Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Darwin Barney's two-run walk-off homer gives Cubs third straight win

Darwin Barney's two-run, walk-off home run led the Cubs to a 8-6 win over the San Diego Padres this afternoon at Wrigley Field, which was the team's first three-game winning streak of the season.

"That was the first walk-off home run I've ever had at any level," Barney said.  "I didn't even see it go out.  I was running hard.  It's crazy.  It was already gone and passed and it happened so fast.  It's exciting.  It was good for our club."  This was Barney's second home run in three days and he also scored three runs and drove in three today.

Cubs manager Dale Sveum said the following about Barney, "He has been doing a nice job, building that slugging percentage for sure.  That ball was crushed through that wind."

Darwin Barney's reaction after winning today's game with his two-run walk-off homer (photo from
According to STATS, Inc., the Cubs are the first National League team to win at least three in a row following a streak of 12-or-more losses since August 2002, when the Mets also followed a 12-game losing streak with three straight victories. 

Tony Campana, who was pinch-running for Reed Johnson, stole two bases and scored the tying run in the eighth inning with his speed, which definitely helped the team tor earn its third win in a row.  Today also happens to be Campana's 26th birthday.

"He's a huge, monster asset to be able to use in those situations.  He's so fast," Sveum said.  "When you're losing by one run, you don't want to leave him on the bench.  When anybody gets on base, you have to get him in there, even if there are two outs." 

Ryan Dempster started for the Cubs today, but had his worst start of the season and ended up with a no-decision.  He allowed six runs over six hits, which included three home runs.  He struck out four and also walked four over 4-1/3 innings.

The Cubs used four relief pitchers, including Casey Coleman, Carlos Marmol, Randy Wells, and James Russell, who all combined to deliver 4-2/3 scoreless innings.  It's really great to see the bullpen being effective, finally!

"To bounce back from that by sweeping somebody, it feels really good," Dempster said.

Matt Garza catches Darwin Barney off-guard during his postgame interview (photo from ESPN Chicago)
The Cubs have an off-day tomorrow and will travel to San Francisco, where they will play a four-game series against the Giants starting Friday at 9:15pm CT.  Paul Maholm will start for the Cubs and try for his fifth win of the season.  This will be the start of a ten-game road trip for the Cubs.  Let's hope they can get their fourth win in a row!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Jeff Samardzija is worthy of his bobblehead as Cubs win second straight against Padres

The Cubs won their second straight game against the San Diego Padres today, 5-3.  Jeff Samardzija earned his fifth win of the season and said, "You don't want to pitch bad and then walk out the park and see your bobbleheads smashed everywhere."  No need to worry, Jeff!  You pitched an excellent game and also drove in the go-ahead run!

Fans at today's game received a Jeff Samardzija bobblehead doll (photo from Paul Sullivan)
Samardzija allowed three runs on eight hits and struck out eight and issued one walk over seven innings pitched.  He left the game in the eighth inning with a 4-3 lead.  Shawn Camp came in to pitch in relief in the eighth and retired all 3 batters he faced.  Camp retired the first batter in the ninth before Sveum called on James Russell to close out the game.  Russell gave up a double and then struck out Nick Hundley to earn the first save of his major league career.

Closer James Russell earned his first career save during today's game (AP photo)
Jeff Samardzija stands on first base after his RBI single that scored Darwin Barney with the go ahead run in the sixth inning (photo from Chicago Tribune)
Alfonso Soriano was excellent both defensively and offensively today as he made an impressive diving catch that saved a run in the sixth inning and turned into a double play to end the inning.  In the bottom of the sixth inning, he hit a home run to increase the Cubs lead to 3-1.

Starlin Castro high fives Darwin Barney after he scores on Jeff Samardzija's single in the sixth (photo from Chicago Tribune)
In other Cubs news, catcher Steve Clevenger was activated from the disabled list and Blake Lalli was optioned to Triple-A Iowa.  Cubs manager Dale Sveum said that Casey Coleman is also in the mix for being the team's closer, along with Shawn Camp and James Russell. 

Tomorrow the Cubs and Padres will play the final game of the series at 1:20pm CT at Wrigley Field.  Ryan Dempster will try for his first win of the season, even though he has been impressive in every start and has a 2.14 ERA.  Let's hope his teammates can give him the run support he deserves.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Cubs hit 4 HRs and win 11-7 over Padres to snap 12-game losing streak

The Cubs were finally able to break their losing streak and won today against the San Diego Padres, 11-7.  It was the first time the "W" flag was raised at Wrigley Field since May 9th.

There was a 24 mph wind blowing straight out at Wrigley Field today, with gusts up to 35 mph and the Cubs took advantage of it.  Darwin Barney, Alfonso Soriano, Ian Stewart, and Starlin Castro all hit home runs.

Alfonso Soriano and Ian Stewart high-five each other after a home run in Monday's game (photo from
Travis Wood started for the Cubs and allowed six runs on seven hits and walked three and struck out four over five innings.  Randy Wells came in to pitch in relief in the sixth inning and earned the win.  Cubs manager Dale Sveum said, "The bullpen, with the way the wind was blowing there...that's exceptional to just give up one run in four innings."  Shawn Camp and Casey Coleman also pitched in relief today.

Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein addressed the media before today's game and said, "The fans have a right to be upset any time we're not playing winning baseball, especially during stretches like this.  I understand it.  If we start making decisions based on it or scrap plans because of it or try to put Band-Aids on situations, we would be doing the fans a disservice in the long run."

"I always operate with the belief that the only way to make fans happy in the long run is to get to a point where we're playing baseball in October on a regular basis, and nothing's going to get in the way of that.  Sometimes, when you rip the scab off, there's some pain until we grow some new skin.  We're going places. This is a tough road."

Cubs GM Jed Hoyer and President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein spoke to the media before today's game at Wrigley Field (photo from Chicago Tribune)
No kidding, 12 losses in a row was pretty tough to bear, but us die-hard, loyal Cub fans hung in there and continued to watch the games and stay positive.

Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney celebrate the Cubs 11-7 win over the San Diego Padres (AP photo)
Sveum admitted this was a win the team needed.  "Let's not kid yourself. You lose 12 in a row and you finally's a big relief for all them guys," Sveum said.  "It's tough.  It shows you sometimes how tough it is to win a Major League Baseball game.  To lose 12 in a row--hopefully something like that gets everything going."

Cubs players after they beat the Padres to end their losing streak on Monday (photo from Chicago Tribune)
In other Cubs news, RHP Carlos Marmol was activated from the 15-day disabled list and RHP Rafael Dolis was optioned to Triple-A Iowa today.  Marmol will not be used as the team's closer for now.

Tomorrow the Cubs and Padres will play game two of the three game series at 1:20pm CT.  Jeff Samardzija will start for the Cubs and will try for his fifth win of the season.  It's also Samardzija bobblehead doll day at Wrigley Field tomorrow.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Cubs rally late, but lose 10-4 to the Pirates and drop 12th in a row

The Cubs dropped their 12th game in a row when they lost 10-4 to the Pittsburgh Pirates this afternoon.  Matt Garza started for the Cubs and allowed six runs (five earned) on seven hits and walked one batter and struck out six on 91 pitches over five innings.

Garza's fielding error on a throw to first base on a bunt by Josh Harrison in the first inning got things started off on the wrong foot for the Cubs.  Garza then went on to allow three home runs and was pulled in the sixth inning. 

Matt Garza didn't have a good outing today against the Pirates (photo from
Rafael Dolis pitched in relief and walked the two batters he faced, before getting pulled.  Dolis has an 18.00 ERA over his last six appearances and has walked seven batters in four innings.

Michael Bowden came into the game next and didn't fare much better, as he allowed two runs on three hits during one inning pitched. 

Blake Parker was next and did a good job by allowing just one hit and striking out one batter on fifteen pitches in the seventh inning.  Randy Wells came in to pitch the eighth inning and was outstanding as he threw just six pitches and pitched a quick 1-2-3 inning.

The Cubs rallied in the eighth and ninth and scored four runs, but it was too little, too late.  Starlin Castro hit a two-run homer, which was nice to see. 

Starlin Castro rounds second after hitting a two-run home run in the eighth inning (Getty photo)
The Cubs were 12-9 in 21 games from April 21-May 14, but now are 2-14 in their last 16 games.  "We have passionate fans," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said.  "Patience is something a lot of fans don't have.  I'm a huge football fan, and I don't understand the Oakland Raiders losing every game.   That's the way it is.  Passionate fans want to win, just like we want to win.  That's just part of every city -- and especially in a city as passionate as Chicago Cubs fans are."

Maybe what the Cubs need is just a small change, such as shaving their facial hair together as a team to try to turn their mojo around.  Just food for thought, since I've noticed that some guys have been sporting full beards (that usually aren't), such as Ryan Dempster and Reed Johnson.

Before today's game, Sveum announced that Dolis has been removed as a designated closer and will be used in middle relief going forward.  James Russell and Shawn Camp will share the closer duties for now.  Carlos Marmol is expected to be back Monday or Tuesday, but will not return in the closer's role.

Tomorrow the Cubs will return home and play the San Diego Padres at Wrigley Field at 1:20pm CT.  Travis Wood will make the start for the Cubs and let's hope he can help turn things around for this team!  Go Cubs Go!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Cubs finding new ways to lose 11th consecutive game

The Cubs lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates, 3-2 tonight, which is their 11th loss in a row.

Paul Maholm made the start for the Cubs and allowed two runs on four hits and walked five and struck out two batters.  He lasted five innings and threw 94 pitches.

Casey Coleman and Shawn Camp pitched in relief of Maholm and threw a combined three scoreless innings.  However, Rafael Dolis came into a 2-2 tied game in the ninth and loaded the bases and then proceeded to hit Matt Hague with a pitch, which allowed the Pirates to score the winning run.  Are you kidding me?  What a letdown.  I'm pretty sure tonight's way of losing isn't what Theo Epstein was thinking when he was talking about the "Cubs Way."  Don't get me wrong, I love the Cubs, but tonight's loss was an especially hard one to take.

Former Pirates pitcher Paul Maholm returned to Pittsburgh for the first time since joining the Cubs during the offseason (photo from
The Cubs have now lost 11 games in a row.  "You're always surprised when you lose 10 games in a row," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said.  "That's hard to do, really, especially when you're getting pretty good starting pitching, for the most part.  You're losing one-run ballgames and you're getting shutout three, four five times in a 10-game span, that's almost fluky type numbers - what we're going through right now.  So you don't expect those kind of numbers on a consistent basis through 10 games."

Sveum said he hasn't held a team meeting since they could be negative meetings and he would rather have individualized meetings.  In general, Sveum said meetings are usually called due to lack of effort, but he feels that it's not the case with this team.

The Cubs eentered today's game against the Pirates 0-for-25 with runners in scoring position over the last three games, including 0-for-12 on Friday.

In Cubs' minor league news, Blake DeWitt, was placed on the disabled list with a sprained left wrist which he injured while diving for the ball in the outfield.  DeWitt has played in four games for Triple-A Iowa since he was designated for assignment by the Cubs.

Left-handed pitcher Jeff Beliveau, who has pitched in 16 games in relief for Iowa, was also placed on the disabled list with a strained shoulder.

The Cubs signed free agent infielder Diory Hernandez, 28, to Triple-A Iowa, who was hitting .159 for Triple-A Oklahoma City and released on May 23.

Tomorrow the Cubs and Pirates will play the final game of the series at 12:35pm CT.  Matt Garza will start for the Cubs and try for his third win of the season.  He currently is 2-2 with a 3.72 ERA.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Cubs can't score runs for Ryan Dempster once again and extend losing streak to 10

The Cubs were shut out by the Pittsburgh Pirates, 1-0 tonight.  Ryan Dempster had another excellent start but once again didn't have any offense to back him up.  I really feel for Demps!  He has a 2.14 ERA in 8 starts this season and is winless.  His winless streak is now at 17 games.

Dempster allowed one run on seven hits and walked one batter and struck out six batters over 7.1 innings pitched.  Dempster, along with Joe Mather, Alfonso Soriano, and Darwin Barney were the bright spots of tonight's game.  The Cubs had opportunities to score, but weren't able to take advantage of their chances.

Ryan Dempster had another quality start but ended up getting a loss tonight (photo from
Another tough statistic to absorb:  The Cubs have scored in only four of their last 56 innings. 

"I've been through a 12-game losing streak once in my career," Cubs manager Dale Sveum aid, referring to the 1987 Milwaukee Brewers.  "It grinds on you, it gets frustrating, no question about it.  That's human nature.  Most of the time, it all turns around.  The last time I was part of it, we were 30 games over .500 after (the losing streak).  So a lot of good teams go through this."

The 1987 Brewers began the season 13-0, but lost 12 straight games from May 3-19.  They ended up finishing with a record of 91-71.  Not sure if that helps to hear, but I guess you never know what might happen.

In other news, third baseman Ian Stewart was taken out of today's lineup due to soreness in his left wrist.  Sveum said he will be re-evaluated on Saturday.

Sveum did tweak the batting order a little for tonight's game by moving shortstop Starlin Castro from the number 3 spot to number 2 for the first time this season.  Joe Mather also batted third in the lineup for the first time this season.

"It's time," Sveum said.  "[We haven't been] scoring throughout the whole season, and Mather's been as good as anybody swinging the bat, so I'm going to give him a little opportunity to see what he can do.  Like I told Castro, 'It's not a demotion, it's more shaking the team up.'  He was great about it -- he was like, 'Hey, I just want to win, I don't care where I hit in the lineup.'  He took it well and completely understood."

It looks like the Cubs may need more tweaks in the lineup to spark some offense.  We'll see what happens tomorrow as the Cubs and Pirates will play at 6:15pm CT.   Paul Maholm will start for the Cubs in his old stomping grounds, where he pitched for over six years before coming to the Cubs.  Keep your heads up, Cubs fans!  Tomorrow is a new day!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Cubs finally get a lead, but can't get the win over the Astros

The Cubs lost their ninth straight game tonight, 5-1 to the Houston Astros.  Jeff Samardzija started for the Cubs and gave up two runs on six hits over six innings to take the loss.  It was his sixth quality start out of nine appearances this season.

This was the first time since May 8-18, 2002 that the Cubs have lost nine in a row.  Reed Johnson gave the Cubs an early lead in the first inning when he hit a solo home run off Wandy Rodriguez.  This was the first time the Cubs had a lead in 59 innings.

Reed Johnson homered in the first inning to give the Cubs an early lead (photo from
The Cubs held their 1-0 lead until the fourth inning, when Darwin Barney’s hustle toward the right-field line ended up in a collision with a sliding David DeJesus, which knocked the ball out of DeJesus' glove.

“It was one of those plays that was too much in the middle of us,” Barney said.  “It was placed at a point where he didn’t have a chance to call it.  It’s unfortunate.  My job is to go until I hear somebody call me off and that ball was put into a spot where he didn’t know he’d have a chance until he got there.  He probably didn’t know he’d be able to get there.”

Darwin Barney and David DeJesus colllided during the fourth inning of last night's game in Houston (photo from George Bridges/MCT)
Barney ended up with a bloody elbow and hip after the fall from the rocky surface on the warning track.  “I thought he caught it.  I went and when I was on the ground, I thought he had it in his glove and there it was.  We both did our job and it just happened to turn out that way.”  After the collision, the Astros took a 2-1 lead and the Cubs never regained the lead.

Here's a link to a complete game recap on

Tomorrow the Cubs have an off day and will travel to Pittsburgh, where they will play a three game series, starting Friday at 6:05pm CT.  Ryan Dempster will start on Friday and try for his first win of the season, despite his impressive 2.28 ERA.  Let's hope this team can turn this season around and end their losing streak!

Paul Maholm will make his first trip back to Pittsburgh since coming to the Cubs from the Pirates during the offseason.  He tweeted the following today, "Getting ready for the final game in Houston and then off to the steel city. Looking forward to my first trip back and pitching Sat."

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Cubs still have (Travis) Wood but lose 8th straight; Tony Campana = Superman?; Wellington Castillo to the DL

The Cubs lost 2-1 to the Houston Astros and increase their losing streak to eight games in a row. 

Travis Wood made his first start since replacing Chris Volstad as the fifth starter in the Cubs rotation.  He was impressive tonight as a pitcher, offensively, and defensively.  In the third inning, he hit a long double, which was just shy of going out of the ballpark.

Wood pitched 5 2/3 innigs and allowed two runs, one of which was scored after he left the game with two outs and a runner at first base.  He walked two batters and struck out three.  "Travis was great,'' Cubs manager Dale Sveum said.  "He did a great job. … He was really, really good.  He kept the ball down.  He had a good changeup — 12 mph off his fastball, with really good fade. He didn't use much of anything else (as an off-speed pitch).''

Alfonso Soriano's home run was the Cubs' only run scored.  Sveum needs to do what he said and shake up the lineup to see what happens.  I say, "Why not?"

Alfonso Soriano homers in tonight's game against the Astros (photo from
The defensive hightlight of the game was Tony Campana's Superman-like dive over Astros' third baseman Matt Downs to reach third base safely after a pick-off attempt at first base.  Campana was pinch-running for Reed Johnson after he singled.  What a play!  But unfortunately the play was wasted since Starlin Castro and Soriano both struck out and left Campana stranded on third.

Tony Campana dives for third over the Astros' Matt Downs after advancing on a wild pickoff throw in the eighth. (Getty photo)
The Cubs officially placed catcher Wellington Castillo on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained MCL in his right knee in order to make room on the roster for Wood.  Steve Clevenger is projected to come off the disabled list on Monday.

Sveum will miss tomorrow's finale in Houston to attend his son's high school graduation in Scottsdale, Arizona.  "He'll be graduating, so most of that time, I'll be looking at my phone [for updates]," Sveum said.  Bench coach Jamie Quirk will take over on Wednesday.

The two teams will play tomorrow at 7:05pm CT, where Jeff Samardzija will start for the Cubs and try to earn his fifth win.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Cubs have another 9th inning rally, but fall short and lose 8-4 to Astros

The Cubs lost 8-4 to the Astros at Minute Maid Park in Houston tonight.  Matt Garza was the losing pitcher and only lasted just three innings tonight and gave up seven runs on five hits, which was his shortest outing since July 7, 2011.

Randy Wells pitched five innings in relief of Garza and came into the game when the score was 7-0 Astros.  Wells allowed just one run, three hits and walked two batters and struck out three.  His pitch count was 78 over five innings, while Garza threw 72 pitches over three innings.

“I tell you what, Randy Wells really pitched his (tail) off,” Garza said. “He picked me up for five innings. He did what I couldn’t and that was to give the bullpen a rest.”

Randy Wells pitched five innings in relief of Matt Garza on Monday in Houston (AP photo)
Wells said he's looking forward to pitching in relief (vs. as a starting pitcher) because it gives him the chance to help the team and by doing something different.  "One thing I like is the chance to play every day," Wells said.  "I've [pitched in relief] my whole career until 2008. It's something I'm comfortable with.  I'm actually excited."

Wells also made a great play tonight on Travic Buck's little dribbler down the first-base line in the bottom of the fifth inning.  Here's a link to the play.  I personally hope that Wells is successful in the bullpen and will remain on the roster.

David DeJesus climbs the right-field wall but can't come up with a home run by the Astros' Jed Lowrie during the seventh inning in Monday's game (Getty photo)
The Cubs' offense finally came alive in the ninth inning when they scored four runs to avoid being shut out.  Adrian Cardenas led off the ninth inning with a ground-rule double.  Koyie Hill, Reed Johnson, David DeJesus, and Blake Lalli all followed with singles.  It was rookie Lalli's first major-league hit and two RBIs.  The ninth inning has been the most productive for the Cubs offense this season with 28 runs.

Cubs manager Dale Sveum didn't end up shaking up the lineup, like he hinted at over the weekend.   “I didn’t say I was changing it,” Sveum said.  “I considered it.  I decided not to.”  Sveum said he wanted to overload the lineup with left-handed hitters against Astros starter Bud Norris.  The other reason is the Cubs will face left-handed starters for three games, beginning Tuesday, and he’ll be using his right-handed hitting lineup for those games.  But Sveum did come close to some tweaks.
“Very close, I will admit,” Sveum said. “I decided to give it one more week, the right-handed lineup.”

Tomorrow the Cubs will play game 2 of the 3 game series at 7:05pm CT.  Travis Wood will start for the Cubs tomorrow as he takes Chris Volstad's spot in the rotation.  Volstad was optioned to Triple-A Iowa last week.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Summer-like 91-degree day at Wrigley today, but Cubs shutout by Sox

The Cubs lost to the White Sox 6-0 in the final game of the Crosstown Classic today and ended up being swept by the South siders in the three-game series.  This was the first time the Sox swept the Cubs at Wrigley Field since 1999.  Paul Maholm started for the Cubs and took his third loss of the season, for a 4-3 record.  I was at today's game so I witnessed the sweep and lack of Cubs offense in person.
The Cubs bullpen before the start of Sunday's game against the White Sox
It didn't help that the wind was blowing straight out over the center field scoreboard at 12mph at the beginning of the game.  Adam Dunn, Gordan Beckham, and Tyler Flowers all took advantage of the wind to hit home runs in today's game.

Maholm gave up nine hits, including three homers, over 6 1/3 innings.  It was the first time he had given up three home runs in a game since the Nationals hit four on June 10, 2008.  

Paul Maholm gave up three home runs in Sunday's game
Getting swept by the White Sox felt the same as getting swept by the Marlins, according to Bryan LaHair.  "Any time you lose or get swept, it's not a good feeling," LaHair said.  "Whether it's them or some other team, you don't accept that."

Third baseman Ian Stewart at first base
“Our offense has to step up, no getting around it,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “We have to step up and get three-run innings, crooked numbers all the time or as much as you possibly can.”

Sveum said he may alter the lineup, starting at the top, when the Cubs open a six-game road trip on Monday in Houston.  David DeJesus, Tony Campana and Starlin Castro were a combined 5-for-23 on Friday and Sunday. 

"I might think about changing things at the top of the order," Sveum said.  "It's not that anybody is doing anything wrong, but just to change something because we aren't producing any runs that way.  We might change things up there.  We need some production and the bottom line is, two months into the season, we have to start producing or we're going to have to start making some changes."  Let's hope whatever changes he makes will help the team score some runs!

Starlin Castro at bat during Sunday's 91-degree finale against the White Sox
Tomorrow the Cubs will play the Astros in Houston at 7:05pm CT.  Matt Garza is scheduled to start for the Cubs.  Following are some more photos I took at today's game.

A bat boy hands David DeJesus his helmet after he is issued a walk during Sunday's game
Starlin Castro during Sunday's game
Bryan LaHair during the National Anthem before Sunday's game

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Lots of changes on Cubs roster; Crosstown Classic game 2 recap

There continued to be lots of changes to the Cubs roster today.  Kerry Wood formally retired and held his retirement announcement on the field at Wrigley today at 2pm.  His wife Sarah and three kids were in attendance on the field, as well as the entire Cubs team.  Laura Ricketts spoke on behalf of the Ricketts family and presented Wood with a framed photo of Wood hugging his son after his last strikeout in yesterday's game.  Ricketts also gave Wood the flag that was hanging at Wrigley Field that represented his 20-strikeout game during his rookie season in 1998.

Kerry Wood makes his official retirement announcement at Wrigley Field today (photo from
Kerry and Sarah Wood at a celebratory retirement dinner (photo from Kerry Wood's twitter account)
Kerry Wood posted the photo above to his twitter account in a tweet that said, "Thanks for the warm wishes & amazing send off. A day my family & I will never forget. Cheers!

Catcher Geovany Soto was placed on the 15-day disabled following a left knee arthroscopy.  Backup catcher Wellington Castillo has a has a mild MCL sprain in right knee and may miss 4-7 days.  In a somewhat surprising move, the Cubs acquired former Cubs catcher Koyie Hill acquired from the Reds for cash considerations.  During tonight's game, Darwin Barney was the emergency catcher again.

The Cubs also recalled right-handed pitcher Randy Wells from Triple-A Iowa.  Wells takes Kerry Wood's spot on the 25-man roster and will pitch in long relief.  Wells is 27-31 with a 4.05 ERA (229 ER/509.0 IP) in 88 major league appearances, all but four as a starter.  He spent most of the last three seasons in the Cubs rotation, posting a 7-6 record with a 4.99 ERA (75 ER/135.1 IP) in 23 starts last year after missing nearly two months in April and May due to a right forearm strain.  Wells went 6-3 with a 4.04 ERA (40 ER/89.0 IP) in 14 starts after the All-Star Break.

Ryan Dempster started for the Cubs tonight and had his worst outing of the season as he gave up four runs on seven hits over six innings, which increased his ERA from 1.74 to 2.28.

Ryan Dempster started for the Cubs on Saturday (photo from
The Cubs ended up losing 7-4 to the White Sox.  For a complete game recap, here's a link to

Pitcher Blake Parker, who was just called up on Thursday, was pulled from his second career outing in tonight's game with tightness in his right hamstring.

Tomorrow the final game of the Crosstown Classic will be played at Wrigley Field at 1:20pm CT.  Paul Maholm is the scheduled starter for the Cubs and will go for his fifth win of the season.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Kerry Wood retires; Chris Volstad optioned to Iowa; Blake Lalli called up; Soto to DL; Crosstown Classic

Wow, there certainly has been a lot of Cubs news this Friday, the biggest being fan favorite Kerry Wood's announcement of his retirement. 

Kerry Wood and his son and teammates in the bleachers before Friday's game (photo from Chicago Tribune)
Crosstown Classic ad (photo from Paul Sullivan)
Kerry Wood and his son walk off the field before Friday's game
The Cubs optioned struggling starting pitcher Chris Volstad to Triple-A Iowa and called up catcher Blake Lalli to take Geovany Soto's spot on the roster.  Soto has a meniscus tear and will have knee surgery and is expected to miss about three weeks. 

Travis Wood will take Volstad's next start on Tuesday in Houston, but the roster move won't happen until then. 

The Cubs lost 3-2 to the Chicago White Sox in game 1 of the 3-game Crosstown Classic.  Jeff Samardzija was the losing pitcher. 

In the third inning, Samardzija unintentionally hit Paul Konerko in the face and Konerko had to leave the game.  In the next inning, White Sox pitcher Phillip Humber retaliated by throwing a pitch to Cubs' first baseman Bryan LaHair's head.  Luckily, LaHair got out of the way before being hit.  The funny part is that Humber ended walking LaHair anyway.  Konerko was treated for a laceration and swelling around his left eye and was sent for more tests.

In the fifth inning, David DeJesus was called safe on a slide at second base, then was called out by third base umpire Marty Foster after Gordon Beckham pummels DeJesus off the base.  Dale Sveum was the most heated as he's been all season when he came out to argue the call and ended up being ejected.  The drama between the North and South siders is always there, that's for sure!

Kerry Wood came into the game in the 8th inning and struck out Dayan Viciedo.  Then Sveum pulled him and Wood received a standing ovation from the crowd.  His son was waiting for him at the entrance of the Cubs' dugout.  He received hugs from his teammates and coaches in the dugout and left on a high note.

Kerry Wood receives a standing ovation from the crowd at Wrigley Field Friday (photo from
Tomorrow the crosstown rivals will play at 6:15pm CT at Wrigley Field.  Ryan Dempster is scheduled to make the start for the Cubs and hopefully will receive run support to earn his first win of the season (despite an impressive 1.74 ERA.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Cubs don't give up, but cannot get the win against the Phillies; Blake Parker called up; Crosstown Classic on deck

The Cubs lost to the Philadelphia Phillies, 8-7 at Wrigley Field tonight.  The Cubs were hoping that starting pitcher Chris Volstad would turn his season around and help lead the team to a win, but Volstad lasted just two innings and allowed four runs on six hits and also walked three batters.

Cubs manager Dale Sveum said if Chris Volstad is pulled from starting rotation, Travis Wood would be called up from Triple-A Iowa.

Sveum brought in Casey Coleman, who was called up from Triple-A Iowa, in the third inning of tonight's game.

For more details, here's a link to a game recap from the Chicago Tribune.

Catcher Geovany Soto was scratched from tonight's lineup because of inflammation in his left knee.  His status is day to day.  Wellington Castillo took Soto's spot in the lineup.

The Cubs called up right handed reliever Blake Parker from Triple-A Iowa today and Scott Maine was sent back down. 

RHP Blake Parker was called up from Triple-A Iowa today (photo from
Relief pitcher Carlos Marmol will throw three to four innings on a brief rehab stint with Triple-A Iowa next week before returning from the disabled list.  He is due to come off the disabled list on May 27th and said,  "I'll be ready soon.  I have to figure out how to pitch good again, and I don't know what will happen after that."

The Chicago Police Department has confirmed there will be a larger-than-normal security presence at Wrigley Field this weekend with the two-day NATO summit set to begin in Chicago on Sunday.  Before Wednesday's game against the Philadelphia Phillies, uniformed law-enforcement personnel had dogs sniffing throughout the entire park.

Tomorrow the Cubs will kick off a three-game series with their crosstown rivals the Chicago White Sox.  Jeff Samardzija is scheduled to start for the Cubs and will try for his fifth win of the season at 1:20pm CT.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Cubs hold inaugural Social Media Night and lose 9-2 to Phillies; Lendy Castillo to DL; Scott Maine called up

The Cubs lost 9-2 to the Philadelphia Phillies tonight at Wrigley Field.  Matt Garza started for the Cubs and allowed two runs during six and 2/3 innings pitched.

Garza had a 2.58 ERA, but remains stuck on two victories.  Before the game, Cubs manager Dale Sveum said, "Garza has an edge every time he steps on the mound," referring to his dominant pitching.

But Garza somehow loses that edge whenever he has to make fielding throw, especially when the opposing team tries to bunt against him.  Garza messed up fielding two bunts in today's game with very weak throws to Bryan LaHair at first base.

Shawn Camp ended up with the loss tonight and Michael Bowden allowed a grand slam in the ninth inning.  The Cubs' bullpen has definitely been the team's biggest weakness, blowing eight of 14 save chances.  Rookie closer Rafael Dolis is trying to learn on the job, veteran Kerry Wood has been struggling to find his control, and Carlos Marmol is on the disabled list with an injured hamstring.

On a brighter note, Alfonso Soriano, who went with a lighter bat again, hit a 2-run homer tonight, which was his second home run in a week. 

Matt Garza allowed two runs during 6 and 2/3 innings pitched (photo from
Blake DeWitt cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Iowa today.  Dewitt has 24 hours to accept the assignment, which he is expected to do.

Carlos Marmol is at least 10 days away from coming off the disabled list.

The Cubs put Lendy Castillo on the 15-day disabled list with a left groin strain and called up Scott Maine from Triple-A Iowa to take his spot on the roster.

The Cubs held their inaugural Social Media Night tonight before and during the game. Below are some photos from the event:

The Cubs inaugural social media night panel (photo from @CMCWrigleyville twitter)

Cubs third baseman Ian Stewart displays his social media night card (photo from @Cubs twitter)
Tomorrow the Cubs and Phillies will play game 2 of 2 at 7:05pm CT at Wrigley Field.  Chris Volstad will start for the Cubs and try for his first win of the season.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Cubs and Cardinals split series 1-1; Cubs acquire minor league LHP Hunter Cervenka

The Cubs, who had won two straight games, lost 7-6 to the St. Louis Cardinals today, which means the two arch rivals split the series, 1-1.  Paul Maholm started for the Cubs but didn't have as good of an outing as his last four starts.

Maholm  gave up four runs in six innings while striking out five and walking three.  Maholm had allowed just three earned runs over his previous four starts.  "After the first, I started making a lot better pitches," Maholm said.  "Some days you've just got to go out there and battle and whatever is working you just keep going with it."

Highlights of today's game included Bryan LaHair and Alfonso Soriano's home runs and Starlin Castro, Ian Stewart, and Reed Johnson's RBI singles.

Alfonso Soriano's home run tied the game in the 9th, but the Cubs bullpen couldn't hold off the Cardinals (photo from
For a full game recap, you can link to an article on here.

In other Cubs news, the team acquired minor league LHP Hunter Cervenka from the Boston Red Sox to complete the Marlon Byrd-Michael Bowden trade from last month.

The Cubs will play the first of a two game series against the Philadelphia Phillies tomorrow at 7:05pm CT at Wrigley Field.  Matt Garza will start for the Cubs and will try to earn his third win of the season. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Cubs get a 6-4 "W" to lead off series against Cardinals

The Cubs won the first game 6-4 of the 2-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium tonight.  Ryan Dempster started for the Cubs but ended up with a no-decision.  Before tonight's game, Dempster led the Major Leagues with a 1.02 ERA, but was winless after five starts. 

Since the National League began keep track of earned-run average in 1912, no pitcher has ever had as low of an ERA after his first five starts without a win. The next lowest was Randy Wells, who posted a 1.69 ERA after five starts in 2009 while going 0-2.

The Cubs offense gave Dempster four runs of support, but he wasn't able to hold the lead and gave up four runs in the sixth inning, matching the total he had given up in his first 25 1/3 innings this season and raising his ERA to 1.74.

Shawn Camp ended up recording the win and Rafael Dolis pitched an impressive ninth inning.  The Cubs left the bases loaded in the second, third and seventh innings.

Alfonso Soriano's RBI single in the eighth inning gave the Cubs a 5-4 lead. 

Alfonso Soriano hits the go-ahead single in the eighth inning (US Presswire photo)
Tomorrow the Cubs and Cardinals will play at 12:45pm in St. Louis, where lefty Paul Maholm will go for his fifth straight win.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Cubs' bats come alive to beat the Brewers, 8-2

The Cubs' bats came alive on Mother's Day as they beat the Milwaukee Brewers, 8-2 and avoid being swept.  Jeff Samardzija started for the Cubs and allowed one run on three hits with six strikeouts during five innings pitched.  Shawn Camp earned his first win of the season.

Jeff Samardzija started against the Brewers today (photo from Chicago Tribune)
Ian Stewart and Reed Johnson hit solo HRs today, while Alfonso Soriano and Darwin Barney came though with RBI doubles.

Cubs manager Dale Sveum has lost 5 of 7 games the Brewers this season (his former team).  "I'm not going to say it stings any less," Sveum said.  "We've probably played our worst baseball against them, too, especially against a team that was struggling a little bit. I think we kind of let them off the hook that way."  Well, I'll bet he was pretty happy about today's win against the Brew Crew!

Tomorrow the Cubs will travel to St. Louis to play the Cardinals at 6:05pm CT.  Ryan Dempster will start for the Cubs and will hopefully get his first win of the season, even though all five of his starts have been quality starts.  He currently has a 1.02 ERA.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Cubs lose 8-2 to Brewers; Carlos Marmol to DL; Casey Coleman called up

The Cubs put reliever Carlos Marmol on the 15-day disabled list after he left last night's game with a strained right hamstring.  In a corresponding move, pitcher Casey Coleman was called up from Triple-A Iowa (but technically he flew in today from Fresno, CA, where the Iowa Cubs were on the road).

Chris Volstad started for the Cubs and had his best start of the season so far when he held the Brewers to just four hits.  Volstad fell apart in the sixth inning when he allowed five runs.  The Cubs ended up losing 8-2 to the Brewers.

Cubs starter Chris Volstad had a strong outing until the sixth inning against the Brewers (photo from
Highlights from today included when David DeJesus doubled to lead off the game against Shaun Marcum and scored one batter later when Starlin Castro hit into a double play. Also, rookie Adrian Cardenas doubled to lead off the eighth inning for his first Major League hit.  He then scored one out later on Tony Campana's double.

I'm sure both teams were still tired from last night's crazy 13-inning game.  Cubs manager Dale Sveum said, "That was a crazy game, no doubt about it, for both teams.  It was a 13-inning game, but for both teams to completely use every (almost) every player....there's not too many games you see 50 guys used. Not all 50, but every bench and bullpen guy used."

Tomorrow the Cubs and Brewers will play the last game of this series at 1:10pm CT in Milwaukee.  Jeff Samardzija is scheduled to start for the Cubs.

Cubs lose to Brewers in crazy 13-inning game; David DeJesus hits grand slam

Tonight was a pretty up and down game for the Cubs.  They were trailing 1-0 until David DeJesus came into the game as a pinch hitter and hit his second career grand slam in the seventh inning to make it Cubs 4, Brewers 1.

David DeJesus celebrates his 2nd career grand slam at Miller Park (photo from
Matt Garza started for the Cubs after 11 days of rest because he had the flu.  He pitched five innings and allowed one run on four hits and allowed five walks.  He struggled in the first inning when he loaded the bases with no outs and then former Cub Aramis Ramirez drove in a run with a double play grounder.

Carlos Marmol came in to pitch the bottom of the seventh and left the game with a strained right hamstring.  He was actually throwing a lot of fastballs in the mid-90 mph range but the Brewers scored one run off him.  Then Michael Bowden came into the game and the rest was downhill.  Bowden served up a three-run double to Jonathan Lucroy to make it a 5-4 game.

In the ninth inning, Ian Stewart reached on a throwing error by Ramirez and advanced when closer John Axford threw a wild pitch.  DeJesus then tripled which brought home the tying run and ended up also scoring the go-ahead run.  Alfonso Soriano then singled to give the Cubs a two-run lead and led to Axford's exit.

But Rafael Dolis came in to pitch the ninth and blows the Cubs' lead by allowing a 2-run homer to Coery Hart.  Kerry Wood pitched next and kept the game interesting, by throwing 9 straight balls for his first nine pitched, but luckily no one was able to score.  The game then continued into the 13th inning, when Lendy Castillo hit the first two batters and then gave up a single to Ramirez and a game-winning RBI single to Corey Hart.  The Brewers win, 8-7.

Tomorrow the two teams will play game 2  at 12:05pm CT, where Chris Volstad will start for the Cubs.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Paul Maholm gets 4th straight win as Cubs shutout Braves; Dempster Casino Night recap

Paul Maholm earned his fourth straight win yesterday when he pitched seven shutout innings against the Atlanta Braves.  He allowed just three hits and has a 1.07 ERA over his last four starts.

"I'm going to have another rough outing at some point," Maholm said.  "That's part of baseball.  But I'm going to ride this for as long as I possibly can, and hopefully for a good while."  I sure like the sound of that!

Paul Maholm earned his fourth straight win against the Braves on Wednesday (photo from
In the seventh inning, right fielder David DeJesus led off with a single and moved up on two groundouts and then scored on first baseman Bryan LaHair's well-placed single.  "Our best hitter right now, LaHair, came through," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said.  "That's what your best hitters do sometimes."

James Russell and Rafael Dolis then combined for two innings of scoreless relief pitching.  

The Cubs have now won 10 of their last 17 after getting off to a slow 3-11 start.  Let's hope the trend continues.

Last night was also the Third Annual Dempster Family Foundation Casino Night at the Palmer House Hilton in downtown Chicago.  Pitcher Ryan Dempster and his wife Jenny started the foundation and the fundraiser in honor of their daughter, Riley, who has was born in April 2009 with a 22q11.2 deletion, a disorder caused by a deletion on the 22nd chromosome that impedes her ability to feed and swallow.

Ryan, Jenny, and Riley Dempster on the stage during Casino Night (Chicago Tribune photo)
There were over 600 attendees and more than 50 sports and civic celebrities in attendance last night. Both current and former Cubs players were at the Palmer House, as well as owner Tom Ricketts, President Theo Epstein (who was drawing the biggest attention of the evening as a guest blackjack dealer), and manager Dale Sveum.  Dempster's teammates were all decked out in tuxedos and served as guest dealers at the blackjack and craps tables.

Cubs President Theo Epstein has fun while dealing blackjack at Casino Night
“It really is incredible,” Dempster said.  “You look at the support, the time and the effort that goes into it.  But somehow it is done and people do it out of the kindness of their heart.  It’s truly a humbling thing.   Jenny and I are just so thankful, and more importantly what it has done for the foundation and the families…the 22Q family has just been incredible.  We’ve made huge strides in three short years and it just continues to grow and make a huge impact on the world.”

Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney deals blackjack at Casino Night (Chicago Tribune photo)
Ryan Dempster and Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks at Casino Night (Chicago Tribune photo)
The evening also featured silent and live auctions, where a baseball autographed by Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig raised $21,000.  I had the pleasure of volunteering at the event and can say that it was pretty amazing how the Chicago community came together to raise money for a wonderful cause.  All of Dempster's teammates stayed well past the 10:30pm event end time and it looked like everyone was having a blast!

This baseball signed by Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig raised $21,000 during the live auction
The Cubs have an off day today and will travel to Milwaukee, where they will play the Brewers in a three-game series, starting tomorrow night at 7:10pm CT.  Matt Garza will start for the Cubs after recovering from the flu.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Ryan Dempster with another quality start, but Cubs lose 3-1 to Braves; Dempster Family Foundation Casino Night is tomorrow!

The Cubs lost 3-1 to the Atlanta Braves in game 2 of the 3 game series tonight.  The series is now tied at 1-1.  Ryan Dempster had his fifth quality start and allowed six hits and one earned run and walked one batter and struck out seven during seven innings pitched.  However, he didn't receive much run support and ended up with a no-decision.

Starting pitcher Ryan Dempster high-fives Alfonso Soriano after making a catch on a fly out by the Braves' Chipper Jones during the fourth inning (photo from Chicago Tribune)
Alfonso Soriano had an RBI double and David DeJesus was 2 for e with a walk and double.  Kerry Wood came into the game in the 8th inning and allowed two runs on a two-run single by Dan Uggla to give the Braves a 3-1 lead.  He then tossed his glove and cap into the stands on his way to the dugout.   Tonight was Wood's second appearance since coming off the disabled list, and he now has a 14.54 ERA.  In contrast, Dempster has a 1.02 ERA in five starts.

The Cubs will play the rubber game of the series tomorrow at 1:20pm at Wrigley Field.  Paul Maholm will start for the Cubs.

Meanwhile, Cubs' President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein is focusing on the upcoming amateur draft, in which the Cubs have the No. 6 pick.  "It's probably the most important thing that we're doing right now, to be honest," Epstein said.  "Therefore, it takes up the vast majority of our time.  Draft day is the most important day of the year for every organization.  It's a year-long process, and right now we're right in the sweet spot, finishing up evaluations, going back and getting final looks."

Epstein said they have around 10 players they are considering with their first pick.  "Some years there are six obvious guys," he said.  "This is not necessarily a year where there's a clear-cut top tier at the very, very top." 

Tomorrow night is the third annual Dempster Family Foundation Casino Night at the Palmer House Hilton.  For more details on the event, you can read my previous blog post here.  I will be volunteering at this amazing fundraiser and hope to see some of you there!