Carlos Zambrano finally broke is his opening day winless streak when the Cubs beat the Houston Astros Monday night 4-2. Zambrano went six plus innings, giving up one run on five hits and striking out six.
Milton Bradley, Kosuke Fukodome and Derek Lee went 0-for-4. Alfonso Soriano connected lead-off home run number 50. Aramis Ramirez also hit a solo shot. One of the not-so-big surprises was Mike Fontenot who went 3 for 4 and scoring twice.
New closer Kevin Gregg got the save after giving up a run in the bottom of the nineth.
The Cubs may have gotten beat on Friday, but they still reduced the number by one. If the Cubs win today, they’ve locked up the Central Division for the second year in the row.
Carlos Zambrano didn’t last past the second inning after giving up five runs in two-innings of work. I’m giving Big Z the benefit of the doubt as his grandmother had passed away earlier in the week and he didn’t get back into town until late Thursday night.
Whether or not he should have pitched in Friday’s game is between the coaching staff and him. I think he shouldn’t have gotten the start, but Big Z is also a tough competitor.
I seriously hope either WGN or CSN will replay the game because I so want to see this game and record to save for all prosperity. Seriously folks, from the highlights I saw on ESPN, Zambrano looked awesome and looked like his old self.
According to what was said on the radio this morning, Larrry Rothschild spoke with Big Z about his pitching mechanics and apparently, Z had been throwing with his shoulder, instead of using his legs as his power source. What a change in mechanics makes, because Z just confused the Astros at the plate.
I will give the ‘Stros the benefit of the doubt. It was probably a task to get out of Houston in order to travel to Miller Park in time for the game on Sunday. And my heart goes out to them and their friends in the Houston area as the region continues to recover from Hurricane Ike.
In the post-game interview, Cubs manager, Lou Piniella couldn’t have been happier. They were going to lo limit Zambrano to a 100-pitch count. But there was no way Piniella was going to yank his ace.
Zambrano and the Cubs never let up. Alfonso Soriano connected for his 28th home run of the season in the first. The Cubs scored four more runs in the third. After that, it was the Zambrano show with the 22,000 plus crowed chanting “Let’s Go Z!”
About the only thing that frustrated the Cubs ace was his at-bat in the seventh ininning. In most situation, the pitcher would break his bat across his team.
“I was feeling too good to do that,” Zambrano said with a smirk. “I saw Lou’s face. I said, ‘No, not today.'”
As the game progressed, it became more apparent that something special was happening.
“I was watching the scoreboard every inning,” Zambrano said. “In the ninth inning, when I came out the crowd was all crazy and that helped me a little bit. Thank God, it was the eight, nine and the leadoff hitter [in the ninth] and I was able to dominate those three guys.”
The team just hoped Zambrano would give them a solid outting.
“I didn’t expect it,” Chicago’s Derrek Lee said. “I expected him to try to give us five or six innings and get out of there. But, wow. He obviously was feeling good, throwing the ball like that. That’s a huge lift for us.”
Zambrano threw 110 pitches, striking out 10 and walking one.
With the win on Sunday, the Cubs increased their lead over the Brewers to seven-and-a-half games after the Brewers were swept by the Philadelphia Phillies. The Cubs magic number is now seven. The Brewers and the Phillies are tied for the wild card with Houston two games in back.
What’s more unique about this no-hitter, is that it was played a neutral location. Hurricane Ike had already played havoc with the games on Friday and Saturday, but it became apparent on Saturday that there was no way the games could be played in Houston on Sunday. Houston Astros General Manager Drayton McLane was adament about being able to play one day after a major hurricane ravaged the Houston area.
This was the first no-hitter played a neutral site.
Miller Park is considered Wrigley North and that may have helped Zambrano along the way. Though, anyone who was there got to see history made.It’s not everyday a no-hitter gets tossed.
The Cubs play the second game today at Miller Park at 2:05 p.m. (Eastern). Jason Marquis (10-8) takes the mound for the Cubs. Brian Moehler (11-6) goes to the mound for the Astros. The game can be seen on CSN. The final game (if necessary) will be played at the end of the season at Minute Maid Park.
Quotes from MLB.COM
Carlos Zambrano threw a no-hitter against
the Houston Astros!
The Cubs improved to 43-16 at home with a 11-4 win over the Astros Wednesday. Cubs second baseman Mark Derosa connected for a grandslam in the bottom of the third and Alfonso Soriano followed with a three-run blast.
Jason Marquis scrapped by with the win after giving up four runs in the top of the third. Marquis is now 7-7 with a 4.73 ERA.
The Cubs are now 8-2 for the last ten games. The Cubs have an off day on Thursday before hosting the St. Louis Cardinals for a weekend series. Lilly, Zambrano and Dempster will match up against Braden Looper, former Cub Todd Wellemeyer and the third pitcher will be announced later.
The Cubs are still atop the central division with a five game lead over the Brewers. They hold a 5.5 game lead over the Cardinals. The Cubs continue to hold the best record in the National League.
In other news, the team activated Kerry Wood on Tuesday. To make room for Wood the team designated relief pitcher Scott Eyre for assignment.
Some other stats:
Alfonso Soriano is hitting .395 with five home runs, 11 RBIs and 17 hits over the last ten games.
Mark DeRosa had a five RBI day on Wednesday. He hit his fourth career grand slam in the bottom of the third to put the Cubs ahead for good.
Derek Lee is struggling batting .268 in the last ten games. He went 0-for-4 during Wednesday’s game.
Aramis Ramirez isn’t fairing much better than Lee. Ramirez is batting .306 in the last ten games with 4 RBIs.
Kosuke Fukudome continues to struggle. He’s batting .265 in the last ten games.
Ryan Theriot after having a productive first half, Theriot has begun a backward slide. He’s batting .270 for the last ten games. He is currently batting .200 for the month of August.
Geovanny Soto continues to come out of his July slump. He’s batting .333 for the last ten days. However, he’s batting .235 in the last 30 days. He didn’t start on Tuesday or Wednesday, giving Henry Blanco a chance to get some work in.
Jim Edmonds is earning his place on the team. If there was to be a reflection back on the season of who has contributed to the success of the 2008 Cubs, Edmonds will be at the top of the list.Edmonds is .321 for the last ten games is batting .286 for the last (near his career average) 30 days. Don’t let the numbers fool you… he’s on par to have an average year. And for a guy who didn’t have much of a spring training, that’s a good thing.
They may not have beaten CC, but they effectively did in the first game of a four game set in Milwaukee the last week of July. The Cubs went on to hang Sheets out to dry and took the remaining two games for the four game sweep.
The series proved a couple of things: CC and Sheets aren’t a powerful one-two punch as many people believe. It wasn’t that the Cubs bats started to come alive or that they got lucky. Both pitchers made mistakes and it cost them. It also proved that the Brewers “ain’t all that” and that relying on the long ball will only get you so far when the opposing team’s pitchers are on the mark.
The majority of the Cubs runs scored over the series came from hits. Thursday’s game was the sole exception when Cubs hitters connected for four home runs, bringing in nine of the Cubs 11 runs..
No offense Brewer fans, solid pitching will only get you so far if your team can’t get clutch hitting. Your batters looked confused. They weren’t playing smart offense. And it cost you some Cubs pitching mistakes.
Rich Harden also got his first win as a Cub. And Dempster and Zambrano both improved to their records to 12-4 for the reason.
Who would have thought that the aces of the staff would be Dempster and Zambrano at this point. With Harden, who’s averaged nearly 10 strikeouts a game… this makes for a deadly combination.
The Cubs came back home on Friday for an eight game home stand. The lowly Pirates who traded a way some big names in July beat the Cubs 3-0. This was the Cubs first home game shut out this season.
The Cubs remain atop the Central Division with a 4 game lead over the Brewers and Cardinals. The Brewers have a .001 advantage over the Cardinals.
In other news, the Cubs did try to trade away Jason Marquis but were unable to find a buyer. WONDER WHY?????
The Cubs exited their trip to St Louis the same way they went in: three and a half-games up. It could have been five and a half had it not been for Kerry Wood in the bottom of the ninth. That was a disappointing loss.
The Cubs have the day off today and will battle the Reds on Tuesday followed by the Giant for the weekened series before the Midsummer in Spankee (er Yankee… ah hell.. Spankee) Stadium.
Speaking of the All-Star Game, how about sending seven players to the classic? WOW! Sorioano and Fukudome covering the corners (note: Soriano is still a big IF for the game) and Soto behind the plate. Ramirez a reserve with Dempster, Wood and Zambrano rounding out. The most ever for the club. Congrats guys!
Now we move onto blogs… You know, I love the whole free blog thing and all. But I think if people are going to have a blog they should at least make an attempt to update it or at least post. Perhaps MLBLogs should do a purge of blogs that haven’t been activate or updated for a year.
That brings me to another issue—I miss the team blogs where you could look at all the blogs associated with a team. It was a nice thing to have. Oh well… Beggers can’t be choosers.