Chicago Cubs: Philadelphia Phillies
Special to ESPNChicago.com
How it happened: The Cubs' inability to come up with the big hit doomed them once again. The Cubs had 10 hits on the day but managed to go 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and failed to cross home plate for the second time in five games. The Phillies jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead when Chase Utley hit a two-out home run in the first inning. Utley reached base four times and scored both the Phillies' runs, the second coming in the fourth on a Domonic Brown single.
What it means: The offense continues to struggle with men in scoring position (4-for-40 on the year), but there were some positives. Emilio Bonifacio once again produced at the top, going 2-for-5, Starlin Castro had his first multi-hit game of the season, delivering three singles, and Anthony Rizzo got a pair of hits off Lee, one of the better lefties in the game. ... Jeff Samardzija wasn't rewarded for a strong start. He went seven innings, allowing just two runs while striking out eight.
Outside the box: Jake Arrieta makes his first rehab start of the season for the Tennessee Smokies, the Cubs' Double-A affiliate, on Saturday night. If all goes well, Arrieta, who is working his way back from a sore shoulder, should make up to two more rehab starts with the hopes of returning to the Cubs rotation before the end of April.
Up next: The Cubs wrap up a three-game set with the Phillies as Carlos Villanueva makes his first start of the season for Chicago. Villanueva was used in the season's first two games, which went into extra innings, in relief and picked up the loss each outing. A.J. Burnett makes his second start of season for the Phillies.
And he can look really good doing so.
“In the zone” is the key phrase there. Arrieta walked nine combined in his previous two starts, both losses. On Sunday he limited the Phillies to just three free passes, two coming in his final inning and with Chicago in front comfortably.
“If I can establish strike one, the walks will be down,” Arrieta said. “Stay on the aggressive side of the attack. I would like to be better at first-pitch strikes. Be more aggressive, right out of the gate. That wasn’t something I was very happy with today.”
He didn’t always pitch ahead in the count. In fact he went 2-0 on the first two batters of the game, but after walking Jimmy Rollins he got down to business. It was the pitches after the walks that may have been his best. He buckled Chase Utley on a beauty of a curveball in the first inning, then got him swinging in the fourth.
Arrieta seems so close to becoming the pitcher the Baltimore Orioles thought he would be when he was their opening day starter in 2012. Finding that right line to walk is something he’s learning. His stuff is so good, giving teams free passes seems like a waste.
How it happened: Starlin Castro hit his first home run in exactly a month to give the Cubs their first lead of the day in the sixth inning, and it would hold up as five relievers helped shut down the Phillies over the final five innings of the game. The Cubs trailed three times but fought back with single runs in the second, third and fifth innings before Castro’s winning homer. Cole Gillespie had a hit and sacrifice fly to drive in two runs, while Welington Castillo’s base knock in the third inning was one of three times the Cubs tied the game before taking the lead for good. Kevin Frandsen homered for the Phillies, who also got RBI hits from Carlos Ruiz and Michael Young. The teams played sloppy early, but the Cubs settled down as Carlos Villanueva, James Russell, Blake Parker, Pedro Strop and Kevin Gregg came on in relief of Chris Rusin to secure the win. Combined, they gave up two hits.
What it means: Before the game, manager Dale Sveum was lamenting the fact the Cubs had blown so many leads this season -- especially at home.
Maybe the bullpen heard his words, because it came up big.
Sveum used four different pitchers to retire four consecutive batters in the seventh and eighth innings. The strategy worked, as Russell took care of lefty Chase Utley, and Sveum's right-handed relievers did the same to the right-handed Phillies. For one of the few times this season, the Cubs grinded out a home win.
Outside the box: The Cubs will get some reinforcements as rosters expand on Sunday, but only a couple of players are sure things to be called up right now.
Ryan Sweeney will be activated from the disabled list and Luis Valbuena shouldn’t be far behind him. Expect Brooks Raley to join Russell in the bullpen as another lefty option, but Sveum said the final call-ups haven’t been determined yet. Don’t expect an influx of players, as several from Triple-A Iowa are already here. Third baseman Mike Olt would be an interesting option, but he’s struggled for much of this season.
What’s next: The rubber game of the series takes place on Sunday when Jake Arrieta (2-3, 5.91 ERA) takes on Kyle Kendrick (10-11, 4.40).
With a veteran team going nowhere, Sandberg has been able to get his players to bust their behinds for him in his quest to become the full-time manager in 2014.
"There is some good energy on the bench," Sandberg said. "Guys were talking it up and pulling for each other. (Jeff) Samardzija was in a good grove for a while, but we were able to get some guys on base and put some hits together."
Sandberg used his bullpen to perfection, getting four shutout innings in relief after Roy Halladay gave up five runs in five innings.
Sandberg could not resist telling reporters about his warm welcome by the fans and the subtle differences he noticed at the friendly confines.
Sandberg was traded that offseason in one of the best and most storied deals in Cubs history. The Phillies got a solid shortstop in Ivan De Jesus and in return they sent Larry Bowa and Sandberg, a young unproven infielder. De Jesus helped Philadelphia win a National League championship in 1983, and Sandberg became an iconic Cub and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005.
Now Sandberg has earned the job he has long coveted -- major league manager. The Phillies named the 53-year-old interim manager after parting with Charlie Manuel on Friday.
Sandberg was a great ballplayer and minor league manager, and there is no reason to doubt that his quality approach to baseball and life in general will help him become a successful major league manager.
Here's a quick look at the Chicago Cubs' 9-8 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday:
How it happened: New Cub Thomas Neal flew out to left field with the tying and leading runs on base in a wild ninth inning. Nate Schierholtz brought them to within 9-7 with a two-out, two-run single and then Domonic Brown dropped an easy fly ball hit by Starlin Castro to score Schierholtz, but the game ended there. It was back and forth early until it turned the Phillies way for good in a three-run fifth inning as Cubs starter Edwin Jackson couldn't hold an early 4-1 lead. After a walk to Michael Young, Chase Utley tripled to right and three batters later Darin Ruf homered with Utley coming home one batter earlier on a ground out. The Cubs scored four runs in the second to erase an early 1-0 deficit as third baseman Donnie Murphy hit a three-run home run, his first hit as a Cub. They added one in the third on Anthony Rizzo’s 18th home run. The Phillies had single runs in the first and second innings on RBI singles by Utley and pitcher Kyle Kendrick. They added two more in the third and single runs in the sixth and eighth innings as Young brought one home with a double as did Carlos Ruiz with a homer. Welington Castillo had three hits and a walk for the Cubs.
What it means: The Cubs broke out of some offensive woes only to have Jackson regress on the mound. His ERA had been coming down for over a month but ballooned back up to 4.96. He gave up 10 hits and seven runs in five innings ... Murphy may have found a home at third base for the near future as he provided more pop in one game than Cody Ransom had in more than a week.
Outside the box: Before the game the Cubs added Neal to their roster, sending down pitcher Eduardo Sanchez. He became the Cubs' 49th player used this season, four off the record set last year ... Cubs Double-A pitcher Eric Jokisch pitched a no-hitter for the Tennessee Smokies on Tuesday in a 10-0 win over Jacksonville.
Next: The series at 6:05 p.m. CT Wednesday as Travis Wood faces Cole Hamels.
The sources said the Cubs would have received pitching in return for the veteran outfielder. One source said the conversation initially took place a month ago as the Cubs seek relief from the $38 million that remain on Soriano’s contract.
”It is what it is,” manager Dale Sveum said. “We have guys pitching in roles that they probably shouldn’t be pitching in, and it’s tough. They never had to do this (late-inning assignments ) before. They are thrown into this mix all of a sudden, and it’s not the easiest thing to do.”
The Cubs’ closer (Carlos Marmol ) and main set-up man (Kerry Wood) coming out of spring training have been both hurt and ineffective for the first part of the season, leaving Sveum and pitching coach Chris Bosio little choice but to go with pitchers not ready or capable of getting big-league hitters out at the end of the game.
Garza has now come out of 10 games in the last season and a quarter with a no-decision and in 2011 alone he had the lead in seven games before getting no-decisions.
”They are trying (hard),” Garza said. “They are young. We knew we were going to take some lumps. We have young guys.”
The Cubs’ pen has blown eight out of the 14 save opportunities it has had this season.
“We aren’t going to bring in (closer Rafael) Dolis in that situation,” Sveum said. “So that’s basically all we got right there.”
The front office continues to look at the wavier wire for help as Marmol tries to get recover from a hamstring injury and Wood pitches himself back into game condition .
CHICAGO -- The Cubs’ bullpen gave up seven runs over the final two innings and the Phillies walked away with a 9-2 rout Tuesday.
HOW IT HAPPENED: This one was much closer than the final score indicated after the Phillies poured it on with six runs in the ninth inning with four coming on a Hector Luna grand slam. Alfonso Soriano hit his second home run in as many days, a two-run shot in the fourth inning, but the Phillies overcame the brief deficit. A half inning after falling behind, the Phillies tied it on an infield single from Shane Victorino to score pitcher Kyle Kendrick, who singled to open the fifth inning. The Phillies went ahead for good in the eighth inning on Carlos Ruiz’s home run off reliever Shawn Camp.
WHAT IT MEANS: The Cubs continue to get the starting pitching they need, anyway. Matt Garza gave up just two runs over 6 2/3 innings, but was pulled after 107 pitches. Cubs starters opened the day with a 3.78 ERA, ninth in the National League, but taking out Chris Volstad’s inflated numbers, they had a 3.09 mark. Volstad puts his 0-5 record and his 6.92 ERA to the test when he takes the mound Thursday against the Phillies.
OUTSIDE THE BOX: Make that two more awkward throws from Garza to first base, both on bunts from the Phillies' Juan Pierre. Garza, who has been having what can best be described as the yips when throwing to first, short-armed two balls into the dirt to first baseman Bryan LaHair. The first one, in the first inning, was ruled an error. The second one, in the third inning, earned Pierre a hit.
OFF BEAT: Perhaps it was the 14-pitch at-bat by Bryan LaHair that lulled Pierre into a relaxed state in left field. LaHair ended his monster duel with pitcher Kyle Kendrick by hitting a lazy fly ball to left field. But the ball hit off Pierre’s glove and fell to the turf, putting LaHair on base. Soriano followed with a two-run home run. Reaching by error does not count toward LaHair's on-base streak and it was snapped at 32 consecutive games.
UP NEXT: Cubs right-hander Chris Volstad (0-5, 6.92) will take the mound Thursday in the final game of the brief two-game series. He will be opposed by Phillies right-hander Roy Halladay (3-3, 3.20) in the 7:05 p.m. start from Wrigley Field.
Halladay, meanwhile, will enter Friday’s game with a 3-1 record and a 1.50 ERA, and he has yet to give up a home run in 30 innings this season. The Phillies will go with right-hander Joe Blanton to start Saturday night, but they have yet to announce who will pitch in the final two games.
“The pitching, I think they have a 2.70 ERA as a team, so it will be tough to score runs and put things together,” manager Dale Sveum said. “That’s why they have one of the best pitching staffs over the last few years. It will be tough. Hopefully getting into a more hitters’ park we can hit some home runs. You have to do that against those kind of pitchers because it’s hard to string hits together. They don’t walk people either.”
The former Chicago Cubs great will return for a second year as manager of Philadelphia's Triple-A team, philly.com reported on Monday.
New Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein told Sandberg that he would not be considered for the managerial opening that was filled by Dale Sveum. Sandberg was passed over by then Cubs general manager Jim Hendry in favor of Mike Quade the year before.
Sandberg did interview with the rival Cardinals to replace Tony La Russa this offseason, but that job went to Mike Matheny.
Sandberg had been clear in recent years that he would like to someday manage the Cubs and has worked his way up from the low minors. But after success throughout the organization, the Hall of Famer didn't get the top job and decided to accept an opportunity with the team that drafted him, the Phillies.
He led the IronPigs to their first ever postseason berth last season, making it all the way to the championship before losing.
CHICAGO -- A quick look at the Chicago Cubs' 9-1 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday at Wrigley Field.
How it happened: A combination of 97 degree heat and the Phillies' bats made it a short day for Ryan Dempster, who gave up six runs on seven hits in three innings while throwing 86 pitches. It marked his second shortest outing of the season. He threw a 1/3 inning in Arizona on April 28. His ERA shot up to 5.00. The Cubs' offense was shut down by rookie Vance Worley, who gave up just one run through eight innings. Jimmy Rollins hit two home runs.
What it means: The Cubs are 1-8-1 in their last 10 series. The lone win was a one-game makeup win over the Rockies. The Cubs are a season-worst 21 games under .500. The last time the Cubs were 21 games under was Aug. 31, 2010 when they were 56-77.
Outside the box: The Cubs made an error in nine consecutive games for the first time since 1987.
What's next: After a day off on Thursday, Carlos Zambrano (6-5, 4.78) takes on the Houston Astros' Bud Norris (5-6, 3.59).
1. Kosuke Fukudome, RF
2. Starlin Castro, SS
3. Aramis Ramirez, 3B
4. Carlos Pena, 1B
5. Marlon Byrd, CF
6. Alfonso Soriano, LF
7. Koyie Hill, C
8. Darwin Barney, 2B
9. Rodrigo Lopez, P
PHILADELPHIA -- Here's a quick look at the Cubs' loss on Sunday, their third straight.
The good: Aramis Ramirez hit a two-run homer, his fourth of the season, off Phillies starter Roy Oswalt. It’s a positive sign for Ramirez who had two homers on the road trip after only having two all season. The Cubs executed a perfect hit and run in the first inning with Darwin Barney scoring from first on Starlin Castro’s double.
The bad: Lefty Sean Marshall appears tired, having pitched in four of the past five games. Marshall gave up the tying and go-ahead runs in the seventh inning. Once again, a Cubs starting pitcher failed to get past the fifth inning -- though Doug Davis was able to hold Philadelphia in check, allowing just two runs while pitching out of a pair of bases-loaded jams.
Outside the box: Expect plenty of roster moves this week, with rehabbing players Jeff Baker, Reed Johnson and Alfonso Soriano all due back. Johnson will see team doctors on Monday after getting beaned on Saturday night.
PHILADELPHIA -- Here's a quick look at the Cubs' loss on Saturday.
The good: Cubs’ starting pitcher Matt Garza gave up two runs (one earned) in six innings. Garza matched former Cy Young winner Cliff Lee’s solid outing. Second baseman Darwin Barney broke an 0-for-14 slump with a pair of base hits.
The bad: The Cubs committed two more errors on Saturday, including Barney’s first-inning boot that led to an unearned run. The Cubs’ 52 errors are the most in baseball. Left-hander Sean Marshall gave runs on the road for the first time this season.
Outside the box: Righty Angel Guzman threw two innings in his first professional game since 2009 at Single-A Peoria on Friday night. Guzman underwent right shoulder surgery in March 2010.
Next: Doug Davis (0-5) will try to win his first game as a Cub against Roy Oswalt (3-4).