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Cubs flash a little leather but Wainwright, Jay give Cards the series win

Cubs flash a little leather but Wainwright, Jay give Cards the series win

So Tom and I went to the ballpark to catch a game and we wound up getting a nice upgrade to our seats (thank you Brian) and sat behind home plate (a bit off toward the left side). The weather was great.  The view was incredible.

It looked like we were well on our way to a great day.

And then Adam Wainwright snapped off a few curveballs and I thought, "Oh no, I think it's all downhill from here".  It quickly became apparent that we peaked early.

Edwin Jackson had some good zip today, one fastball read 99 on the scoreboad -- not sure if that was accurate, but it was pretty quick.  He was mostly 92-94.  However, he had trouble commanding his good slider all day and wound up leaning on the fastball early and often.  The Cards were ready for it and squared him up pretty well in the second inning.  Obviously that wasn't going to cut it all game long, so they eventually turned to the curveball and Jackson spun some pretty nice ones himself -- except he only started throwing it more in the 4th inning.   It was a nice adjustment, but it was too little too late.  It didn't look like the Cubs were going to touch Wainwright and that turned out to be the case.  He went 7 innings and allowed just 5 hits and one run.  He walked one and struck out 11.  You can say all you want about the Cubs looking lethargic, but the truth is from where we were sitting, Wainwright was downright filthy. Good pitching will do that to you.

Only Junior Lake got to him.   Wainwright made his one big mistake, throwing him a letter high 89 mph FB and Lake jumped on it and ripped it into the left-center field gap to score David DeJesus, who had walked.  At that point the game was 3-1 and it looked like the Cubs might actually have a chance.  Jackson was throwing the ball well at that point.

The problem with Jackson's early struggles and inability to command his slider meant a lot of pitches and he was at 117 after the 6th.  The Cubs brought in Carlos Villanueva and he immediately got into trouble.  Matt Holliday ripped a line drive on which Starlin Castro made a spectacular leaping grab -- but the defense along wasn't going to be able to save Villanueva for long in that inning.  He  walked Allen Craig and  then yielded a double to Cubs nemesis Yadier Molina to put men on 2nd and 3rd with one out.

Villanueva was removed and James Russell was brought in to face  the lefty John Jay.  Jay took a 1-1 slider the opposite way, getting it into the crosswind and suddenly, for all intents and purposes, it was game over.  The Cards would go on to win 6-1.

If there was a bright spot for the game it was the stellar play of the defense.  After a key error by Junior Lake in CF in the 2nd, the defense was outstanding.  We mentioned Castro's leaping stab, but Anthony Rizzo may have topped him with a dive over the visitor's dugout to retire Molina.  That it was Molina who was robbed on the play made it just a little sweeter.  Darwin Barney also made a nice play on a hard ground ball up the middle.

We also got treated to an ump show when home plate ump Phil Cuzzi made a questionable call on a check swing -- and refused to get help from the first base umpire.

Not the result we were hoping for, but at least were able to see a few nice plays, had  a great view, and got some nice weather.

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  • Close games are hard to lose, but better than blowouts

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Yeah, that was tough. Once Jay hit the HR we knew it was over.

  • The check swing strike wasn't even "questionable." But it occurs to me that if instant replay is used in such situations, it may even save some time instead of having a long argument. It may also save some managers from getting tossed. No arguments? Maybe that doesn't sound like fun.

  • In reply to JayPea:

    Thanks -- they sure acted that way. Hard to tell from my angle because we were behind the ump. Yet this ump was so positive he wouldn't call for an appeal. Groan.

  • So Castro had a nice play in the field and a hit and a walk. A little better day than yesterday. I think he will be just fine. You just can't micro analyse him constantly. I think he misses Soriano for advice and encouragement. It was nice that DDJ took him under his wing yesterday.

  • In reply to John57:

    Agreed on all counts. Great play by him, that ball got out to him in a hurry.

  • In reply to John57:

    I am sure someone will have some analysis that will demonstrate that this was one of the worst games in SS history....you just didn't watch the game closely enough.

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    I just wish the offense wouldn't be so damn offensive....No one is in Anthony Rizzo's corner like Iam but it pisses me off how he swings at the the first damn pitch everytime someones on in front of him...That one two punch of Castro and Rizzo from last year would have been huge on this team this year

  • In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:

    Maybe -- but like I said, Wainwright was putting that yakker wherever he wanted and got ahead 0-1 on a lot of counts because of it. Rizzo got a fastball on the first pitch, I can't blame him for taking a rip. You have to swing when that pitch is in your happy spot. He just didn't hit it well.

  • I wished I would've saw you there John and Tom, I sat two rows up of the third base dugout and I had no clue you guys were there

  • In reply to kingpro98:

    Bummer! We got those seats last second so we were not able to tell anyone ahead of time.

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    I thought Castro should have been benched for the showboat jump on a play he could made by just reaching up.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Ha! He also showed up the opposing SS when he really hoofed it down to first on a slow roller and beat it out. Made him look bad.

  • Just got home from daytona. Got to see VogelBOMB & Bryant with back to back Jacks!... Also saw Bryant steal second. You don't expect someone that tall to run like that lol.

    Got bits and pieces of the Cubs game on my phone. Junior needs to learn to communicate with the other outfielders. He collided with both of them on separate plays.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Nice!!

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I haven't paid much attention to this so far, but your report makes me ask: is Bryant a base stealer? Or was it just one of those opportunistic SBs like Vogelbach seems to get now and then? If Bryant has some speed, he will be a fantasy monster FWIW once he gets to the big leagues.

  • In reply to notcarlosdanger:

    More of an opportunistic type. He's certainly faster than Vogelbach, but he's not going to steal a bunch of bases.

  • In reply to notcarlosdanger:

    I don't think of him as a base stealer. You definitely appreciate his athleticism when you see him in person. When you see him, you think "He's obviously a pitcher" because he's so tall, kind of slim, and has these long limbs... but he moves pretty well for a big fella.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Did you notice any radar gun readings wrt Baker's FB?

  • Um, this Bryant kid is pretty good, no? Another jack, and a Vogelbomb to boot. With Almora and Soler both missing considerable time to injuries this year, I think you've got to rank Bryant right behind Baez on the Cubs prospects list.

  • In reply to notcarlosdanger:

    I rank them base on what I think their long term potential is, so it's not overly affected by what is happening in the past couple of weeks -- but Bryant sure proving he's pretty advanced as a hitter.

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    I would rank Bryant number 1,Baez a close second.Bryany has a higher OPS ,slugging,BA,and on base then Baez in the same High A league.

  • In reply to Ironman McGinnity:

    That's a very small sample size for Bryant. And Baez is killing it in AA.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Struck out twice today. He needs to be benched for at least a week.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    You are on a benching tirade!

    Wait, am I getting benched for saying that? :)

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    In reply to Ironman McGinnity:

    You have to rate Baez ahead of Bryant; Baez is killing AA, and is actually younger. At this point, you have to say Baez has a higher floor.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    It's close. I do wish, though, that Baez had a bit more 'baseball maturity'. That would be the only reason I may rank Bryant just a touch higher.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Position premium goes to Baez too.

    Though it's fun to dream about who will hit more HR's.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Baez will be next SS. Theo will trade him & get great value, because Castro is a talent still. He doesn't want to make the Dave Cash(a talent by the way) mistake & keep a Cash over a Willie Randolph. Baez is better than Castro, quicker bat, more power. Bryant can be up today at 3rd base. Who's better?

  • In reply to Ironman McGinnity:

    Bryany is also a year older though.

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    Of course not. Around here we only bench the stars of their teams, not the stars of their families. Duh.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Haha!

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    I agree about the small sample however if we look at Bryant's career (mostly college) he appears to be a Theo guy with a good walk ratio and he plays third ,Baez is still without a definitive position.Lets just call both of them terrific prospects and for the first time in my life I am checking minor league box scores daily!

  • In reply to Ironman McGinnity:

    Nice to even have a discussion like this, isn't it? The Cubs have 4 top prospects now and you can make an argument for all of them.

  • In reply to Ironman McGinnity:

    Bryant 3B, a star on the way. Baez SS, another star on the way. Olt needs to regain his mojo, which I think he will. That would make life interesting. But we need a LF, Almora in center, Soler in RF. Hope Rizzo comes on...

  • Any one watching the the Red Sox vs Yankees game? First Dempster beams A-Rod and then A-Rod goes deep a few innings later...great stuff gotta give Dempster and the BoSox some love for that haha

  • In reply to Peter Chicago:

    As I was watching I looked up Cano's career stats, and just like Castro, he also had a very bad 4th year like Castro is having. So hopefully Castro can bounce back just like Cano did his next year, but thats a lot easier said then done.

  • In reply to Peter Chicago:

    Hmmm. Interesting. I'll take that kind of bounce back!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Yeah it's wishful thinking, but heck you never know.

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    In reply to Peter Chicago:

    Did that Cano bounce back coincide with a visit to a certain clinic in Florida?

  • Important for Castro to bounce back and have a nice game to quiet the critics for at least one day.

    There is something there, but it is up to him to get it done.

  • Top prospects and then a shopping spree at the end of the next year.

    Starting pitchers who become free agents at the end of the 2014 season.

    Brett Anderson (27) - $12MM club option with a $1.5MM buyout
    Homer Bailey (29)
    Josh Beckett (35)
    Chad Billingsley (30) - $14MM club option with a $3MM buyout
    Joe Blanton (34) - $8MM club option with a $1MM buyout
    Wei-Yin Chen (29) - $4.75MM club option with a $372K buyout
    Kevin Correia (34)
    Johnny Cueto (29) - $10MM club option with an $800K buyout
    Ryan Dempster (38)
    Yovani Gallardo (29) - $13MM club option with a $600K buyout
    Edgar Gonzalez (32)
    J.A. Happ (32) - $6.7MM club option
    Luke Hochevar (31)
    Hisashi Iwakuma (34) - $7MM club option with a $1MM buyout
    Jair Jurrjens (29)
    Kyle Kendrick (30)
    Clayton Kershaw (27)
    Aaron Laffey (30)
    John Lannan (30)
    Justin Masterson (30)
    Brandon McCarthy (31)
    Brandon Morrow (30) - $10MM club option with a $1MM buyout
    Charlie Morton (31)
    Jeff Niemann (32)
    Ross Ohlendorf (32)
    Felipe Paulino (31)
    Jake Peavy (34)
    Clayton Richard (31)
    Max Scherzer (30)
    Chris Volstad (28)
    Carlos Villanueva (31)

  • In reply to ucandoit:

    I gotta think Kershaw gets the all-time biggest contract for a pitcher. All his agent needs to do is point to the $$ that Timmah and Greinke are getting and laugh. $25MM/year?

    For the Cubs, the Reds might not be able to afford both Bailey and Cueto. I can't see the Tigers letting Scherzer reach the market. Who else on that list is remotely interesting to the Cubs AND on the right side of 30? I'm not seeing much.

  • In reply to ucandoit:

    Bad bunch.

  • Prospect fans I've got a piece in the hopper you're really going to like for tomorrow.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    tease...

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    TEASE!

  • In reply to djriz:

    Haha! Sorry guys :)

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Well technically "tomorrow" is in 14 minutes at 12:01 AM.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Ha! Nice try :) Minor league recap and then maybe next article after that. Definitely by around lunch time, though. Promise!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    It's lunchtime in Kuwait... where is it...?

    As an afficionado John, which do you now prefer - a trip to Wrigley (with the 2013 roster) or heading to a farm game to watch the developing talent...?

  • In reply to Hustlelikereed:

    That's a tough question. When I have those kind of seats like I had yesterday, it's hard not to say the big club. The pitchers are just so much better, they're breaking pitches so much more crisp and consistent.

    That said, the minors are a lot of fun. You aren't going to get the same quality, but you'll get flashes of big league ability. It's fun to see these guys develop and try to guess where they might be long term based on their raw skills. And from a fan's standpoint, it's cheaper, more accessible, and there just isn't a bad seat in the house.

  • I think Castro is distracted by Baez.

  • In reply to GoCubs:

    I think he's been overcoached for wrong reasons at wrong time. This coaching staff meddles with players swings, bad idea. Now he's unsure & loosing confidence.

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    off topic, but looking at Soriano's production with the NYY it seems he would have been the ideal trade for a PTBNL. He (and Zambrano, and Sosa) was a guy who could have gone either way - could have been complete busts for the other team or the change of scenery could have charged them up and they could have carried the new team on their shoulders. Didn't happen with Z or Sosa but for now it seems to have happened with Sori - would have been nice if we could have ID'd, say one player each in a low, medium and high tier to be selected based on our guy's performance over the remaining season. If Zambrano had suddenly caught fire under Guillen we wouldn't have been happy getting Volstad and simply saying, " well, he needed to be gone from here."

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    This is off topic but I had to post this. So Ryan Braun says that the sample collector had it out for him. Cause he was an anti-semite and he was a Cubs fan. http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball/cubs/chi-ryan-braun-mlb-support-20130818,0,5065869.story

  • In reply to Sean Holland:

    Knows he's guilty yet still tries to drag this guy through the mud. Cheating is one thing, but he adds to it be being an awful human being. Great guy.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Yeah obviously the Brewers players leaked these details. It's gonna be interesting when he gets back in that clubhouse. I'm glad Lake didn't bring his error into the batters box with him. I think McKay can make him a very good outfielder with his athletic ability.

  • In reply to Sean Holland:

    Lake's error was pathetic, looked like a little league player. Whoever hits him fly balls every day may want to discuss the idea of getting under the ball & using TWOI hands. When he earns the right to be Willie Mays, then pull off that weak one handed swat, not as a rookie. That's a manager's fault. If we had a manager running this club we might be close to .500 or above, but we make excuses for this poor play daily. Who is accountable, rebuilding is not an excuse for poor play. Castro has turned routine plays into errors. No excuse. If I was pitching, these guys would know when they got back to the dugout to wake up! But it's not the pitchers responsibility, it's the managers. Sveum will blast players in the newspapers, that's a weak manager. A great manager's comments would be silent and the players would know twhere the buck stops.

  • Worst call on a check swing I've ever seen. Then he topped it off by missing the call at the plate when DeJesus scored. Cuzzi really lived up to his name today.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    When I saw the replay when I got home I couldn't believe it -- and that he didn't even bother to check. Amazing. I was sitting behind home plate and was partially screened, but I knew the ump blew it by Murphy's instant reaction and how vehemently Sveum argued. Of course they didn't have a better angle, they were just asking the ump to check with the first base ump -- and the guy stubbornly refused.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    The only thing I can think is that the ball was in the dirt so the ump had his eye on whether the catcher caught it on the fly or not, and only saw Murphy's movement out of the corner of his eye. But that's WHY you'd check with the ump at first. But like you said, he stubbornly refused. I agree with someone below who said some of these umps just have an attitude problem.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    Yep. No reason for him not to check and agreed about the attitude. Some of these guys do act like you can't even question their calls -- even when they didn't see it or weren't in the right position to make the call. Cuzzi's actions were disgraceful in that instance. It's not about him being right, it's about getting the call right.

  • I know umpiring is a difficult job but some of these guys have a real attitude. I would like to see them held accountable in some way. If they are held accountable they would become better which would be good for the game.

  • In reply to kansascub:

    I agree here. For some reason everybody on the field is accountable to somebody except the ump. There needs to be a check/balance there. I think the replay will help. Can't imagine Cuzzi refusing to get 1st base umps view on check swing if he knew it was going to be reviewed anyway.

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