Cubs: Milwaukee Brewers
CHICAGO -- Here's a quick look at the Cubs' 7-4 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers in their home opener on Monday:
How it happened: The Brewers took early advantage of the windy day, scoring four times in the first inning after Martin Maldonado doubled with the bases loaded, driving in three runs. They added a run in the second on a Ryan Braun RBI double before Welington Castillo got the Cubs on the board with a two-run home run to centerfield. Milwaukee added two runs in the seventh on a sacrifice fly from Yunieski Betancourt and an RBI double by pitcher Marco Estrada. The Cubs made it interesting in the ninth with RBI singles by Nate Schierholtz and Luis Valbuena but stranded the bases loaded on a flyout by Starlin Castro.
What it means: The Cubs went 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position, continuing a trend in the early part of the season. Castro tripled and doubled but never scored in the game, highlighting the weakness in the middle of the order. Edwin Jackson didn't follow up a strong first start, but settled down after the first inning and struck out six over six innings. But five walks (one intentional) helped do him in. This game falls on the offense, considering the hitter-friendly conditions. The Cubs are now 52-45-1 in Wrigley Field opening games and 2-5 this season, overall.
What's next: The Cubs host their first night game at 7:05 p.m. CT Tuesday when Travis Wood pitches against the Brewers' Wily Peralta in Game 2 of the series.
Brian Kersey/Getty ImagesBrooks Raley allowed seven earned runs on 10 hits over four innings on Thursday.
“Those guys got to learn how to pitch at this level,” Sveum said of rookies such as Raley. “You can’t just … throw a 3-0 pitch, an 0-0 pitch and think you’re gonna get away with it right down the middle. It’s gotta be a quality pitch in the big leagues all the time. These guys are the best hitters in the world. These are things we’re talking about with development.”
Raley allowed two home runs in the tough outing and brought his season total to seven home runs allowed in 24 1/3 innings while ballooning his ERA to 8.14. Though he wasn’t happy with his performance, Raley, whose outing on Thursday was his last of the season due to an innings limit, still took some positives from his season.
How it happened: The Cubs' offense finally showed up, as they jumped out to an early 3-0 lead. However, starter Brooks Raley, who was making his last start of the season due to an innings limit, couldn't keep his team on top. The Brewers exploded for five runs in the third, highlighted by a grand slam by catcher Jonathan Lucroy, who drove in seven runs on the day. Ryan Braun added a monster two-run home run in the fourth that hit off the camera well in center field. But after falling behind 9-3, the Cubs' offense had a big inning of its own with six runs in the sixth, capped off by Brett Jackson's two-RBI double to tie it at nine, his second two-bagger of the inning. Cody Ransom quickly put the Brewers back on top, as he homered to lead off the top of the seventh, giving Milwauke a 10-9 lead. The Brewers would tack on another run, but the three-run ninth, capped off by Alfonso Soriano's walk-off single, gave the Cubs a 12-11 comeback victory.
What it means: Prior to the game, Sveum said Raley was a candidate for the 2013 rotation, but if his short stint in the majors is any indication, Raley has much to improve upon to be a major-league caliber starting pitcher. After his four inning, seven run outing on Thursday, Raley finishes the season with an 8.14 ERA with 16 strikeouts and 11 walks in 24 1/3 innings.
Outside the box: Raley allowed two more home runs on the day, bringing his season total to seven for an astonishing 2.6 HR/9. The Cubs entered the day dead last in the NL with 328 walks taken. However, on Thursday, they drew 11 free passes, surpassing their previous season high of seven, which they accomplished six times.
CHICAGO – After a 4-1 defeat to the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday, the Cubs are 3-12 in the season series, which will be completed after the teams play Wednesday and Thursday at Wrigley Field.
How it happened: Cubs pitcher Travis Wood hit a home run, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the three-run shot he gave up in the second inning. The Brewers’ home run was the first in Jeff Bianchi’s career and it was Milwaukee’s only run-scoring hit of the game. After a demoralizing defeat Monday when the Cubs were routed after giving up nine ninth-inning runs, they managed only three hits.
What it means: At least Darwin Barney gave Cubs fans something to cheer about, although it technically didn’t come until the last out was made. Barney completed his 113th consecutive game without an error to tie the longest single-season streak by a second baseman in National League history. David Eckstein also went 113 games for the Padres in 2010. The longest streak by a second baseman in the American League is 141 by Placido Polanco for the Tigers in 2007.
Outside the box: Anthony Rizzo looks to be in a funk after striking out three times and going 0-for-4. One major league scout said Tuesday that Rizzo looks to be in an “in-between phase,” meaning that he s in the process of making adjustments to counteract the adjustments pitchers have made to him after his red-hot start to his Cubs career.
Off beat: The Cubs let the Brewers cash in on a base-running mistake in the eighth inning. Rickie Weeks was caught off first base because of Shawn Camp’s fake-throw-to-third-turn-to-first play and was forced into a rundown. With the Brewers’ Norichika Aoki on third base, second baseman Darwin Barney was caught between chasing Weeks and watching Aoki. Barney threw to Starlin Castro, who made the tag on Weeks, but Castro couldn’t throw home in time to catch Aoki sprinting to the plate.
Up next: The Cubs will send right-hander Jeff Samardzija (8-11, 4.09 ERA) to the mound Wednesday against the Brewers in the third game of the four-game series. Milwaukee will counter with right-hander Mike Fiers (7-6, 2.98) in the 7:05 p.m. start from Wrigley Field.
MILWAUKEE -- The Chicago Cubs were swept away in Milwaukee, losing the series finale 3-2 to the Brewers on Wednesday as they dropped six of seven games on their just-completed road trip.
HOW IT HAPPENED: Cubs left-hander Travis Wood had a solid outing, but a Ryan Braun home run in the sixth inning was the difference for the Brewers. It was one of two RBIs for Braun on the day. Wood gave up three runs on six hits over seven innings. Bryan LaHair hit his 15th home run of the season, a solo shot to right field in the seventh inning, while David DeJesus hit a home run to lead off the game, the 12th leadoff home run of his career.
WHAT IT MEANS: Before the game, manager Dale Sveum lamented the fact that his hitters weren’t taking “winning at-bats,” and not much changed. The Cubs struck out 13 times Wednesday, and eight of them were on called third strikes. The Cubs also struck out 12 times in each of the first two games against Milwaukee, which means they struck out 37 times in the three-game series. They struck out 71 times on the seven-game trip.
OUTSIDE THE BOX: In the lineup only because Alfonso Soriano was getting a day off, LaHair took advantage of a rare opportunity. His home run in the seventh inning was his first since hitting one July 4 at Atlanta. Interestingly enough, that home run LaHair hit against the Braves came off Randall Delgado, the pitcher the Cubs were supposed to get before Ryan Dempster rejected a deal to Atlanta.
OFF BEAT: In a scary moment in the first inning, Cubs left fielder DeJesus and center fielder Brett Jackson dived for a sinking line drive from opposite directions. They avoided serious injury, but DeJesus’ upper body came into contact with Jackson’s legs as both were sliding across the grass. Neither made the catch. DeJesus was shaken up slightly but remained in the game.
UP NEXT: After an off day Thursday, the Cubs will send right-hander Jeff Samardzija (8-11, 4.17 ERA) to the mound Friday to face Colorado Rockies left-hander Drew Pomeranz (1-7, 4.87) in the 1:20 p.m. CT start from Wrigley Field.
MILWAUKEE -- The Cubs have lost twice as many games as they have won, putting them on pace for the worst record in franchise history. But Thursday’s walk-off defeat to Milwaukee had to hurt more than most.
Benny Sieu/US PresswireCasey Coleman missed his mark with a fastball, and it cost the Cubs big in Thursday's loss.
In the bottom of the 10th inning, Cubs reliever Casey Coleman left a ball up that Norichika Aoki drove over the right-field fence to give the Brewers a win. It was Aoki’s second homer of the game – and third of the season.
“You have to make a good, aggressive pitch, a fastball down in the zone, and he was locked in today,” Coleman said. “He had been seeing the ball well, and when you leave a ball up to a professional in a situation like that, they are going to make you pay.”
In all too familiar of a theme for the Cubs’ rotation, starter Matt Garza had little to show for a good effort. Garza allowed two runs on four hits in his six innings of work, taking a no-decision.
“You just keep going,” Garza said. “There is another one tomorrow we have got to get ready for, we have to stay ready, and we knew coming in (the 2012 season) was going to be tough.”
Garza has not won a game since April 29. He is 0-3 with four no-decisions during that seven-start stretch.
“I threw the ball well,” Garza said. “I would have liked to stay in longer and give up less runs, but I am just going to keep going out there and get ready for Detroit.”
Bryan LaHair gave the Cubs a brief lead in the 8th with a two-run, pinch-hit homer off Brewers setup man Francisco Rodriguez. That lead evaporated in the Brewers’ 8th when Cory Hart’s double scored Aoki.
LaHair and his teammates are frustrated they have not provided more offense for the starting pitchers.
“We have horses,” LaHair said. “We may have the best staff in the league one through three, and our fourth and fifth guys give us great efforts, but we have to be able to score runs and hold leads for them.”
The Cubs are 4-27 when scoring three runs or less in a game. They are 15-11 when scoring four or more runs.
CHICAGO -- Here’s a quick look at the Cubs’ 4-3 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers in 10 innings on Thursday:
HOW IT HAPPENED: Norichika Aoki's second home run of the day beat the Cubs in the 10th inning. Bryan LaHair’s pinch-hit home run in the eighth inning got starter Matt Garza off the hook. He was seeking his first victory since April, winless in his last five outings, including losses in three consecutive starts. Garza surrendered a lead-off home run to Aoki in the fourth inning and an RBI single by George Kottaras in the sixth. The Cubs came into the game against left-hander Randy Wolf with the lowest batting average in the league versus lefties (.222 ). Garza pitched six innings, allowing two runs on just two hits in yet another outing without run support. Koyie Hill drove in a run in the seventh that scored Jeff Baker before Wolf was taken out. The pinch-hit home run by LaHair was the second of his career, and he leads all National League first baseman in home runs with 12 .
WHAT IT MEANS: Not very much at this point. GM Jed Hoyer said on Wednesday that he and president Theo Epstein can put all of their attention toward the trade deadline and look at options for the future now that the draft is over. Ryan Dempster’s name will be among the most prominent available before the July 31 deadline. On the field the Cubs are still looking for offense . No word yet on any timeline for first baseman Anthony Rizzo’s promotion from Triple-A Iowa.
OUTSIDE THE BOX: Catchers Geovany Soto and Welington Castillo are at different stages of their rehabs. Manager Dale Sveum said Thursday that Soto was still having trouble moving in his setup due to a knee injury. Castillo was sent to Double A to begin his rehab on his MCL sprain after Thursday’s game . … Alfonso Soriano has the most home runs in baseball since May 15 with nine.
NEXT: The Cubs return to interleague play, taking on the Minnesota Twins. Left-hander Travis Wood (0-2, 4.56 ) opposes Twins right-hander P.J. Walters (2-1, 3.69) in the opener at 7:10 p.m. CT Friday.
MILWAUKEE -- Cubs starter Paul Maholm, like his team, is in a funk.
The left-hander lost his third straight decision Wednesday night and has not won a game since May 9. Manager Dale Sveum made the decision to take Maholm out after he gave up 4 runs in the 4th inning.
“He just couldn’t keep the ball down in the inning, he gave it up,” Sveum said. “He got the ball up to Braun. His change-up was up, so he just couldn’t get the ball down.”
Maholm was not pleased when Sveum pinch hit for him in the fifth inning.
“I understand it, but I’m never going to agree with it,” Maholm said. “I want to go deeper into the game, but I completely understand the move, but me, I want to be out there.”
Maholm has thrown just 14 1/3rd innings over his past three starts during which he has given up 10 earned runs.
Despite scoring 10 runs on Tuesday night, the Cubs have been swinging and missing at a record pace. Sveum’s club has struck out 29 times in the past two games and had a season-high 15 whiffs against Zack Greinke and two relievers on Wednesday.
“Today we really didn’t put together any good swings or anything,” Sveum said. “(Greinke) kept the ball down, we just didn’t cover the outer part half of the plate.”
Geinke has now run his Miller Park record to 15-0 since being traded by Kansas City before the 2011 season.
“When you have chances and you don’t come through, you start pressing when you have a guy like him on the mound,” said Cubs outfielder Tony Campana, who struck out four times Wednesday. “They are tough guys to hit against out there. It’s not really an excuse because you just can’t chase stuff like I have been doing the last couple days.”
Campana has struck out seven times in his nine at-bats. He has led off the past two contests with strike outs.
CHICAGO -- Here's a quick look at the Cubs' loss to the Brewers on Wednesday night.
How it happened: The Cubs faced the monumental task of beating Brewers starter Zack Greinke at Miller Park. Since joining the Brewers, Greinke is 15 -0 at home after Wednesday’s victory. The Brewers scored four times off Cub starter Paul Maholm; third baseman Brooks Conrad broke the game open two-run double in the fourth inning. Milwaukee sent nine men to the plate against Maholm in the fourth frame. He was taken out for a pinch hitter in the top of the 5th. Dale Sveum ‘s team has been striking out at an astounding pace. At one point, the Cubs fanned 25 times in a 14 inning period during the first two games of this series.
What it means: Maholm has gone cold in his last five starts, the team is 0-5 in those games. The lefthander has an ERA over 6 during that span as well. The Northsider’s are now 7-22 on the road for the second worst road record in baseball.
Outside the box: The Cubs drafted manager Dale Sveum’s son Rustin in the 39th round of the June draft. The team picked nine pitchers in their first 11 draft choices.
MILWAUKEE -- Not long after dropping a heartbreaker late Friday, the Cubs were dashed again 8-2 by the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday afternoon.
How it happened: Cubs starter Chris Volstad looked like he might be able to avoid that one blow-up inning that has haunted him this season, until the Brewers’ Edwin Maysonet hit a sixth-inning grand slam. The Cubs started fast with a run three batters into the game, but the offense then went stagnant much like it did in extra innings Friday night. Casey Coleman made his season debut in the seventh inning.
What it means: With the bullpen overworked Friday night, the Cubs had to live or die with around 100 pitches from the struggling Volstad (he made 99). He got past the 80-pitch mark before trouble arrived. With the six runs he allowed Saturday, his ERA rose to 6.92. He has yet to give up less than four runs in any of his last four outings and has not left any of his starts this season with a lead.
Outside the box: Volstad’s inability to win a game isn’t just an issue in a Cubs uniform. Victories are out of the hands of a starter sometimes, but Volstad’s winless streak dates back to July 10 of last season when he was a member of the Marlins. He is now winless in his last 18 starts (10 losses, eight no decisions). Volstad did enter with just 2.74 runs of support over his last 17 starts, the second lowest in baseball over that stretch (minimum 15 starts) to the Giants’ Tim Lincecum.
Off beat: Whether they meant to do it or not, the Cubs weren’t going to get away with hitting three Brewers with pitches over a stretch of seven batters going back to the 13th inning Friday night. The Brewers Ryan Braun was hit in both the 13th inning Friday and the first inning Saturday. In the bottom of the first inning the Brewers hit Alfonso Soriano with a pitch out what appeared to be obvious revenge. Both benches were warned and there were no further incidents.
Up next: The Cubs will send right-hander Jeff Samardzija (4-1, 3.03 ERA) to the mound against the Brewers on Saturday. Milwaukee will counter with right-hander Marco Estrada (0-2, 4.50) in the 1:10 p.m. start from Miller Park.
Read the entire story.
HOW IT HAPPENED:In a back-and-forth affair, the Brewers had a little more in the tank against the Cubs. Lendy Castillo, the final pitcher left in the Cubs bullpen, hit the first two batters he faced in the 13th inning and gave up a game-ending single to Corey Hart. David DeJesus didn’t even need to start to make a giant impact. His pinch-hit grand slam in the seventh inning gave the Cubs their first lead and when the bullpen coughed that up, he came up with an RBI triple in the ninth inning to tie it and scored on a wild pitch as Starlin Castro struck out. The Cubs ended the 49-game save streak of Brewers closer John Axford, the fourth-longest streak of its kind in major league history.
WHAT IT MEANS:The Cubs’ bullpen issues keep getting worse, if that’s even possible. Rafael Dolis has been one of the steadiest members, taking partial ownership of the closer role last week. But he blew the save when he gave up a two-run home run to Hart in the ninth inning as the Brewers tied it and sent it into extra innings. Carlos Marmol and Michael Bowden didn’t fare much better in the seventh inning, combining to give up four runs and erase a brief Cubs lead. Then there was Castillo, who didn’t record an out. Kerry Wood stepped up with two scoreless innings.
DECISION TIME:It doesn’t matter where the Cubs try to hide Marmol, the game seems to find him. The right-hander, who lost his closer role last week, actually retired the first two batters he faced in the seventh inning before a walk and an RBI double. The severity of his hamstring injury isn’t known, but a trip to the disabled list would allow the Cubs to bring back left-hander Scott Maine, who was effective before getting caught in a roster numbers game which forced his return to Triple-A Iowa.
NOT LEFT BEHIND:Like Bryan LaHair before him, all it took was one swing for DeJesus to show that he might not need so much rest against left-handers. DeJesus didn’t start Friday with Brewers left-hander Randy Wolf on the mound. But with right-hander Jose Veras pitching in the seventh inning, DeJesus got the call to pinch hit. The Brewers switched to lefty Kameron Loe, but DeJesus sent the first pitch into the seats in right for his first career pinch-hit grand slam.
OUTSIDE THE BOX:It was not only the first home run for DeJesus this season, it was just his second career grand slam. It was also the first career pinch-hit home run for the left-handed hitter. The last time the Cubs had a pinch-hit grand slam was in May of 2010 when Mike Fontenot did it against the Reds.
OFF BEAT:Matt Garza’s throws to first base don’t seem to be getting any better. When the Brewers’ Cesar Izturis bunted for a base hit in the sixth inning, Garza guided his throw to first base and it bounced some 20 feet in front of first baseman LaHair. Wolf followed with a sacrifice bunt and Garza underhanded it to first base from 40 feet instead of making the overhand throw. The right-hander missed out on an April 12 complete game with one out to go when he picked up a comebacker and threw it into the stands behind first base.
UP NEXT:The Cubs will send right-hander Chris Volstad (0-4, 6.55 ERA) to the mound Saturday against Milwaukee in the middle game of the three-game series. The Brewers will counter with Shaun Marcum (1-1, 3.41) in the 12:05 p.m. start from Miller Park.
CHICAGO -- Seven starts into the 2012 season and Chicago Cubs’ starting pitchers have been one out away from a complete game victory twice.
Brian Kersey/Getty ImagesMatt Garza pitched 8 2/3s innings of scoreless ball on Thursday.
Both times the final outs were seemingly wrapped up, only to be tossed away by defensive miscues. On Thursday, Matt Garza was the victim of his own mistake as he threw a slow grounder off the bat of Norichika Aoki into the stands.
Manager Dale Sveum quickly went out to the mound and pulled Garza (8 2/3 innings pitched, 3 hits, 9 strikeouts and two walks), who was already at 119 pitches. Righty Shawn Camp came in to record the final out and seal the Cubs’ 8-0 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers
“I think he was in complete shock,” Sveum said of pulling Garza. “With his personality, it’ll take him a little time to calm down from that. But he pitched one heck of a game, impressive. Not a lot of stress through the innings. It was nice for the offense to have a big day.”
CHICAGO -- Here's a quick look at the Chicago Cubs' 8-0 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday at Wrigley Field:
HOW IT HAPPENED: Matt Garza shut down a strong Milwaukee offense, tossing 8 2/3 shutout innings, allowing only three hits and striking out nine. The Cubs' bats finally held up their end of the bargain, knocking out Zack Greinke early in the fourth, putting up eight runs on the Brewers' ace. Backup catcher Steve Clevenger went 3-for-4 with two doubles and two runs scored.
WHAT IT MEANS: The Cubs starting pitching continues to be a bright spot and looks to be the team's best shot of staying in games. The offense finally broke out in the seventh game of the season and will need to do more of the same this weekend as they go up against a high-powered offense in St. Louis.
OFF BEAT: A strange play occurred in the fourth inning when Brewers' shortstop Alex Gonzalez made a great diving stop on David DeJesus' ground ball up the middle. Gonzalez turned and quickly made the throw to first, but first baseman Mat Gamel had left the bag, apparently assuming the ball had made it to the outfield and went to back up home plate. Adding to the confusion, Gonzalez was charged with the error, despite making a great play and a perfect throw.
OUTSIDE THE BOX: Runs weren't at a premium for the Cubs on Thursday afternoon as eight men crossed home, but they're still lacking in the power department. With only three home runs and 14 total extra-base hits on the season, the Cubs managed only two doubles on Thursday (both by Clevenger) sandwiched in between 11 singles.
UP NEXT: Jeff Samardzija (1-0, 1.04 ERA) takes on the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals as the Cubs head on the road for the first time this season. Adam Wainwright (0-1, 4.76), who missed the entire 2011 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, gets the start for the Cardinals in a 2:15 p.m. CT start Friday.
“There’s no plan,” Sveum said in response to whether he had any notion to give Byrd an extended rest. “Give him a day, a little breather and hopefully get him on track. He’ll be back in there tomorrow.”
In a season in which the offense was expected to go through some growing pains, Byrd’s slow start was the last thing the Cubs needed. With a slash line of .048/.130/.048 (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage), Byrd is struggling the most out of the Cubs regulars. Only six games into the young season, Byrd can only hope that he’ll get things turned around when the Cubs head to St. Louis to start a three-game set with the defending World Series champion Cardinals on Friday.
Here is the Cubs' lineup:
David DeJesus - RF
Darwin Barney 2B
Starlin Castro - SS
Alfonso Soriano - LF
Ian Stewart - 3B
Bryan LaHair - 1B
Steve Clevenger - C
Reed Johnson - CF
Matt Garza - P