The taste in the Cubs’ mouths is considerably less bitter after yesterday’s win over the Phillies. They managed to avoid the sweep (and the shame of losing to an octogenarian pitcher), pulling out what was a 10-5 squeaker:
Leads of 5-0 and 8-3 didn’t seem safe, so Piniella
called on his closer to work more than 1 inning for the second time on
the road trip.
Kevin Gregg got the dangerous Ryan Howard to ground out
with the bases loaded in the eighth before working a 1-2-3 ninth to
earn his 19th save as the Cubs held off the Phillies 10-5 at Citizens
The Cubs ended their road trip with a 5-2 record, and
they snapped the Phillies’ 10-game winning streak. Piniella was able to
breathe easier after Gregg retired Howard.
“That was the big out of the game,” Piniella told reporters.
Though Lou’s words before the game may be more interesting to most of us:
“It’s baffling, it really is,” Lou told WGN. “Look,
we’ve been patient with this, really patient, and we’ve tried every
combination that we have. I’ve run out of explanations.
“The problem is, we don’t have the same pieces on the
offensive side of things. My first year here (2007), we had to make
some changes. But we had some pieces in place. Now, you know, we’ve run
out of those pieces.”
Not that there’s been much issue with the starting pitching, but things could get better soon with the early return of Ryan Dempster:
If X-rays on his broken right big toe go as expected Thursday, Dempster could pitch Sunday against Cincinnati.
Dempster threw a simulated game to hitters in the batting cage
Wednesday morning at Citizens Bank Park and pitching coach Larry
Rothschild said he “looked good.”
“He’s not favoring it at all,” Rothschild said. “He threw a side [session Monday] and you could see he feels good.”
“Everything depends on the X-rays,” Dempster said. “I feel good and I’m following protocol.”
Though Lou doesn’t sound quite so sure:
“Larry is very optimistic, but let’s wait and see what happens,” he
said. “I’m not as optimistic, but for sure the next time through the
rotation [Wednesday or Thursday].”
It looks like we need to find a platoon partner for Uncle Milty:
He had a pair of hits to raise his average to .343 as a righty. He is
hitting .200 from the left side, but did walk once from there Wednesday.
But he’s getting paid a bit more than you’d want from a platoon player, with the third year in his contract about to be vested:
But just by getting through Wednesday without going on the disabled
list made this by far his biggest week of the season. That’s because
only 74 days remain in the season, assuring that Bradley can’t spend 75
on the DL, which all but assures the final year of his three-year, $30
million contract will vest.
The only way it won’t vest at this point is if he ends the season on
the DL, specifically with an injury to his surgically repaired right
knee, and remains unable to play because of the same injury next April
And kudos to the bullpen for some stellar work on the road trip:
Cubs relievers were the unsung heroes of the team’s 5-2 trip, working
27 innings in the seven games, including 2 1/3 in-and-out-of-trouble
scoreless innings Wednesday.
Gregg lowered his ERA in his last 29 appearances to 1.53, and the Cubs’
bullpen had a 2.33 ERA during the seven-game trip. Those numbers would
have been even better had Jeff Samardzija not allowed a three-run home run to Jayson Werth
in the 13th inning of the Phillies’ 4-1 victory Tuesday. Before that,
Cubs relievers had pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings in the game.