Chicago Cubs: Colorado Rockies
• The Chicago Cubs and Colorado Rockies were tied 3-3 after four innings on Tuesday. Eleven innings later, it was still 3-3. After the Cubs loaded the bases in the 16th, Starlin Castro ended things with a sacrifice fly. By inning, it was the latest sac fly in Cubs history (flies were split from bunts in 1954), and the Cubs' longest victory since a 16-inning, 1-0 win over Houston on May 31, 2003.
At 6 hours, 27 minutes, Tuesday's was the longest game of the season, the longest in either team's history, and its 1:34 a.m. CT ending was the latest finish ever to a game at Wrigley Field (breaking the previous record from 2012 by 6 minutes).
While there have been four 16-inning games this season, we still haven't had a contest go 17. The last season without at least one was 2002.
• The San Diego Padres piled up 20 hits in Friday's win over the Atlanta Braves, the most hits recorded by any team in a nine-inning game at Petco Park. It was the Padres' highest hit total in a nine-inning home game since 1995. Tommy Medica had five of those hits, including two homers, becoming just the second player in Padres history with that line (Ryan Klesko, 2001).
The Padres took a different tack on Saturday, going to extra innings before Will Venable won the game with a bases-loaded single in the 12th. Venable has both the team's walk-off hits in the 12th or later this season (May 5); the Padres' only other player with two in a season was Chris Gomez in 1997. Venable also had a 13th-inning single in 2012 and is the first player in franchise history with three walk-off hits in the 12th or later.
• The Royals won a 1-0 game against Oakland on Friday behind Raul Ibañez's fifth-inning homer. Eleven games this year have been 1-0 via solo homer, but the Royals had not won such a game since Sept. 18, 1993 (Felix José homer vs. Seattle).
It's only the third time in history that the current Kansas City team (the Royals) has beaten the previous Kansas City team (the Athletics) by a 1-0 score. It happened in 1982 on a U.L. Washington ninth-inning single, and in 1980 when Washington scored the only run on a Willie Aikens base hit.
• Hanley Ramirez ended Saturday night's game with a three-run 12th-inning homer for the Los Angeles Dodgers. It was the team's first walk-off homer of the year, leaving four teams (Royals, Mariners, Rangers, Nationals) without one. The Dodgers had not hit a walk-off homer against the Cubs since Pedro Guerrero's solo shot in the ninth on May 18, 1982. By inning, it was their latest three- or four-run walk-off, against any team, since Darryl Strawberry beat the Astros with a 13th-inning shot on Aug. 16, 1991.
• On Thursday the Los Angeles Angels and Baltimore Orioles engaged in a friendly game of chicken as they waited to see who wanted to score first. Finally in the top of the 13th, the Angels combined a walk and two singles into the game's only run. It was the first time the Orioles had played 12 scoreless innings to start a game since Aug. 20, 1978, also against the Angels. Don Baylor's walk-off double in the 14th was the only scoring in that game. That was also the Angels' last 1-0 win in a game of 13 or longer; they've had just one other such win in franchise history (1963).
The veteran pitcher was ambushed by the Rockies for the second time in 2013 on Saturday evening.
Cubs starter Carlos Villanueva was victimized by the Rockies, again, on Saturday to remain winless in four road starts this season.
“That is a team that has given me trouble throughout my career for some reason.”
Villanueva wasn’t kidding about his struggles against the Rockies. He allowed seven runs on nine hits in the 9-3 loss on Saturday, and a like number of runs on 12 hits in a five-inning start and loss to Colorado on May 14.
The road itself has been rough on the pitcher. He is 0-2 with a 5.04 ERA in four starts away from Wrigley Field this season.
“He is extremely competitive,” said manager Dale Sveum after the game. “He is one of the more competitive, prepared, hard-working pitchers you are going to see.
“I am sure he is mad at himself hanging a slider and not getting through that [fifth] inning by himself.”
Villanueva’s night began to spin out of control in the fateful fourth inning. He walked his counterpart Juan Nicasio with two outs, setting up Dexter Fowler's two-run triple.
“That kind of changed the game around walking [Nicasio] on a 3-2 slider and throwing Fowler a 3-2 fastball,” Sveum said. “That was a little backward and changed momentum around in the whole game.”
Villanueva, who signed as a free agent in the offseason, has been the ultimate team pitcher. He started the season in the rotation and moved into the bullpen when Matt Garza returned from the disabled list at the end of May.
“I have been able to go out there and eat up some innings,” he said. “I think for the most part I have given us a chance to win. I remember a couple of years ago, [Giants starter] Matt Cain had a horrible won-and-loss record but overall good numbers.
“It is frustrating, but you look at the bigger scheme of things. After you let the ball go, you can’t really control what happens.”
The Cubs are 21-26 on the road this season and 7-9 against the National League West.
What it means: Villanueva lost his sixth game of the season and second against Colorado. The Rockies appear to have his number; they have scored 14 runs on 21 hits in nine innings against him so far in 2013. Chicago had been on a good role as of late, winning 25 of 46 since May 26. (They were 18-30 before that.) The Cubs are 5-1-2 over their past eight series, Sunday’s rubber game of this series pending. Rookie Junior Lake continues to contribute, chipping in with a single and a walk in his second big league game. Lake had three hits in his major league debut Friday evening.
Outside the box: The Matt Garza trade watch continues, with fewer rumors attached to the Rangers and Cubs’ proposed deal. ... Outfielder David DeJesus, on the DL since June 15 with a right strain, played in a game with the club's short season rookie club in Mesa, Ariz. ... DeJesus could return to the major league team in a week, if he does not have a setback in his rehab. ... If Garza gets traded, the Cubs will turn to either minor leaguers LHP Brooks Raley or LHP Chris Rusin on Monday in Phoenix.
Up next: RHP Edwin Jackson (6-10, 5.11) faces the Rockies' RHP Tyler Chatwood (5-3, 2.56) in the finale of the three-game series at 3:10 CT.
CHICAGO -- Here’s a quick look at the Chicago Cubs' 9-4 loss to the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday:
How it happened: Cubs starter Carlos Villanueva got hit early and often, giving up 12 hits in his five innings of work. The Rockies scored in each of the first three innings and then added two more in the fifth and two more in the ninth. The big blows came from
What it means: The rough start could not have come at a worse time for Villanueva. With Matt Garza very close to returning from an injury, one starter has to go to the bullpen despite manager Dale Sveum vaguely intimating before the game he might use six starters for the time being. Tuesday didn’t help Villanueva’s cause, as he was hit hard from the outset, and he’s been trending backward after a great first month on the mound.
Key stat: Gonzalez went 5-5 for Colorado with two home runs and three RBIs.
What’s next: The teams play the rubber game of the series Wednesday night with Jeff Samardzija opposing Jon Garland.
DENVER -- The Chicago Cubs were swept in a road series for the 10th time this season after a 7-5 defeat to the Colorado Rockies.
HOW IT HAPPENED: Loss No. 97 was decided early as the Rockies scored seven times over the first three innings. For the third consecutive day it was former Cubs doing some damage. DJ LeMahieu, traded in the offseason in the deal that gave the Cubs Ian Stewart, hit a two-run home run in the second inning. Tyler Colvin, who was also dealt to the Rockies in the same deal, had a hit. Both players had hits in all three games.
WHAT IT MEANS: Make that 0-16 for the Cubs on the road against National League West teams. They have now been swept by all five NL West clubs after the series at Colorado. The Cubs have one last chance to win a game in an NL West park when they travel to Arizona for the second time this season. They open a three-game set, their final road series of the season, on Friday in the desert.
OUTSIDE THE BOX: Before play began Thursday, Anthony Rizzo had played in 81 games with the Cubs this season. Doubling his numbers to project a full season, Rizzo would have the equivalent of 24 doubles, 28 home runs and 90 RBIs. Rizzo raised his batting average from .283 to .290 with three hits in three official trips to the plate.
OFF BEAT: One at-bat after hitting his 15th home run of the season, Rizzo had a pitch go behind him from the Rockies’ Jhoulys Chacin. Rizzo ended up with a walk during the at-bat and then exacted a little revenge. While being forced out at home plate, Rizzo slid hard into the left leg of Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario. The trainer came out for a visit, but Rosario stayed in the game.
UP NEXT: The Cubs will send left-hander Travis Wood (6-12, 4.23 ERA) to the mound Friday at Arizona in the opener of a three-game series. The Diamondbacks will counter with right-hander Ian Kennedy (14-11, 4.14) in the 8:40 p.m. CST start from Chase Field.
DENVER -- The Chicago Cubs' 6-0 defeat to the Colorado Rockies after a 1-hour, 24-minute rain delay dropped their record to a season-worst 37 games under .500 at 59-96.
HOW IT HAPPENED: Former Cub Tyler Colvin had an RBI single in a two-run first inning and scored a run during a four-run third inning. Cubs starter Jason Berken lasted just four innings, giving up six runs on nine hits. The Cubs’ own offense was held in check by Rockies left-hander Drew Pomeranz, who entered the outing just 1-9 with a 5.30 ERA. Dave Sappelt, who is trying to make an impression for a big-league job next season, had his second consecutive multi-hit game and fifth since Sept. 10.
WHAT IT MEANS: The victory puts the Rockies just two wins away from avoiding a 100-loss season. The Cubs, on the other hand, are just four defeats away from 100 losses and need four victories over their final seven games to avoid it. It would be just the third seasons of 100 losses or more in franchise history. In an attempt to avoid the dubious distinction, manager Dale Sveum said he would continue to play regulars Alfonso Soriano, Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo and Darwin Barney the rest of the way.
OUTSIDE THE BOX: Reliever Lendy Castillo delivered his best outing of the season and it came with just a week remaining. The right-hander pitched two hitless innings, especially impressive because it came at Coors Field, where offense seems to be coming easier again this season. Castillo actually had a similar outing this season, when he gave up just one hit and no runs May 5 against the Dodgers.
OFF BEAT: Not all lessons are easily learned. On the last road trip, Sveum was baffled when Dave Sappelt made the final out of the inning at third base while tagging up and preventing a run from scoring on the play. It happened again Thursday, this time when Joe Mather executed the blunder. The link to both plays is that on Thursday night it ended up costing Sappelt an RBI.
UP NEXT: The Cubs will send right-hander Chris Volstad (3-10, 6.22 ERA) to the mound Thursday at Colorado in the finale of the three-game series. The Rockies will counter with right-hander Jhoulys Chacin (2-5, 4.58) in the 2:10 p.m. CST start from Coors Field.
CHICAGO – The Cubs’ 4-3 defeat to the Rockies on Saturday evened the series at a game each.
HOW IT HAPPENED: Brett Jackson’s third home run of the season gave the Cubs an early three-run lead that was washed away. Starter Brooks Raley gave up a two-run home run and reliever Manny Corpas gave up another to Andrew Brown. It was Brown’s first career home run. The Rockies pushed across the game-winner on a ground ball.
What it means: Raley continues to give the Cubs solid innings, making himself a viable candidate for the 2013 rotation. His only blemish over five innings Saturday was a two-run home run from pinch-hitter Josh Rutledge. After a rough major league debut earlier this month at San Diego, Raley has settled down by not giving up more than three runs in any of his last three starts.
Outside the box: Alex Hinshaw made his Cubs debut in the seventh inning. The left-handed reliever was asked to face just one batter, getting Carlos Gonzalez to ground into a fielder’s choice. The only problem was that the grounder ended up pushing across the game-winning run. Hinshaw was claimed off waivers last week from the San Diego Padres.
Off beat: Jackson gets the credit for his fourth-inning home run, of course, but give the basket an assist. Jackson’s high fly ball didn’t reach the seats, it landed in the metal basket that juts out from the wall. Had it been the old days, that ball would have probably ended up a double. But had it been the old days, way back before replay, perhaps a fan grabs it and drags it into the seats and the umpires rule it a home run anyway.
Up next: The Cubs will send right-hander Chris Volstad (0-9, 6.88 ERA) to the mound against Colorado in the finale of the four-game series. The Rockies will counter with right-hander Jhoulys Chacin (1-3, 6.16) in the 1:20 p.m. start from Wrigley Field.
How it happened: The Rockies jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead on the strength of a pair of solo homers from Chris Nelson and Carlos Gonzalez. Starter Jeff Samardzija settled down after that, allowing only two singles the rest of the way. Alfonso Soriano and Welington Castillo added solo shots in the fifth and Brett Jackson tied it up in the eighth with his second career home run and first at Wrigley Field. Later in that inning, Joe Mather put the Cubs up for good when he singled in Luis Valbuena. Carlos Marmol came in to close it out in the ninth.
What it means: Samardzija continues to add on to his career-high innings pitched total, as his seven on Friday brought him to 151 2/3 on the season. Though they haven't set an innings limit for him, the Cubs will continue to monitor Samardzija's workload the rest of the way. Along with his home run, Castillo also gunned out DJ LeMahieu on a steal attempt. Though Sveum says Steve Clevenger and Castillo will share catching duties through September, Castillo has shown signs of being a strong candidate to start full-time in 2013.
Outside the box: Entering play on June 24, Starlin Castro had six walks in 72 games. With a walk in the second inning on Friday, Castro has quadrupled that total and has 18 walks in his past 52 games. While the hits aren't coming as often as he would like, Castro's new-found patience at the plate is a huge step in the right direction for his development.
Up next: Rookie Brooks Raley (1-2, 7.63) takes on Alex White (2-6, 5.55) as the Cubs face the Rockies in the second game of the series at 12:05 p.m. Saturday at Wrigley Field.
He returns to Wrigley Field for the first time red hot, batting .435 in his last six games.
“It is great to see the guys I came through the minors with get a chance,” Colvin said. “Not everyone has made it at the same time but it is nice to see them get a chance just like I am here.”
Colvin has been a versatile performer for Colorado this season, playing all three outfield spots as well as first base.
“When I got here there was good communication from the beginning,” Colvin said. “In the past, the program changed for me. Here I am not being pulled back and forth.”
A stellar rookie season in 2010, when he hit 20 home runs, ended in near tragedy. A broken bat punctured his chest cavity, collapsing a lung and ending his season in early September. He struggled in 2011, batting .150 with six home runs, but he never used the broken bat incident as an excuse for his struggles.
”I know I had a really bad year last year, and I couldn’t work out in the previous offseason like I always do. But that is no excuse for a bad year,” Colvin said. “I was just swinging at everything, not concentrating on my proper mechanics.”
The move to Colorado has been a good thing for Colvin, who will not forget his Chicago roots.
“I’m sorry I did not get a chance to come back and prove myself here, but the Rockies have given me a chance, and I am back to being who I am,” Colvin said.
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The Cubs powered their way to a 7-3 win over the Colorado Rockies in a makeup game at Wrigley Field.
How it happened: The Cubs used the long ball as Carlos Pena had his first two-homer game as a Cub, and Aramis Ramirez also hit two. Pena has hit all 16 of his home runs since May 3. Ramirez has 297 career home runs. Right-hander Matt Garza had one of his best starts as a Cub for his fourth win.What it means: The Cubs have won the first game of six straight series, dating back to Philadelphia in early June. Their record is 8-10 in that span. The Cubs’ win is considered a series win by the Elias Sports Bureau.
Outside the box: Outfielder Marlon Byrd makes his rehab debut in Iowa on Monday after getting beaned on May 21 in Boston.
Here's the lineup:
RF Kosuke Fukudome
SS Starlin Castro
2B Jeff Baker
3B Aramis Ramirez
1B Carlos Pena
CF Marlon Byrd
LF Tyler Colvin
C Koyie Hill
P Casey Coleman
DENVER -- On a night when Carlos Zambrano returned to the mound for the first time since June 25, the focus wasn't on the star-crossed Cubs pitcher but more on whether his team would be impacted to the point of distraction by the trades of Ted Lilly and Ryan Theriot earlier in the day.
"You always want to be the team adding and have a shot," first baseman Derrek Lee said. "But it hasn't worked out for us this year. This year is something none of us could have expected to be in. All of us thought we would be contending for a playoff spot."
Although the Cubs fought back to tie the game in the eighth inning on Lee's three-run homer, Colorado Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez put another exclamation point on a loss for the Cubs with a 462-foot walk-off homer off Sean Marshall to complete a cycle and a 6-5 victory.
"It's been a rough year," Lee said. "No question about it, it has been a rough season so far. That's what happens when you have a rough four months. The organization has to make a decision which direction we want to go."
It appears general manager Jim Hendry already made that decision when he tried to trade Lee earlier in the week to the Los Angeles Angels and then followed that up by trading Lilly and Theriot to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday. Look for Hendry to continue to try to deal other players off his team over the next month through the waiver process.