Friday, June 12, 2009

I hate Geoff Blum as much as the Cubs hate scoring runs

Thursday: Astros 2, Cubs 1

The Cubs suffered yet another one-run loss Thursday (they're now 6-11 in such games), wasting a very strong performance by Ryan Dempster. They lost in part because they continued to shoot themselves in the foot by failing to hit with runners in scoring position. In the 6th inning, they had runners at first and third with nobody out, and the two, three and four hitters coming up; they failed to score. They're hitting just .233 w/ RISP as a team, 14th in the NL. Even in Tuesday's 7-1 victory in which the Cubs had 16 hits, they scored just seven runs because they left 16 runners on base.

The only offense the Cubs did muster, though, was a sight to see: Derrek Lee hitting an opposite field home run to tie it in the 9th. Lee has easily been the Cubs' most consistent hitter over the last month or so, and Gordon Wittenmyer says it's the adjustments he's made that have brought better results.

But back to Dempster and the Cubs pitching staff. Cubs' starters in the series versus the Astros: 21.2 IP, 2 ER, good for an ERA of 0.84. Sound familiar? You may recall that the series versus the Reds featured starting pitching to the tune of 19.1 IP, 2 ER. On the road trip as a whole, Cubs pitching (including relievers) put up a 1.84 ERA. It's a felony that the Cubs won just four of the eight games.

Russ Ortiz, who is 35 years old and somehow still pitching despite having an ERA over five in 2005, 2006 and 2007, then not pitching at all in 2008, pretty much schooled the Cubs-- he allowed just three hits and no runs in 5.1 innings. You may recall that Ortiz started twice in the 2003 NLDS when the Cubs faced the Braves. He lost Game 1 and won Game 4 in a series ultimately won by the Cubs in five games. (hat tip: Trevor Sierra)

Cubs notes

-Of the three starters in the Astros series--Lilly, Zambrano and Dempster--only one did not have a hit. Can you believe that Zambrano was the one who took the collar?

-The Cubs' eight-game road trip featured five extra inning games: two 11-inning affairs along with 12-, 13- and 14-inning games.

Central intelligence

Remember how I said Piniella should send the Rockies a thank you card? Make that a gift basket. The lowly Rockies escaped the NL West basement by sweeping the Cardinals in four games, then they took 3-of-3 from the Brewers. Despite a so-so 4-4 road trip by the Cubs, they find themselves just 2.5 games out of first as they come home for a nine-game interleague homestand.

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