Monday, July 30, 2012

Cubs stomp on Pirates 14-4 on a crazy night at Wrigley Field; Johnson, Maholm and Soto traded during game

The Cubs stomped on the 2nd place Pittsburgh Pirates at Wrigley Field on an eventful night at Wrigley Field. 

Justin Germano started for the Cubs and allowed two runs on four hits while walking two batters and striking out three over five innings pitched.  Germano was acquired from the Boston Red Sox for cash considerations on July 19th and earned his first Cubs win tonight. 

Germano confirmed the trade craziness happening during the game and said, "It seemed like every time I turned around, someone else was leaving." 

Justin Germano earned his first Cubs win against the Pirates on Monday night
The Cubs scored 9 runs in the 5th inning and there was also a wedding proposal that was missed and re-broadcasted on the scoreboard, in addition to the trades happening during the game.

Anthony Rizzo and Darwin Barney each hit three-run home runs, and Starlin Castro hit a two-run homer.  This was the most runs the Cubs have scored in an inning since they scored 10 on August 14, 2009. They also scored eight runs in an inning on September 8, 2009.  All three big inning games were against the Pirates.

Reed Johnson was pulled in the 5th inning for a pinch hitter and was seen shaking hands and exchanging hugs with his teammates in the dugout, which was fueling the theory that he might have been traded.  It's now been confirmed that Johnson and LHP Paul Maholm have been traded to the Atlanta Braves for Arodys Vizcaino and Jaye Chapman.

LHP Paul Maholm has been traded to the Braves (Reuters photo)

Reed Johnson has been traded to the Braves
Around the same time that Johnson was pulled, Brett Jackson, who was the Cubs first draft pick in 2009, was pulled from the Iowa Cubs game.  It's predicted that Jackson will be added to the Cubs roster on Tuesday.

Top prospect Brett Jackson is expected to be called up from the Iowa Cubs on Tuesday
In the 6th inning, Geovany Soto was pulled and also seen exchanging handshakes and hugs with teammates in the dugout before leaving.  During the 8th inning, news surfaced on Twitter that Soto had been traded to the Texas Rangers for Double-A pitcher Jacob Brigham.

Catcher Geovany Soto has been traded to the Texas Rangers
Alfonso Soriano has reportedly told the Cubs he will not go to the San Francisco Giants in a trade.  Sori was pulled in the 8th inning, but wasn't seen giving hugs or handshakes, so it was unclear if he was about to be traded.

Alfonso Soriano doesn't want to go to the Giants
Darwin Barney was a double away from the cycle in tonight's game and was offensively on fire.

Darwin Barney after his three-run homer in the fifth inning against the Pirates (photo from
Tomorrow the Cubs and Pirates will play game two of the three-game series at Wrigley Field at 7:05pm CT.  For now, Ryan Dempster is scheduled to start for the Cubs and he has been preparing for the game, although there is still a large possibility that Demp will be traded before the 3pm trade deadline tomorrow.  We shall see! 

Dempster said, "I've enjoyed every moment I've played here, and I'm super proud to be a Chicago Cub and I understand that's always a possibility (to stay with the Cubs), and if that's the case, I'm going to give everything I have starting [Tuesday] night.  Whatever ends up happening in 24 hours or 23 hours from now, we'll find out then.  It could be sooner, it could be wearing my uniform and going out and pitching [Tuesday]."

Will Ryan Dempster be traded on Tuesday?
If Demp is traded, Casey Coleman is the most likely pitcher to be called up from Triple-A Iowa, since he's scheduled to start there anyway.  Again, we shall see what happens tomorrow!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Anthony Rizzo's first career walk-off homer gives Cubs 4-2 win over Cardinals

What an exciting game today as the Cubs beat the Cardinals 4-2 after Anthony Rizzo's 2-run walk-off homer in the 10th inning.  The Cubs also take the series after winning 2 out of 3 games this weekend. 

Anthony Rizzo came through with his first career walk-off homer to give the Cubs the win against the Cardinals on Sunday (photo from
Paul Maholm started for the Cubs and allowed one run on four hits and also walked four batters and struck out five over 6.2 innings pitched.  The one run Maholm allowed was in the seventh inning and then he was pulled with the bases loaded.  Manny Corpas came into the game and got the last out.

Maholm set a record for the first Cubs left-handed pitcher since 1900 to have six straight start at least six innings long and allowing one or less runs in each.

Paul Maholm received a no-decision today, but set a Cubs franchise record in today's win against the Cardinals (photo from Chicago Tribune)
The Cardinals tied the game at 2 when Carlos Beltran hit a homer against relief pitcher Shawn Camp in the 8th inning.

Starlin Castro singled in the 10th inning and then Rizzo belted an 0-1 pitch into the left field bleachers for his first career walk-off homer.  James Russell earned his second straight win in relief in two consecutive days, which is his 5th of the season. 

The Cubs now have a record of 14 wins and 9 losses in July and are having their first winning July since they were 18-9 in 2009.  Last season, they were 9-17 this month.

Cubs manager Dale Sveum said, "Going into the second half, it was a goal to win a lot of baseball games and do whatever we could to get back to .500.  Obviously, it's an uphill battle to do it when we're, what, 17 games under .500.  Besides a pretty good hiccup against St. Louis [last weekend] against a really good offensive team, it's been a pretty good run of playing good baseball and winning a lot of games."

In other Cubs news, Ryan Dempster threw a side session today and for the time being, is still scheduled to start on Tuesday against the Pirates.  When Sveum was asked if he was looking forward to Wednesday, August 1st (after the trade deadline passes), he said, "Well, Tuesday at 3 o’clock will be fine, too.  Not that I know the time [of the Trade Deadline] or everything.”  Haha!

Pitcher Ryan Dempster looks onto the field from the Cubs dugout during Sunday's game against the Cardinals (photo from Chicago Tribune)
The Cubs will play the first game of a three-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates, starting tomorrow night at 7:05 CT at Wrigley Field.  Newly acquired pitcher Justin Germano will start for the Cubs.  Germano was acquired from the Boston Red Sox, where he was a Triple-A starter.  He made his Cubs debut last Saturday against the Cardinals and gave up one run on five hits over three innings.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Reed Johnson's bunt single leads Cubs to a 3-2 win against the Cardinals

I was lucky enough to be at Wrigley Field Saturday afternoon to watch the Cubs beat the St. Louis Cardinals 3-2 in the second game of the three-game series.  Thanks to the generosity of Stanley's Kitchen and Tap, I got to watch the game from the best seats I've ever sat in at the Friendly Confines.

Jeff Samardzija started for the Cubs and allowed two runs on three hits and walked six batters and struck out seven over six innings pitched.  The Shark didn't get off to a good start when he threw seven straight balls and walked the bases loaded in the first inning.  Luckily, he was able to get out of the inning with just one run scored by the Cardinals.

Jeff Samardzija at bat in Saturday's game against the Cardinals (photo by Karen Burchell)
"There were spurts when I couldn't miss and I was making all my pitches, and there were times when I was battling myself," Samardzija said.  "It almost took having runners on to really get my head on straight and make big pitches."  Perhaps the best part about not knowing where your pitches might go is that neither does the opponent, which worked out nicely for the Cubs.

"You really can measure yourself against these teams," Samardzija said about facing the Cardinals and Pirates, who will face the Cubs at Wrigley Field next.  "We don't know our record, we don't know where we're at [in the standings].  Just every day, we know the guy we're facing and who's pitching for us.  I really like how we're playing baseball now.  It's fun to come to the park.  Everybody's excited and happy and wants to play all nine innings.  It's a lot of fun."

Bryan LaHair on-deck in Saturday's game against the Cardinals (photo by Karen Burchell)
The game was tied at 2 in the seventh inning when Bryan LaHair walked and Tony Campana came into the game to pinch run for LaHair.  Campana stole second base and reached third when Geovany Soto singled.  Then Jeff Baker lined out and Luis Valbuena struck out.

Reed Johnson then bunted towards third with what ended up being the game-winning RBI which scored Tony "wheels" Campana.

Reed Johnson before his game-winning RBI in the seventh inning (photo by Karen Burchell)

Tony Campana scores on Reed Johnson's 2-out bunt single to give the Cubs the lead against the Cardinals (photo by Karen Burchell)
“That was all on his own,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of Johnson's decision to bunt.  “Reed is one of those baseball players that has those kinds of things in his tool box.  He is one of those guys who gets picked up now or even after the deadline because he is a valuable guy to a team that is vying for a championship.”

Also in the seventh inning, when Sveum came on the field to challenge the call of Castro being called out at first on Daniel Descalso's throw, he was ejected for the third time this season.  Which is just ridiculous since the replay showed that Castro clearly beat the throw to first.

Oh well, another argument for instant replay in MLB games.  Relief pitcher James Russell earned the win and Carlos Marmol earned the save today.

Here are some of my photos from the game:

Starlin Castro at bat against the Cardinals (photo by Karen Burchell)

Anthony Rizzo at bat against the Cardinals (photo by Karen Burchell)

Relief pitcher James Russell earned the win against the Cardinals (photo by Karen Burchell)

Cubs players celebrate their win against the Cardinals on Saturday (photo by Karen Burchell)

Cubs players celebrate their win against the Cardinals as Wrigley Field is singing "Go Cubs Go" (photo by Karen Burchell)
Tomorrow the Cubs and Cards will play the rubber game of the series at 1:20pm CT.  Paul Maholm will start for the Cubs and try to earn his 10th win of the season which would also be his sixth straight win.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Cubs lose 9-6 to Cardinals as Ron Santo Day takes place at Wrigley Field

The Cubs lost the first game of the three-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals, 9-6 at Wrigley Field Friday afternoon.  Travis Wood started for the Cubs and was dealt his third straight loss (and sixth loss of the season) as he also became the first major league starting pitcher to give up a homer in each of the first five innings of a game.  Yikes.  This also tied a franchise record, along with Carlos Zambrano.

Wood allowed seven hits on eight runs and also walked two and struck out two batters over five innings pitched.  They hit every pitch I had," said Wood.  "I was on a roll (for three games) and now I'm on the other side of it," he said.  "It's nice I (had the three good ones) because the confidence is still there."

Travis Wood started for the Cubs against the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday (Getty Images photo)
Highlights of the game were Anthony Rizzo going 2-for-4 with a 2-run homer and RBI single.  Starlin Castro was 3-for-4 with a triple, two runs and an RBI.  Geovany Soto and Alfonso Soriano also had RBIs.  The Cubs did hit for the cycle in the first inning against the Cardinals' Lance Lynn.

Anthony Rizzo is congratulated after hitting a 2-run homer in the first inning against the Cardinals (photo from Chicago Tribune)
Today the Cubs celebrated Ron Santo's induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame since today was the first home game since Santo was inducted last weekend.  Santo's No. 10 was mowed into the center field grass and blue No. 10 flags were spread throughout the roof of Wrigley Field.  Santo's grandson threw out the first pitch to Kerry Wood, who was Santo's favorite player, and Santo's family sang the seventh inning stretch.

#10 flags fly above Wrigley Field's roof to celebrate Ron Santo (photo from @M_Montemurro on Twitter)

Cubs players click their heels as they take the field on Friday in honor of Ron Santo's induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame (photo from
In other Cubs news, Matt Garza won't make a start until after the trade deadline, due to slight fluid buildup found in his triceps from an MRI.  The earliest he could pitch is late next week, according to Cubs manager Dale Sveum.  So this means that Garza most likely won't be traded before the trade deadline on Tuesday, July 31st.  It's also up in the air as to whether Ryan Dempster will be dealt before Tuesday.

Right handed pitcher Randy Wells, who was put on the 7-day disabled list last week by the Iowa Cubs, underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow on Tuesday in Chicago.  He will most likely be out for the rest of the season.  Wells cleared waivers in June after he was designated for assignment and would have been an option to rejoin the Cubs rotation if Garza or Dempster were traded.  Personally, I hope Wells has a full and quick recovery and wish him the best.

Tomorrow the Cubs and Cards will play the second game of the series at 12:05pm CT at Wrigley Field.  Jeff Samardzija will start for the Cubs and try for his eighth win of the season.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Ryan Dempster solid, but Cubs lose 3-2 to Pirates as trade speculation continues

The Cubs lost 3-2 to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the last game of the three-game series today at PNC Park.  But the Cubs did win the series, which is a bonus, although a sweep would have been even better.

Ryan Dempster made a solid start for the Cubs and allowed three runs on five hits and struck out six batters and walked none over six innings pitched.  However, Dempster wasn't happy when manager Dale Sveum sent Scott Maine out to pitch in the seventh inning and said, "I'm fine.  I'm allowed to be upset.  I respect (Sveum) a lot.  That's his decision.  It doesn't mean I have to be happy about it.  At the end of the day, he's just trying to do what's best for the ballclub.  I have nothing but respect for that.  Just the competitor in me wants to get out there and keep trying to pitch."

Ryan Dempster made a solid start for the Cubs against the Pirates (photo from Chicago Tribune)
“I had a job to do today and that’s really important to me,” Dempster also said. “I had to try and separate the two things, make sure I’m getting my rest and we had a day game today.  I wanted to make sure my focus was on going out there pitching and doing my job.  Now I will have tonight, obviously, and the off day tomorrow to try and look at a couple of different things and see what the possibilities are and go from there to make the best possible decision for me.”

I'm sure all the trade talk these past couple of weeks has got to be weighing down on him.  Especially when some people on Twitter and certain reporters are bad-mouthing him just because the trade with the Atlanta Braves didn't happen.  Cub fans need to relax instead of insulting players because they're not happy with what is or isn't happening with their team.  How can you be such a fan of a player and then turn your back on them so quickly?  That's the part I don't get.  But maybe that's just me... I understand why fans might be upset that Demp didn't approve the deal with the Braves - so the Cubs didn't get a major-league ready pitcher in the trade, but come on, these kinds of things happen and it's no excuse to bad-mouth and insult players on social media.

On a higher note, Anthony Rizzo also hit his fifth home run of the season and also had an RBI single in today's game.

Anthony Rizzo is congratulated by third base coach Pat Listach after his home run against the Pirates (photo from Chicago Tribune)
The Cubs have an off-day tomorrow before they start a three-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals at Wrigley Field on Friday at 1:20pm CT.  Travis Wood will make the start for the Cubs and try for his fifth win of the season.  Let's hope we can pay the Redbirds back for the series earlier this week in St. Louis!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Cubs win 2-0 over Pirates and Ryan Dempster is still a Cub

The Cubs won against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park tonight with a score of 2-0 in game one of the three game series.  Jeff Samardzija pitched an amazing game and allowed no runs and just one hit while striking out five batters and walking one over eight innings pitched. 

Jeff Samardzija allowed just one hit in eight scoreless innings pitched against the Pirates (photo from
Alfonso Soriano had two RBI doubles (one in the 4th inning and one in the 9th), which both brought home Starlin Castro to score.  Tonight's win snapped the Cubs' 3-game losing streak and also the Pirates' 5-game winning streak.  This was also the Cubs' 15th win in their last 23 games, and their first against the Pirates in four games this season.

Carlos Marmol pitched in the ninth inning to earn his 12th save in 14 opportunities.

Before tonight's game, there were all kinds of rumors and trade talk mostly regarding the Cubs' #1 starting pitcher, Ryan Dempster.  It appeared that even MLB and the Cubs had announced that Dempster was going to the Braves, but them Dempster (@RyanDempsterFDN) tweeted: "THERE IS NO TRADE dont know where this info came from" 

@Len Kasper also tweeted, "Demp still a Cub for now. Gotta love Twitter."  

As of tonight, Ryan Dempster is still a Cub (photo from
One of the tweets that started it all a little after 2pm CT was the @mlbtraderumors account, which tweeted, "Braves Acquire Ryan Dempster

There's a possibility of everything," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said.  "Something could come up at the 11th hour.  It's that time of year; when you have the commodities that people want, anything can happen at any given time.  The odds of all three of them being gone, no.  That's very impossible odds."

There have also been talks of the Pirates being interested in Paul Maholm, especially since they are contenders and need to bolster their starting pitching and know a lot about their former starter.  “There are rumors and we’ll see how it turns out,” Maholm said.  “It should be an interesting few days or whatever we’ve got [until the July 31 deadline.]”

Could Paul Maholm be headed back to his former team? (AP photo)
In other Cubs news, starting pitcher Matt Garza, who left his last start early due to soreness/cramping in his right triceps, is not expected to make his next scheduled start after all on Friday at Wrigley Field against the St. Louis Cardinals.

“I don’t think it’s going to happen,” Sveum said.  “If he’s not going to throw a [between start] bullpen I don’t think he’s going to throw Friday.”  Travis Wood will start on Friday in place of Garza.  With an off day Thursday, Wood would still be on a five-day schedule after pitching Sunday in St. Louis.

Tomorrow the Cubs and Pirates will play game two of the series at 6:05pm CT.  Maholm will start for the Cubs and face his old team.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Cubs shutout 7-0 by Cardinals, but leave St. Louis as Super Heroes; Ron Santo is in the Hall of Fame

The Cubs lost 7-0 to the Cardinals at Busch Stadium this afternoon.  Travis Wood started for the Cubs and allowed seven runs (of which six were earned) on nine hits and walked two batters and struck out four over six innings pitched.

This was Wood's second straight loss after winning four games in a row.  He had given up just four runs in those four games he won, but has given up 15 runs over 10 2/3 innings in his last two games. 

Travis Wood started for the Cubs against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium on Sunday (photo from Chicago Tribune)
The Cubs wore ceremonial shoulder patches on their uniforms today in honor of Ron Santo's induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.  Cubs position players also clicked their heels when they crossed the foul lines to take their positions on the field in the first inning.

Jeff Beliveau, who was just called up from Triple-A Iowa made his MLB debut and allowed no runs and three hits while walking one batter and striking out one over 1.2 innings pitched.  In a corresponding roster move, the Cubs optioned right-handed relief pitcher Rafael Dolis to Triple-A Iowa.

The Cubs were outscored 23-1 in the three-game series and were 3-for-29 (.077) with runners on base.  Ouch, that hurts, especially since it was against the Cardinals.

The best news of today was that Ron Santo was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.  His long overdue induction into the HOF is bittersweet for many Cub fans, since Santo passed away in December of 2010 due to complications with bladder cancer.

Santo's widow, Vicki, gave an acceptance speech on behalf of Ron and said, "This is not a sad day.  This is a happy day, an incredible day for an incredible man.''

Santo had a career batting average of .277 and hit 342 home runs and drove in 1,331 runs.  Following is a link to the complete story from the Chicago Tribune.

Jeff Idelson, Vicki Santo, Jane Forbes Clark and Bud Selig with Ron Santo's plaque in Cooperstown (photo from Ben Platt/

Ron Santo's Hall of Fame plaque (photo from Ben Platt/
Even though the Cubs didn't have a good game on the field, they went ahead with their preplanned Super Hero Day and dressed in costumes for their flight from St. Louis to Pittsburgh.  Matt Garza came up with the idea of a hero theme to try to break up the season.  He might have gotten the idea from his former team, the Rays, who did a "whiteout" trip and wear all white on a trip to Miami.

"Guys can let it loose, have a little fun, take a little pressure off," Garza said.  "A little bit of embarrassment can go a long way.  It gets you out of your own skin a little bit.  I'm going to wear this thing all night -- I'm going to wear it to dinner.  You don't buy it for an hour, you wear it the whole time."

Following are photos of the players in their costumes that they picked out themselves:

Darwin Barney as Toad from Super Mario Bros.

Reed Johnson as Jed Hoyer and Jeff Baker as Theo Epstein

Tony Campana as Flash Gordon

David DeJesus as He-Man
Ryan Dempster as Captain America

Scott Maine, Steve Clevenger and Bryan LaHair as Super Mario Bros.

Carlos Marmol as Zorro

Geovany Soto as a Ghostbuster

More Cubs superheroes
Dale Sveum as Hellboy
Also, Anthony Rizzo dressed up as "Buzz Lightyear," James Russell was "Spiderman" and Alfonso Soriano and Starlin Castro teamed up to be "Batman and Robin", and Soriano was so proud of his costume that he had one of the clubhouse attendants iron the cape.  "We're always together, so that's why I picked Batman and Robin," Soriano said.  Awww, how sweet.

Tomorrow the Cubs will start a three-game series against the Pirates at 6:05pm CT in Pittsburgh.  Jeff Samardzija will start for the Cubs and try for his seventh win if he can keep his pitch count down.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Matt Garza leaves in 4th inning with cramps and Cubs bullpen gets blown out 12-0 by Cardinals; Ron Santo's HOF induction and soccer match at Wrigley on Sunday

The Cubs lost 12-0 to the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium tonight.  The Cards scored all 12 runs in the seventh inning, which tied the Cubs record for most runs allowed in an inning.  Matt Garza started for the Cubs and pitched three scoreless innings, but had to leave the game early with cramps in his right triceps.  X-rays on his arm were negative and his status is day-to-day.

Matt Garza had to leave the game against the Cardinals in the third inning due to cramping in his right triceps (photo from Chicago Tribune)
Newly acquired right handed pitcher Justin Germano came into the game to replace Garza in the fourth inning and pitched three scoreless innings before allowing an infield hit to lead off the seventh inning and was pulled from the game.

After that, the Cardinals took advantage of James Russell, Manny Corpas and Rafael Dolis to score a dozen runs.  The last time the Cubs gave up 12 runs in an inning was on July 30th, 2010 against the Rockies.

Justin Germano made his Cubs debut when he came into the game to replace Garza (photo from Chicago Tribune)
In other Cubs news, FOX Sports reported that the Dodgers are "very unlikely" to come up with a package for Ryan Dempster, which is a change from yesterday, when the Cubs were supposedly weighing a package from the Dodgers for Dempster.  Reporter Ken Rosenthal said the Dodgers prefer not to trade their better prospects for a rental player, since Dempster will be a free agent after this season.

The Dodgers may not be interested in trading for Ryan Dempster after all (photo from Chicago Tribune)
However, there are still rumors of the Dodgers having interest in Garza, but that's all they are at this point - rumors.  Manager Dale Sveum talked about players being concerned about the rumors and said, "You just nip it in the bud.  You're like, 'Guys, there are going to be rumors.  All it takes is somebody to think this team needs a kind of player like you are and your name is going to be mentioned, and there's no substance to anything.'  Obviously there might be substance, but 90 percent of the time (there isn't), and out of nowhere it's 'Wow.'"

Cubs GM Jed Hoyer also weighed in and said, "All the guys on your team sit there and look over their shoulder.  I think everyone exhales after the Deadline for that reason.  I think every player on that field has been part of some rumor at some point this year, even Starlin [Castro] for a while -- that rumor was out there, which was unfounded."

Tomorrow the Cubs and Cardinals will play the final game in the three-game series at 1:15pm CT in St. Louis.  Travis Wood will start for the Cubs and try to earn his fifth win of the season.  Here's to hoping the Cubs don't get swept by the redbirds.

Ron Santo will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame along with Reds shortstop Barry Larkin tomorrow at 1:30pm ET in Cooperstown, NY.  Live coverage will start on MLB Network and will also be simulcast on an hour earlier.  For more information about Ron Santo's induction, here's a link to the article on

Ron Santo's banner at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY
Also, back in Chicago, Wrigley Field will host the international "Friendly at the Confines" match tomorrow between Italy's AS Roma and Poland's Zaglebie Lubin at 2:30pm CT.

Soccer players practice at Wrigley Field on Saturday to get ready for Sunday's match (photo from @Cubs on twitter)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Ryan Dempster's scoreless innings streak ends at 33 as Cubs lose 4-1 to Cardinals

The Cubs lost 4-1 to the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium Friday night in the first of a three-game series.  There is a good chance this was Ryan Dempster's last start as a Cub as he allowed four runs on seven hits while striking out two batters and walking two over six innings pitched.  This was the right-hander's first loss since May 25th, but it isn't expected to affect his trade value.

Ryan Dempster started for the Cubs against the Cardinals on Friday at Busch Stadium (photo from
Dempster's scoreless streak of 33 innings, tied with Ken Holtzman for the 7th longest in Cubs history, ended tonight when he gave up four hits in a row in the first inning.  Matt Holliday also hit a 469-foot home run off Dempster in the third inning, which is the longest home run in the seven-year history of the new Busch Stadium.

After tonight's game, Dempster’s ERA went from 1.86 to 2.11 but he still leads the National League and remains tied for the best ERA in the majors.  If Dempster isn't traded before his next start, he will most likely pitch next Friday against the Cardinals at Wrigley Field.

The Dodgers have reportedly made an offer to the Cubs for Dempster, but the Cubs haven't responded yet.  If the Cubs do accept the deal, Dempster would have to approve the deal since he has 10 years of major league service time (of which the last five have been with the same team) and has rights to block any trades.

Former Cubs pitcher Ted Lilly, who was traded to the Dodgers during the 2010 non-waiver trade deadline, expressed his thoughts on his former teammate and friend.  "Obviously, he’s a very good pitcher," Lilly said of Dempster.  "He’s one of the best teammates I’ve ever had."

Former Cubs teammate Ted Lilly wouldn't mind having Ryan Dempster on the same team again (photo from Chicago Tribune)
Dale Sveum's goal for the second half is to finish the season at .500, which may not seem like a big deal, but it could be tough for this year's team which went into Friday's game with a record of 38-53.

"There's no reason having a goal if it's not set high," Sveum said.  "To get there, it's going to be tough, obviously, to play 23 games over .500 to get to .500, but that's a goal.  When you set goals, that's what you reach for -- you might come up a little short but you're a lot better off than setting a crappy goal and coming up short on that.  Then you're really screwed."  At the halfway point of the season at the All-Star break, the Cubs were on track to lose more than 100 games, but with a record of 14-5 since June 25th, they currently have the best record in the majors since that date.

In other Cubs news, the team signed Dominican right handed pitcher Juan Carlos Paniagua to a minor league deal for $1.5 million.  The 22-year old will report to Mesa.

Tomorrow the Cubs and Cardinals will play game two of the three game series at 6:15pm CT.  Matt Garza will start for the Cubs and try for his sixth win of the season.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Paul Maholm and Cubs get a 4-2 "W" over Marlins and win another series; Cubs acquire Justin Germano from Red Sox and designate Jairo Asencio for assignment

The Cubs won their second straight game against the Miami Marlins today and also won the series and are 5-1 in the homestand.  Paul Maholm started for the Cubs and was on his game as he lasted eight innings and threw 106 pitches.  I was at today's game and it was one of the shortest games I've been to at 2 hours and 18 minutes.

Paul Maholm earned his fourth win in a row against the Marlins on Thursday (photo by Karen Burchell)
Maholm allowed just one run on five hits over eight innings and walked one batter and struck out four, and now has an 8-6 record with an ERA of 4.09 after winning his last four starts.

Alfonso Soriano hit his 18th homer of the season in the fifth inning which started a four-run inning for the Cubs.  Reed Johnson also made an incredible diving catch in right field off Jose Reyes, which Maholm definitely appreciated.  "It was huge. I'm sure if that gets by him, I'm probably done," Maholm said of Johnson's catch.  "Whenever he hit it, I kind of gave up in my mind that he just got a triple.  Reed, obviously, is a very good defensive outfielder and made an unbelievable catch."

Alfonso Soriano is congratulated by teammates after his homer in the fifth inning against the Marlins (photo by Karen Burchell)
Manager Dale Sveum said, "Soriano's home run was huge.  Obviously he was pitching well, and then to come back and Reed Johnson's two-out base hit to left field was kind of the backbreaker for Buehrle." Today was Buehrle's first loss to the Cubs since June 22, 2007.

After today's win, the Cubs are 14-5 in their last 19 games, which is the best record in the majors since June 25th.  Jeff Baker said, "Guys are playing good baseball.  It's fun."  Reed Johnson also added, "This team is obviously pretty good.  We've played some tough games and had some really good results of late, so hopefully it shows we're not as far away as we thought we were."

In other Cubs news, the team acquired relief pitcher Justin Germano today, who was designated for assignment by the Boston Red Sox, for cash considerations.  In a corresponding move, the Cubs designated relief pitcher Jairo Asencio for assignment.

The Cubs acquired reliever Justin Gemano from the Red Sox on Thursday (US Presswire photo)
Germano is 29 years old and has a career record of 8-20 with a 4.91 ERA.  If Germano isn't able to make it to St. Louis in time for Friday's game, Casey Coleman (who was scratched from his start on Thursday) might be brought in from the Iowa Cubs to cover the roster spot.

The Cubs will travel to St. Louis to play a three-game series against the Cardinals starting at 7:15pm CT Friday.  Ryan Dempster was scheduled to pitch, but with the trade rumors flying like crazy, who knows if that will change.

Here are some photos I took at today's game:

Cubs hanging out before their game against the Marlins (photo by Karen Burchell)

Cubs players during the National Anthem before Thursday's game against the Marlins (photo by Karen Burchell)

Reed Johnson makes it to second base against the Marlins on Thursday (photo by Karen Burchell)

First baseman Anthony Rizzo batting for the Cubs on Thursday against the Marlins (photo by Karen Burchell)

Matt Garza, Travis Wood and Jeff Samardzija in the Cubs dugout during Thursday's game against the Marlins (photo by Karen Burchell)

Actor and Chicago native Gary Sinise sings the 7th inning stretch in Thursday's game against the Marlins (photo by Karen Burchell)

Starlin Castro (photo by Karen Burchell)

The Cubs celebrate their 4-2 win over the Marlins on Thursday (photo by Karen Burchell)

"Go Cubs Go" and the "W" flag after the Cubs' win over the Marlins on Thursday (photo by Karen Burchell)