Since Donbedouin is gone to Mexico he has asked me to do the state of the Cubs for him for this week and I have gladly accepted so here you go everybody.
57-38 first place 4.5 games up on the Cardinals, 5 up on the Brewers, and owners of the best record in baseball at the break.
The week that was:
Well what a week it was as the Cubs headed home after a long 10 game road trip that featured a bad beginning, but a great ending in winning 2 out of 3 from our closet followers. The Cubs where back at home to play three against the Reds and three against the Giants. However before any games where to take place some big news would occur. It all started on Sunday when the Brewers completed a trade to bring CC Sabathia to Milwaukee a move that prompted many Brewers fans mainly to now favor the Brewers. However Jim Hendry didn’t wait long on Tuesday afternoon it was announced that he completed a trade to bring the Cubs another ace of there own in Rich Harden and also reliever Chad Gaudin. You can read my thoughts on the this trade on my blog here it is the latest entry after this one.
Now let’s get on to the week’s analysis as it was a big week.
Game 1- On Tuesday night the Cubs played the opener of the brief home stand. A game that featured a pitching match up of Aaron Harang for the Reds and Cub all star Ryan Dempster. The Cubs got on the board early with a pair of sac flies in the 2nd and the 3rd innings. After the Reds scored one back in the 4th the Cubs where able to drive Harang from the game with a pair of 2 run homers by Geovany Soto and Mike Fontenot in the 4th and 5th. After all that Ryan Dempster went on cruise control as he went on to pitch 7 innings giving up only 2 hits, 4 walks and allowing the 1 run while striking out 5. Cotts and Marmol combined for a scoreless 8th. Howry had a few problems in the 9th, but was eventually able to finish the game and preserve a Cubs 7-3 win.
Game 2- Wednesday saw game 2 as the Cubs had Carlos Zambrano going against the Reds Johnny Cueto in what would turn out be one of Carlos Zambrano’s best pitching performances ever. Carlos gave up 1 hit which happened to be a home run by Adam Dunn, walked nobody, and striked out 5 in 8 innings. Carlos could have easily pitched the 9th inning however Lou opted for Carlos Marmol with the Cubs holding a 5-1 lead. Marmol got a couple of quick outs, but thanks to a pair of walks and an infield hit he loaded the bases and forced Lou to bring in Kerry Wood. Kerry was able to get Brandon Phillips to pop out to Derek Lee to end the game and save a Cubs win.
Game 3- Thursday afternoon the Cubs took the field looking for the sweep of the Reds. It was the Cubs Ted Lilly facing the Reds Bronson Arroyo. In the first couple of innings things looked good for the Cubs as they took a 1-0 lead and then extended that lead to 3-1 after 2 innings. However it was just not the Cubs day as Ted Lilly gave up 3 runs in the third and would not make it out of that inning. Things wouldn’t get better though as ever Cub reliever to enter the game would give up at least a one home run. The Cubs would cut an 8-3 lead into a 8-5 lead thanks to a 2 run homer by Fontenot in the 4th, but they would never get closer as they would ultimately fall to the Reds 12-7 as the Reds where powered by 7 homers on a day when the wind was blowing out.
Game 4- Friday the Cubs took the field for the first of a three game set with the Giants. This game would turn out to be a pitchers duel as both the Cubs Jason Marquis and the Giants Matt Cain would shut down the opposing teams offense as they both went 7 innings. However the Cubs would finally get on the board in the bottom of the 8th Ryan Theriot would lead off with a single. Fontenot then scarified Theriot over to second base after Lee was intentionally walked (dumb move!!!) to get to Ramirez. Ramirez came up and on the first pitch in the first meeting of Giants reliever Tyler Walker Ramirez sent a long drive down the left field line it stayed fair and was a big clutch 3 run home run putting the Cubs on top 3-0. Kerry Wood came in for the ninth and he ran into some troubles, but was eventually able to get the save as the Cubs won thanks to Mr. Clutch 3-1.
Game 5- Saturday was the long awaited debut of new Cubs pitcher Rich Harden and he would face the Giants Kevin Correia. Harden would not disappoint as the Cubs offense exploded for him early as it was the Jim Edmonds show early as he had a 2 run double and 2 run homer to help propel the Cubs to a 7-0 lead after the 4th inning. Rich Harden was dealing as he went 5.1 innings striking out 10 batters, giving up no runs on 5 hits and 3 walks throwing 96 pitches (66 of them where strikes). However the Cubs would lose the lead for him giving up 2 runs in the 8th and then in the ninth would be victims of some poor decisions by Marmol and Theriot this would allow the Giants to eventually tie the game at 7-7 and force extra innings as Marmol gave up 5 runs in the 9th. Simply stunned the Cubs used 2 shut out innings of relief from Sean Marshall to get them to the 11th. When Reed Johnson would single home Mark DeRosa for the winning run as he would slide into home just barely before the tag was applied to him.
Game 6- The final game of the home stand featured a battle of two all star pitches the Giants had Tim Lincecum throwing and the Cubs countered with Ryan Dempster who was 10-0 at home coming into the game. Ryan Dempster would be the victim of some bad luck in the third Vizquel got on for the Giants with one out and then stole second. The Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum then hit a bullet line drive to Mark DeRosa playing right DeRosa would charge it and it would unfortunately get by him and roll all the way to the wall allowing Lincecum to get a triple and giving the Giants the lead. After walking Fred Lewis and allowing him to advance to second Dempster appeared that he might get out of it. However Ray Durham was able to single home Lincecum and Lewis with 2 outs to put the Giants up 3-0. The Cubs got there first run in the 4th when Jim Edmonds doubled home Mark DeRosa after that both pitchers settled in as Lincecum went on to pitch 8 innings. Dempster would leave after 6.2 innings. The Cubs would threaten in the 8th and 9th, but it would not be there day as they lost 4-2 completing a 4-2 home stand.
All in all it was a really good week to be a Cubs fan we landed Rich Harden in a huge trade countering the Brewers trade of CC Sabathia and we had a nice 4-2 home stand which helped us add on to our lead in the NL Central.
The Week Ahead: The All Star break is upon us as the Cubs get four days off before heading to Houston for a 3 game set to begint the unofficial start of the second half of the season. It is uncertain on who will start in this series, but I can take a guess on what I think it will be.
In game 1 I fully expect Carlos Zambrano will be pitching for the Cubs it sounds like we will not have to face Roy Oswalt due to his hip injury. With Carlos Zambrano’s great success in the past against the Astros what a great way this should be to start of the half. According to Cubs.com I just checked they now say Lilly will be throwing the first game I do not expect that to be the plan at least I doubt it why would they throw the lefty first. I suspect it is either Z or even Demp depending on how many innings they pitch in the all star game.
In game 2 I’m hoping the Cubs will throw Rich Harden, but I have been hearing things that he may end up 4th in the rotation instead and pitch the first game of the Arizona series so not too sure.
In game 3 I would expect to see Ted Lily here cause I figure they want the lefty right in the middle of the rotation however I hear Dempster may throw this game instead only Lou knows.
My Prediction: Well it is kind of hard to predict if they go with Z, Harden, and Dempster I think they sweep the Astros. If they go with Lily first I really have no clue what to expect. So I will say we win 2 out of 3 regardless of whose pitching. Also if you want me to predict the All Star game I will say the NL wins a 6-4 battle powered by a 3 run homer in the second by Geovany Sotto in the bottom of the second scoring Bruan and Fukudome and making Clint Hurdle think maybe these guys should be higher up in the order.
Anyways sit back and relax Cubs fans we are a little over half way through the regular season and we are on pace to win 95 to 100 games which should be good enough to get us to the post season. The key is we need to stay healthy if we do I really see nothing that can stop this team. So let’s enjoy a nice little break and get back to kicking butt on Friday. Let’s Go Cubs make the second half as memorable as the first half.
State Of The Cubs: Week 15
Posted on: July 14, 2008 7:49 pm
Edited on: July 14, 2008 7:50 pm