5/8 Cardinals 5, Cubs 4

Another day, another close game for the Cubs.

“Another one-run game — it [stinks],” Carlos Villanueva said. “We’re close, right there.”

Carlos Beltran hit a pair of RBI singles and Jon Jay drove in two runs, including a go-ahead RBI single in the eighth, to lift the Cardinals to a 5-4 victory on Wednesday over the Cubs, who hit into four double plays, and split the two-game series.

The Cubs now have had 28 of their 34 games decided by three runs or fewer, and the team is 10-18 in those games. Chicago is 5-8 in one-run games.

“It kind of speaks well for our team,” James Russell said of the tight games. “We don’t give up and we’re always in the game. If breaks fall our way, then we win a lot more games then we have right now.”

The loss wasted the fifth quality start by Villanueva. This was the 21st quality start by a Cubs pitcher, and they have compiled a 2.01 ERA but have won only eight of the games. Only the Cardinals (24) and Phillies (22) have more quality starts, and St. Louis has 15 wins and Philadelphia has 11.

“[Villanueva] did a nice job and got out of some jams and made the pitches when he had to,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “He got the outs when he had to and left it up to [Russell] who has been the most reliable guy for two years to get a left-hander out.”

Russell ran into trouble in the seventh. St. Louis trailed 4-3 when Matt Carpenter doubled off Russell and reached third on an error by Nate Schierholtz, who had trouble picking up Carpenter’s ball. Then Beltran delivered the game-tying RBI single.

“If I make a better pitch to Carpenter, I’m not in that situation,” Russell said. “I hung a curveball to him and he hit my mistake and that’s what good hitters do. He made me pay for it.”

Beltran’s hit snapped Russell’s season-opening scoreless streak at 13 innings, spanning 17 games.

“For some reason, the lefties they have over there, they hit left-handers pretty well,” Russell said of the Cardinals. “I’ve just got to find some different things to do against them.

“You’ll have those days when broken bat hits fall in and you’ll have days when guys will smoke balls and they’re hit right at somebody,” he said. “Right now, I was on the other end of it, but it is what it is.”

In the St. Louis eighth against Michael Bowden, Yadier Molina singled and moved up on a wild pitch before scoring on Jay’s single to center. Chicago now has lost 10 games in which it had a lead, tied with the Diamondbacks for the most in the National League.

The Cubs seem to have their starting pitching figured out and have settled on Kevin Gregg as the closer. It’s those middle innings that are a little tricky.

“We just can’t seem to shut anybody down in that sixth, seventh inning right now,” Sveum said. “We’re getting two strikes on people. We just can’t make a pitch when we have to.”

– Carrie Muskat

17 Comments

Games like this separate the good teams from the also-rans. We`ll know we are a good team when we begin winning games like this. Is all about learning how to win and having that mind set. It may take a year or two or more from now. But it is not as complicated as the front office would like you to believe. We are instructed to trust five year plans. I say, look at the Red Sox. They sucked last year too; not to the degree we sucked, but still were not competitive. I suggest one look at Boston now. Have turned that losing scenario around in one year. Do you all follow myself?

I follow yourself. We are a few hitters away from an extra run or two. There is still not enough back to back threats in our lineup. With or without Soriano. Do you get the feeling jhosk that the Ricketts are determined to address the business/ballpark side of the Cubs before the team taking the field? I think so and am not quite ready to blame them for that. Not sure, it’s a tough call because once they get the revenue ducks lined up I am confident we will be the new “Cardinals” of the Central Division. Or is my hope misplaced?

I think the Ricketts are blowing smoke and approaching close to blackmailing citizens of Chicago, joey. I love the quote in USA Today this week that ” the Cubs winning a World Championship is far more likely than their moving away from Wrigley Field.”

Where are you all? I made some contoversial comments tonight and expected beaucoup challenges. Bring it on! I want blowback; please believe myself. Do not be weak. I do not respect weakness.

Blowback??? But you’re making sense!!! Only my lifelong ingrained love for the Cubs is keeping my hope afloat…..it may be unfounded but it’s all I have. I am choosing to give the new owners, president and GM at least as much time as the old owners gave the bumbling Hendry. I think that is 8 years (?) which should be long enough for them to complete their evil plan of renovating the entire Wrigley neighborhood, block the rooftop views, rename the place “Captain Morgan Field” AND bring us fans at least a World Series appearance. It not….THEN
I sharpen the pitch fork and light the torch (neither are ever very far away…)

Mamma, you are the best. I hope to meet you one day before I`m planted. Love your sense of humor.

I truly believe we could get more done if our manager spent less time commenting on the obvious after each game and spent more time managing. How about using two pitchers per game for 4 or 5 innings each or three pitchers for 3 innings each. What’s the difference, he runs through a bunch of pitchers in the last innings anyway. How about changing the batting order to find a new hitting combination. How about spending some extra time coaching our pair of catchers.

You’re on to something. Sveum would be given a lot of leniency from us fans if he tinkered with the lineup more often considering the inferior offensive talent he was supplied with. Why he doesn’t do it is frustrating. To his credit he DID (FINALLY) bench the underperforming and un-inspiring Soriano. I say “bench” because it sounds better than “rest” and God knows when Soriano’s next day off will be. He also sat Barney another underperforming (even by THIS team’s standards) player that deserves some bench time. (sorry Isabel, White).

Barney is not hitting. Reason why: the hitting coaches are trying to turn him into a “power” hitter by “tweaking” his stance, etc. As a result they have ruined his normally natural ability. The coaches are the reason he has frozen at the plate. They should be the ones benched. I can only hope that Barney can get his mojo back. Barney is the stellar defenseman. Castro is the power hitter. We need both.

I don’t know about that White. How can you be certain what the coaches are “doing” to Barney? I will give them the benefit of the doubt that even THEY know Barney does not have the frame or strength to be a power hitter. I think he is just in a funk and Barney is what he is….known for his defense and when he hits, he hits. As for Castro, I believe he should be utilized down the order to accumulate some more RBI’s but only via his natural and very good hitting ability and never should he be instructed to swing for the fences. I would much rather have his power come occasionally than forcefully. Castro (at least on THIS weak team) should be the three or five hitter until reinforcements arrive then he should be back in the two hole.
Castro should not be considered “the power hitter”.

trust me they are tweaking barney only because they know he either has to start hitting or ELSE…… the ceiling is not that high for barney… I don’t consider Soriano’s day off a benching but it does need to wake him up and get the engine going. I can’t argue with that. I just like Castro in the 2 hole… I hate seeing him elsewhere… on a good team Castro would be there and I just want to keep as much pressure off of him as possible. Not that he can’t handle it but that hopefully he can focus more on his defense than his offense.

Oh but I do know, Joey. Can’t say how but coaches were changing everything about his approach and ended up freezing him at the plate. Shame on them, not him.

quit coddling the guy… seriously this is how/why cubs are the lovable losers… I hate it… this is his job… if he can’t hit about 230 he doesn’t deserve to be out there no matter how good his defense is. If he can only play good defense then he should be on the bench watching. You gotta have run production… he isn’t getting on base at a good clip… that just doesn’t win you any games

Yeah, quit coddling Soriano… seriously this is how/why cubs are the lovable losers… I hate it… this is his job… if he can’t hit in April and early May he doesn’t deserve to be out there no matter how good his bloop singles and stolen bases are. If he can only play mid May to September then he should be on the bench watching during those months. You GOTTA have run production FROM YOUR CLEAN UP HITTER… he isn’t producing at a good clip… that just doesn’t win you any games.

im not coddling soriano at all but you guys have your torches lit and pitch forks ready everytime he doesn’t get a hit or catch every fly ball that goes to the OF… He at least produces SOME runs and hits close to the MLB average while playing solid defense… not great defense but its solid enough that it doesn’t kill our team. Its not Soriano’s fault he got paid a shit ton of money… you all would take it too if you had the talent to do it. What do you expect him to do? Void the contract? Who has ever done that? Soriano is a slow starter no doubt… he is WAAY over paid… no doubt about that BUT he is the best we got and we are stuck with him till some team takes him off our hands at which we will still be paying most of the contract so is it even worth it? We don’t have one guy in the minors or on the bench that could play for Soriano and provide the same or better production….. none…we don’t plain and simple. Is Soriano a clean up hitter for a good team? NO WAY!!!!!! BUT he could be a very good DH on an AL team hitting in the 5 or 6 hole…. we are stuck with him as our clean up hitter… you put the other guys there and they get the best pitches from pitchers THUS reducing their production…. I am greatful Soriano is hitting .276…. and I am excited to see his game warm up with the weather… it should get better right? I mean we start playing with the lineup card every day and all it does it mess with the WHOLE TEAM… this team ISNT going to win anything except maybe a top 5 draft pick… the FO wants a contender or a dog turd….. thats how they get the best talent…. mediocre doesn’t help anything

joey you also can’t give me anything other than your OPINION on soriano…. you can’t look at the stats and be objective….. you look at soriano and see 18mill and hendry and your rage ensues… benching him takes production out of the lineup and isn’t magically going to be replaced by the scrubs we have. Now if Soler, baez or ALmora were ready and waiting in the wings I would be right there with you crying about him being in the lineup but sweeney, hairston, sappelt (who just got demoted and was a guy you wanted to replace Soriano with last year), or any other scrub can not replace soriano’s production whether how good or bad its been SO FAR… he will heat up with the weather so why not let him stay in the 4 hole…. Dejesus is getting on base, castro is going to come out of his slump, rizzo will continue to be producing (tho very streaky), and soriano will be there to clean that up……. relax……. go talk to your psychiatrist about the soriano rage…come back and lets talk baseball…..

FACTS: Cubs LFers rank= 11th in ave, 19th in obp, 18th in SLG, 19th in OPS…. room for growth? Sure but are those numbers terrible? NO! Now along with those numbers the runs, hrs, and rbis haven’t been there…. it needs improvement YES…. but soriano is hitting and those runs will start to come in….. its only been what 34 games…. long ways to go here…. lets not freak out till about 60-70 games in…. thats a pretty good sample size… 34 games is pretty small

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