22
March

Scott Fennessy: Brewers hammer Cubs

325px-18brewer2014aKhris_DavisToday’s game features Jimmy Nelson and Kyle Hendricks. The Brewers have been pretty bad so far, but the Cubs have been struggling a bit of late.

Milwaukee jumps on Hendricks right from the start. Ryan Braun, easily the best player on the team so far draws a one out walk. Khris Davis gets a single that puts runners on the corners and Adam Lind draws a walk to load the bases.

Catcher Miguel Montero goes to the mound to talk to his pitcher and Jonathan Lucroy then gets a sac fly to bring home the first run of the day.

Ryan Gennett smokes a double high off the wall in left center field for two more runs. Shane Peterson grounds out to end the inning but the Brewers are up 3-0 after a half inning of play.

The Brewers and Cubs both hit a series of doubles, as the wind is blowing out pretty hard, but the score was still 3-0 Brewers as the Cubs bat in the bottom of the second.

Montero gets a leadoff single and Chris Coghlan bunts the runner into scoring position and Jorge Soler rips a double to left that scores Montero for the first run of the day. Javier Baez then gets another double to cut the lead to one. Hendricks whiffs to end the inning but the lead is Brewers 3, Cubs 2 after two innings.

The Brewers deliver the killing blow in the fourth inning. Elian Herrera draws a leadoff walk. Jimmy Nelson strikes out. Hernan Perez hits a double and runners are on second and third with one out. Braun then hits a single to right and two runs score as Braun takes second on the throw.

The pitching coach comes to the mound to stall for time and Davis then hits a single to score Braun and Hendricks is done for the day. Lind hits a single and runners are on first and second. Lucroy hits another in a seemingly endless line of hits that scores a run. Gennett gets a single and the bases are now loaded.

Peterson hits a fly ball to medium left field and another run scores. Herrera and Nelson are retired and the inning is mercifully over.

The score remained 8-2 Brewers on top as we reach the 8th inning. Nelson is still in and looking sharp as Dexter Fowler draws a leadoff walk. He was off with the pitch and Castro rips one into left center that rolls all the way to the wall to score Fowler. Castro then steals third and was there with one out when Kris Bryant hits a sacrifice fly to score another run. Montero strikes out and the inning is over and the Cubs trail 8-4. This was the final score as the Brewers continued to pound away at the Cubs bullpen but fortunately no further runs scored.

Kyle Hendricks takes the loss while Jimmy Nelson gets the victory. Khris Davis was the star of the day going 5 for 5 with a walk and oddly enough only 1 RBI.

Around the horn:

The Nationals get a rare win against the Mets as Bryce Harper goes 4-5 with a HR and 4 RBI

Carlos Santana of the Indians hits his second grand slam of the season. He is the only player in my replay history with two career slams.

Kevin Gausman throws a 5-0 shutout of the Tampa Rays

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3
March

Scott Fennessy: Lester shuts down Brewers

jon lesterWrigley Field
Chicago, IL
May 2, 2015

Fresh off of last night’s victory the Cubs face the Brewers in the second game of this series. Today sees Jorge Lopez and Jon Lester match up. Lester, fresh off a solid performance last time makes quick work of the Brewers and the Cubs come to bat in the bottom of the inning. Dexter Fowler, who has suddenly remembered how to hit lately gets a single on the very first pitch of the game. Dex is off with the pitch and Starlin Castro rips a double into left that scores the runner. Anthony Rizzo gets a inside fastball and he hits this one hard. It’s high and deep and hits off the wall for another double that scores Castro.

Kris Bryant strikes out for the first out of the inning. Miguel Montero slaps a single to left and another run scores. Chris Coghlan draws a walk to put runners on first and second. Lopez calms down and gets the next two batters and the inning ends with the Cubs on top 3-0.

The Brewers had a chance in the second inning, but the Cubs defense, which has been much worse than expected so far finally comes into play Adam Lind hits a single to left, and Jonathan Lucroy rips a hard grounder to Starlin Castro who makes a nice toss to Javy Baez at short, who fires the throw to Rizzo for a rally killing double play. Ryan Gennett then hits a bullet down the third base line, but Bryant makes a terrific diving stop and throws him out on a bang bang play at first to end the inning.

Both pitchers then take control for a while and the Cubs then strike again in the bottom of the fourth inning. Austin Jackson draws a leadoff walk and after a single by Baez puts runners on first and third. Lester moves the runner to second while Jackson holes third and he scores on a ground out by Fowler. The inning ends with the Cubs on top 4-0.

Nothing changed until the top of the sixth inning when Bryant boots a grounder by Jean Segura, who then steals second base with two out. Ryan Braun hits a single up the middle to score the first run of the day for Milwaukee. Khris Davis flies out but the Brewers have cut the lead to 4-1 in the of the sixth inning.

Chicago gets the run right back in the bottom of the inning when Lester hits a soft single to left with one out. Corey Knebel, who has come in relief of Lopez then loses command suddenly and walks Fowler and Castro to load the bases. Rizzo hits another deep blast, but this one to center field that is caught at the wall and Jackson scores. Bryant hits into an inning ending double play, but the score is now 5-1 Cubs on top after six innings.

Things remained the same until the top of the eight inning when Domingo Santana pinch hits for Knebel and hits an epic blast onto Sheffield Avenue on a Lester fastball. Jon settles down though and gets the next two hitters and the inning ends with Chicago on top 5-2, which is how the game ended as neither team added anything.

Around the horn:

Christian Bergman of the Rockies tosses a 3 hit shutout against the Padres in San Diego
Nathan Evoldi strikes out 11 as the Yankees beat the Red Sox 9-4
Minnesota’s Eddie Rosario hits a GW HR in bottom of 9th inning atainst the White Sox
Jake Odorizzi ties record with 7 straight K’s in Baltimore. The Orioles still win 6-1

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21
February

Scott Fennessy: Arrietta shuts down Brewers

287px-ArrietaTonight’s game is the first in a three game set with the lowly Brewers. Former Cub Matt Garza faces Jake Arrieta in what looks like a lopsided matchup.

The Brewers, who have really struggled offensively get a two out rally in the first. Khris Davis slips a single to right that was perfectly placed between Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro. Adam Lind then pounds a 2-2 fastball into the right field corner for an RBI double and the Brewers draw first blood. Jonathan Lucroy pops up to end the inning, but the brew crew scores first and leads 1-0.

The Cubs come right back in the bottom of the inning when Dexter Fowler hits a 2-2 offering hard that bounces off of Ryan Gennett’s chest for an error. Starlin Castro draws a walk, yes that’s right folks Castro draws a walk. Oddly enough he has been so much better than expected in this department. Anyway Rizzo hits a single into right that scores Dexter and puts Castro on third. Garza does not hold the runner on and Rizzo steals second just ahead of Lucroy’s throw. After a quick trip to the mound by the pitching coach the inning is over quickly with the score tied at one each after an inning.

Both pitchers settle in and not much happens for either team until the bottom of the fifth inning. Arrieta hits a grounder that Elian Herrera boots for a leadoff error. Fowler moves the runner over to second and he is still there with two outs. Rizzo then hits one high and deep into the right field power alley. This one hits just under the basket and takes a funny bounce and by the time the ball is back in the infield Rizzo is on third with a triple!

Garza is clearly frustrated and grooves a fastball that Kris Bryant does not miss. This one is into the left field seats for a two run bomb! The crowd is really getting into this one now and even though the inning ends quickly afterwards the Cubs now have a 3-1 lead after five innings of play.

That was the score as we headed into the bottom of the seventh inning with Garza still in but starting to tire. The visitor’s bullpen in full work mode after Castro pulls a fastball down the left field line that just stays fair for a home run. Finally, Garza digs his own grave as he walks two straight batters with two outs and the manager has no other choice to remove his starter. Adrian Houser is brought in and he walks the next batter. With the bases loaded and two outs Austin Jackson gets a hanging curve ball and mashes this one hard to center field. Shane Peterson is going back, back…… and makes a great running catch at the ivy to end the inning, but the Cubs now lead 5-1.

And that would be the final score as neither team did anything else. For the Cubs, Jake Arrieta goes the distance, and picks up his fifth win of the year and is 5-1 with a 2.94 ERA. Kris Bryant hit his 5th homer of the year, and Starlin Castro hit his second.

For the Brewers, Matt Garza pitched well, but ran out of gas. He is now 2-2 with a 4.38 ERA.

Around the horn:

Melvin Upton of the Padres leads the league in OPS at 1.200
Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers is toasting the NL with a 12.99 strikeouts per 9 innings and has been in double digits in all four of his starts this year.
Jose Altuve of the Astros leads the majors with a .421 batting average

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9
February

Scott Fennessy: Pirates beat Cubs, move into first place

332px-IMG_6787_Neil_WalkerThe Cubs and Pirates meet again as the Pirates look to continue their winning ways after yesterday’s solid victory. Tonight’s game sees Jay Happ against Kyle Hendricks. The Pirates jump on young Kyle instantly. Gregory Polanco, who has feasted on Chicago pitching so far this year gets a single and scores on Andrew McCutchen’s RBI double via the hit and run. McCutchen has really punished pitching so far and could be an MVP candidate at this pace.

Hendricks gets the next two hitters and the inning is over. Happ gets a perfect first inning and neither team can get much going. The Cubs had a couple of rallies in the second and third that came up short and while Pittsburgh was able to pile up a pitch count on Hendricks, were not able to do anything else until the fifth inning.

Oddly enough, it’s the light hitting pitcher Jay Happ who gets things started. Hitting a weak grounder that somehow gets between Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo. One out later he is on second base when Polanco strikes again with a single up the middle and Happ scores and Polanco holds as the ball is cut by Castro. Polanco steals second base as Miguel Montero’s throw was a bit high, but Hendricks gets the next two hitters to end the rally.

Happ finally gets a bit of a hot streak as he strikes out the side in the bottom of the fifth inning, giving him four in a row. The Pirates finally take control in the top of the sixth inning. Neil Walker, who has quietly become a bit of a catalyst for the team and on first with a single when a frustrated Kyle Hendricks gives in to Pedro Alvarez who crushes a towering two run homer into the family section of the left field seats for a two run jack. Hendricks gets out of the inning, but the Pirates now have a commanding 4-0 lead at the half way point.

The Cubs look like they are going to make a game of this in the bottom half when the now resurging Dexter Fowler hits a single to right with one out and moved to second with two down. Rizzo, who has been scuffling pretty badly of late gets his second hit of the night and Fowler gives the Cubs their first run of the game. Kris Bryant walks, but is stranded and the rally dies quickly. The Cubs do keep it a bit closer though, trailing 4-1 as we head to the seventh inning.

Jason Motte comes in and does not fare well at first. McCutchen gets his second double of the game and scores on Walker’s two out single. The inning ends with the Pirates on top by four runs now 5-1.

The visitors keep the pressure mounting as the bottom of the order gets a series of singles and Jody Mercer scores on Sterling Marte’s single and the lead is now 6-1 as the inning finally ends.

The Cubs give the offense another go in the bottom of the eighth inning with one out. Fowler rips a triple into the power alley in right, and the surprisingly dependable Starlin Castro singles sharply to center field for an RBI. Rizzo walks, but Bryant whiffs to stop the rally and the Cubs are now down by four. Tommy Hunter is summoned to make his first appearance of the year, and while he struggled a bit kept the Pirates off the board for the first time in five innings and they make their last chance to come back.

Happ has been a bit wild late in the game, but the manager wants to see if he can close this one out. Miguel Montero gets a leadoff walk and was on second with two outs when Addison Russell puts a charge into a 2-2 slider and this one is gone! Into the shrubbery (how dare you say that to a woman!) for a two run homer. The manager instantly pops out of the dugout and brings in Mark Melancon, who had been warming up after Montero’s walk and he strikes out pinch hitter Javier Baez to end the game and pick up a cheap save.

For the Pirates it was all good news at the plate. Walker’s return seems to have energized the lineup and four hitters had two hits each. For Happ who gets the win it was a bit of a struggle, walking four and allowing 6 scattered hits, including Russell’s blast, but he gave the bullpen a rest and the Pirates move into first place by percentage points over the Dodgers, who have not played today.

For the Cubs, another disappointing night for the bullpen, Motte looked terrible again, and while Hunter did not get scored on, he was saved by a crucial double play. But Fowler seems locked in, and if Rizzo and Bryant can get more consistent with their hitting they could really go on a tear.

Around the horn:

Mark Trumbo of the Mariners went 4-5 with a two run homer as Seattle gets a rare win over the Rangers, 7-5.

Pitching has been a bit dominant of late. Although the Tigers lost another game late, starter Anibal Sanchez ties the record for longest no hit bid by a D pitcher at 4.1 innings. He had a perfect game broken up by Torii Hunter’s single. Torii is limping into retirement at a .216 clip.

The Angels needed every bit of Garrett Richard’s terrific evening. Richard took a no hitter into the 6th inning and allowed just two hits overall as the Angels beat the A’s 2-0. Both hits were by Steve Vogt, who has been on fire after being injured on opening day. He is hitting .353 with a pair of homers since his return.

[photo credit]

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1
February

Scott Fennessy: Pirates extract revenge on Cubs

457px-Andrew_McCuthen_during_Spring_Training,_March_8,_2016Wrigley Field
Chicago, IL
April 27, 2015

The Cubs return home after a terrific home stand and face the Pirates in the opening game of the series. Tonight’s game features a solid matchup between Gerrit Cole (2-1) who lost to Chicago last time out on an Anthony Rizzo homer late in the game. He faces Jon Lester (3-0).

The Pirates score first, and Lester did most of the work for them. He was unusually wild, walking two hitters, hitting a batter and threw a wild pitch that allowed a run to score. Catcher Miguel Montero had a conversation with his hurler and gets the next two hitters, but the Pirates get a 1-0 lead, and honestly Lester should be glad it was not a lot more.

The wild bug must be in the air tonight as Cole also struggled in the first inning. He walked Dexter Fowler, hit Rizzo, which lead to a heated exchange between the two and the umpire issued warnings to both teams. Miguel Montero singled but Fowler was nailed at the plate as the inning ends with the Pirates still holding a 1-0 lead.

The score was still the same as we head to the fourth inning, and while neither pitcher seems to have good control tonight Cole is starting to game command of his breaking ball while Lester seems to be having “one of those nights”.

Francisco Cervelli rips a one out double off the left center field door, and it looked like the Cubs could still get out of the inning but Gerrit Cole slips a two strike grounder that is just out of Javier Baez’s reach for an RBI single. Fowler makes a strong throw but Cervelli was off with the pitch and slides in just ahead of Montero’s tag. Cole had moved to second on the throw and he scores on Sterling Marte’s single to right. Lester gets the third out, but the lead for Pittsburgh is now 3-0.

The Cubs go down quietly in the fourth, but the Pirates continue to hit. (probably remembering last week’s whippings laid on them) Jung Ho Kang draws a one out walk. The bullpen is now in action as Neil Walker, returning from a brief DL stint hits one that Starlin Castro boots and runners are on the corners.

Pedro Alvarez hits a single to center and Kang scores. Montero comes to the mound again as the bullpen is not ready yet. Jordy Mercer ends Lester’s terrible night with an RBI double into the left field corner and two more runs score. Brian Schlitter comes in to finish the inning, but he Pirates are well ahead now with a 6-0 lead.

Cole finally gets control of the strike zone and the Cubs are pretty much toast at this point. Schlitter is replaced by C.J. Edwards who really gets hit hard in the sixth inning. After striking out Marte he grooves a pitch that Gregory Polanco powders for a solo homer to left field. Andrew McCutchen singles and is erased in a fielder’s choice by Kang, and Kang moves to third on Walker’s first hit of the evening. Alvarez hits a soft single to center that scores another run and the inning ends shortly afterward with the Pirates now leading 8-0.
That was still the score in the bottom of the ninth when Chris Coghlan hits a two run shot to finally put the Cubs on the scoreboard, but the final ended up Pittsburgh 8, Chicago 2. The Cubs are still ahead of the surprisingly strong Phillies, but the Pirates move into third place.

For the Cubs pitching it was not all bad, as Rafael Soriano and James Russell each chip in a scoreless inning.

Andrew McCutchen is still the heart of this team, hitting .406 with 6 HR and 20 RBI, but Jung Ho Kang is quietly hitting .314.

Around the horn:

Matt Garza of the Brewers had a great night by anyone’s standards, but for a D starter, going the distance and allowing just 1 run on three hits is a masterpiece.

Clayton Kershaw is starting to go on a roll. After a 10 strikeout performance last time out he strikes out 15 as the Dodgers beat the Padres 6-1 in San Diego.

Just a week ago Zach Duke of the White Sox set the consecutive strikeout record. The previous record had stood for 4 years. It took Danny Salazar of the Indians a week to break it. He struck out 7 straight against the tough Kansas City Royals, who have been playing better ball lately.

[photo credit]

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25
January

Scott Fennessy: Road trip ends with huge victory

298px-Miguel_Montero_on_July_16,_2016 (1)Great American Ballpark
Cincinnati, OH
April 26, 2015

The Cubs conclude their eastern road trip today as Jake Arrieta (3-1) faces Jason Marquis (1-3). The Reds bats have been extremely quiet this season, and while Chicago has a great start going, but despite their excellent defensive ratings across the board they have played terrible defense so far.

Marquis, who is not exactly known as a “fireballer” gets off to a great start by striking out the first two hitters, but lets his guard down a bit and Anthony Rizzo, who had been slumping of late rips this into the right field bleachers for his 4th homer of the year. Marquis gets the next hitter, but the inning ends with the visitors leading by one.

Jake gets a bit of a tough start in the bottom of the inning. Skip Schumaker rips a double into right center field with one out and Joey Votto draws a two out walk to put runners on first and second, but Eugenio Suarez whiffs to end the rally and the score is still 1-0 Cubs.

The score was unchanged as we reached the third inning. Dexter Fowler, who was struggling at .231 coming into this game slaps an opposite field single and steals second after a bit of cat and mouse at first base. Starlin Castro, who has been the team’s MVP for the month of April so far hits a single to center that scores Fowler with the second run of the day for Chicago. Castro had to hold at first, but he steals second soon afterward and ends up stranded there as the inning ends with the home team losing by two runs.

Arrieta gets a quick inning in the bottom of the third and the game is still close, but that all changed in the fourth inning. Miguel Montero, who has really come through in the early going smashed an opposite field homer to start the inning. Chris Coghlan hits a floater over second for a single. Chris Denorfia, who was in for the slumping Austin Jackson hits a single that puts runners on the corners with one out, and they were still there with two outs when Dexter Fowler walks to load the bases.

Castro pulls a fastball into left field and two runs score and the lead is now 5-0. The pitching coach comes out to calm Marquis down and it worked as he gets Rizzo to end the inning.

Arrieta is really starting to come around (I guess a five run lead will do that) and he gets another 1-2-3 inning. The Cubs come to bat in the top of the fifth inning and now things come undone at last for the Reds. Montero gets his third straight hit with a single to right. Coghlan follows up with a single to center, but Montero is gunned down at third for out number two. Javier Baez, who is in for the struggling Addison Russell and his .207 average smokes a drive that hit the wall just under the basket in left for an RBI double.

The manager has seen enough and Collin Balester is in. He walks Denorfia, and Arrieta hits a sure inning ender right at him, but he bobbles the ball and the error has loaded the bases. Fortunately he gets Fowler to fly to right and the inning is over with the Reds losing 6-0.

The Reds go down quickly in the fifth and now Nate Adcock is in and shuts the Cubs down for the first time in the sixth inning. The Reds don’t score after the sixth inning ends and Adcock comes in for his last inning of work.

It was a mistake the Reds manager would regret. Montero gets his fourth straight hit and Coghlan hits a fly ball that hits the wall and rattles around in the corner for an RBI triple. The bullpen is starting to work for the Reds, but it’s not in time. Baez slams his second double of the day that scores Coghlan. The pitching coach comes to the mound to stall for time. Castro gets an RBI double and Rizzo makes the merciful final out and the inning ends with the Cubs comfortably on top 10-0.

Arrieta struggles a bit and is finally tiring a bit, but he still has a shutout as the seventh inning closes. Donovan Hand is in for the Reds and he is the first Cincy pitcher that has an answer to the Cubs bats. He strikes out two of the three hitters he faces and the Reds now need to do something to make this close.

Billy Hamilton hits a single to left. He was on second with one out when Jay Bruce crushes a fastball for a two run shot and the Reds are on the board. One out later Suarez crushes a towering homer to right that nearly left the stadium, but Brandon Phillips strikes out and the inning is over with the Reds now trailing 10-3.

Hand stays in the game and looks great again. He gets the Cubs in order, and Joe Maddon has decided to let Jake Arrieta go the distance, and he does that in style. He strikes out the side and the final four hitters overall. The Cubs get a big win and remain in first place.

For the Cubs Jake Arrieta walked two and struck out 8 and allowed just the three runs. Miguel Montero was the star on offense (there were many) with a 4-5 night. Starlin Castro and Chris Coghlan had three hits apiece.

Around the horn:

Zack Greinke lost on a game winning homer by little Alexi Amarista with two out in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Jason Kipnis of the Indians continues to impress with a .388 average and 18 RBI’s in 17 games.

Joe Kelly of the Red Sox, a C starter continues to pitch well. He is 3-1 with a 3.21 ERA after shutting out the Orioles 8-0.

Eddie Rosario of the Twins is overcoming a slow start and is now hitting .324 with 6 homers.

[photo credit]

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18
January

Scott Fennessy: Reds edge Cubs in series opener

336px-Todd_FrazierGreat American Ballpark
Cincinnati, OH
April 24, 2015

The Cubs come to Cincinnati having moved into first place after the Dodgers loss last night. Tonight Travis Wood (1-1) faces Anthony DeScalfani (1-2), who beat the Cubs earlier this year. The Cubs get things started quickly as leadoff hitter Dexter Fowler pulls a fastball that rattles around and he pulls into third with a triple.

Starlin Castro hits a 2-2 fly ball to deep center field. Speedy Billy Hamilton makes a great running catch, but has no chance at the runner and the Cubs are on top 1-0. Anthony Rizzo hits a fly ball that Skip Schumaker catches in left for out number two. Kris Bryant gets a one out single but the inning ends with no more runs.

Wood comes out and gets the Reds in order and both pitchers look in top form today. There was not much happening for either side until the Reds tie the game. Todd Frazier doubled and Brayan Pena was hit by a pitch. Billy Hamilton singles in Frazier and Wood settles down and stops the rally, but the game is tied.

The Cubs regain the lead in the sixth inning. Just like earlier today Fowler hits the ball hard again. This time on a 0-2 breaking ball that lands on the warning track. The ball one hops over the wall in right for a ground rule double. Castro strikes out and Rizzo pops up to Brandon Phillips at short, and it looks like the Reds are going to get out of trouble until Bryant hits a shot up the middle for a single to give the Cubs a two run lead.

Bryant catches DeScalfani sleeping and steals second on a close play. This seems to throw the Cincy hurler who grooves a flat slider that Miguel Montero deposited deep into the left field seats for a two run homer and the Cubs are now on top 4-0. Chris Coghlan strikes out and the inning is over at last.

The home team seems to have plenty of fight left in them however; Joey Votto draws a leadoff walk. Eugenio Suarez hits a hard grounder that Castro snags, then turns to fire to Addison Russell at the bag for a sure double play. Unfortunately he drops the ball and gets charged with an error. The runners move to second and third with two outs when Pena hits a towering fly ball that drops into the power alley for a two run double. DeScalfani is lifted for a pinch hitter and the inning is over soon afterward, but the Reds are still in this game, down by just one run after six innings.

The score was unchanged as we head to the bottom of the eighth inning. Travis Wood had been lifted for Jason Motte who had shut the Reds down for one inning but was not able to get through a second inning. Votto walks again and was moved to second by a Suarez sacrifice and was still there with two outs when Todd Frazier hits a massive shot that bounces off the roof of the center field hitting background for a two run homer and suddenly the Reds have a 5-4 lead. Pena grounds out to end the inning and the Cubs now have the difficult task of facing Aroldis Chapman in the ninth inning. After walking Austin Jackson he gets the next three hitters with ease and the Reds earn a hard fought victory.

Manny Parra came in for DeScalfani for the victory after two solid innings of relief and Chapman gets his second save of the year. The loss was somewhat difficult for Jason Motte, as Todd Frazier came into this game with a .160 average.

Dexter Fowler had to well hit balls for extra bases. Combined with his performance in Pittsburgh it looks like he may finally be coming around. That is good news, as Anthony Rizzo, Austin Jackson and Addison Russell are struggling badly. Russell and Jackson will most likely not start in the next game.

Around the horn:

The first place Houston Astros had great all-around performance against the Oakland A’s. Houston punished the A’s 15-0. They scored all of the runs after the sixth inning. Scott Kazmir tossed a three hit shutout. Carlos Correa hits another homer, giving him 13 in 15 games. He and “Instant Offense” Jose Altuve are both hitting over .400.

The Tigers got a rare win tonight as Miguel Cabrera hits a two run homer in the bottom of the 10th inning as the Tigers beat the Indians 5-3.

Andre Ethier of the Dodgers is having a terrific start. He is hitting .436 with 10 RBI’s in the early going.

[photo credit]

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10
January

Scott Fennessy: Rizzo derails the “Cole Train”

360px-Anthony_Rizzo_on_July_16,_2016PNC PARK
Pittsburgh, PA
April 23, 2015

The Cubs face the Pirates in the final game of their four game set. Today’s matchup heavily favors the Pirates as Garrett Cole faces Kyle Hendricks. The Pirates have had a good season in the early going, and with a win will salvage a split after two terrible showings stole one last night.

Dexter Fowler has been off to a slow start, but has begun to see the ball a little better, and draws a leadoff walk. Joe Maddon sends the runner and Starlin Castro goes with the pitch and puts this one into the right field corner for an RBI double and the Cubs get a quick run. Cole recovers nicely and the rally is stopped cold, but the home team comes to the plate down by a run.

Kyle Hendricks has been what one would expect so far, an innings eater who won’t necessarily win a game, but won’t lose you the game either. He starts out much like Cole and issues a one out walk to Gregory Polanco and a single by Andrew McCutchen puts runners on the corners.

Jung Ho Kang is hit by the third pitch of the at bat and loads the bases. Josh Harrison, who is subbing for the injured Neil Walker hits a fly to deep left field and Chris Coughlin has no play and the run scores to tie the game. The inning ends quickly afterwards still tied.

Neither team did much until the bottom of the fifth. That changed when Sterling Marte hits a booming fly ball off the wall in center field for a very loud double. He moved to third with two outs and McCutchen, who has been on a massive tear lately hits a single just past Kris Bryant at third for an RBI single to give the Pirates the lead. Hendricks gets out of the inning, but now trails by a run at the end of five.

Cole has pitched well, but has been surprisingly missing his spots, and the Cubs have waited him out all day. Even though they had only managed two hits through seven innings, they had drawn three walks and run the count to three balls several more times. Cole walks Fowler for the second time today to start the eighth inning and again was off on the hit and run. This time Castro pulls the pitch into the left field corner and Fowler scores just ahead of Harrison’s relay throw to tie the game at 2-2 with nobody out.

The Pirates bullpen begins to stir, but it won’t matter anymore. Anthony Rizzo, who has gone ice cold lately crushes the pitch into the hitting background in center for a two run bomb and the Cubs suddenly have the lead. Cole stays in the game and the inning comes to an end with the Cubs on top 4-2.

Justin Grimm comes in for Hendricks, who had been lifted for a pinch hitter and strikes out two of the three hitters he sees and as the Cubs did nothing in the top of the ninth a very nervous Joe Maddon sends in Hector Rondon to try for the save. For the first time all season Hector delivers a solid 1-2-3 inning and the Cubs hang on for a win. Coupled with the Phillies loss to the Marlins earlier in the day they have moved into second place behind the double tough Dodgers.

Around the horn:

The Braves beat the Mets in a tough one at Citi Field by a score of 8-5. Freddie Freeman went four for four.

The Rockies laid a pounding on the Padres in Denver today. Nolan Arenado and Carlos Gonzalez had 4 RBI each.

Speaking of the Dodgers they won 4-0 over the Giants in San Francisco today. It was a tale of two very different pitching results. Clayton Kershaw goes the distance for LA striking out 10, and Ryan Vogelsong of the Giants issuing a record 9 walks for the losing Giants.

The Red Sox pounded the Tampa Rays 12-4. Wade Miley struck out five straight hitters. Despite the lopsided win Brandon Guyer of the Rays went 4-5 with three doubles and scored all four runs for the losers.

[photo credit]

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2
January

To run, or not to run?

by Scott Fennessy

For those of you who don’t do replays of the dead ball era, (and the return to running in the 80’s) then you really in my opinion missed a truly interesting period of baseball. Those days there were power hitters, although not by today’s standards, but there were still hitters you did not serve a first pitch fastball to.

Those were the days of pitching, fielding and running. Most games featured one or two pitchers and the scores most of the time were 4-2, 2-1 with the occasional wild scoring game, or blowout thrown in. When rolling my original season replay of 1901, the minimum number of steals to get into the top ten was 47 in each league. Most were scattered between 47-60 with Frank Chance (92) and John McGraw (95) the leaders.

  

These games were rolled on the “old charts”. To get a better idea of how most of my lineups looked at the top I will use Chance, the leadoff hitter and NL stolen base record holder and the number two hitter Charlie Dexter. Charlie does not have the type of card I would “prefer” to have bat second, but Topsy Hartsel, who IS what I would prefer was better suited for the third spot with his 3 sevens were needed as the rest of the lineup was pretty bad and despite the three 31’s he ended up batting third, and was arguably as valuable to the team than Chance was.

Anyway looking at the charts that were made to use with these cards Charlie’s card actually is pretty good on the hit and run chart. The 13-41 normally would be bad, and while my screenshot does not show it, it is actually a single, runner to third, which is just like having three 31’s. The 13’s don’t cause the runner to be out stealing so it’s like having 3 14’s on the card. Additionally, the dice result of 1 is still a home run, so other than the 45-37 there is really not any reasons not to run every chance I could.

For McGraw, and number two hitter “Turkey Mike” Donlin it was even more devastating. Now look at the “old charts” with runners on the corners.

As you can see there really is no reason NOT to use it is if you get that gut feeling that you are going to roll the 13, or 45 (and at times I got that feeling) there is almost NO punishment for running like mad. 1 is still a homer, and you get the 31’s for singles, but look at 13 and 14. If your runner had at least one first column 11 they are safe anyway.

Fast forward to 1903 when I purchased the “new charts” and the “new cards” By new cards, I mean that unlike the original issue 1901 set which I can only assume was printed sometime in the 1980’s (those more familiar when the number 12 was at 52 can better verify) and used what limited stats were available to them at that time. The 1903 cards were made in 2012, with significantly more advanced data. Unfortunately, because they were made to be used with the “new charts” you get a much different set of results.

  

I give to you the 1903 Pirates leadoff hitter Jimmy Sebring. As you can see, Jimmy has a solid card, although nothing that will put you in Rickey Henderson conversations. On the “old charts” he probably would have had 50 steals, which is granted much more than the 20 he actually had, but if you don’t have the “old charts” and have an original issue set, like my 1901 and 1908 seasons then your steal results won’t come close. In fairness to APBA, the results for my replay were somewhat close. (of course having second slot hitter like Ginger Beaumont, who won his only batting title helps) By that, I still had a couple of jackrabbits who never got tossed out, but the overall averages dropped.

In 1903 the league average to get into the top ten still was about 47 in the NL, but the AL dropped to 38. Frank Chance actually passed his 1901 mark with 95 steals, but the AL leader dropped to 59.

Fast forward even further to my 2015 ILLOWA debut and I have Francisco Lindor at the top of the lineup and Danny Espinosa batting second (my team batting average is well below what it should be) almost out of habit, I call for the hit and run, it’s a 13, and neither I or the manager I played think anything about it at first, but before I roll again we take a look at the charts and sure enough he is out. You are only successful on a 14. Also, note that while you cannot see it on the photo, the home run is now dropped to a double, and the double results that were also good on the old charts are now singles.

Additionally, using hit and run with runners on the corners is now like asking “may I please have my runner thrown out?” There are no successful steals except for the 65-35, and again all the power numbers are reduced to singles.

So if you do venture to old school baseball, please be sure to use the charts that are “era accurate” for lack of a better term.

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28
December

Scott Fennessy: Pirates steal win in dramatic fashion

562px-Rafael_Soriano,_Francisco_Cervelli_(6128608947)Pittsburgh, PA
PNC Park
April 22, 2015

The Cubs face the Pirates in game 3 of a 4 game series. After two lopsided games I am expecting a more closely matched game. Tonight’s starter for the Cubs is Jon Lester (3-0) against A.J. Burnett (no record yet).

Once again the air is heavy and damp, so this will help the pitchers keep the ball in the park. Dexter Fowler is set to lead off for the visitors, wearing the road grey jersey and he hits a shot into left for an opposite field single. That’s a good sign, as Dex has really struggled to start the season. He steals second on a very close play on a 2-1 count.

He was still there with two out when Kris Bryant, who has cooled down a bit hits a fly ball to deep right field that bounced off the wall and he is in with an RBI double. Miguel Montero draws a walk, but Chris Coghlan whiffs to end the inning, but not before Chicago is up 1-0 and appears off to another big evening.

Lester gets a quick inning, but not without a little help. Andrew McCutchen, who has started to get hot since this series began hits a hard smash that Addison Russell makes a diving grab on the one hopper and fires a bullet to Anthony Rizzo at first that just nips the franchise star by a step and the inning ends 1-0 Chicago on top.

Burnett gets the Cubs on a very low number of pitches, and the Buccos bullpen gives a sigh of relief. They have really been put to use and would like to see a starter go deep tonight if possible. The Pirates half of the second started out innocently enough, but Neil Walker then gets a one out single to right, and things looked bleak for Pittsburgh.

Pedro Alvarez then hits a grounder that went right to Starlin Castro at second who makes a good throw to Russell at the bag. Walker knew this would require a hard slide to try and keep them from turning two. Walker jams his foot hard into the bag and is clearly in pain as the Cubs still turn the inning ending double play. The trainer comes out as the televised version of this game goes to a commercial break and we will have an update when we know more. The second inning has ended with the Cubs still clinging to a 1-0 lead.

Nothing happens as the pitchers do take control for a bit. Burnett was using breaking pitches and began piling up strikeouts, and Lester was using pinpoint control to keep the batters at bay. The score was still 1-0 in the bottom of the fourth when Gregory Polanco, who has quietly had a solid year gets a one out single. McCutchen hits one into center that Fowler can’t get to. Polanco scores and the game is tied at one run each. Lester gets the next two batters to end the inning.

The score was still tied as we entered the eighth inning. Burnett had been lifted for a pinch hitter and Lester was still pitching beautifully for the Cubs. Word from the Pittsburgh clubhouse is that Neil Walker has a minor strain and will miss four games. Josh Harrison will be playing second for the next few days it appears.

Arquimedes Caminero, who has been a workhorse for the Pirates was working his third inning, and was clearly running out of gas. He allows a one out single by Castro and walked Rizzo and the manager has seen enough. Joe Blanton will come in and try to close the inning out. He will be due to bat second in the bottom of the inning, so he can really fire away now. He strikes out Bryant (that’s three straight at bats for him) and Miguel Montero gets his first hit of the night with a grounder just past Kang at third for an RBI. Coughlin pops up to shallow left for the inning ending out, but the Cubs have a lead late in the game.

This is the one very big difference between Chicago and Pittsburgh. The Cubs have good starting pitching, but the Cubs bullpen is very thin, while Pittsburgh boasts a very deep and talented bullpen. So Lester comes out for the eighth inning and does a solid job, allowing just a two out single to Sterling Marte who was stranded at first.

As the Cubs come to bat in the top of the ninth, Antonio Bastardo comes in to keep this close. He does just that by striking out two of the three hitters he faces. Joe Maddon decides to play with fire as the extremely unstable Hector Rondon is called on for the save. This is no guarantee as he has been very hittable this year. He walks McCutchen to start the inning and I am already getting nervous. Jung Ho Kang then strikes out for the first out.

Pedro Alvarez also strikes out and I am thinking “maybe this is where he turns it around”. Unfortunately the only turning around was the score as Cervelli crushes a towering three run homer to win the game on the first pitch. For the Pirates it was a solid all around night. Burnett went 5 innings, and again gets no decision but allowed just 4 hits, walked two and struck out seven. Caminero struck out 5 in 2.1 innings. For Bastardo it was his first win, and the first time this season he has looked good.

Jon Lester also gets no decision, and what a shame. He goes eight innings, allowing just five hits and struck out five, while allowing no walks. For Rondon, it’s another terrible evening. He is now in danger of losing his closer role to Justin Grimm. Hector is now one win, one loss and three saves, but has blown two saves in five tries now. His ERA is just under 11 and his base runners per 9 innings is over 15. This has to change immediately or trouble awaits.

Around the horn

The Mets pounded the Braves 12-1. Yoenis Cespedes went 5-5, 4 RBI, SB (2nd 5 hit game this month)

The Indians beat the White Sox in a close one 4-2. For the Sox, Zach Duke strikes all six hitters faced in relief new record for consecutive K’s

The Tampa Rays appear to be coming out of their early season slump. Kevin Kiermeier went 4-5 with 2 HR and 5 RBI. He is hitting .419 for the year so far. Chris Archer picked up the win and had 10 K’s

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