58-40 2 GMs up on the St. Louis, 3 up on Milwaukee
The Week that Was:
Game 1- There were a whole lot of Cubs in the AS game, so I'll count that as game 1. I'll start with saying that the best part of the game was that I was in Mexico and didn't have to listen to Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. Now onto the game: The Cubs pitching was yay. Carlos Zambrano pitched 2 efficient innings, giving up only a hit, striking out Alex Rodriguez, getting Derrek Jeter to GIDP, and picking off Milton Bradley, all on only 20 pitches. Ryan Dempster pitched an inning, K'ing 3. Which makes him the first AS pitcher to K 3 in the 9th inning or later in a while. Carlos Marmol came on a corrected his woes. Marmol, who was very excited to be an AS, hopefully will use it to boost confidence and regain his former uber- dominating self. The hitters on the other hand did disapoint. Aramis was the only to reach base, before being lifted by pinch-runner Cristian Guzman, who had to replace AmRam at 3rd even though he had never played at 3rd before in his career. The NL ended up losing the 15th from a combination of bad preformences by Clint Hurdle, Edinson Volquez, Billy Wagner, Dan Uggla and Brad Lidge.
Game 2- Coming into the game the Cubs knew they could count on Jim Edmonds to provide offense, having crushing Brian Moehlr in his career. Unfortunately for the Cubs that was the only offense they could record. The team managed only 4 hits, 1 BB and 1 R, a Jim Edmonds 5th inning HR (11). But the Cubs remained in the game with a nice preformence by Ted Lilly (7 IP 6 K 2 BB 1 ER). After a Miguel Tejada leadoff 2b in the 9th of Bob Howry, Hunter Pence ended the game in walkoff fashon. The Cubs lose 1-2
Game 3- I cannot comment much on the game, other than what I can decipher from the box score. But when the only runs come off the bat of your pitcher (Zambrano's 2nd HR on the year) and you draw 0 walks, it's going to be a long day. Unfortunately for the Cubs, their starting pitching couldn't keep them in this game. Z had one of his worst outings of the season, walking 6. Bright spots for the Cubs include a 3-4 preformence by Ryan Theriot and 1.2 scoreless innings by Chad Gaudin, who has allowed only 1 baserunner in his last 4.2 IP. Cubs lose 4-1
Game 4- The offense woke up today, it wasn't the offense of the first half of the season as they still drew 0 walks. 3 RBI days from Derrek Lee and Mike Fontenot, including Fontenot's 8th HR of the season off of Brandon Backe, were plenty for Cubs starter Ryan Dempster. Dempster recorded his first road victory of the season,.going 8 scoreless innings, walking only 1 while striking out 7. Mike in now hitting .371 in Jult with 4 HRs. Carlos Marmol threw a scoreless inning in his first outing since the break.
Deedsy's prediction: Uh well he did get Demp winning, but not much more than that.
The Week that Will Be: The Cubs face 2 teams that they struggle with. First they travel to Chase Field to take on the Diamondbacks. Which of course means that I have tickets. Unfortunately for the Cubs, they struggle in Chase winning only 3 of their last 13 games there, including games 1 and 2 of last year's NLDS, both games I attended. Actually I can't remember the last Cub game I attented that they won. I know I have seen them win before, but my overall record at Cub games is not good. But enough about me, the Cubs get lucky and miss Dan Haren and Brandon Webb, although I'm sure Bob Melvin is just as happy that he misses Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster.
Game 1: Rich Harden vs. Randy Johnson. Something tells me that this game will be a strikeout-fest. Harden is making his 2nd start in a Cub uniform, after throwing a masterful 10-K 0 ER outing, that ended up as a ND. Harden hasn't faced any of the Diamondbacks, other than Orlando Hudson (2-8), more than 3 times. Johnson hasn't faced the Cubs since 2004, having been held out of a rain-delayed start earlier in the season. The Big Unit has been hot and cold all season, including a very nice 10-K outing on July 6th. At one point the Dbacks lost 8 straight starts of his. He has given up 7 runs in 3 out of his last 6 starts and holds a 5.23 ERA. Reed Johnson (.417) will surely get the start, probably holding Kosuke Fukudome out of the lineup.
Game 2: Jason Marquis vs. Micah Owings. I wish we could've have witnessed the Carlos Zambrano vs. Owings matchup for obvious reasons, but I get Marquis instead. Marquis has turned in 3 straight QS on the road. Marquis has had success against all Dbacks except Chris Young (3-6 3 HR). Owings has fallen off since April. He boasts a 5.48 home ERA and has even been implimated in the pen in 2 out of his last 3 outings. No Cub has seen Owings more than 4 times.
Game 3: Ted Lilly vs. Doug Davis. Lilly is coming off a very good preformence against the Astros (see above) and had a 7 IP 1 ER 10 K preformence against Arizona earlier in the year. No Dbacks has hit Lilly well. Davis is right up there with Josh Hamilton and Jon Lester in terms of feel good stories of the year, but the Cubs will look to put another L in his record. Davis is 5-2 with a 3.89 ERA against the Cubs in the last 3 years and Lee, Ramirez and Edmonds have all hit multiple HRs off of him. Alfonso Soriano has probably had the most success against him, and Soriano could be back depending on his workouts at Fitch Park are.
The Cubs then head back to Wrigley to face the Marlins. The Cubs have lost their last 10 against the Marlins, and other bad things have happened against the fish including Adam Greenburg's only ML AB and well you know what else. The Cubs will look to avenge those loses with a 4 game set against the 3rd place yet only .5 GMs out of first surprise Marlins.
Game 4: Carlos Zambrano vs. Scott Olsen. Olsen has been a good starter for the Marlins on the year (3.84 ERA) but has posted a mediocure 4.93 ERA on the road. He's won his last 2 starts, and Aramis Ramirez (4-9 HR) has hit him well. Luis Gonzalez (5-16) and Wes Helms (4-10) both hit Z decently, although neither has ever gotten an Extra base hit against him.
Game 5: Ryan Dempster vs. Josh Johnson. Dempster looks to rebound off his first home loss of the season. The former Marlin all-star will look to shut down Hanley Ramirez and the two Marlins who have had success against him. Ironically those 2 are Gonzalez and Helms (both are hitting .500 or better against Demp). The 6'7" righty of the Marlins has only made 2 starts for the club, both Marlins victories. The only Cub who has had any success against him is Jon Lieber. But then again he's only faced Aramis, Lieber and Soriano (1-7).
Game 6: Rich Harden vs. Chris Volstad. Harden faced the Marlins earlier in the year, a 5.2 IP 1 ER ND. Volstad is another 6'7" Marlins righy, but is only 21 and only making the 2nd start of his career. His first one was a gem, 8.2 IP 1 ER W against the Dodgers. But they aren't exactly the best offense in the NL, like the Cubs are.
Game 7: Jason Marquis vs. Mark Hendrickson. Marquis, who has struggles at home will look to beat a team he's struggles with in the past. Jermie Hermida and Hanley Ramirez hit him well. Hendrickson, who was demoted from the rotation, is filling in for injured Andrew Miller. He's posted a 6.09 ERA and has been equally bad at home and on the road. Reed Johnson is 12-30 against him. Continuing the trend of tall pitchers, he's 6'9".
Prediction: I like Harden to get his first 2 wins as a Cub, and for Geovany Soto to hit multiple HRs. Alfonso Soriano returns and goes 2-5 in his first game back with a 2b. Cubs take 2 out of 3 from the Dbacks and 3 of 4 from the Marlins, losing the final game in each series.