Thursday, May 13, 2010

Silva pitches well, offense does just enough in 4-3 win

It's May 13, the Cubs have played over 21 percent of their schedule, and Carlos Silva is still without a loss. He bounced back from two mediocre starts and moved to 4-0 with a solid outing against the Marlins yesterday. The Cubs are 6-1 in Silva's starts and three of their four wins in May have come in games in which he took the mound. It's quite possible that Silva could retire today and we would still say two years from now that Hendry fleeced the Mariners. I'm only half joking.

The offense didn't exactly bust out of their slump, but two big doubles by Mike Fontenot and Marlon Byrd--along with a wild pitch by Chris Volstad--enabled the Cubs to eke out a victory. Derrek Lee and Starlin Castro chipped in two hits apiece, and Aramis Ramirez was given another day off. Oh, that reminds me: a quick word on Aramis Ramirez saying he's his own hitting coach. Really, Aramis? Rudy Jaramillo and his $2.4 million contract beg to differ. Look, I know you're a veteran and all, and a player who's had a great deal of success in the past. Clearly you do have a pretty good idea how to hit a baseball. But right now, you don't. Your major league-worst .159 batting average indicates that if you are your own hitting coach, you suck at it. You're fired. Luckily, the Cubs happen to have another hitting coach on hand, and it just so happens that he's been paid to work with major league hitters for the last 20 years. Maybe just have a chat with him, chew the fat, a little tete-a-tete. Maybe drop the macho "I can do it all" shtick, because you can't. Not right now, anyway.

On that note, I also think it's time for Piniella to move both Derrek Lee and Ramirez down in the batting order. It doesn't have to be permanent, of course. I still have faith that both of them will have solid seasons, but right now, they are two big black holes in the middle of the lineup. Theriot and Fukudome tend to get on base (.357 and .422 OBPs, respectively), then Lee and Ramirez strike out, pop it up, etc., and the inning ends. To wit: yesterday, Lee popped out with runners at first and second and nobody out, and grounded out with a runner at third and only one out.

After our resident minor leaguers are done stabbing a rally in the chest dozens of times, the bottom of the order does decently, but the pitcher comes up and it's all for naught once again. On Monday, Lilly's first two at bats came with runners and first and third and then with the bases loaded. Suffice to say, those situations did not work out in the Cubs' favor. Move Lee and Ramirez down until they finally get hot, Lou, and then move them back up where they can do some damage. Right now the only thing they're damaging is Ron Santo's heart.

Carlos Marmol raised Santo's blood pressure in the ninth yesterday (and mine), though he did escape with his fifth save of the season. For some reason, he seemed to be overly reliant on his slider. Against Brian Barden, he threw five sliders and one fastball. Against Gaby Sanchez, four sliders and a curveball. I haven't seen that many sliders since I got drunk and went to White Castle with a stolen credit card. He finally did strike out Hanley Ramirez looking with a fastball on the inside corner, but where was that pitch for the first five hitters of the inning? But I digress. Marmol got the job done and the Cubs avoided the sweep.

Up next are the Pirates, who were just swept by the Reds and failed to score in their last two games. Just over a week after the Cubs were embarrassed in Pittsburgh, they get a chance for some revenge.

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