Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Big Z Gets the Win, More Criticism in Cubs Sweep

Cubs and Pirates games typically turn boring after about one pitch for me, and thankfully they usually end in a Cubs win. Today was no different as the Cubs beat up on former teammate Kevin Hart early and added on late to complete the sweep and give Carlos Zambrano his eighth win of the season.

Z had a high pitch count early in the game, but was able to manage his pitches later in the game and work through six innings while only allowing two runs. He did walk three, all early in the game, but settled down and ended up getting eight strikeouts. It wasn't a Z start without controversy though as he was removed after warming up for the seventh inning. Z didn't like that very much and informed Lou of that fact. It was the second start in a row where Z felt he got taken out too early, his last start that is no doubt a fact, this time it's up for debate. Z was right around 100 pitches, and given the fact that the games don't matter anymore I think Lou made the right choice.

The offense was still willing to feast on the Pirates poor pitching. Despite Lou tossing out a bad lineup, the Cubs scored eight runs. One in each of the first three innings, the first coming on a Jeff Baker sac fly, the second a Ryan Theriot single, and the third from a Bobby Scales groundout. That 3-0 lead looked like it would have been enough, but Micah Hoffpauir added a solo homer and sac fly, Koyie Hill a two-run single, and even Mike Fontenot got in on the fun with a RBI single of his own.

It's real nice to see the Cubs offense still able to beat up on the real bad pitching of the NL. Even with the AAA lineup today the Cubs were able to take walks and get the big hits when they needed too. Any time the Cubs face a pitcher who has control issues they usually go nuts. Its the strike throwing guys who attack the zone that kill the Cubs. For some reason they are either really patient for really aggressive.

Let this be the last time the Cubs throw Kevin Gregg to the mound. He served up a 3-run homer to Ronny Cedeno to make a 8-2 lead into an 8-5 close game requiring Carlos Marmol's ninth inning presence. With Jeff Samardzija, David Patton, and Justin Berg on the roster now there is no need for Gregg to pitch. Put him next to Aaron Miles on the bench and let them rot, they have no future here, and this month is about the future.

Gregg's awfulness was replaced by Carlos Marmol's continued ninth inning brilliance. Marmol dominated the Pirates and had great command of the strikezone to earn his 11th save of the season. While the Cubs should still kick the tires on some free agent closers, I think Marmol has earned himself the right to be the closer in 2010.

Next up is the Reds, but stay tuned tonight because the Peoria Chiefs start their playoff series. It's a best of three series so game 1 is very important.

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