Results tagged ‘ Alfonso Soriano ’
The Cubs are convinced Carlos Marmol can still get batters out, but on Saturday, he couldn’t throw a strike. Marmol entered in the eighth with a two-run lead and failed to retire a batter, walking two and hitting another, to help the Reds rally for four runs and post a 6-4 victory over the Cubs. Alfonso Soriano hit a pair of two-run home runs and Jeff Samardzija was in line for his first win since Opening Day until the fateful eighth.
Chicago led 4-2 when Marmol took over, making his 453rd appearance, a franchise record, passing Lee Smith. But he walked the first batter he faced on four pitches, then walked Joey Votto. Dale Sveum left Marmol in, hoping he could get Brandon Phillips to ground into a double play. Instead, Marmol hit Brandon Phillips with a pitch to load the bases. Hector Rondon entered, and Jay Bruce hit a RBI single, Todd Frazier followed with a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 4-4. Rondon intentionally walked Xavier Paul, and unintentionally walked pinch-hitter Joel Hannahan to force in the go-ahead run. Another run scored on pinch-hitter Devin Mesoraco’s sacrifice fly.
Marmol is the problem, though. In 14 appearances, he has given up 11 hits, walked 12 and hit three batters over 11 2/3 innings. He lost his job as the closer after the first week of the season, and now has a 6.17 ERA.
“I can’t throw strikes,” Marmol said. “I’m giving people a chance to score.”
“He’s not executing,” Sveum said. “He’s not throwing the ball over the plate. It doesn’t matter what pitch is called.”
The Cubs are trying to make it work for the right-hander, who lost his job as the closer last season yet won it back and finished strong. He hasn’t been able to bounce back this year.
“He’ll be pitching in roles with the game on the line, early in the game, or whatever,” Sveum said. “One way or the other, he’s got to get fixed. … I don’t even know if he threw a strike today. There were a couple swings but I don’t know if they were strikes. One way or the other, we have to get him fixed because he’s got to pitch.”
Marmol threw 14 pitches Saturday, only four were strikes, and only one was a called strike. He said he isn’t lacking confidence and that he’s healthy. He is frustrated.
“I have to go out there tomorrow and throw strikes and get people out,” Marmol said. “That’s all you can do.”
Unfortunately for the Cubs, this isn’t the first time they’ve blown a lead in the late innings. This was the 25th game out of the Cubs’ 30 to be decided by three runs or less, and Chicago now is 9-16 in those games. Twelve of those losses have been by two runs or less.
“Probably half of our losses have been these kind of losses,” Sveum said. “That’s what’s frustrating. If we could turn the switch around, we’d have eight more wins. It’s not like we’re going through a game and losing 6-2 and it’s a normal game. Whether it’s errors or walking people like today or whatever it might be, there aren’t a lot of clean games going on in the first 30 games.”
They may be frustrated but they’re not down.
“Maybe on some other teams but this team is pretty resilient,” Jeff Samardzija said. “We need to stop shooting ourselves in the foot and turn these ‘L’s’ into ‘W’s.’”
– Carrie Muskat
Dale Sveum is giving Alfonso Soriano a day off on Wednesday, and Julio Borbon will start in left field for the Cubs in the third game of their four-game series against the Padres at Wrigley Field. Here’s the lineup:
– Carrie Muskat
* The Cubs have had 12 players hit at least one home run so far this season, the most among National League teams and tied for second-most in the Major Leagues with the Indians and Rays. Alfonso Soriano is one of the dozen players, but the Cubs had hoped he’d have more than one home run at this point.
“Last year, he was a victim of the wind blowing in every single day at home,” manager Dale Sveum said. “This year, you can’t say that. He’s swung the bat really well off lefties. Hopefully last night, hitting off that tough righty [the Padres' Brad Brach], that double, that was his best swing off a righty all year. Hopefully that can catapult him.”
Soriano last homered on April 18; in 2012, he didn’t connect until May 15. In April 2011, he set a club record with 10 homers in April. Sveum expects Soriano, 37, to deliver.
“That media guide doesn’t lie when you have 600 plate appearances at the end of the year,” Sveum said.
* Ian Stewart, on a Minor League rehab assignment with Triple-A Iowa, was 4-for-40 in 12 games.
“He’s got to start swinging the bat better, have more consistent at-bats,” Sveum said of the third baseman. “We’ll wait and see.”
Major League players are limited to 20 days per rehab assignment. Stewart’s time expires on Friday.
“Right this second, I don’t think I’m ready,” Stewart told the Des Moines Register on Tuesday. “That’s just me being honest and knowing myself as a player.”
* The Cubs still don’t have a designated closer and Sveum said Tuesday they’ll probably stick to the closer by committee approach when Kyuji Fujikawa returns from the disabled list. Fujikawa, sidelined with a strained right forearm, was to throw a bullpen on Thursday, and if all goes well, he would make a rehab outing Sunday for Triple-A Iowa.
On Monday, Kevin Gregg picked up his fourth save of the season. The Cubs have three pitchers with multiple saves so far, the first time that’s happened in the first month in franchise history since the save became an official stat in 1969. Besides Gregg (four), Fujikawa has two and Carlos Marmol has two. Sveum said he’ll base his decision in save situations on matchups.
“I got [a closer],” Sveum said. “I just don’t know who it’s going to be every night.”
* Looking ahead, Scott Feldman will face former Cub Andrew Cashner on Wednesday, and Travis Wood will close the series Thursday against the Padres’ Eric Stults.
– Carrie Muskat
Dale Sveum will still rely on the best matchup in determining his closer. On Tuesday, Kevin Gregg picked up the save, and is one of the options. So is Carlos Marmol, who lost the job after the first week of the season.
“I didn’t say [Marmol] would not be the closer,” Sveum said Wednesday. “I said it would come down to matchups.”
Gregg’s save was his first since 2011.
“Today was an awesome feeling,” Gregg said after Tuesday’s game. “I really enjoy that. That’s a lot of weight on your shoulders when you’re out there making pitches in that situation. I love that pressure, I love what comes with it, of what comes from being able to carry home a victory for the team.”
* Kyuji Fujikawa, on the disabled list with a strained right forearm, is throwing from 135 feet on flat ground, and has yet to throw a bullpen session. He is doing his rehab in Chicago.
* Ian Stewart was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts on Tuesday in a rehab start for Triple-A Iowa. Stewart is coming back from a strained left quad, suffered Feb. 21 in an intrasquad game. In seven games, he’s 2-for-24 with a double and three RBIs.
* Alfonso Soriano singled and stole two bases in the second inning on Tuesday night, but after swiping third, the Cubs veteran took a brief time out.
“I was fine,” Soriano said Wednesday. “I steal second and third on two pitches, and at age 37, I think I need a little time. Thank God, I’m feeling good. At 37, I needed extra time. I took my extra time to breathe. I can’t remember the last time I had two sprints like that.”
The last time was August 2008. Soriano stole two bases in one inning twice that month, the last one on Aug. 25 that year against the Pirates. Don’t expect him to be putting together another 40-stolen base season, though.
“I feel good in my legs,” Soriano said. “If I have a chance to steal the base, I’m going to try to do it to make the game easier for my teammates and try to score some runs. We have a very good team. I want to try to take what they give me. If they give me a stolen base, I’ll take a stolen base.”
– Carrie Muskat
* Cody Ransom made the most of his Cubs debut. He homered on the first pitch he saw, and is the first Cubs player to hit a home run in his first at-bat since Starlin Castro did so on May 7, 2010, also in Cincinnati. Ransom also homered in his first at-bat with the Yankees in 2008.
* Carlos Villanueva now has a 1.53 ERA in four starts, and has four quality starts.
* Starlin Castro’s 14-game hitting streak came to an end. He went 0-for-4.
* Dave Sappelt, Alfonso Soriano and Julio Borbon each stole a base for the Cubs, and finished with four as Soriano swiped two in one inning. The four stolen bases by the team is a season high.
* Kevin Gregg picked up his first save since Sept. 24, 2011.
Dale Sveum has met with the players, they’ve done the drills, they’ve practiced the plays, and they have the talent, which is why Saturday’s game — and this season — is so frustrating. The Brewers took advantage of the Cubs’ sloppy play to post a 5-1 win in front of a sellout crowd of 42,230 at Miller Park in what looked like a repeat of past games this season.
“It seems to be the story every night,” Sveum said. “It seems to be continuing that we can’t seem to catch the ball or make a play when we have to make a play. Edwin [Jackson] pitched a great game, but he was part of that, throwing the ball into center field. We’ve got to step up and somebody has to start making plays and driving runs in because this is obviously getting old.”
Jackson’s throwing error in the sixth led to two of the Brewers’ runs and was one of three miscues by the Cubs in the game. Of the five runs scored, four were unearned.
“I’ve talked,” Sveum said about how he’s dealt with the Cubs. “We’ve been doing this quite a bit. You don’t want to have meetings every night.”
Maybe the problem is youth? Shortstop Starlin Castro committed his fourth error.
“We’re making a lot of the same mistakes,” Sveum said. “Obviously, they’re young but we’re making mistakes that rookie ball people make.”
Jackson (0-3), who signed a four-year, $52 million contract this offseason, took the loss. It’s the first time the right-hander has opened a season winless in his first four starts since 2007 when he went 0-8 with the Rays.
“Everybody knows they can make plays,” Jackson said. “It’s nothing that anyone is panicking over. Clearly, we have to play better and execute better. It’s not an issue that anyone is panicking over. I can’t speak for everyone but nobody is panicking. We just have to make the plays when we have a chance.”
What’s going on?
“I think it’s just a matter of slowing the game down,” Darwin Barney said. “Starting pitching has done such a great job and a lot of the jams they’ve been in have been attributed to miscues. It’s unfortunate. I think a part of it is pressure. I think guys are putting a little too much pressure on themselves and they take that onto the defensive side. As a unit, we need to be better from pitchers to infielders and just all around. It just comes with slowing the game down and being confident and just making the routine plays and keeping them routine.”
Alfonso Soriano also felt the Cubs may be pressing.
“I think we’re better than this,” Soriano said. “I think we’re trying too much. That’s why the team isn’t doing well so far. I think everybody is pushing too much and trying to do too much. We have to come back tomorrow and be relaxed and just let the talent play the game.”
In Spring Training, the Cubs knew they had a rough schedule in the first month and needed to get off to a good start.
“Everybody in this clubhouse, we want to win so bad, we want to show to the other team and the fans that we can do it,” Soriano said. “I think that’s our mentality here. We just have to play the game and have fun and not try to do too much and not worry about making mistakes and play the game.”
The Brewers began the season 2-8, and have won six in a row.
“That’s what drives me crazy, the coaches crazy,” Milwaukee manager Ron Ronicke said. “We try to figure things and how to get the team going and next thing you know they do it themselves. It’s baffling, this game’s very baffling.”
Sveum would like to see the players figure it out. He said he has “options” if the mistakes continue. He admitted to becoming impatient with the poor play.
“To win in the big leagues, you have to have people who perform, and perform 162 games, not once in a while,” Sveum said. “You have to perform. It’s the big leagues. Otherwise, you lose your jobs.”
– Carrie Muskat
The Cubs entered Saturday’s game ranked last in the Majors with runners in scoring position.
“It’s a small sample at this point in the season but the one thing besides some mistakes we’re making in the field, is it’s holding us back from breaking games open and taking leads,” Dale Sveum said. “We just can’t seem to get going with men in scoring position.”
Anthony Rizzo is 2-for-15, while Alfonso Soriano is 1-for-12 with RISP. That’s not the kind of production you want to see from your 3-4 hitters. Is being able to deliver with runners on a tool?
“It is one stat that fluctuates a little bit,” Sveum said. “You’ll see throughout the league certain guys are really good with men in scoring position and they’ll be in the .300s to low .300s for their careers, and other guys will be really good one year and not so good the next year, kind of like pinch-hitting sometimes. It’s a small sample right now and it kind of gets a little contagious.”
The Cubs haven’t been able to drive runners in. They also haven’t been able to move them over and hit to the right side of the field. But, it’s early.
– Carrie Muskat
Notes from Thursday’s Cubs win over the Rangers:
* Starlin Castro extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a sixth-inning double, the 100th double of his career. He has eight hitting streaks of 10 or more games since the start of 2011, tied with the Yankees’ Robinson Cano for the most in the Majors in that span (thanks to STATS, Inc.). Castro also drew two walks Thursday, his first of the season.
* Anthony Rizzo’s third-inning, two-run homer traveled an estimated 475 feet, the longest home run hit in the Majors this season (courtesy of ESPN Stats & Info.).
* Welington Castillo had a career-high four hits, and has hit safely in nine of his first 11 games.
* Alfonso Soriano hit his first home run of the season in the third inning.
* Carlos Villanueva picked up his first win with the Cubs, throwing seven innings of four-hit ball. He is 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA (3 ER/21.0 IP) in three starts, the first pitcher to start his Cubs career with three-straight quality starts since Carlos Silva began the 2010 campaign with four-straight quality efforts.
* Cubs starting pitchers have a 3.15 ERA with eight quality starts in the first 14 games.
* David DeJesus is batting .455 in his last six games.
* Nate Schierholtz extended his hitting streak to seven games with a second-inning double.
* Luis Valbuena recorded his second multi-hit game of the season and has hit safely in six of his last nine games.
* James Russell has posted eight consecutive scoreless outings to open the season (5 1/3 IP).
* Carlos Marmol has thrown five consecutive scoreless outings, dating to April 8 vs. Milwaukee.
The Florida State League suspended Cubs prospect Jorge Soler five games for leaving the dugout and wielding a bat Wednesday night. Soler, who is playing for Class A Daytona, was ejected in the seventh inning. Clearwater second baseman Carlos Alonso came down on Soler after he slid into second trying to break up a double play. Soler and Alonso exchanged words and were then separated. But Soler re-emerged from the Cubs dugout with a bat and made his way toward the visitor’s dugout. He was restrained by teammates, then ejected.
The news of Soler’s outburst surprised the Cubs players, who were with the 21-year-old outfielder in Spring Training.
“He came here to work hard, to be in the big leagues and [I told him to] not pay attention to the negative in the Minor Leagues because sometimes there are some people who are negative,” veteran Alfonso Soriano said. “I said, ‘Don’t think about that, just think about how you came here to play hard and sooner or later, you’ll be in the big leagues if you do the right thing.’”
Soler’s father lives in Miami, but otherwise, his mother and sister are still in Cuba. He doesn’t have many family members in the U.S. Soriano tried to give the young outfielder advice in Spring Training, and planned on calling Soler.
“I’d tell him to focus and play baseball and not listen to anybody — just play baseball,” Soriano said.
– Carrie Muskat
* Monday’s crowd of 40,083 was the smallest at Wrigley Field for a home opener since the team drew 40,077 on April 13, 2009.
* With the 7-4 loss to the Brewers Monday, the Cubs now are 52-45-1 in 98 home openers at Wrigley Field. Overall, the home team has gone 54-45-1 in 100 openers at the ballpark, which was the home field for the Federals/Whales for two seasons before the Cubs.
* The Cubs now have lost their last three home openers, and are 2-5 in the last seven dating to 2007.
* Alfonso Soriano recorded his first multi-hit game on Monday, but still does not have an RBI. He has hit safely in his last four games. Welington Castillo has hit safely in his last three games.
* Edwin Jackson took the loss, and is the first Cubs pitcher to start the home opener not named Ryan Dempster since 2009. Jackson also is the first pitcher to make his first Cubs start at Wrigley in the home opener since Ted Lilly did so, April 9, 2007.
– Carrie Muskat