Results tagged ‘ Carlos Villanueva ’

4/23 Cubs 4, Reds 2, 10 innings

Carlos Villanueva delivered some much-needed innings, Darwin Barney provided the go-ahead run, and Kevin Gregg filled the closer’s role for the day as the Cubs held on long enough for a 4-2, 10-inning win Tuesday night over the Reds.

“It was nice, a good win,” manager Dale Sveum said. “It wasn’t easy.”

Barney hit a tie-breaking home run with one out in the 10th off Manny Parra for his first home run of the year, only his fourth hit in 27 at-bats this season. Dave Sappelt added a RBI single for insurance.

“I wouldn’t say I needed it, I think our team needed that win,” Barney said. “I think it was good for us. Obviously, it was nice to get an RBI. No one was in scoring position — I’m probably like 0-for-1,000 in those situations. It feels good to contribute on that side of the field for sure.”

It was a weird home run because Cincinnati’s Corky Miller got in the way.

“They called catcher’s interference on the play, so when I first hit, I thought I got it pretty good and when [umpire Marvin Hudson] called interference, you never know how much it’ll take off your bat speed,” Barney said.

Wait a second — catcher’s interference on his home run?

“Maybe I would’ve rolled it over if it didn’t hit the glove,” Barney said.

Chicago led, 2-1, going into the ninth, but the Reds forced extra innings for the second straight game. Shin-Soo Choo walked to start the ninth against Villanueva, who was pulled one out later after throwing 99 pitches. Carlos Marmol entered to face Joey Votto, who was 1-for-15 in his career against the right-hander with nine strikeouts. The odds were in Marmol’s favor, but Votto lined a RBI single past Barney to tie the game.

“Those numbers don’t lie,” Sveum said of Marmol’s stats vs. Votto. “He got the ground ball. I’m like, ‘Really? You can’t hit it at somebody? You’ve got to be kidding me.’ Marmol was all right.”

Villanueva was the hero. The Cubs were coming off a 13-inning game on Monday, and needed him to go at least five. He topped that by pitching into the ninth. It was his fourth straight quality start, but he has only one win to show for it. Marmol ended up with the win, and now leads the team in the category.

“He’s been outstanding,” Sveum said of Villanueva. “To stick with a game plan is the ultimate dream for a pitching coach and a manager to be able to say, ‘Just do this and you’ll get these guys out’ and he’s able to pull it off.”

Marmol wasn’t able to do that, which is why he lost his closer’s job after one week. Gregg, released by the Dodgers on April 3, picked up his first save since 2011.

“For me, it’s about going in there and helping the ballclub now in whatever role it can be,” Gregg said. “Today was an awesome feeling. 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.”

Sixteen of the Cubs’ first 19 games have been decided by three runs or less, the first time that’s happened in franchise history since 1991. The tight games make it tough on everyone.

“You can’t dwell too much on the close games,” Villanueva said. “It’ll crush your spirits sometimes. You have to look at the positives, and the positives are that we are close. We’re not getting killed, it’s just one-, two-run games. Hopefully, this will turn it around and we start winning some ballgames now.”

– Carrie Muskat

4/23 Cubs lineup

Cody Ransom gets his first start of the season on Tuesday when the Cubs face the Reds and lefty Tony Cingrani at Great American Ball Park. Here’s the lineup:

Sappelt CF
Castro SS
Rizzo 1B
Soriano LF
Castillo C
Hairston RF
Ransom 3B
Barney 2B
Villanueva P

4/23 Extra bases

* David DeJesus’ leadoff home run Monday was the 13th of his career.

* Starlin Castro singled in the third to extend his hitting streak to 14 games, tops in the Major Leagues and matching his career high.

* Carlos Marmol threw two scoreless innings, and now has six straight scoreless outings dating to April 8.

* Luis Valbuena has hit safely in nine of his last 13 games.

* Cubs starting pitchers rank third in the NL with a 3.11 ERA, but they have a 3-10 record. The relievers rank 12th in the NL with a 4.86 ERA. The team is batting .147 with runners in scoring position.

* Matt Garza will make a Minor League rehab start Wednesday for Double-A Tennessee, weather permitting.

* Ian Stewart was 1-for-3 with two RBIs Monday for Triple-A Iowa, and now is 2-for-20 in six games.

* On Tuesday, Carlos Villanueva faces Tony Cingrani at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.

– Carrie Muskat

4/19 Cubs 6, Rangers 2

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.

4/18 Cubs lineup

Maybe the rain will stay away long enough for the Cubs to finish the series against the Rangers Thursday. Here’s the lineup:

DeJesus CF
Castro SS
Rizzo 1B
Soriano LF
Schierholtz RF
Castillo C
Valbuena 3B
Barney 2B

After this series, the Cubs travel to Milwaukee, where they have a roof.

– Carrie Muskat

4/12 Post-game notes

* Starlin Castro extended his hitting streak to six games with his home run in the fifth. He now has four multi-hit games in that stretch.

* Dioner Navarro led off the ninth with a pinch-hit home run off Sergio Romo. It was Navarro’s first career pinch-homer and first by a Cubs player this year.

* David DeJesus notched his second three-hit game of the season, and has nine hits in his last five games.

* Carlos Villanueva has left with the lead in both of his starts, but does not have a decision yet.

* Despite blowing the save, Kyuji Fujikawa picked up his first Major League win Friday, and also got a celebratory beer shower.

* On Saturday, Jeff Samardzija will start in Game 3 of the Cubs’ four-game series against the Giants, facing lefty Madison Bumgarner. First pitch scheduled for 12:05 p.m. CT.

– Carrie Muskat

4/12 Cubs 4, Giants 3

What is it about those last three outs? Carlos Villanueva may want to take Kyuji Fujikawa, Carlos Marmol and the rest of the Cubs bullpen out to dinner. Perhaps if Villanueva butters them up, he’ll get a win. For the second straight start, Villanueva missed a potential “W” because the bullpen imploded. But the Cubs rallied this time as pinch-hitter Dioner Navarro hit a game-tying home run leading off the ninth and Starlin Castro smacked a walk-off RBI double to score David DeJesus from first and lift the Cubs to a 4-3 come-from-behind victory over the Giants.

“I’m happy just getting the [team] ‘W,’” Villanueva said. “The atmosphere in our clubhouse right now, I wouldn’t change that for the world.”

The right-hander shut down the Giants for 7 1/3 innings, but they took a 3-2 lead in the ninth against Fujikawa on an RBI single by Pablo Sandoval and a two-run double by Brandon Belt. It was Fujikawa’s second save situation since taking over the closer’s duties from Marmol, and he’s now 1-for-2.

“[It was his] command again,” manager Dale Sveum said of Fujikawa. “He’s not getting the swings and misses with his split. I thought he threw some good splits and they were laying off of them. The command and life of the fastball wasn’t there again. He couldn’t get strike one.”

Said Fujikawa: “As you can see, [my command] wasn’t too good.”

The Cubs rallied in the ninth against Giants star closer Sergio Romo. What is it about the ninth inning?

“Guys lock in,” DeJesus said. “Those are the situations where you want to shine your best. That’s why that closer role is such an important job and it’s a tough job because these guys are going up there with the purpose of trying to win the ballgame.”

Last Saturday, Marmol served up game-tying and walk-off home runs to the Upton brothers in Atlanta and lost his job as the Cubs closer. Now, Fujikawa struggled.

“I told Ryo [Shinkawa], his interpreter, to tell him that I believe in him, and we believe in him and he’ll be fine,” Villanueva said. “[Fujikawa] is very apologetic and he feels bad, and we can tell. We need him, and as long as we communicate that to him, times when things aren’t going well, that’s why we’re teammates and we’re a team. We love ‘Fuji’ and we know he’ll do well.”

– Carrie Muskat

4/12 Cubs lineup

Steve Clevenger gets a rare start at third base on Friday for the Cubs in the second game of their four-game series against the defending world champion Giants. Clevenger is 1-for-5 against Matt Cain, and did play one inning at third on Thursday. Carlos Villanueva gets the start. If you’re coming to the game, bundle up.

DeJesus CF
Castro SS
Rizzo 1B
Soriano LF
Schierholtz RF
Castillo C
Clevenger 3B
Valbuena 2B
Villanueva P

– Carrie Muskat

4/6 Cubs lineup

Carlos Villanueva makes his first regular season start on Saturday when the Cubs face the Braves in the second game of this three-game series. If you’re not watching the semifinals of the Final Four men’s basketball tournament, here’s the lineup:

DeJesus CF
Castro SS
Rizzo 1B
Soriano LF
Schierholtz RF
Castillo C
Valbuena 3B
Gonzalez 2B
Villanueva P

– Carrie Muskat

4/4 Extra bases

* The Cubs headed into Thursday’s game 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position.

“We haven’t had real bad at-bats, but we obviously haven’t had the results,” Dale Sveum said. “Your approach is to get elevation with men in scoring position, whether it’s third or whatever, you get something in the air and don’t ground out to the corners. Pitchers are always trying to get you to ground out to the corners. You want to get the ball up, out over the plate.”

* After Thursday, the Cubs begin a stretch of 19 consecutive games against teams that finished above .500 last season.

“We don’t look at it as tough, but a way to show what we’ve got from the beginning,” Chicago pitcher Carlos Villanueva said. “I think it’s better we face those teams and we face good competition early on to test ourselves and see how well we are this year.

“It’s such a long season and we’re not going to think about winning one series or two series — we have to focus on winning ballgames one at a time,” he said. “It’s so cliche, it’s so boring, but it is how it is. For us to be playing tough teams now, the Braves, the Giants, the Brewers, the Reds, it’s good. We get a chance to show what we’ve got early on.”

* Scott Feldman will make his Cubs debut Friday night when the team opens a three-game series against the Braves.

“I’m kind of anxious,” Feldman said Thursday. “Sitting here, watching these games, I want to get that first one under my belt and get off to a good start.”

It’s not only a new team for Feldman, but he’s going to be pitching in ballparks and cities he’s never been in. Atlanta is on that list. The good news is that Feldman has seen the Cubs play some good defense in the first two games.

“You can get some momentum on your side with a good play,” he said. “We had it happen a couple times on Opening Day. Guys back there are pretty solid on ‘D’ so hopefully they’ll keep it going.”

* As far as Sveum is concerned, he’d like to keep the designated hitter in the American League. This year, adding the DH to the National League will likely be discussed as teams play Interleague games every day of the season.

“I enjoy the National League game, and I enjoy managing the National League game,” said Sveum, sticking to tradition.

The Cubs will need a DH May 27-28 against the White Sox, June 4-5 versus the Angels, June 28-29 when they face the Mariners, and July 2-4 versus the Athletics. They have some candidates, including switch-hitter Dioner Navarro, Steve Clevenger and Alfonso Soriano.

Some have said American League teams are at a disadvantage in National League parks because their pitchers haven’t batted as much.

“I think it works both ways,” Sveum said. “We go to an American League park and have to use a DH but we didn’t build our team with a DH. They pay people a lot of money to DH. That’s part of their game. We’re fortunate because our pitchers can swing the bat pretty good and that’s an advantage to us.”

* Matt Garza will join the Cubs Friday in Atlanta and was to begin throwing off the mound. Second baseman Darwin Barney, rehabbing from a laceration in his left knee, is able to swing in the batting cage, but still needs to keep his leg extended.

– Carrie Muskat


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