5/15 Cardinals 5, Cubs 3

Jason Hammel gave up more runs in one inning than he’s served up in any of his previous starts as the Cubs closed their rain-shortened series against the Cardinals with a 5-3 loss on Thursday. It was an interesting matinee. Anthony Rizzo bunted twice for singles, setting up Starlin Castro’s sixth home run in the fourth inning the second time, Jose Veras returned in relief, and manager Rick Renteria tried not to cough in his battle with a nasty case of bronchitis.

Hammel did not record a quality start for the first time this season. The right-hander struck out the side to start the game, and he finished with six K’s. He scattered five hits and walked two over 5 1/3 innings.

“It’s the kiss of death to strike out the side in the first inning as a starting pitcher — everybody knows that,” Hammel said. “Today was the best physically I felt all year and obviously, it’s the way the game works, and it didn’t work out. My fastball was up. It caught up with me in the second.”

The Cardinals loaded the bases with one out in the second inning on a double by Yadier Molina and walks to both Allen Craig and Peter Bourjos. Molina scored on Mark Ellis’ groundout to second. Wacha then helped himself with a two-run single and he scored on Matt Carpenter’s double for a 4-0 lead. That prompted a visit from pitching coach Chris Bosio.

Hammel felt good on the mound, but just missed with his pitches at the wrong time.

“I was confident with what I was doing and had a good game plan,” Hammel said. “It was good for three of the five [innings] I was out there and other two was a little bit of a labor.”

Hammel needed 33 pitches to get through the second, but he was able to find his rhythm and retired 10 in a row.

“He wants you to swing at his pitch, kind of nibbles the zone,” St. Louis’ Matt Carpenter said of Hammel. “We did a good job of making him work his pitch count up. We were able to get the big knock, and that’s been the big difference, really, with the season so far, getting guys on and being able to get them in.”

Rizzo bunted for a single for the second time in the game leading off the fourth, beating the Cardinals’ defensive shift. Castro followed with his sixth home run to pull the Cubs within, 4-2. The shortstop now has four homers and 11 RBIs in 18 games since moving to the No. 4 spot in the lineup.

“I like it there,” Castro said of his role as the cleanup man. “I feel pretty good there. I like hitting with men in scoring position. [Renteria] put me there for a reason.”

And Castro would bunt, too, if needed. Rizzo now has three career bunt singles.

“It’s something he’s seen as a mode of maybe off-setting [the shift],” Renteria said. “He’s looking at the game from a lot of different angles. Think about it — you’re down four runs, and a solo home run isn’t going to do a whole lot for you. Why not?”

It’s one way to get teams to stop employing the extreme defensive adjustments against the left-handed hitting first baseman.

“Everyone wants to play these shifts and I have Starlin Castro hitting behind me,” Rizzo said. “If they’re going to give me that, I might as well take it.

“I almost made them pay twice for it,” he said. “Whenever you can get a base runner — Wacha’s a great pitcher and you want to get him in the stretch and try to maybe throw him off a little bit. If teams are going to give me that, I’ll take it all the time.”

Chicago loaded the bases with one out in the eighth against Kevin Siegrist, and tallied a run on Junior Lake’s sacrifice fly against Trevor Rosenthal.

With the loss, the Cubs dropped to 13-26, matching their slowest start through 39 games since 2002.

“You’ve got to look at the positive,” Hammel said of the Cubs. “We’ve played a lot of good ballgames. We’re not getting blown out. It’s not ugly games. It’s one or two pitches here or there, or one or two timely hits that we haven’t gotten. It’s not like we’re just laying down. It’s obviously frustrating but I think we’ve played pretty good ball.”

– Carrie Muskat

14 Comments

We Stinks

I always find it odd when people refer to the team they root for as “we.” “We” are Trolls on the Internet. “They” are a sad excuse for a Major League Baseball team. Now carry on.

That is one thing I try my best not to do Cubs Win. I know I am no part of the Organization, just an average fan. Good point!!!

I see nothing wrong with us fans referring to the team as “we,” Cubs win, especially when some of those fans have been emotionally invested in the Cubs for many decades. I reckon we`ve earned it.

13-26. It is hard to think of anything positive to say at this point! But no matter what obstacles I have faced in my 79 years I have learned that “NEVER EVER GIVE IN OR GIVE UP” will get me through. And that is what I say to our Cub guys today! Fix what needs fixing, keep the good stuff and carry on!

I think that may be the problem White, no one there knowing how to fix it, no expectation, no leadership and it’s clear the players have no fear of losing their job to someone else because Sir Theo refuses to bring up young players because “there will be no short cuts”…Theo’s good ole boys club mentality.

Theo refuses to bring up young players…. except for Anthony Rizzo, Mike Olt, Junior Lake, Travis Wood, Jake Arietta, Hector Rondon, Justin Grimm, and Neil Ramirez. It boggles the mind how some of you can be so clueless as to what is actually going on with the Cubs. Can’t any of you at least pay the slightest big of attention before posting your nonsense?

At this point, I wouldn’t hire Theo to run my receptionist desk and if its management holding him back then I understand one can buy a pair cheap in Mexico; he should strap on a pair and step up, stop playing the corporate tune.

Not going to waste my time explaining things to you Doug as you have difficulty understanding these sorts of things. However, saying you’re right based upon the one’s you mentioned poor performance to date, then Theo’s minors not very impressive so far…can’t have it both ways and one way or the other Theo loses.

Well I agree White, I can never give up on them. And even though they are doing bad and no one knows how they can fix it, Im pretty sure that they are some grown men that can see what they need to fix. I had to fix my swing from a “baseball swing” to a fast “fast pitch” softball swing. I had to do it myself because my coach only told me to but never showed me. I think the Cubs can do this too! They’re grown men that have the best experiences!

Well hi there Isabel. – Glad to hear from you! June 3rd is the big date to watch for! :)). Hope Carrie can get a good picture of you when you all receive your grant! Maybe the ivy will be in full green as a backdrop for the photo!

Oh thanks White! And yes it is! I hope so to!!! I cannot wait!

Good morning jhosk! I agree with you. – “WE” are ALL Cubs whether on or off the field! “WE” win or lose as the whole shebang!

Thanks for that ,White, and the latest college baseball poll I referenced Tuesday remains unchanged at the top, meaning our teams remain #1 and #2.

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