid.

Top of the 4th

2-1 on Derrek Lee. 3-1 now. Draws the walk, 30-game on-base streak.

2-0 on Hoffpauir. 3-1, and Hoffpauir walks too.

0-2 on Soto. Just hoping he doesn't hit into a double or triple play here. 89 mph slider outside. Now chases an offspeed pitch low, strikes out.

2-2 on Fukudome. Swings and misses at a changeup, 2 outs.

Fontenot flies to center to end the inning. Cubs get 1st and 2nd with no outs, and can't advance them.

Bottom of the 4th

1-2 on Thames, he strikes out. 1 out.

Kelly takes a cutter for a strike. Flies out to Fukudome, 2 outs.

2-0 on Inge, who crushed one his last at bat. 2-1 pitch, and Inge hits one about as hard as you can into left for a single.

91 mph cutter for a strike to Magglio. A rare curveball from Zambrano at 75 mph, low. 2-1 on Ordonez.

Top of the 5th

Andres Blanco continues his superb bunting, lays down a beautiful one that Inge makes a great play on but Blanco beats it out.

Soriano really getting good swings tonight, hits one to fairly deep center but again, you have to hit it a mile at this place. 1 out.

Blanco goes on the 1st pitch, Theriot hits it well to center, but again... yeah. Easy out, Blanco returns back to 1st, 2 down.

1-0 on Bradley. He's going yard soon. 1-1. Chases a 97 mph fastball high, swings and misses. 1-2 count, get the runner moving. Well they do, and he's out at 2nd. Oh well, leading off with a high on-base percentage guy next inning, that's why I wanted them to take the chance.

Bottom of the 5th

Alright, I just missed all that because I left the room for 2 minutes and Zambrano works faster than anybody on the planet on the mound. 1-2-3 inning, inning over. I did just see him strike out Granderson looking on a 93 mph fastball on the inside corner.

Top of the 6th

3-1 on Bradley. He walks.

3-0 on Lee. 3-1 count, and he drills a double into left, 2nd and 3rd, no outs. 20-game hitting streak for Lee.

0-2 on Hoffpauir. And he strikes out, incredible.

1-0 on Soto. Just hit a flyball somewhere. Lays off a slider now, 2-0. 2-1 on a foul ball. Now chases a high fastball at 97. Slider just misses, 3-2. Foul ball on a flyball. Keep one of those fair and I'll be thrilled. And he does! Flyball into right-center, Cubs lead 2-1.

2 down for Fukudome. Absolutely smokes the 1st pitch, Don Kelly makes a leaping catch in left field. Can't do anything about that, inning over.

Bottom of the 6th

Polanco grounds out to 3rd.

Cabrera gets a 50/50 call his way on 2-2, then walks the following pitch.

1-1 on Thames. He has prodigious power, so don't groove anything here. Zambrano with a slider way inside, he's losing his command. Now a little blooper, Theriot elects to let it drop rather than catch it to possibly turn the double play, and they do, barely. I thought Thames was safe at 1st. A rare smart baseball decision by Theriot, very nice play, and the Cubs may have caught a break on that call.

Top of the 7th

2-1 on Fontenot. 96 mph fastball just misses low, 3-1. Full count, now a foul ball. Grounds out to shortstop.

1-2 on Blanco. Rips one down the right field line that would be a double or even triple, but foul by a foot or so. Now drives one to left-center, but Kelly postioned well. 2 outs.

0-1 on Soriano, who has hit the ball well all 3 at bats. Refreshing to see after this ridiculously awful slump he's been in. 2-1 now. Homer here? Takes a hanging slider to my surprise, 2-2. Fouls off a 99 mph fastball high. He's probably the only guy on the team that could do that. Now fouls off a 97 mph fastball. He's going to hit anybody's fastball, Jackson should toss him a slider down and away. He does, and that's strike 3.

Bottom of the 7th

Don Kelly takes a ball. Check swing, 3rd base ump says he held, 2-0. Fouls off a heater, 2-1. 3-1 now. Cutter way inside, hit Kelly I believe, but it doesn't make a difference as it was a walk anyway.

93 pitches for Zambrano. Fastball just misses inside, 1-0. He's not hitting his spots anymore. Big swing as usual for Inge and he fouled it straight back. Be careful here or he'll give the Tigers the lead on 1 swing. Soto drops a fastball low, but Kelly doesn't advance, 2-1 count. And there's the homer I worried about, 3-2 Tigers.

1-2 on Ordonez. Zambrano visibly furious. Now he's out of control, Walks Ordonez. He's freaking out on the mound, Rothschild out to calm him down but I don't think that's going to work.

Josh Anderson pinch-running for Ordonez. Laird bunting, fouls it off. Sean Marshall warming up in the bullpen for the Cubs. Aaron Heilman also warming up for them. Pitchout on 0-1, no movement on the basepaths. 2-1 count now. Anderson picked off 1st base. Now Laird strikes out.

Santiago flies out to Soriano in left.

Top of the 8th

The fireballing Joel Zumaya in, he throws harder than anybody in baseball.

99 mph fastball and Theriot right on it, fouls it straight back. Curveball high. A filthy breaking ball for a strike. Now another one, but a ball. 2-2. Theriot grounds out to Polanco.

1-2 on Bradley, foul ball on a 102 mph fastball, according to the stadium gun. Wow. Now one at 104 mph, Bradley swings through as anybody would. I've never seen that in my life.

Hey whaddya know, a Derrek Lee hit. Runner on 1st, 2 outs.

2-1 on Hoffpauir. On a full count, Hoffpauir hits a changeup into the seats in right to give the Cubs a 4-3 lead!

Brenly is absolutely ripping on Zumaya, "That's one of the stupidest pitches I've ever seen." Sped up Hoffpauir's bat after he had just swung through gas.

Soto strikes out.

Bottom of the 8th

Carlos Marmol in.

Strikes out Granderson.

Now he drills Polanco, runner on 1st, 1 out.

Koyie Hill is in for Soto, seems like a swing last inning hurt him.

2-0 on Cabrera, who can easily give the Tigers the lead here. 2-2 on Cabrera. Fastball inside, 3-2. Cabrera swings through a slider, Polanco safe as he was running on it, barely.

Thames crushes a hanger down the left field line, just foul. Not sure if it had homer distance but would've at least tied the game if it stayed fair. Now he gets him swinging on a slider.

3 strikeouts for Marmol, no walks. Hey I remember that guy. Of course he did hit a batter.

Top of the 9th

Fukudome bunting off the new pitcher, lefty Bobby Seay, not a good bunt though and Seay gets him at 1st.

1-1 on Fontenot. If the Cubs had another guy that could handle 3rd well, he wouldn't be batting. Not worth risking Fox's defense up 1 in the 9th. 1-2 now. On a 2-2 count, Fontenot with a rare single against a lefty. Did a great job hanging in there on a breaking ball, lined it into right.

0-1 on Blanco, batting right-handed. I'd like to see a hit and run in this at bat, some sort of movement anyway. On a 1-2 pitch, Blanco grounds to Cabrera who fields it on his knees, throws wide to 2nd base but the shortstop Santiago does a nice job keeping his foot on the bag.

2 down, Blanco on 1st, and Brandon Lyon it looked like to me is the new pitcher to face Soriano.

Lyon is indeed the new pitcher, 2-1 on Soriano. Huge rip by Soriano on a fastball, fouled straight back. Like I've said a few times, easily the best swings collectively in a game from Soriano in a long time. Not so much there on a curveball though, and he pops out to Cabrera.

Bottom of the 9th

Kevin Gregg in to close for the Cubs. He's been terrific of late. He'll be facing, or at least scheduled to face Don Kelly, Brandon Inge, and Josh Anderson.

2-2 count on Kelly. Full count now, don't want to walk him in front of Inge. 2 foul balls now. Let him try to hit it a mile, but no walks. 9th pitch is a curveball just high, ball 4.

Breaking ball in to Inge, strike 1. Inge already with a 2-run homer tonight, 17 on the year. Pops out to right, Blanco runs out there and catches it. Bradley should be the one making that catch, but oh well.

Ryan Raburn pinch-hitting, and he demolishes a hanger over the wall into left-center, Tigers win 5-4.

Very, very frustrating loss. I feared Inge would go yard, but instead it was Raburn. Gregg had been great of late. It's not the homer that particularly angers me but the leadoff walk. That usually is going to mean trouble in a 1-run game in the 9th.

The Cubs could've scored some more runs, but scoring 4 on the road is about all I can really ask for. When you have a lead in the 9th, you should be victorious. Not a good start to a series where I was hoping to just get a win. Tonight was the chance to do that and it won't be easy facing 20-year-old phenom Rick Porcello tomorrow with a struggling Rich Harden on the mound that is giving up a lot of homers these days. We'll see I guess.

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The Friendly Linkfines 6/23/09

Posted by Matt Clapp | 6/23/2009 04:15:00 PM

I'm glad I wasn't the only one that was disgusted at the constant standing ovations for an opposing player at Wrigley Field this past weekend. (Wrigleyville23)

The Cubs' inability to rely on Rich Harden is probably why they're interested in signing Pedro Martinez.
(Bleacher Nation)

The PITCHf/x of the starting pitcher the Cubs will be facing tonight in Detroit, Edwin Jackson.
(Cubs f/x)

The Cubs' offense hates Ryan Dempster almost as much as Randy Wells. (Hire Jim Essian)

With Jake Fox and Micah Hoffpauir, the DH will be more beneficial to the Cubs than your usual NL team. (Mouthpiece Sports)

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Even though I'm recovering from one of my worst ever hangovers, I'll give this live blog a go. This game is a makeup game for the game that was rained out June 4th, so the Cubs are just in Atlanta today. They'll head to Detroit immediately after the game for a 3-game series there.

Game: Chicago Cubs(34-31) @ Atlanta Braves(32-36)
Game Time: 7:10 PM ET
TV: CSN

Pitching Matchup:

Cubs- Ryan Dempster(4-4, 3.92 ERA)
Braves- Javier Vazquez(4-6, 3.51 ERA)

Lineups:

Cubs

1. Ryan Theriot, SS (.280, 6 HR, 26 RBI, .760 OPS)
2. Kosuke Fukudome, CF (.270, 5 HR, .822 OPS)
3. Jake Fox, LF (.286, 0 HR, 5 RBI, .749 OPS)
4. Derrek Lee, 1B (.287, 11 HR, 36 RBI, .860 OPS)
5. Micah Hoffpauir, RF (.261, 5 HR, 19 RBI, .759 OPS)
6. Geovany Soto, C (.225, 5 HR, 19 RBI, .698 OPS)
7. Mike Fontenot, 3B (.230, 6 HR, 26 RBI, .700 OPS)
8. Andres Blanco, 2B (.224, 0 HR, 6 RBI, .582 OPS)
9. Ryan Dempster, P (.100, 0 HR, 2 RBI, .290 OPS)

Braves
1. Nate McLouth, CF (.260, 12 HR, 43 RBI, .814 OPS)
2. Kelly Johnson, 2B (.226, 5 HR, 20 RBI, .672 OPS)
3. Chipper Jones, 3B (.297, 8 HR, 31 RBI, .902 OPS)
4. Brian McCann, C (.325, 6 HR, 28 RBI, .936 OPS)
5. Garret Anderson, LF (.280, 3 HR, 24 RBI, .698 OPS)
6. Casey Kotchman, 1B (.268, 2 HR, 26 RBI, .707 OPS)
7. Jeff Francoeur, RF (.245, 4 HR, 30 RBI, .614 OPS)
8. Diory Hernandez, SS (.129, 0 HR, RBI, .318 OPS)
9. Javier Vazquez, P (.077, 0 HR, 2 RBI, .265 OPS)

Top of the 1st

1st pitch to Theriot is outside, and same with the 2nd, 2-0. Now a fastball in for a strike. Theriot hits a groundball up the middle that a diving Hernandez can't get, so it's a single.

Fukudome hits a groundball on the 1st pitch right to the 2nd baseman Johnson, and the Braves turn the double play.

Fox hits a hard groundball to the left side of the infield, again past a diving Hernandez for a single.

Derrek Lee takes a strike, and another. 0-2. Lines a single into center, giving him a 19-game hitting streak, and a 29-game on-base streak. It's the longest hitting streak of his career.

Hoffpauir tries to check his swing but went around apparently. 2-1 on Hoffpauir. It rained a bit earlier apparently, but more rain is not anticipated tonight. Full count now, the runners will be going with 2 outs. Hoffpauir swings through a slow curveball in the strike zone to end the inning. Cubs get 3 singles in the inning but no runs. That double play really hurt.

Bottom of the 1st

1-1 on McLouth. 1-2 as McLouth loses his bat into the stands, now a ball to even the count. Ball outside. Nasty slider but it would've been ball 4 swung at and missed by McLouth.

1-0 on Kelly Johnson, now a foul ball. 2-seamer with lots of movement across the inside corner for a strike. Grounds out to Mike Fontenot.

2-0 on the future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones. Be careful to him with 2 outs and nobody on. Ball 3 now. On a 3-1 count, Chipper draws the 2-out walk.

McCann flies out to right to end the inning.

Top of the 2nd

Soto grounds out to 3rd.

1-0 on Fontenot, foul ball. 1-2 count. Even at 2-2. Stays on a slow curveball and lines it into center. The Cubs are getting nice swings off a very good pitcher early on.

Mets lead the Cardinals 2-0 in New York.

I'd like to see a hit and run here with Blanco at the plate. 1-0 count. Slices it into left awkwardly and actually hit it pretty hard, Anderson has to make a basket catch and it appeared he basically smothered it against his chest.

2 down, Dempster at the plate, swings and misses at the 1st pitch. About the worst swing you'll ever see on a slider 3 feet outside, 0-2. Now takes a fastball on the corner for strike 3.

Bottom of the 2nd

I watched Chicago Tribune Live before the game on CSN. Steve Stone, currently the White Sox color commentator, thinks this Cubs team is going to get a lot better. He said, "They're going to hit, and they're going to hit a lot." He also said what I've been saying all along: "If these hitters just have average seasons, they're going to win this division easily." He thinks that the wind blowing in a ton early on at Wrigley has effected the hitters and that they're going to get some more confidence and production in the coming months.

2-0 on Anderson. Ball 3 now. Fastball strike. Full count and Anderson swings at a slider that looked high, fouls it off. Chases ball 4 again, flies out to Fox in left.

Kotchman hits a liner right on the money but Fontenot had him played perfectly at 3rd, snags it, 2 outs.

Francoeur hits a high bouncer to short on the 1st pitch, Theriot waits back on the hop, has time, but throws it in the dirt, and another outstanding dig by Derrek Lee. It's incredible how many errors he saves.

Top of the 3rd

Theriot is 2 for 2 as he drills a single into center. He's shortening up his swing lately and doing what made him such a valuable part of this team last year. 5th hit already for the Cubs, hopefully they can start getting some runs off these hits.

Fukudome bunting for a hit, fouls it off. Swings through a slider, now barely gets a piece of a changeup. He's not seeing Vazquez well. Vazquez shows Fukudome about his whole arsenal and Fukudome has to be impressed, as he swings and misses at a high fastball. Vazquez leads the league in strikeouts with 115.

Fox takes a curve for a strike. Now flies out to right.

Would be nice if the Cubs could get some runners in scoring position for Lee. Takes a fastball low and outside, same as the next pitch, 2-0. Now a curveball that just misses low, 3-0. Vazquez throws him a 3-0 slider, wow. It's in for a strike. Now Lee absolutely drills one into deep right-center and I, along with Len thinks it has a chance to leave the yard, but McLouth catches it on the run on the track. That's gone at Wrigley the last few days with the wind blowing out for sure.

Bottom of the 3rd

3-1 on Hernandez. You don't want to walk this guy. But that's what happens.

Vazquez leads the majors in sacrifice bunts, and executes it to perfection here. 1 out, Hernandez at 2nd.

0-2 on McLouth. McLouth lays off a well located changeup on 0-2. Now another one that was strike 3, but the umpire disagrees. Cubs got jobbed. Sure enough McLouth singles when he should've been out, Braves take a 1-0 lead. Gameday has that pitch called a ball pretty much right down the middle, as it was.

Johnson takes a fastball for a strike. Ball outside, McLouth runs, and as usual, he's successful. Very close at 2nd. Fastball just misses inside, 2-2 count. Full count. Johnson walks, 1st and 2nd, 1 out.

2-1 on Chipper Jones. Takes a slider for a strike. Full count, and Dempster gets him swinging at a fastball. Additionally, the runners were going, and Soto threw out McLouth at 3rd, something that is quite a feat to one of the best percentage base stealers of all-time. 1st time McLouth has been caught this year. Soto has thrown out 7 of the last 11 attempted base stealers I believe Len just said. 1st time since April of last season that McLouth was thrown out.

Top of the 4th

Hoffpauir grounds out to 2nd.

0-2 on Soto, doesn't like the last strike call. He's probably telling the umpire how Dempster didn't get that call to McLouth. 1-2 now. Strikes out swinging at some high gas.

Fontenot fouls off an 0-2 offering. Bounces out up the middle.

Bottom of the 4th

1-1 to McCann. On 1-2, McCann can't hold up his swing on a pitch in the dirt, 1 out.

Anderson with an effortless swing on a pitch outside, pulls it for a double on a bounce against the wall in right. Hoffpauir made a great effort and almost caught it, I thought he had no chance.

0-2 on Kotchman. Bounces a changeup back to Dempstser, Dempster does a great job to look at Anderson and catches him too far off the base, they get Anderson in a rundown. 2 outs.

Francoeur slices one into right-center and Len thinks Fukudome is going to get to it, but it gets down for a double, 2nd and 3rd, 2 outs.

I know Hernandez has awful numbers, but be careful here with the pitcher on deck and 1st base open. 1-1 on Hernandez. However, as Len points out, Vazquez can handle the bat. 1-2 on Hernandez. One more good slider and that should be it. Goes with it, but too far outside, count is even at 2-2. High and inside heat, Hernandez barely makes contact on a check swing, foul ball. 70th pitch of the game from Dempster is fouled back. Fastball just misses outside. Don't give in to him here with the pitcher on deck. Throws the slider and it's right down the middle, but Hernandez was likely looking fastball on the 3-2 count. Inning over.

It's really hot and humid, and Dempster's labored through 4 innings. I think he'll go 6, but maybe not. He's gone at least 6 innings in 13 of his 14 starts this year.

Top of the 5th

Doubtful the Cubs score this inning with Blanco, Dempster, and Theriot.

0-2 on Blanco. Blanco bloops a single into left.

Like Vazquez is this year, Dempster led the majors in sacrifice bunts last year, and he'll definitely be asked to do that here. Pops a bunt up and McCann chases after it, slides, hits off his glove, and he slides hard into the wall. He's hurting, his knee likely. He's going to try to stay in though. Now Dempster gets the job done, Blanco to 2nd, 1 out.

Well Theriot singled his last 2 at bats. Another of those and the Cubs would likely tie this up with good speed at 2nd base. Vazquez starts him with a curveball this time after Theriot ripped his fastball last at bat. 0-1. Slider low and outside, 1-1. Fastball low, 2-1. Pickoff throw at 2nd but Blanco is easily back. Slider in the dirt, 3-1. These are the Ryan Theriot at bats I've missed. Well, that's not the 3-1 pitch I'd like to see him swing at. Rolls a groundball to 2nd base. Blanco to 3rd, 2 outs. Theriot angry at himself.

Fukudome seems to have no chance against Vazquez tonight. Swings and misses badly at a slider, 1-1 count. Now takes a curve right down the middle, 1-2. Fouls off an 87 mph slider or cutter. Fastball barely outside, 2-2. The Braves fans are angry. Fastball just high and outside, Fukudome checks his swing, 3-2. A 3-2 curveball, and Fukudome flies out to right. I thought he hit that a lot better.

Bottom of the 5th

Vazquez strikes out swinging on 4 pitches.

McLouth hammers one the other way with home run distance, but foul. Now he grounds out weakly to Dempster.

On a full count, Kelly Johnson walks.

Sooner or later Chipper is going to really make you pay when you walk hitters in front of him. Does here, as he drills a double into right-center field. Johnson probably couldn't have scored, but he appeared to be limping a little bit as well. 2nd and 3rd, 2 outs for McCann. I'd put him on here.

Slider dug out by Soto in the dirt, 1-0. Seriously, just put him on. Swings for Jamaica but misses, 1-1. Fastball barely inside, 2-1. 88 pitches for Dempster. Filthy slider causes the worst swing you'll ever see McCann take. 2-2. Soto does a good job of blocking the slider again. I'd throw it again and if you walk him, that's just fine. Don't groove anything. Well he does, and McCann hits it about as hard as you possibly can but right at Derrek Lee. He absolutely that. The camera didn't even get to Lee until he was running back with the ball. McCann understandably frustrated as he should've just driven in a couple of runs, and slams his bat down. It was a stupid decision to pitch to him and proved to be, just got lucky.

Top of the 6th

Fox takes a fastball down the middle, something I've never seen him do. Lays off the next pitch as well that is outside, 1-1. Takes a curve in the dirt, 2-1. Now he chases a slider way outside. High fastball fouled straight back, Brenly said, "He was trying to leave earth" with that swing. Hanging curve and it looks very good off the bat, but it doesn't go anywhere. Anderson easily catches it.

Lee swings and misses at a slider. A huge swing and he fouls it back. Now 2-2. 3-2 count on a slider in the dirt. 7th pitch of the at bat is a curveball bounced foul. Another foul ball. Grounds out to shortstop on the 9th pitch.

Hoffpauir grounds a single up the middle with 2 outs.

Bobby Cox and the trainer come out to see Vazquez. He looks exhausted out there. Staying in though.

0-1 on Soto. And another single. The Cubs have 8 hits tonight, all singles. Hopefully they can get another one here.

2-0 on Fontenot. Cubs fans are getting loud, Braves fans booing them. 3-0 count. Slider in for a strike on 3-0. Walks.

Bases loaded for the Cubs' #8 hitter, Andres Blanco. No doubt the Cubs will pinch-hit for Dempster next, whether it be this inning or next inning. Breaking ball just high, crowd really loud. Fastball strike, 1-1. The very important swing pitch just outside, Braves fans hate the call. 2-1. The 2-1 pitch is driven to center, but McLouth doesn't have to go back too far and that's the inning.

The Cubs are really getting good swings tonight and driving some right at guys. You can't fault Blanco there, he put a good swing on that ball and drove it to center.

Bottom of the 6th

This will be Dempster's last inning. Kevin Hart's been warming up in the bullpen.

1-0 on Anderson. Theriot playing Anderson up the middle and Anderson hits it where he would usually be positioned, dives, can't get there.

Dempster should be on a short leash earlier. He's just at 96 pitches, but has had to work very hard to get through some of these innings, along with a humid night, so I consider it about 110 pitches.

2-2 on Kotchman. Grounds to 2nd, Blanco makes a very quick spin and throw to 2nd to get the force. Theriot tried to get the double play but the ball was hit too slowly to do so. Great job by Blanco.

Dempster gets away with a meatball to Francoeur, who will hit one of those a mile if you keep it up. 0-1 count, Kotchman on 1st. Fouls off a slider without much bite, 0-2. Dempster's stuff isn't what it was a few innings ago. Lou better not leave him in too much longer. And there's a single up the middle, 1st and 2nd.

Well I'm glad he stayed in. Gets Hernandez to ground into a 6-4-3 double play.

Top of the 7th

I'd guess Milton Bradley will pinch-hit for Dempster here.

Wow, Dempster batting. This is incredibly stupid. You need runs here. All he can go is MAYBE 1 more inning anyway. Strikes out looking.

2-1 on Theriot. Theriot grounds out to Prado, who came in earlier for Kelly Johnson at 2nd.

Fukudome has a 2-1 count. Ball 3. A walk would be nice in front of Fox. And that's what happens. Fukudome on 1st with 2 outs.

Now would be an ideal time for Fox's 1st homer of the season. Takes a curveball in the dirt for ball 1. This will be Vazquez's last inning, and possibly batter. 2-0 now. A check swing for a strike on a curve out of the zone, don't like to see that. Another breaking ball down. He's yet to see a fastball here. Now another one out of the zone and he swings and misses, sigh. Infield single, barely, on a grounder to shortstop. 1st and 2nd, 2 outs.

Derrek Lee's had great at bats tonight and owned Vazquez in his career. With that in mind, along with 116 pitches thrown, Bobby Cox takes Vazquez out. Sidewinder Peter Moylan in to face Lee.

Moylan is going to be a tough matchup for Lee. He's a sidewinder. Lee is 0 for 2 in his career against him, but he's red hot so it might not matter who he is facing right now. 1st pitch is a fastball and Derrek fouls it off his foot. That's the pitch you want to hit against Moylan, not the slider unless it hangs. Lee flies out to right to end the inning.

Cubs have left 10 on base tonight.

Bottom of the 7th

3-0 count. Dempster shouldn't be in the game still, this is all on Lou, even if Dempster talked his way back in. Full count now. High slider called strike 3.

Changeup in for a strike to McLouth. McLouth crushes a double into right that bounced off the wall.

1-1 on Prado. 1-2 on a foul ball. Single into left, but McLouth holds at 3rd.

Lou comes out and it appears he's taking out Dempster, but is leaving him in. I really don't understand the decision-making of these last 2 innings.

Chipper drives one near the wall in center, but Fukudome makes the catch. It's a sacrifice fly though and gives the Braves a 2-0 lead.

NOW Lou's taking out Dempster. Sean Marshall coming in.

Curveball from Marshall is taken for a strike by McCann. Rips another one but again right at somebody, to 2nd base this time. Blanco bobbles it in the outfield grass but has plenty of time with the catcher running.

Top of the 8th

Hoffpauir, Soto, and Fontenot due up. I'd like to see Bradley or Soriano bat for Blanco and bring in Miles to replace Blanco defensively.

Very good lefty Mike Gonzalez in to pitch for Atlanta. 2-0 on Hoffpauir. Good 2-0 hack, but fouls it back. Full count and Hoffpauir gets good wood on it, but hits it too high and McLouth catches it about 30 feet short of the wall in center.

1-1 on Soto. Soto hits one with home run distance but just foul. Now he strikes out.

0-1 on Fontenot. Grounds out to 2nd.

Bottom of the 8th

I want to see Bradley pinch-hit for Blanco to leadoff the 9th, and have Soriano bat for the pitcher right after that. Will it happen though? I highly doubt it with the managing decisions we've seen tonight. I bet it will go Blanco then Miles.

Kevin Hart in to pitch. 91 mph sinking fastball for a strike to Anderson. Slider to the backstop. Anderson grounds out to Fontenot, 1 out.

Kotchman up. 92 mph sinking fastball again, he didn't throw a sinking fastball quite like that in the past. Mainly a 4-seamer at 94-97 and a cutter. Another slider to the backstop, this looks just like the last at bat. 89 mph changeup upstairs. Pitch high and outside, 3-1. Ball 4.

1-1 on Francoeur. 2-1, and Francoeur chases a breaking ball down low, 2-2. Slider taken in the dirt, full count. Doubt we'll see Kotchman running. Well he is, popped up into shallow right, Hoffpauir makes a diving catch. Nice play, 2 outs.

Hernandez hits a flyball deep to right, caught by Hoffpauir near the track to end the inning.

There's been a bunch of flyballs I expected to go further than they did tonight. The ball is not carrying.

Top of the 9th

Sigh, Blanco is batting. Rafael Soriano in to close for the Braves. 0-1 count. 2-1 now. Please walk him. Takes a cutter for a strike, 2-2. Grounds a single into left! He fell down but thankfully for him it went into the outfield. Glad I was wrong.

Bradley pinch-hitting. Big swing on a 93 mph fastball, misses, 0-1. Takes the same pitch in the same spot this time, ball just outside. 1-2 as he hits a foul ball. Bradley swings and misses at a slider down low, 1 out.

0-2 on Theriot. Strikes out swinging.

Blanco takes 2nd on fielders' indifference as Fukudome takes a ball. Takes another, 2-0. 3-0 now. Takes a walk.

1st and 2nd with 2 outs for Fox. Hit one a mile, Jake. Cutter for a strike, Fox doesn't like the call. Yikes, a hanger and Fox swings through it. That was the pitch to crush. 0-2 count. Takes another questionable strike, but you have to protect with 2 strikes. Game over.

Frustrating game, but not too mad. The Cubs hit the ball hard all night but couldn't come through with runners in scoring position. Badly managed game as well.

Cardinals lost, so the Cubs stay 2.5 back in the division. Off to Detroit, hopefully the Cubs can take at least 1 of 3 there.

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Game: Cleveland Indians(29-41) @ Chicago Cubs(33-31)
Game Time: 2:20 PM ET
TV: CSN

Pitching Matchup:

Cubs- Randy Wells(0-3, 2.55 ERA)
Indians- Jeremy Sowers(1-4, 5.14 ERA)

Lineups:

Indians
1. Jamey Carroll, 2B (.277, 0 HR, 8 RBI, .717 OPS)
2. Mark DeRosa, LF (.280, 13 HR, 49 RBI, .827 OPS)
3. Victor Martinez, C (.335, 12 HR, 53 RBI, .955 OPS)
4. Shin-Soo Choo, RF (.300, 9 HR, 41 RBI, .875 OPS)
5. Jhonny Peralta, 3B (.259, 3 HR, 29 RBI, .702 OPS)
6. Luis Valbuena, SS (.223, 4 HR, 10 RBI, .739 OPS)
7. Chris Gimenez, 1B (.176, 2 HR, 2 RBI, .829 OPS)
8. Ben Francisco, CF (.233, 5 HR, 23 RBI, .676 OPS)
9. Jeremy Sowers, P (N/A)

Cubs
1. Alfonso Soriano, LF (.225, 14 HR, 30 RBI, .727 OPS)
2. Ryan Theriot, SS (.280, 6 HR, 26 RBI, .752 OPS)
3. Milton Bradley, RF (.241, 5 HR, 16 RBI, .724 OPS)
4. Derrek Lee, 1B (.288, 11 HR, 35 RBI, .867 OPS)
5. Geovany Soto, C (.222, 4 HR, 17 RBI, .670 OPS)
6. Jake Fox, 3B (.278, 0 HR, 2 RBI, .722 OPS)
7. Kosuke Fukudome, CF (.274, 5 HR, 22 RBI, .835 OPS)
8. Andres Blanco, 2B (.217, 0 HR, 6 RBI, .563 OPS)
9. Randy Wells, P (.167, 0 HR, 1 RBI, .333 OPS)

First off, happy father's day to any of you dads out there.

The Cubs are hoping to get their 4th straight win, and the last 3 have been in incredible fashion. Hopefully they can finally get Randy Wells a win.

I told you in yesterday's live blog that Angel Guzman had a triceps strain and it wasn't known if he were available or not. Well because the Cubs really had no other options in extra innings, Lou Piniella elected to use Guzman for 2 innings. He did a great job and helped get the Cubs the win, but felt pain in his triceps afterwards and the Cubs placed him on the disabled list. Right-hander Kevin Hart was called up to replace him. Hopefully it will just be the minimum 15 days for Angel, because he's been the Cubs' best reliever this year. Hart is apparently available today and was scheduled to start today for Iowa.

Top of the 1st

Wells fires a strike to open the game, then inside, 1-1 count to Carroll. Now Carroll swings and misses at a pitch near the dirt. Lines a single into right on a great piece of hitting.

1-1 on DeRosa. DeRosa didn't mean to swing, but went around on a high breaking ball. 91 mph fastball too far inside to even the count. Fastball barely misses inside, full count. Will probably see some movement on the bases. Carroll indeed runs, DeRosa swings and misses, strike em out throw em out. Soto's been throwing strikes to 2nd base the last few weeks. Looking much more like himself all around of late.

1-1 on Victor. High flyball to left, easy play for Soriano to end the inning.

Bottom of the 1st

0-2 on Soriano, looking to break out of this very long slump. Strikes out swinging.

Fastball misses outside to Theriot, now a strike. Lines one into the right-center field gap for a double. He's going to right field much more lately as you want him to, good to see.

Questionable strike call on Bradley, he doesn't approve. Now Theriot steals 3rd base. Next pitch, Bradley hits a bouncer right at the bag at 3rd, Theriot has to go back to 3rd as he'd easily be out at the plate. The ball gets there before he can, Peralta tags him and goes to 1st for a double play. Very bizarre play and nowhere Theriot could go, did the right thing. The replay shows he was safe though. Quade was furious at the call.

Top of the 2nd

Choo drives it to left but Soriano catches it right about at the track.

Peralta hits a one hopper and Blanco moves back to field the hop easily, nicely done. 2 down.

2-2 on Cub-killer Luis Valbuena. On a full count, Wells gets him to swing and miss with a changeup.

Bottom of the 2nd

Derrek Lee comes in with a 17-game hitting streak, 27-game on-base streak. Grounds out to Valbuena who made a nice play ranging up the middle.

Soto driills one to left and it barely gets out. He's drilling the ball right now. Appears to be back offensively and defensively. 1-0 Cubs.

I'd wondered why Reed wasn't starting against the lefty. Apparently it's due to his back. Lou talks about it here.

Fukudome drives the ball to left which is good to see, but Mark DeRosa doesn't have to move too much.

Top of the 3rd

Gimenez bloops a double down the right field line.

3-1 on Francisco. Groundball in the hole, Theriot rounds it and throws on the run to Lee. Takes a long bounce and Lee does a nice job playing it for the out.

0-2 on the pitcher Jeremy Sowers, getting some good swings thoch ugh. Wells tries to get him to bite at a fastball 15 feet high, Sowers doesn't go for it, 1-2. Groundball to 3rd, gets down the line ridiculously fast and almost beats it out.

1-2 on DeRosa, they're feeding him sliders. Strikes out looking on a fastball that appears to be a tad low, he's not happy. It was a good pitch to hit though and you have to be protecting with 2 strikes.

Bottom of the 3rd

0-2 count, groundball on the chalk down the left field line, Peralta drops it, but still has time to get Blanco at 1st.

Randy Wells with a slow roller to 1st for the 2nd out.

Soriano jammed and flies out to center.

Top of the 4th

1-2 count on Victor. Grounds out to Theriot.

Choo breaks his bat and it looks like a for sure single, but Fukudome got an insanely good jump on the ball, and makes a full extension dive to make the catch. Considering Choo broke his bat, it was a very difficult play to read, making the play even more impressive.

2-2 on Peralta with the bases empty and 2 down. 2 pitches later, Peralta is awarded 1st base with a walk.

1-1 on Valbuena, 1-2 now. Drives it into the right-center field gap, but Fukudome makes another nice play and runs it down to end the inning.

Bottom of the 4th

Cardinals, Brewers, and Reds are all losing right now.

Theriot takes a strike. 3-1 count. Ball 4. Sowers has had a problem with walks so hopefully the Cubs can do more of what Theriot just did.

Bradley rips a double down the left field line, 2nd and 3rd no outs.

1-1 on Lee, last pitch looked like a clear strike. Pops out to right, almost dropped but Choo runs in to make the catch.

Intentionally walking Soto to load the bases so they can get the double play possibly. This is something we wouldn't have seen just a couple weeks ago. Make them pay Fox.

Fox drills the 1st pitch into left, but right at DeRosa. DeRosa throws home and it's on line, but Theriot makes a great slide to get around the tag, barely. 2-0 Cubs.

2-1 on Fukudome with runners on 1st and 2nd, 2 outs. Awful strike call to make the count 2-2 on a slider way outside. Now a slider outside too low this time, full count. Runners will be on the move with 2 outs. He takes a borderline pitch that's called a ball for the walk.

0-1 on Blanco with 2 outs and the bases loaded. Takes a big rip at a high fastball, 0-2. Flies out to right to end the inning.

Top of the 5th

Well the Cardinals were losing, then took a 8-4 lead in the 4th in Kansas City. Pujols with a grand slam in the inning, 25 homers, 67 RBI on the year. He's absolutely unreal. Brewers lose though, so the Cubs can gain ground on them at least.

Gimenez flies out to Bradley.

Francisco grounds out to Fox who makes a perfect throw to 1st. He's looking okay over there.

3-1 on Sowers, don't want to walk the pitcher. Swings and misses at a fastball, 3-2. Groundball that makes Lee range to his right and backhand it, Wells gets over to 1st quickly, and they just barely get the hustling Sowers again.

Randy Wells has qualified for the win. Of course, that's happened many times and the pen has blown his lead. The pen is spent after yesterday as well. 71 pitches, he'll likely go at least 2 more.

Bottom of the 5th

Randy Wells with a nice swing and lines a single just fair down the right field line.

Soriano chases a changeup way out of the zone for strike 1. Pulls a breaking ball outside and somehow gets it through the 3rd baseman and shortstop. 1st and 2nd no outs.

Theriot shows bunt, takes a ball low. Bunts through one, tried to bunt for a hit when he's just being asked to sacrifice. Theriot with a nice bunt to the 3rd baseman, 2nd and 3rd, 1 out.

1st pitch to Bradley gets away from Victor Martinez, but not nearly enough to try to score. Next pitch is low too, 2-0. Pitch just a bit high and outside, 3-0 now. 3-0 green light, fouls it off. Now he's hit by a pitch in the right elbow, appears to be okay though.

Bases loaded by Derrek Lee. Takes a fastball on the outside corner, 0-1. Offspeed pitch just a bit outside, 1-1. Derrek drills a single into left to give the Cubs a 3-0 lead, and give himself an 18-game hitting streak.

Bases still loaded, 1 out for Soto. 1-0 count. Soto seeing Sowers very well, rips a foul ball straight back. Full count now. RBI walk for Soto, 4-0 Cubs.

Bases loaded again for Jake Fox. Crushes it to deep right-center, bounces up against the wall, 2-run double. 6-0 Cubs.

That's it for Sowers. Indians bring in another lefty, Mike Gosling.

1-2 on Fukudome, runners on 2nd and 3rd. Takes strike 3 looking, 2 outs.

Intentionally walk Blanco to get to Wells who already has a hit in the inning.

Wells drills it to deep right-center but Choo runs it down. Looked like a bases-clearing double.

Well, if Wells can keep pitching like he is and the bullpen blows it again, he should just retire.

Top of the 6th

1st pitch located right on the corner but called a ball. Drills one into deep left, Soriano takes forever to get there, leadoff triple for Carroll.

DeRosa with a sacrifice fly to right on the 1st pitch, 6-1 now.

Victor lines out to Soriano in left, 2 outs.

Choo grounds a 1-0 pitch to Blanco. 1 run in, but Wells only had to throw 9 pitches in the inning, giving him 80 for the game. Have him go 8 at least, Lou.

Bottom of the 6th

Soriano and Theriot quickly retired.

Bradley lines one into the left-center field gap for his 2nd double of the game. .750 OPS now.

Lee with an 0-2 count. Pitch in the dirt, Lee with a check swing and doesn't think he went, the home plate umpire says he does, the ball gets away from the catcher and Lee would make it to 1st if he went right away, but his thrown out by a lot. Bradley sprints home and slides in, but it doesn't count of course because they got the out at 1st. Nice hustle though, love to see that. Lou is laughing in the dugout.

Top of the 7th

0-1 on Peralta. Flies out to Bradley on the track, 1 out.

Valbuena singles to right on a 3-1 count. He's ridiculous right now.

0-1 on Gimenez. 0-2 now as he swings through a good breaking ball. 2-2 count, Sean Marshall warming up in the bullpen. Slow groundball and Fox makes the play, 2 outs.

Francisco hits a roller that dies in between Wells and Soto, but they each just stare at each other. If either of them picks it up and throws to 1st, the inning is over.

Now Lou is taking out Wells, brings in the lefty Marshall to face the lefty pinch-hitter Hafner. I would've let Wells finish this inning.

1-1 on Hafner. A high bouncer that gets over Lee's head and into right field for an RBI single, 6-2 now.

Carroll grounds to Theriot, who flips to Blanco at 2nd for the force. Inning over.

Wells' line: 6.2 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K

Bottom of the 7th

Todd Hollandsworth did the 7th inning stretch.

Jensen Lewis in to pitch for the Indians. 1-2 on Soto who has homered and walked twice. Flies out to the wall in center.

Fox grounds out to 3rd.

Fukudome hits a groundball hard to 2nd base, but Carroll is right there to make the play.

Top of the 8th

Marshall still in. 2-2 on DeRosa. Lines one hard into the crowd, hope everybody's okay. Now DeRosa strikes out swinging. He's sporting the silver sombrero today.

Victor flies out softly to left, 2 down.

On the 7th pitch, Choo grounds out to Lee to end the inning.

Bottom of the 8th

If the Cubs can hold this lead in the 9th, Randy Wells will finally get his 1st major league victory. Hopefully they can add some insurance runs here.

Blanco singles to start the inning.

Hoffpauir pinch-hitting for Marshall. Drives one to right and Choo makes another nice play on the track in the well in right.

Soriano grounds into a 4-6-3 double play.

Top of the 9th

Jose Ascanio in to pitch.

1st pitch a fastball strike to Peralta. 2nd pitch is a slider that looks like a strike to me, but the umpire says ball 1. Another ball now, followed by a foul ball, 2-2. Nasty changeup that gets Peralta swinging.

1-0 on Valbuena. Changeup in for a strike, 1-1. 1-2 now as he swings and misses at another change. That's Ascanio's best pitch in my opinion, even with a 95 mph fastball. Throws another and Valbuena tries to hold his swing and does, even at 2-2. Valbuena gets another hit, lining a single to left.

2-0 now on Gimenez. 3-0 now. Gregg will surely come in if there's another ball here. And there it is.

Gregg in to face Francisco, 1st and 2nd, 1 out. 1st pitch in the dirt, runners advance. 2-0 now. Fastball on the corner, big call, 2-1. Fastball on the inside corner now, 2-2. And back to the outside corner for strike 3.

1-1 on Trevor Crowe. 1-2 as Crowe can't check his swing on a breaking ball. Fastball just misses, it did miss for sure. The crowd groans though. Grounds it foul down the right field line. Nasty curve that Crowe does a good job of making contact on, fouls another one off. Groundball up the middle and it looks like it's going to be a hit, Blanco backhands and throws running away from the direction he's throwing to, Lee makes a sensational dig and they get Crowe to end the game. CUBS WIN AND SWEEP THE INDIANS!

Randy Wells finally gets a win! He's doing the postgame interview and pretty excited.

4 wins in a row, and a 5-3 homestand. The Cubs needed this, and it was nice to get a less stressful win today that didn't have to be another incredible comeback. The Cubs gained ground on Milwaukee, just 1 back of them now, and up 1.5 games on the Reds as well. Cardinals appear to be headed to a win in Kansas City, so they'll stay up 2.5 games on the Cubs.

Very difficult road trip ahead, but hopefully the Cubs have some confidence going now and can keep swinging well on the road. Playing a makeup game for a rainout tomorrow night in Atlanta. It sounds like Lou is going to rest a lot of guys and Javier Vazquez is pitching for the Braves, so that won't be an easy one. Regardless, you can enjoy things right now after an incredibly fun last 4 games.

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I enjoy doing these "Random Retro Baseball Player" pieces over at Sharapova's Thigh, so I figured, why not do the same thing but focus on Cubs over here?

We'll include their best season as a Cub rather than their best season overall, and do the fun facts and whatnot with mainly a Cubs focus.

Obviously it's much less players to choose from, so don't expect to see too much in the Awards/Leaderboard categories from a lot of these guys. I just think it's fun to look back at some obscure players that might mean a little more to a Cubs fan than they would've for the average fan. Maybe it will bring back some nice memories of what they did as a Cub. Maybe you had some of their baseball cards. Maybe you're thrilled you don't have to see them in a Cubs uniform again.

Anyway, the first player we're going to look at in this series is Luis Salazar...

Years Played: 1980-1992.

Teams Played For: San Diego Padres(80-84, 87, 89), Chicago White Sox(85-86), Detroit Tigers(88), Chicago Cubs(89-92).

Positions: Third Base(863 Games), Left Field(161 Games), Shortstop(121 Games), Centerfield(114 Games), Right Field(36 Games), First Base(25 Games), Second Base(5 Games), Pitcher(2 Games).

Bats/Throws: Right/Right.

Career Line: .261 AVG, 438 R, 1070 H, 94 HR, 455 RBI, 117 SB, .293 OBP, .381 SLG, .673 OPS.

Best Cubs Season:

1991- .258 AVG, 34 R, 86 H, 14 HR, 38 RBI, 0 SB, 15 BB, 45 K, .292 OBP, .432 SLG, .725 OPS.

Awards/Leaderboard: 8th in the NL in hits in 1981 with 121.

Fun Facts: I have 1991 as the Venezuelan's best Cubs season, because he only had 84 plate appearances in 1989. However, he was more effective in '89, and helped the Cubs reach the playoffs.

The Cubs acquired him from the San Diego Padres on August 31st, in serious need of somebody to upgrade their third base position in the final weeks of the season. Luis had a great September, batting .326 with 12 RBI, and immediately became popular with Cubs fans. In the NLCS, he batted .368(7-19) with a home run and 2 RBI.

Although he rarely had much success at the plate, Luis found himself in the majors for so many years thanks in large part to his ability to play all over the field. He even pitched. The only position he didn't play was catcher.

He was a very good pinch-hitter in his career though, batting .308, with 4 home runs and 17 RBI.

He's still involved with baseball now, as he's the hitting coach for the popular minor league team, the Chattanooga Lookouts. He's served as the hitting coach for four other teams, including the at the major league level with the Milwaukee Brewers.

My Take: I started watching the Cubs on a lot in 1989, so right when Luis joined the team. Although I'll most remember guys like Andre Dawson, Ryne Sandberg, Mark Grace, Shawon Dunston, and Greg Maddux from those days, Luis Salazar always comes to mind.

Standing at just 5'9", along with having an outstanding mustache made Luis easy to remember if his efforts on the field weren't enough to.

He served a bit as a Mark DeRosa type for the Cubs, playing all over the place. Not much of an offensive game as you can see with the stats, but he had some decent pop and hit 30 homers in his few years on the team.

I'll most remember Harry Caray pronouncing his name, and incorrectly many times.

Link To Luis Salazar's Baseball-Reference Page


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Live Blog: Cubs vs. Indians 6/20/09

Posted by Matt Clapp | 6/20/2009 10:27:00 AM | , , ,

Game: Cleveland Indians(29-40) @ Chicago Cubs(32-31)
Game Time: 1:05 PM ET
TV: WGN

Pitching Matchup:

Cubs-
Ted Lilly(7-4, 2.94 ERA)
Indians- Tomo Ohka(0-1, 4.24 ERA)

Lineups:

Indians
1. Jamey Carroll, 2B (.273, 0 HR, 8 RBI, .708 OPS)
2. Jhonny Peralta, 3B (.256, 2 HR, 26 RBI, .680 OPS)
3. Victor Martinez, C (.342, 12 HR, 53 RBI, .976 OPS)
4. Shin-Soo Choo, RF (.299, 9 HR, 41 RBI, .872 OPS)
5. Ryan Garko, 1B (.258, 6 HR, 28 RBI, .780 OPS)
6. Ben Francisco, CF (.234, 5 HR, 23 RBI, .674 OPS)
7. Chris Gimenez, L (.200, 2 HR, 2 RBI, .894 OPS)
8. Luis Valbuena, SS (.204, 2 HR, 8 RBI, .649 OPS)
9. Tomo Ohka, P (N/A)

Cubs
1. Alfonso Soriano, LF (.229, 14 HR, 30 RBI, .740 OPS)
2. Ryan Theriot, SS (.279, 6 HR, 26 RBI, .754 OPS)
3. Milton Bradley, RF (.242, 5 HR, 16 RBI, .730 OPS)
4. Derrek Lee, 1B (.285, 10 HR, 33 RBI, .851 OPS)
5. Mike Fontenot, 3B (.235, 6 HR, 26 RBI, .714 OPS)
6. Kosuke Fukudome, CF (.260, 5 HR, 22 RBI, .807 OPS)
7. Koyie Hill, C (.241, 2 HR, 7 RBI, .732 OPS)
8. Andres Blanco, 2B (.220, 0 HR, 5 RBI, .565 OPS)
9. Ted Lilly, P (.100, 0 HR, 2 RBI, .329 OPS)

Indians vs. Lilly notables
Jamey Carroll- .300(3-10), 1 HR, 1.000 OPS
Victor Martinez- .375(3-8), 0 HR, .830 OPS

Cubs vs. Ohka notables
Derrek Lee- .350(7-20), 3 HR, 1.280 OPS
Alfonso Soriano- 1.000(2-2), 0 HR, 2.000 OPS


Mark DeRosa is out for the Indians today after banging his knee going for a foul ball down the left field line yesterday.

Pretty poor lineups for both teams, definitely not what these lineups would look like with healthy squads. Kosuke Fukudome is batting 6th for the Cubs and 0 for his last 23. Koyie Hill's also come back to earth it appears, as he's 4 for 27 in May and June.

The Cubs are coming off their 2 most exciting wins of the season, including a comeback yesterday against the Indians where they erased a 7-0 deficit.

Derrek Lee is red hot, has been since May started. He currently has a 16-game hitting streak and a 26-game on-base streak. As I posted, he's had success against Tomo Ohka in the past as well.

Top of the 1st

Lilly fires a strike to Carroll to start it, now Carroll grounds one foul down the 3rd base line. Wind blowing from the left field corner to the right field corner. Brenly: "If batting practice was any indication, buckle up. We're going to see some longballs today." We know Lilly is susceptible to giving up the longball as well. Right on cue, Carroll drills one off the wall in left-center for a double.

Fastball inside corner for a strike on Peralta. Peralta does the same thing, drills it off the left-center field wall for a double. 1-0 Indians. Not a good start for Lilly, leaving fastballs up.

Just like on Peralta, 86 mph fastball taken by the switch-hitting Martinez(batting right) for a strike on the inside corner. Curveball in for a strike, 0-2. Curveball fouled straight back. Martinez bounces out to Fontenot at 3rd, Peralta cannot advance.

Lilly with what may have been a low strike called a ball by the home plate umpire on the left-handed hitter Choo. Choo fouls off the next pitch, 1-1. Gets the low strike call this time on a fastball, 1-2. Choo doesn't like the call. Foul ball, then Lilly blows him away with a fastball. 2 down.

0-2 count on Garko. Hits a rocket on a bounce that Theriot backhands, and has plenty of time to throw to Lee for the 3rd out.

Lilly settled down after giving up 2 rockets. He's lucky each didn't leave the yard, and did a great job to leave Peralta at 2nd.

Bottom of the 1st

2-1 on Soriano who has reached base in all 3 plate appearances against Ohka coming into today. Swings and misses at a fastball, 2-2. Breaking ball high, full count. Soriano pops out to Carroll at 2nd base.

0-2 on Theriot. Theriot grounds out to Ohka on a 1-2 pitch.

Bradley grounds a 1-0 pitch into left field for a single. He has a 9-game hitting streak now, batting average up to .247.

Derrek Lee gets a nice hand from the crowd after his 2-homer game yesterday. Takes a couple pitches outside, 2-0 count. Lee broken bat blooper into right for a single, but awful baserunning from Bradley and he's thrown out at 3rd by quite a bit. Can't do that with 2 outs. Lee's hitting streak extends to 17 games though.

Top of the 2nd

On a 2-2 count, Ben Francisco crushes a double into center field. He was thinking triple but good relays from Fukudome and Blanco.

1-2 on Gimenez. Flies out to Fukudome in center, not deep enough for Francisco to advance.

Valbuena drives it deep to center, Fukudome makes a running catch near the track. 2 outs. Indians are hitting the ball a long way so far in this one, and that's not a good sign with the wind today.

The switch-hitting pitcher Ohka takes a strike. 139 career hitter. Takes another, both fastballs right down the middle. Swings and misses at another one.

Indians have had a runner at 2nd with no outs 3 times, but only scored once.

Bottom of the 2nd

Fontenot with an 0-2 count. Strikes out looking.

3-0 count on Fukudome. On 3-1, Fukudome takes a breaking ball for ball 4.

Koyie takes a ball. 1-2 count. Takes strike 3 looking. Teams are throwing him a lot more breaking balls, as they should be, and as a result, he's not hitting.

Blanco grounds out on the 1st pitch.

Top of the 3rd

Carroll pops out to left field.

Fontenot with a diving catch on a liner down the 3rd base line, terrific play.

Victor grounds out to Theriot to end the inning.

Lilly needed that inning.

Bottom of the 3rd

Lilly pops up into foul territory on the 1st pitch, Garko makes a great catch lunging over the tarp.

2-1 on Soriano. Flies out to fairly deep center.

Theriot singles up the middle with 2 outs.

2-0 on Bradley. Takes a fastball for a strike, 2-1. Theriot dives back on a pickoff throw and must've gotten hit by the throw, he's in pain. He's going to stay in and looks alright now though. 3-1 on Bradley. Grounds out to 2nd to end the inning.

Top of the 4th

Choo with a bunt in a perfect location as he gets it past Lilly for a single.

1-1 on Garko. Big hack by Garko and he fouls a fastball straight back, 1-2. Changeup way outside swung on and missed by Garko for the 1st out.

Fastball just low, 1-0 on Francisco. Now a breaking ball in for a strike. That was pitch #50 for Lilly. Fastball high, 2-1. Fastball inside taken for a strike, 2-2. Curveball high, barely. Full count. Rocket one hopper fielded by Fontenot... 5-4-3 double play.

Bottom of the 4th

Lee fouls back a 1-1 pitch, 1-2 now. Slider outside to even the count. Now a good take on one that just missed, full count. Ball 4 inside. 1st leadoff man on for the Cubs today.

Fontenot fouls off the 1st pitch. Swings and misses at a change, 0-2. Strikes out looking on a breaking ball for the 2nd time today. He didn't like the call.

Fukudome hits a groundball hard right at Garko, Garko throws to 2nd, and Valbuena flat out drops it. Lee was just going in for a take out slide, about crawled to 2nd to get in there safely. Should've been a double play, instead no outs on the play. 1st and 2nd, 1 out.

Koyie sees a breaking ball on the 1st pitch, fouls it off. Takes a changeup low, 1-1. Grounds out weakly to Garko, runners advance to 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs.

They're going to intentionally walk Blanco here with the base open and Lilly on deck.

Lilly strikes out looking.

Top of the 5th

Ball 1 to Gimenez. Breaking ball in for a strike to even the count. Foul ball, and now chases a changeup for strike 3.

1-1 on Valbuena, who has really hit the ball hard the last 2 days. 3-1 count now. And he just hit one about out of the stadium, 2-0 Indians.

Ohka grounds out up the middle to Theriot, 2 outs.

On a full count and the 9th pitch of the at bat, Carroll flies out to center.

Bottom of the 5th

I like the Cubs to get on the board here.

Soriano fouls back a fastball. Fastball just misses inside, 1-1. A meatball now, Soriano fouls it off. When he's hot, that's gone. 2-2 now. Pulls an outside breaking ball to Peralta at 3rd for the 1st out.

Theriot lays down a bunt and probably would've been out if Ohka could've fielded it cleanly, but didn't, and it's the 2nd single of the day for Theriot.

Cutter inside on Bradley, 1-0. Another one in for a strike this time. Great cut on a breaking ball and fouls it straight back. One more of those and this might be tied. Broken bat floater right to Carroll. I thought it was a single off the bat but it didn't go anywhere.

Lee fouls the 1st pitch off. And... yardwork. Deep into right-center field, just got it up high and the wind did the rest. Not sure if it leaves on a normal day, but way out today. 2-2.

Derrek Lee is just unreal right now. 4 homers in 3 games. 4 homers in his last 8 at bats, 6 hits in those 8 at bats. Average up to .292 and OPS up to .879, both incredible considering his awful April.

Fontenot pops out to Peralta in foul territory.

Top of the 6th

And just like that, Indians regain the lead, 3-2. Jhonny Peralta just hit one a mile.

Victor Martinez fouls out to Lee.

Choo strikes out swinging.

2-2 now on Garko. Garko with a violent swing, stumbles out of the box, and looks like he's hurting. Comes back in, and strikes out swinging on the next pitch.

Lilly can go one more at least, just 87 pitches.

Bottom of the 6th

Fukudome rips one to right, Choo runs it down and throwsa rocket to 2nd, but Fukudome beats it, barely. Throw dropped anyway. Fukudome had been 0 for his last 24.

1-0 on Hill. 2-1 now. Now the breaking ball, and he whiffs of course, 2-2. Gets another one but up in the zone, does the job, hitting a groundball to Garko that moves Fukudome to 3rd.

Blanco with bad pitch selection on 1-0, taps back to Ohka and Fukudome can't score.

Now the Cubs have to pinch-hit for Lilly to try to get this run in. Hoffpauir up. 2-0 count. 3-1 now. Hoffpauir with a huge swing on 3-1 on a hanger, misses it. Now he gets it again, and doesn't miss. 2-run bomb, Cubs lead 4-3!

Brenly called that one.

0-2 on Soriano. And now Lilly qualifies for the win thanks to the guy that pinch-hit for him. Ohka misses his spot terribly, and Alf flies out near the track in right.

Top of the 7th

Jose Ascanio in. 0-2 on Francisco, now a groundball just foul down the left field line. Angel Guzman is out with sore triceps, not considered serious though. 95 mph fastball misses from Ascanio, 1-2. 2-2 count, pops out to Blanco in shallow right.

2-1 on Gimenez. Full count, fastball just outside and Gimenez walks.

2-1 on Valbuena. Barely gets a piece of it and it's 2-2. Singles on a groundball to right, 1st and 2nd, 1 out.

Travis Hafner pinch-hitting for the Indians. Sean Marshall will come in to pitch to get the lefty-lefty matchup. Hafner in this wind scares the crap out of me. 1-0 count. Fouls the next 2 off, 1-2 count. Pops it up to shallow center, drops right in between Fukudome and Theriot. Bases loaded, 1 out.

Now Lou is bringing in Marmol? I hate this move. Marmol's all over the place these days, especially to the 1st hitter. With the bases loaded, you can't have that as obviously it means a run.

Slider in for a strike to Carroll, good start. Fastball way high and way inside, almost got Carroll in the head. 1-1 count. Fastball high again, 2-1. 3-1 now. Sigh. Fastball in the zone, fouled back. Full count now. Crowd on their feet. Carroll swung at ball 4 and fouled it off. Slider in for a strike! That's the old Marmol. 2 outs now, bases still loaded and Peralta up who hit a bomb last time.

0-1 on Peralta as he takes a slider for a strike. Another one just misses, and he checks his swing as well. 1-1. Groundball foul, 1-2. Crowd is REALLY into it now. Next pitch way outside, 2-2. Slider somehow didn't hit Peralta, 3-2. And a slider way outside, walks in the tying run, 4-4.

Victor Martinez chases a slider down and in, 0-1. 1-1 now. 2-1. Martinez right on it, foul it straight back, 2-2. Strikes out swinging at a slider to end the inning.

Bottom of the 7th

George Lopez sang the 7th inning stretch.

Jensen Lewis in for the Tribe. Theriot pops out right away into shallow right.

1-1 on Bradley. 3-1 now. Ball 4.

Lee up with a runner on base is something I'm quite happy to see right now. Fastball on the outside corner for a strike. Fastball high, 1-1. Huge swing on a breaking ball in his eyes, comes up empty, 1-2. Fastball just misses on the corner, 2-2. High fastball, swings and misses for strike 3.

Fontenot grounds it up the middle and Carroll gets to it standing up, flips to 2nd base for the force to end the inning.

Top of the 8th

The Cubs really needed to get a run or two across there. Now they'll have Fukudome, Hill, and Blanco up in the bottom of the 8th. Lou needs to pinch-hit Soto for Hill, with Jake Fox now available as a #3/emergency catcher. He was a catcher in college and has caught a lot in the minors so if Soto were to get hurt, I'm sure he could handle the position for a few innings.

Aaron Heilman in to pitch, Aaron Mile in to play 3rd, replacing Fontenot. Miles will bat in the #9 spot, so now it will be Fukudome, Hill, Blanco, Miles coming up. Fun!

2-2 on Choo. Change is outside, 3-2. Choo walks. He's an incredible base stealer so that's something Heilman certainly wanted to avoid. I think he's like 12 of 12 this year.

Garko showing bunt though. Ball 1. Garko with a pretty nice bunt for a middle of the order American League hitter, gets the job done. Choo on 2nd, 1 out.

Heilman with 2 fastballs just missing inside, 2-0. Low fastball strike, Francisco doesn't like it, has a word with the umpire and is laughing. 2-1. Groundball hit hard and pulled foul into the Cubs bullpen, even at 2-2. Fastball called a ball inside, looked pretty good to me. Now the walk.

1st and 2nd with 1 out, Mark DeRosa pinch-hitting. Slider outside, 1-0. 2-1 count, swings and misses at a fastball, 2-2. 2-2 pitch a hanger, DeRosa ripped it back foul. Don't throw it there again. Perfectly located fastball on the outside corner gets DeRosa looking. DeRosa doesn't like the call.

1-0 on Babe Valbuena. 1-1 now. 3-1 count, Heilman really struggling with his command. Another walk, 3rd of the inning.

Catcher Kelly Shoppach pinch-hitting here. Slider on the corner for a strike. Another swung on and missed, 0-2 count. Crowd on their feet again. Strikes him out, inning over.

A very Marmolish inning from Heilman.

Bottom of the 8th

Again, I want to see Soto pinch-hitting for Hill.

Shoppach stays in the game to catch, Victor Martinez moves to 1st, and Matt Herges is the new pitcher.

2-0 on Fukudome, takes a meatball for a strike. Singles into left.

Hill is batting, I hope to bunt then because he's not going to get a hit. Not the greatest bunt back to the pitcher, but Herges elects to get the safe out at 1st, so it's effective. Nice work Koyie. Runner on 2nd, 1 out.

Blanco swings at a changeup way outside on the 1st pitch. Blanco pops it up and Shoppach makes a nice play to catch it right in between the stands and dugout, had really no room to make that play. 2 outs.

Aaron Miles batting. Takes a ball low, now a strike. 1-1 pitch in the dirt, 2-1. Valbuena has Miles played perfectly on a groundball up the middle, inning over. I thought it was a hit off the bat.

Top of the 9th

Aaron Heilman will likely stay in.

He is indeed in, and starts Carroll off with a fastball strike. Another one, much better than he looked last inning. Singles into left, Soriano limping as he goes for it.

Peralta showing bunt, takes a ball. Pops a bunt out of play. Another foul bunt. He'll be swinging now. Foul ball down the right field line. Kerry Wood warming up for the Indians should they take the lead. Fastball high, 2-2. Changeup or splitter gets Peralta swinging.

Victor Martinez up. As Len says, "I don't like seeing that he's 0 for 4." He's due. 2-0 count, yikes. I hope it's still 4-4 after this at bat. 2-1 count, and he pops one out of play, 2-2. Might see Carroll running here. Grounds out to 2nd but only play is at 1st, 2 outs.

Intentionally walking Choo as I hoped they would here.

Trevor Crowe pinch-hitting for Ryan Garko. Vince Vaughn looks nervous in the stands. 1-1 on Crowe. Crowe pops out to Miles right by the stands and dugout to end the inning.

Very questionable move by Eric Wedge there. Ryan Garko is ten times the hitter. He was hurting on a swing earlier though, so maybe that had something to do with it.

Top of the 9th

Top of the order up for the Cubs.

Herges still in, throws a ball to Soriano. 2-0 count. 2-2 now as Soriano takes a couple of strikes. Foul ball now. Angel Guzman warming up, so apparently he's available. Soriano grounds out to 3rd, nice play by Peralta on a tough hop.

Theriot grounds out to shortstop.

Bradley is 4 for 8 in his career against Herges. Big hack and misses, 0-1. Check swing, Randy Marsh at 3rd says he went around. Bradley flies out near the track in center to end the inning.

We're off to the extras for the 7th time in June.

Top of the 10th

Guzman in to pitch, sporting the Gregg/Ascanio goggles. We'll see how his arm is feeling today.

94 mph fastball swing and a miss by Francisco right away. 91 mph slider upstairs, 1-1. Groundball to Miles at 3rd, tough bounce again there like Peralta got, but Miles fields it cleanly and makes the throw to 1st.

Josh Barfield pinch-hitting for the Indians. 2-0 count, Guzman doesn't have much command of his cutter/slider today. Now a fastball right on the corner called a ball, bad call. 3-0. Even Gameday agrees with me. Full count now. Flies out to Bradley in right, 2 outs.

0-1 on Valbuena. Grounds out to 2nd.

Bottom of the 10th

Lee leading off for the Cubs.

Sidewinder Joe Smith in for the Indians, he struck Lee out yesterday. Fastball outside. Slider high, 2-0. Fastball just misses, 3-0. Fastball down the middle taken for a strike, now swings and misses at a slider, full count. Drills one into deep right, caught by Choo on the track. Even Lee's outs are rockets right now.

Reed Johnson up, 2-0 count. Fastball on the corner, now a slider inside, 3-1. Reed draws a walk.

Good game for Fukudome, reaching base 3 times so far. Takes a ball low and outside to start this at bat. Scorches one into center for his 3rd hit of the day. 1st and 2nd, 1 out.

Koyie takes a change for a strike, questionable call. Now he takes a fastball right down the middle, have to take a swing at that. 2-2 count now. Koyie right on a Smith fastball on a foul ball. Takes a slider right down the middle for strike 3.

Blanco swings at a pitch way inside. Now gronds out to 2nd to end the inning.

Top of the 11th

Shoppach flies out to Fukudome on the 1st Guzman offering.

1-1 on Carroll. 96 mph fastball strikes out Carroll looking, 2 down. Good to see Guzman's apparently feeling just fine.

1-2 for Peralta. Strikes out, inning over.

Bottom of the 11th

Miles bunts foul. Zambrano on deck. Miles drives it to right, but as Len points out, the wind has died down quite a bit.

Zambrano batting. A rare check swing from Carlos on a pitch in the dirt, now takes a fastball right down the middle. Backdoor slider high. Fastball inside that Z awkwardly moves away from, now an awkward swing on a foul ball. Another check swing! This time he doesn't go around, full count. He strikes out looking. Rare that he looks at 2 strikes in an at bat.

Theriot flies out to right. Choo left his feet and got it like laying down for probably the 3rd time in these 2 games.

Top of the 12th

Again, Victor is due. He's 0 for 5. Facing new pitcher Kevin Gregg now. An "excuse me" swing on a slow roller to Lee.

2-2 on Choo. Full count, and he walks. He's walked in his last 3 plate appearances.

0-2 on Crowe. Gregg locating his fastball well on the outside to lefties. Groundball up the middle that appears to be a hit, Theriot cuts it off, flips to Blanco, who fires to Lee for the double play. This was a sensational turn that is difficult to describe.

Bottom of the 12th

Lefty Rafael Perez in for the Indians. He's been awful this year and with Bradley, Lee, and Reed up, this is a good chance for the Cubs to win it.

Bradley bounces the 1st pitch foul. Loses his bat into the crowd on the 2nd swing, now swings and misses on a slider down and in. That last pitch was a nasty slider, but our idiot fans of course boo him. Seriously, I'm embarrassed to be a fan of this team sometimes with all of the absolute dumbasses we have as a part of this fan base. What a joke.

Lee pops out on a 2-0 pitch right down the middle and he's very angry at himself as it's a pitch he's been hammering lately. Just missed it.

Reed now with a 1-2 count. He also goes down swinging on the slider to end the inning.

Top of the 13th

David Patton in to pitch and Jake Fox in to play left. Neither ideal choices, but this is the sort of stuff you have to do when you get this late in the game.

1-1 to Francisco, hits a high flyball to center, but the ball doesn't seem to be carrying as well as it was earlier. Fukudome makes an easy catch.

Rafael Perez batting, strikes out.

0-2 on Valbuena. And he of course hits a homer to left-center, an opposite field homer for Valbuena. Unbelievable. He had 1 homer coming into this series, 3 in the last 2 days. Indians lead 5-4.

Bottom of the 13th

Kerry Wood in for the Indians, and you know he wants to make up for yesterday.

Fastball in for a strike to Fukudome. Just low on another, 1-1. Low again, 2-1. Fukudome drills another single, his 4th hit in his last 4 at bats.

1-0 on Hill. Hill fouls it off. Ball 2 is in the dirt and Fukudome could've advanced but didn't get a good read on it. 2-1 count. 3-1 count now. Fouls off ball 4. Swings at ball 4 again, but Fukudome running and Shoppach throws it into center. Fukudome at 3rd with 1 out.

Shoppach redeems himself a bit with a big dig on a pitch in the dirt. 1-0 count. Blanco singles into center, TIED GAME!

Blanco running, Miles bloops it down the left field line and it's fair, Blanco to 3rd with 1 out.

Ball 1 to Jake Fox. -Crushes- one foul down the left field line. Wild pitch! Cubs win!!!!!!!!!


Another unbelievable win. These last 3 days have been a blast. I credit it to the Thigh twitter account. I switched over from the Blogfines twitter account at the beginning of the bottom of the 8th, when the Cubs then came back to beat the White Sox. I've stuck on it since. The Thigh magic is real.

Let's get a sweep tomorrow.

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