Monday, August 31, 2009

Are we sure Zambrano's not still hurt?

Sunday: Mets 4, Cubs 1

I don't ask that just to be cantankerous. I ask it for two reasons:

1) Zambrano hasn't just struggled in his two starts since coming off the DL, he's been lit up. Seven hits and eight runs in just 4.1 innings against the Nationals on Tuesday, and then 11 hits--including five straight at one point--in just 3.1 innings Sunday against the Mets. In total, he's allowed 18 hits and 12 runs in his last two starts. It looked like batting practice despite it being a cold day (57 degrees at game time) with the wind blowing in.

2) Big Z has an ego and a serious competitive streak. He, more than some players, is the type to fight through pain when perhaps he shouldn't.

If he is in fact feeling any lingering effects from his recent DL stint, the Cubs would be better served with Tom Gorzelanny taking the ball every fifth day. Zambrano isn't fooling anybody on the mound right now.

The Cubs offense, however, was fooled all day by Nelson Figueroa. They managed seven hits, all singles, and scarcely threatened to score after taking a 1-0 lead in the first.

And may I ask, what is with Cubs players swinging on 3-0 counts this year? It's a freakin' epidemic. Milton Bradley must have a clause in his contract requiring him to do so, and Derrek Lee has done so quite a bit this year, including once on Saturday and once on Sunday.

First of all, I'm not a big fan of swinging 3-0 no matter what. As a batter, you've worked hard to get the pitcher into a terrible count, and then you bail him out by swinging at the next pitch? But hey, I realize the pitcher often grooves one right down Broadway on 3-0, and if you can tee one up and drive it hard somewhere, that's understandable. But Bradley is 1-for-14 this year when he swings at a 3-0 pitch, and Derrek Lee flied out on 3-0 each of the last two days. And, yesterday, he did so with two men on and the Cubs' most clutch hitter, Aramis Ramirez, on deck. A potential bases loaded situation vanished when a normally patient hitter took a weak swing at a pitcher's pitch. I can understand Lou giving these guys the green light, but someone needs to tell them the green light doesn't work like a stoplight--you don't have to swing!

The Cubs fell to 3-3 on the homestand and to two games over .500 overall with just one more game to play until September.

News from the South Side

The White Sox appear poised to join the Cubs at the back end of Sportscenter. They're 1-6 on their current 10-game road trip. Ozzie Guillen berated his team with a barrage of expletive-filled Ozzieness after Saturday's performance in which they tallied one hit against Sergio Mitre and the Yankees. Jose Contreras got lit up again and has been demoted to the 'pen. And their supposed savior, Jake Peavy, left his most recent rehab start and will have his elbow examined.

The Sox remain in the hunt in the AL Central, sitting six games back of a mediocre Tigers team and 1.5 games back of the how-do-they-stay-in-the-race-every-single-year Twins. But the reality is, the Sox are two games under .500, and the butt-whooping they've received from the playoff caliber Red Sox and Yankees this week has shown their true colors--a home run-dependent, defensively challenged, pitching poor team in a piss poor division.

News from the East Side

Cutler silenced the boo birds--well, actually, I think the boo birds were pretty resilient. But Cutler did all he could, completing 16 of 21 passes for 144 yards and a touchdown in his return to Denver. Cutler vs. Orton was obviously the main event, but there were some great undercards as well.

Devin Hester brought back visions of 2008 when he backpedaled to the five yard line and fair caught a punt, but then reminded us of 2007 on another punt return with a great cutback move and a 54-yard return to the Denver four, leading to the go-ahead touchdown.

Adrian Peterson opened some eyes by averaging 5.7 yards per carry on 12 attempts, scoring a touchdown along the way. And that chemistry we've been hearing about between Cutler and Greg Olsen was evident as Cutler lasered a couple balls into Olsen's breadbasket (three catches, 47 yards total for Olsen).

Denver helped out the Bears defense quite a bit with some penalties (10 for 86 yards), but all in all it was a good night for Lovie Smith's squad. The Bears were facing the first of four consecutive 3-4 defensive schemes (including Cleveland in the final preseason game this week, then Green Bay and Pittsburgh in the first two regular season games), so they'll be seeing some familiar sights by the time the real games roll around.

Did you know ...

With a 4-1 loss on Sunday, the Pirates have now lost 21 straight games in Milwaukee. Twenty-one straight! That's the longest streak by one team over another at home since 1954 (Indians over the Orioles). I hope the Pirates players at least found some watering holes while in the beer haven known as Milwaukee.


  1. Did anyone actually understand what Ozzie said? I mean, the parts that weren't bleeped?

  2. Couldn't Pittsburgh just forfeit the game and go over to Potawotami and play black jack or craps? Seems the odds might be a bit more in their favor.

  3. I think the odds on just about any game in the casino would be better!