Ivy's Roundup: Cubs Fogged Up

Ivy's Roundup: Cubs Fogged Up

Welp, the Cubs lost another series that could have been winnable, except for the part where most of the lineup not named Rizzo, Castro or Valbuena is OPSing under .700 (yes, that's bad).  At least the Cubs got Welington Castillo back from the disabled list


All the games were relatively enjoyable, if not sporadically annoying.  Let's take a look...

Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates, Wrigley Field

That's former NL Rookie of the Year to you!

That's former NL Rookie of the Year to you!

Friday, June 20 - Cubs 6, Pirates 3

Edwin Jackson got the start and was cruising along until the fifth inning when he had to battle cramps in both calves, which led to his only bad inning and shortened his outing.  Jackson still scored the victory thanks to four scoreless innings by the bullpen (they've been good), a career day for Chris Coghlan and the usual fireworks from Anthony Rizzo (two-run double) and Starlin Castro (three-run homer).  A very enjoyable game to watch as we fantasize about Rizzo and Castro being future core pieces of a Cubs contender where they might be the 6th or 7th best hitters on the team.

Saturday, June 21 - Cubs 3, Pirates 5

Had to bust out the "L" flag today as Travis Wood was very inconsistent and couldn't even get out of the fifth inning after a long rain delay prior to first pitch.  Anthony Rizzo drove in two runs on a homer that temporarily put the Cubs ahead, but then Wood gave up consecutive two-out hits to let the Pirates regain the lead before leaving the game.  The bullpen finally gave in when Starlin Castro was a tick too slow to throw out Gregory Polanco after a spectacular stop.  The Pirates challenged the initial out call and won, which allowed Josh Harrison to put two more runs on the board with a line drive homer off Justin Grimm.  Eli Whiteside (!!!) hit a double to plate the Cubs' final run of the night before being designated for assignment and likely optioned back to Iowa after no one claims him.  The Cubs couldn't do anything in the final two innings on offense, but at least Carlos Villanueva pitched well to keep the game respectable.

Sunday, June 22 - Cubs 1, Pirates 2

Jason Hammel has been wonderful this season, a testament to the scouting department the new Cubs front office built and yes, he should be able to get something interesting at the trade deadline.  Unfortunately, he gave up a leadoff homer to Travis Snider and later surrendered an unlucky run when Josh Harrison lined an infield hit off his ass.  He's okay though...



Sweet uniform, every day should be throwback day.

Sweet uniform, every day should be throwback day.

Hammel also got to rock the sweet 1953 Cubs throwback uniform today. Nice socks.  Those two runs were enough as the Cubs couldn't solve Brandon Cumpton for the longest time, and then squandered a couple of juicy scoring opportunities in the late innings.  At least Hammel ate those seven innings to give the bullpen a respite after working so hard the past two days.

So in the eighth inning, the Cubs started making some moves.  Naturally we give them a bit of leeway because of the short bench and the fact that most of the guys kind of suck at MLB.  In the eighth, Junior Lake pinch-hit for John Baker and actually made it to first base with a bunt-single + head-first slide (yuk).  Darwin Barney actually got a hit to get men on first and second with no outs.  Welington Castillo had been waiting in the on-deck circle to pinch-hit in the pitcher's spot, but THEN...



Okay, let's again preface this by saying that yes, the Cubs have a short bench and that it is the late innings and they're only down two runs.  In that sense you need to look at win expectancy more so than run expectancy.  HOWEVER, you also waste an out despite taking away the double play.  I was okay with the platoon advantage switcheroo Rick Renteria pulled against Tony Watson, but I was not okay with Travis Wood bunting in that spot.  To his credit, he did lay down a pretty good bunt, but I think on any of those pitches he could have really unloaded and gotten us some excitement.  Anyway, Welington Castillo and Justin Ruggiano both struck out when they needed to put the ball in play, and that was it.

In the ninth, the Cubs again got themselves a nice scoring opportunity, with Rizzo and Castro getting consecutive singles to put men on the corners with nobody out.  Unfortunately Luis Valbuena struck out (boo) and Castro didn't advance on a wild pitch, though in his defense he might not have been able to read the ball very well from his vantage point at first base.  Rizzo scored on a groundout by Nate Schierholtz that forced Castro at second, and Lake flew out to end the game.  And thus the Cubs lost yet another series they probably could have won, but again, check out the lineup and look at all the bad hitters; it's a wonder they scored at all.

Chicago Cubs vs. Cincinnati Reds, Wrigley Field

The Reds come into town on Monday, having dispatched the AL East leader Toronto Blue Jays to get back to .500 on the season.  The Cubs are 11 games under .500 a month-plus away from the trade deadline.  Here are the matchups and broadcast info...

Monday, June 23 (Anno and Rice in attendance, weather pending)
7:05 PM Central
Alfredo Simon vs. Jeff Samardzija

Tuesday, June 24
7:05 PM Central
Homer Bailey vs. Jake Arrieta

Wednesday, June 25
6:05 PM Central
Mat Latos (he's back!) vs. TBA, but probably Edwin Jackson

Regarding Wednesday's game, Tsuyoshi Wada has officially been added to the Cubs' 40 man roster and has been pitching rather well in Iowa, so if Jackson is still feeling some ill effects of his calf cramps, that might be a logical emergency fifth starter.  That or Carlos Villanueva.



Thrilling, isn't it? Hope to see some of you there on Monday night.

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