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Unit blanks Cubs

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

I saw about eight innings of Monday's (April 26th) game, and then turned off the TV. It was especially bad. The Cubs got slaughtered 9-0 as Randy Johnson shut down the offense and Carlos Zambrano had "a bad day." I didn't get to see Tuesday's game, but it was apparently more of the same. The Cubs lost 10-1 on a Sergio Mitre start, and it would have been 10-0, save Todd Hollandsworth's second shut-out averting ninth inning home run of the season (the first was April 7th against the Reds). I haven't bothered to go back and watch even the highlights of either game, but suffice it to say we got the hurtin put on us.

Anyhow, I watched highlights of today's game and am frankly happy that we won. If the BOB (Bank One Ballpark) fences were moved in ten feet, we would have lost by about 5 runs. The Diamondbacks had a number of very long fly ball outs to the rightfield warning track tonight. As it is, I guess that is called pitching to the park. Anyhow, the Cubs looked good from what I saw. In the first inning, Corey Patterson hit a nice RBI double scoring Todd Walker from first. C-Pat eventually scored on a Ramirez double. Patterson also had a nice at bat the second time up when he hit a grounder to the right side moving Walker from second to third. Because of Patterson moving him over, Walker was able to score on Sosa's flyball. This gave the Cubs three runs. The Cubs won this game because they were able to play smallball effectively.

Maddux pitched well, despite putting way too many runners on base. Furthermore, on a follow up to an earlier post, Maddux got a sacrifice bunt down today that worked. It looked a little strong to me, but it got the job done. I'll keep you all posted as I'm sure you're all waiting with baited breat for more Maddux bunting updates.

Steve Finley had a great night tonight. The reason the Cubs won was because Finley came up to bat four times with nobody on base. He cranked three dingers off of Cubs pitching tonight (two off Maddux, one of Hawkins). Fortunately for the Cubs, they were all solo.

Alex Gonzalez finished off the game with another ninth inning, game winning home run. (Also, the other day I was re-watching game 5 of the NLDS. It was Gonzalez' two dingers that got the Cubs to the NLCS, so I will refrain from criticizing him for an error in game 6 of the NLCS... can't wait til he is gone though.)

Derek Lee is really struggling lately at bat, although he made two more really nice plays at first tonight. While at bat though, Lee is popping everything up. I think he might be dropping his back elbow and adding some uppercut. All his flyballs are about 50 feet shy of the wall, and he isn't hitting any line drives.

I wrote a bit ago that the Cubs offense was on fire. Well, its on ice now. Last 6 games: 3, 3, 4, 0, 1, and 3 runs. Thats not gonna do it folks. I will point out though that the Cubs are 4-2 over that stretch... which ain't too bad considering the poor offensive showings. The reason the offense has cooled down so much is due to Sosa, Alou, Ramirez, and Lee who simply aren't hitting much. The heart of the Cubs Order is hitting a combined 17 for 81 in the previous 6 games (.210 avg.) which has lead to an average of 2.33 runs per game. In contrast, in the eight games prior to that (when the Cubs averaged 8.75 runs per game) the big four hit .382 (50 for 131). I don't know that this isn't true for every team, but it has been an obvious cause of our offense struggles of late.

Anyhow, tommorrow is an offday for the Cubs. I am awfully glad for the team. I think the club is probably fairly tired. It has been fifteen days since their last scheduled day off, although the game in Pittsburgh was rained out last Thursday. This weekend is going to be our first major intra-division test as we go to St. Louis to take on the mighty Redbirds. We haven't had the best of fortunes lately in Busch, so I am hoping that they reverse that.

Posted by Byron at April 28, 2004 12:00 AM | Bookmark and Share | BallHype: hype it up!
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