June 2010

6/30 Cubs' Hill: "We believe"

Despite Wednesday’s 2-0 loss to the Pirates, which dropped the Cubs to 10-games below .500, the players remained optimistic.

“There’s always time,” pitcher Tom Gorzelanny said. “There’s definitely a lot of baseball to be played. We need to get going, we need to win some games here. There’s definitely a lot of baseball to be played and there’s a lot of crazy things that have happened before and there’s no reason for us to panic or worry or believe that we could be some miracle team because we’re a good team and we can put what’s been going on behind us.”

Said Koyie Hill: “We believe in each other, big time.”

Said Alfonso Soriano: “There’s a lot of games left — there’s three months. I know the first three months have not been very good for us. I believe in this team because there’s a lot of great players and a lot of great teammates, also.”

The reality is, the Cubs haven’t won consecutive games since June 16-17 vs. Oakland. They’re now 1-9 in the last 10 series. They’ve now played 43 games decided by two or fewer runs and are 16-27 in those games. In the last 11 games, they’ve scored three or fewer runs, including one run or less in six of those games.

“It’s not like we’re not giving an effort or we’re playing dumb baseball,” Hill said. “I could see if we were taking crazy swings and everybody was up there trying to hit a homer but that’s not the case.”

— Carrie Muskat



6/30 Salute

The Jesse White Tumblers and the Jesse White Drum Corps performed at Wrigley Field before Wednesday’s game. Chicago Cubs Charities then presented a check for $4,000 to the group to help purchase new drums after some equipment was destroyed in a flood. It was a rousing pre-game — and Marlon Byrd was among those watching the acrobatic kids.

— Carrie Muskat

6/30 Backing each other up

Koyie Hill was back behind the plate Wednesday for the second straight game, the third time this season he’s started consecutive games.

“I’ve said before, it’s no secret I enjoy playing,” Hill said. “But I also enjoy watching [Geovany Soto] play, too. He’s a great talent. I even voted for him for the All-Star Game [on the players’ ballots], so I have no problem caddying for him.”

Did Soto vote for Hill?

“No — he didn’t want his voting rights to be revoked,” Hill said, laughing.

Soto has started 54 of the Cubs’ games, while Wednesday was Hill’s 24th start behind the plate.

— Carrie Muskat 

6/30 Minor matters

Thomas Diamond gave up one hit over four scoreless innings in Iowa’s 7-0 rain-shortened game against New Orleans. Diamond did walk five but struck out seven.

Brett Jackson had his third consecutive multi-hit game, going 2-for-5, in Tennessee’s 4-3, 10-inning loss to West Tenn. Austin Bibens-Dirkx gave up one run on three hits over six innings and struck out seven.

Rebel Ridling hit his fifth home run in Daytona’s 6-3 win over Brevard County. DJ LeMahieu posted his fourth multi-hit game in his last six, going 2-for-4. He has 11 RBIs in his last four games. Michael Brenly had two hits.

Nelson Perez hit his second homer in Peoria’s 5-3 loss to Burlington. Matt Cerda had two hits. Class A Boise won it’s third straight as Juan Yasser Serrano gave up two runs on three hits over five innings in a 5-2 win over Eugene. Chad Noble hit his first home run in Mesa’s 5-3 loss to the Athletics.

— Carrie Muskat

6/30 Lineup Wed vs. Pirates

Mike Fontenot is starting at second base Wednesday in the Cubs’ series finale against the Pirates and Koyie Hill is behind the plate for a second day. Here’s the lineup:

RF Fukudome

2B Fontenot

CF Byrd

1B Lee

3B Ramirez

LF Soriano

C Hill

SS Castro

P Gorzelanny

— Carrie Muskat

6/29 Rookie relief

The Cubs now have four rookies in the bullpen in James Russell, Andrew Cashner, Jeff Stevens and Brian Schlitter. They used seven rookie relievers in 2006: Rich Hill, Juan Mateo, Angel Guzman, Carlos Marmol, Les Walrond, Jae Kuk Ryu, and David Aardsma.

Entering this season, the last time four rookies pitched out of the ‘pen in a game for
the Cubs was Sept. 30, 2006 when Ryu, Aardsma, Guzman and Walrond all appeared in relief. Those four were among 10 Cubs pitchers in an 11-9 loss to the Rockies. Mateo started that game.

According to baseball historian Ed Hartig, the last time four rookies pitched out of the ‘pen in the same game for the Cubs in a non-September expanded roster period was June 7, 1971. 
Ray Newman, Bill Bonham, Earl Stephenson and Ron Tompkins pitched in relief against the Pirates in an 11-6 loss at Wrigley Field.

— Carrie Muskat

6/29 No lollygagging

The Cubs have notched 48 quality starts, second in the NL and third in baseball. But they’re 19-14 in those games with 15 no decisions. The lack of offense has made it tough on the pitchers.

“You’ve got to play perfect games,” Lou Piniella said. “Truthfully, not too many teams are capable of playing perfect games and on an every night basis it’s nearly impossible.”

Any error, any misplay, any mistake will cost a team.

“We continue to struggle offensively, it’s going to be hard to win baseball games,” Piniella said. “I’m not trying to sugar coat it, I’m not trying to lollygag it, I’m telling you the truth. You’ve got to score runs and if you don’t, it’s a struggle. [Monday] night we had chances and just didn’t take advantage of it. We lost a tough ballgame. Put five, six runs on the board, and you won’t talk about anything except what a good ballgame we pitched and what a good ballgame we played.”

Piniella has had to answer the same questions over and over. He joked that on Wednesday, he’d do the asking. We’ll see.

— Carrie Muskat


6/29 Soriano to Z: Call me

Alfonso Soriano has tried three times to reach teammate Carlos Zambrano and had no luck but planned to try again Friday.

“Just in case he answers,” Soriano said.

Zambrano was placed on the restricted list Tuesday. He was to meet Wednesday in New York with doctors selected by Major League Baseball and the Players Association to help the Cubs pitcher deal with anger issues. What type of counseling he will receive or program he’ll be placed on will then be determined. He will not rejoin the Cubs until after the All-Star break.

“I’m very happy that he has somebody to help him,” Soriano said, “and I hope when he comes back he can be 100 percent and help the team win.”

Soriano tried to call Zambrano after the tantrum happened at U.S. Cellular Field but had the wrong number. He tried again Sunday, but Zambrano didn’t answer.

“Sometimes he can’t control his emotions,” Soriano said. “That’s his problem, but other than that he’s a great guy. I hope everybody gives him support because he’s part of the team.”

The Cubs now need to focus on the National League Central. They entered play Tuesday 9 1/2 games back.

“We have a lot of things to do,” Soriano said. “We’re not playing good right now and we have to find a way to play better.”

— Carrie Muskat

6/29 Lineup & roster moves

James Russell and Jeff Stevens rejoined the Cubs on Tuesday while John Grabow was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a moderate sprain of his left knee and Carlos Zambrano was placed on the restricted list. Both Russell and Stevens arrived in time for Tuesday’s game vs. the Pirates. Marlon Byrd is getting a breather. Here’s the lineup:

RF Fukudome

2B Theriot

1B Lee

3B Ramirez

CF Colvin

LF Soriano

C Hill

SS Castro

P Lilly

— Carrie Muskat

6/29 Pregame notes & roster moves

The Cubs have been involved in 29 one-run games in their first 76 games this season. According to Elias Sports Bureau, the last time the Cubs had that many one-run games in the first 76 contests was 2000 when the team played 30 one-run games.

* Cubs starting pitchers have 48 quality starts, second in the NL and third in baseball. The starters have a 19-14 record and 2.20 ERA in those games with 15 no decisions. Carlos Silva and Ryan Dempster lead the team with 11 quality starts each.

* Brian Schlitter is the ninth rookie to play for the Cubs this year. The list includes Starlin Castro, Tyler Colvin, Justin Berg, Esmailin Caridad, Andrew Cashner, Jeff Gray, James Russell, Jeff Stevens and Schlitter.

Speaking of Russell, the lefty appears to be the latest pitcher called up from Iowa. He will take John Grabow’s spot on the 25-man roster. Grabow is headed to the DL for the second time after re-injuring his left knee Monday night. Jeff Stevens also will be added to take Carlos Zambrano’s spot with Big Z going on the restricted list.

— Carrie Muskat