Results tagged ‘ Darwin Barney ’

6/22 Astros 4, Cubs 3

Before Saturday’s game, Cubs manager Dale Sveum joked that if he didn’t have to meet with the media post-game, he might have a chance to see the Blackhawks play in the Stanley Cup Final. As it turns out, the team could’ve spared him, and replayed quotes from past losses. Once again, the Cubs wasted a solid effort by one of their starting pitchers and missed scoring opportunities in a 4-3 loss to the Astros. J.D. Martinez hit a game-tying three-run homer in the sixth and Justin Maxwell scored the go-ahead run on a squeeze in the ninth inning to even the Interleague series in front of 38,870 at Wrigley Field.

“It’s a broken record,” Sveum said. “We can’t seem to get that hit to bust the game open in those situations. We get guys on and we just can’t get them in.”

With the game tied at 3 in the ninth against Kevin Gregg, Maxwell doubled to lead off and moved up on Matt Dominguez’s sacrifice. Ronny Cedeno then bunted toward first, and Maxwell sprinted home with the game-winning run. It was only the fourth time in 25 games that Gregg has given up a run.

The Cubs had a chance in the eighth. With one out, Alfonso Soriano doubled and Anthony Rizzo was intentionally walked. Soriano was then picked off at second on a close play, although it appeared that he got his hand on the base before the tag. Second base umpire David Rackley called Soriano out. The Cubs didn’t agree.

“I know it’s not an easy job they have, but when I get mad at something they call, it’s because I’m 100 percent [sure] I have the right call,” Soriano said. “I knew I was safe. It’s part of the game. I have a lot of respect for the umpires. He called me out and I got mad because I knew I was safe.”

The Cubs then loaded the bases, and Darwin Barney thought he had drawn a walk on a 3-1 pitch but instead home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi called a strike. Jose Cisnero then got Barney to fly out to center to end the inning.

“Soriano is safe at second so there’s a run, and the guy’s throwing the ball all over the place and Barney takes a 3-1 pitch and it’s eight inches inside, and instead it’s a pop up and an out,” Sveum said. “It’s a shame.”

Nate Schierholtz set a career high with his 10th home run and Luis Valbuena hit a two-run single for the Cubs, now 7-3 against American League teams this year. Travis Wood picked up his 14th quality start, most in the Major Leagues, but the lefty couldn’t snap a personal three-game losing streak.

Cubs starters now have posted quality starts in seven of the last nine games, and have won five of those nine games. The team also is 1-for-16 with runners in scoring position over the last four games, and batting .167 with RISP in the last 15.

“The whole year has been like that,” Soriano said. “We don’t get the big hit when we need it. It’s a little frustrating but we have to forget this game today and come back tomorrow and win the series tomorrow.”

– Carrie Muskat

6/22 Did you know …

Friday’s game was the first time in the Cubs’ 98 seasons at Wrigley Field in which both teams combined to score at least four runs and all the runs were on solo home runs. That’s according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The Cubs had solo homers by Anthony Rizzo, Darwin Barney and Scott Hairston, and Chris Carter hit a solo shot for the Astros.

6/7 Pirates 2, Cubs 0

It was deja vu for the Cubs. For the second time this season, Francisco Liriano held the Cubs to two hits over seven shutout innings as the Pirates won, 2-0, on Friday.

“Obviously, if our offense puts a few on the board, it changes the whole game,” Chicago’s Darwin Barney said. “Sometimes you have to tip your cap to Liriano and not let him be one of those guys who starts slumps with hitters. Right now, he’s making his pitches and not giving in.”

Liriano did not serve up a hit until pitcher Travis Wood singled with one out in the fifth.

“He’s done this to everybody,” Dale Sveum said of Liriano. “When he’s right and he has his velocity, he’s basically in the CC Sabathia type category where he has great velocity but really doesn’t throw his fastball that much. He’s got great command of his changeup and slider. He’s one of those guys where it’s very, very difficult if he’s on with his offspeed stuff — it’s going to be a tough day.”

Wood was also stingy. He escaped a bases-loaded jam in the second when he struck out Liriano, then retired the next 10 batters before Jordy Mercer doubled with one out in the sixth. One out later, Gaby Sanchez walked and Russell Martin then lined a RBI double to left.

“I got the outs when I needed, except the one that really counted,” Wood said.

The Pirates added a run in the ninth off Carlos Villanueva when Martin walked, moved up on Pedro Alvarez’s single and scored one out later on Travis Snider’s fielder’s choice. Snider hit the ball to third baseman Luis Valbuena, who opted to try for the double play instead of throwing home.

“He knows after the fact that something broke down there,” Sveum said of Valbuena. “That run is very, very important. A left-handed hitter hitting a ground ball, you need to throw that guy out at home. The odds of turning a double play, especially when you’re trying to take the pull side away with Villanueva pitching — there’s a 99 percent chance he’s going to pull Villanueva so Barney wasn’t going to be near the bag anyway.”

With the loss, the Cubs now are 6-17 against NL Central teams. The six wins are the fewest for any club within its own division.

– Carrie Muskat

6/2 Diamondbacks 8, Cubs 4

Edwin Jackson has had worse seasons, and he’s definitely had better, but right now, the Cubs right-hander is frustrated. Jackson served up seven runs over 5 2/3 innings to the Diamondbacks, who took advantage of an error and romped, 8-4, on Sunday over the Cubs. Gerardo Parra and Cody Ross each hit two-run singles, and Wil Nieves added a pair of RBI singles to help Patrick Corbin remain unbeaten at 9-0.

“It’s probably one of the most frustrating seasons I’ve been through,” said Jackson, who has one win in 11 starts. “It’s disappointing when you feel like you’re not going out to help the team have a chance to win a game. I’m a way better pitcher than I’ve shown. It hasn’t been anything about confidence. I just haven’t been getting the job done. I’ve been through a lot of up and down seasons, but this has been a pretty frustrating season to say the least, and it’s shown in the stats and numbers and everything.”

The right-hander’s previous two starts had been interrupted by rain. On Sunday, it was unseasonably cold, with a game-time temperature of 47. He gave up 12 hits — all singles except a double by Cody Ross in the third — and walked three. Not even the defensive shift could help. The Cubs moved third baseman Cody Ransom to the right side of second and had second baseman Darwin Barney in shallow right and Jason Kubel still lined a single between them in the fifth.

“He hasn’t really caught any breaks,” Barney said of Jackson. “This is what he does for a living, he’s a competitor, he’ll come back ready to pitch the next time and he’ll say the same thing. We’re going to see better things out of him, that’s for sure.”

The Cubs hope so. They made a four-year, $52 million commitment to Jackson this offseason. He is now 1-7 with a 7.87 ERA in nine starts at Wrigley Field.

“The last few outings, he’s pitched with conviction and today, I think could’ve been a whole [different] ballgame if that fly ball was caught,” Dale Sveum said.

The mistake came in the second. Nieves and Cliff Pennington singled, and Corbin lofted a ball to center. Julio Borbon closed his glove before he caught the ball for an error, and the bases were loaded. Parra hit a two-run single, and Didi Gregorius was safe on a fielder’s choice. Corbin scored on a wild pitch to take a 3-1 lead.

“Right now, it’s not about me throwing strikes, it’s just quality strikes,” Jackson said. “I felt that today, I came out and made some pitches and they had an inning where they had an error, and I got behind and got a ground ball and it was through the hole. I had ground balls and they were just through holes. When things are going bad, everything goes bad. When things are going good, you can make the same pitches and they go right at someone.”

– Carrie Muskat

5/22 Barney update

Darwin Barney matched a career high with four hits on Tuesday. He also did so Aug. 13, 2011, against the Braves. Barney batted .333 (7-for-21) on the last homestand, and now is batting .371 (13-for-35) with four doubles, a home run, three RBIs, a triple and two walks in his last 10 games. He does have two three-hit games this year.

– Carrie Muskat

5/15 Post-game notes

* Anthony Rizzo picked up his 20th extra-base hit of the season with a double in the first. He is batting .392 since April 26 with nine doubles, three home runs, 16 RBIs.

* Jeff Samardzija picked up his first win since Opening Day, ending a five-game losing streak. His two-run homer was the first by a Cubs pitcher since Travis Wood did so Aug. 28 against the Brewers.

* David DeJesus notched his 500th career RBIs with his first inning home run.

* The Cubs have 24 doubles in the last six games, and lead the Majors with 92 doubles.

* Darwin Barney made a great defensive play in the fourth when he snared Carlos Gonzalez’s hard hit ball up the middle and threw in time to first.

“The one thing you do with Barney on defense is you don’t worry about it,” Dale Sveum said. “He’s either going to make a great play, and he never messes up any routine plays, even the pivot around second base.”

* Matt Garza makes a Minor League rehab start Thursday for Triple-A Iowa.

“It’s only going to get better when we get him back here,” Samardzija said. “Obviously, we want him to be healthy and that’s the most important thing.”

– Carrie Muskat

5/15 Cubs 6, Rockies 3

Check the standings. The Cubs are no longer in last place in the NL Central.

Jeff Samardzija smacked a two-run home run and struck out seven over eight innings to pick up his first win since April 1 and lead the Cubs to a 6-3 victory over the Rockies at Wrigley Field. David DeJesus hit a leadoff homer in the first to help the Cubs take the series and back Samardzija, who raised his season strikeout total to 64, which ranks among the top five in the National League.

Samardzija needed a win. This is the right-hander’s second full season as a starter, and he’s still going through some growing pains.

“He used the whole four corners of the plate,” Dale Sveum said. “He pitched up, he pitched in, he pitched away, used his slider, used his split, used a lot of cutters tonight. He used his whole repertoire tonight. He knew what he was doing tonight; he was pitching.”

Samardzija got off to a good start, needing just nine pitches to get through the first. He got some more help from DeJesus, who opened the Chicago half with his fifth home run and 14th career leadoff homer. The Rockies tied the game in the second but Samardzija answered in the Cubs half. With two outs, Darwin Barney doubled and Samardzija launched the first pitch from Jon Garland into the left-field bleachers for his second career home run and a 3-1 lead.

“That was huge at that time,” Sveum said. “For him to come through and pick us up like that was huge.”

Said Garland: “He’s a good athlete, a pretty good player. It was a cutter out over the plate. It was the first pitch and I was trying to get it over the plate. He was looking off-speed and got it.”

Samardzija’s other home run was Sept. 23, 2009, against the Brewers.

“I need to slow down around the bases and enjoy it a little bit,” Samardzija said of his fast-paced trot. “It doesn’t happen too often. We work a lot on hitting. [Pitching coach Chris] Bosio has us out there hitting every day in the cages. In the National League, it’s an important at-bat. There in the sixth when I got that bunt down, those are important plays in the game and we ended up putting up a three-spot. You can’t accept the out as a pitcher.”

The Cubs added three more runs in the seventh. They’ve now won back to back series for the first time this season.

“We’re playing great baseball and not shooting ourselves in the foot and we’re just looking to keep it going, keep the momentum going that we’ve built up in the last couple weeks,” Samardzija said. “It’s exciting now, it’s exciting in the locker room and fun to play with these guys.”

– Carrie Muskat

5/8 Barney gets day off

Darwin Barney, stuck in an 0-for-21 skid, took time Wednesday to hit the ball hard. Dale Sveum and Barney had an early hitting session at Wrigley Field in which the Cubs manager wanted his infielder to try to relax.

“It was nice to bring him out today and let him hit and not think about any mechanics, and get a mindset about hitting the ball as hard as he can,” Sveum said. “There were no mechanics going on out there.”

Sveum and Barney spent time together in Arizona for one week to work on the second baseman’s swing but whatever they did at that time has been “abandoned,” the manager said. The goal on Wednesday was to take some “brand new white balls and hit them as far as you can,” Sveum said.

Barney was batting .147 overall with a .275 on-base percentage.

“It’s confidence as much as anything,” Sveum said of the second baseman’s problems, “and understanding your job is to hit the ball hard and not try to do something with it every at-bat, just get a good pitch and hit it hard instead of trying to hit it to this field or that field or whatever. That was [the goal Wednesday] to have one mindset, hit the ball as hard as you can.”

– Carrie Muskat

5/4 Extra bases

* Cubs pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa will make a rehab outing Saturday for Triple-A Iowa, his first game action since going on the disabled list April 13 with a strained right forearm. Matt Garza, on the disabled list with a strained left lat, will make his second Minor League rehab start Monday for Iowa, and was expected to throw at least three innings. Both pitchers are hoping for better weather. The Iowa team has been snowed out for two straight days, Thursday and Friday.

* With the Cubs’ decision to option Ian Stewart to Iowa, Luis Valbuena and Cody Ransom now are the Cubs’ third base combo. Ransom, claimed off waivers from the Padres, starts against left-handed pitchers.

“He’s going to strike out a lot against right-handed pitching, but he’s always been very dependable in the field at every position, has an accurate arm,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of Ransom. “He’s a guy who’s a no panic kind of defensive player. We knew what we were getting and obviously, he’s done a really nice job at the plate.”

Ransom was batting .375 on the Cubs’ current homestand.

* Second baseman Darwin Barney survived a nasty crash into a bench in the visitor’s bullpen chasing a foul ball in the fifth inning Friday.

“He was very fortunate that wasn’t multiple injuries,” Sveum said. “It could’ve been a head injury, shoulder. He slid perfect — his arm was above the bench. From here, it looked like hammered his head.”

* Sveum would like to see Barney do a little better at the plate. The second baseman entered Saturday’s game batting .179 overall, and was 3-for-14 in his last five games.

“We all know Barney, he’s always working and trying,” Sveum said. “I think he needs to stick with one thing and go with that. There’s a lot of changing going on every single day.”

What does Sveum want to see? He laughed.

“A lot of things,” Sveum said. “We don’t have enough time for it.”

The problem is more mechanics than his approach at the plate.

– Carrie Muskat

4/29 Cubs 5, Padres 3

The Cubs may be a little unconventional these days as far as their closer is concerned, but it’s working. Kevin Gregg picked up his fourth save, Darwin Barney hit a pair of RBI doubles, and Scott Hairston and Cody Ransom smacked back-to-back home runs to lift the Cubs to a 5-3 victory Monday night over the Padres for their fourth win in the last five games.

Gregg, who signed after being released by the Dodgers April 15, now has converted a save in each of his last four outings. However, manager Dale Sveum refuses to name him or anyone else the closer.

“For whatever reason, guys are getting the job done and getting big outs when we have to get outs,” Sveum said of his collection of relievers. “That’s the key is making pitches when you need to.”

Michael Bowden picked up the win in relief of starter Jeff Samardzija, who struck out eight in five innings to raise his season total to 47, among the tops in the NL. It’s the second most K’s in Cubs history in the month of April, behind Matt Garza, who fanned 51 in 2011. Samardzija now is 0-4 with a no decision since his Opening Day victory over the Pirates. He had a tough time getting a grip on the ball, still bothered by right index finger that he cut trying to make a bare-handed grab in last start.

“Too many walks,” Samardzija said. “You can’t put that many guys on for free. Just pitching in a lot of situations where you have to battle and make bigger pitches makes it harder on yourself.”

The Cubs’ 6-7-8 hitters provided the offense. Ransom and Barney also made solid defensive plays, including a running bare-handed grab by Ransom on Jedd Gyorko’s grounder with the bases loaded in the seventh. Ransom was able to get the Padres’ second baseman by a half step.

“You take a million ground balls and hope to have the opportunity to catch it and throw it,” Ransom said. “Checked swing, and it was a little strange off the bat and it came off a little harder than I thought it would and made it to me and luckily for us, Gyorko didn’t run that well.”

“That bare-hand play saved the game for us,” Barney said.

All 25 of the Cubs’ games this season have been decided by four runs or fewer, a franchise record, and second most to start a season all-time in the Major Leagues. The 1914 Tigers have the longest streak at 33 games.

The Cubs are ready to turn the calendar. It’s been a tough April.

“Let’s be honest — we’ve played some really good teams in the first month,” Samardzija said. “You’ve got the defending World Champs [the Giants], you’ve got the defending [American League West champs, the Rangers], you’ve got the Brew Crew at their place, and Cincinnati. We knew we’d have to come out and be on top of our game in April.

“It could easily be flipped around and we could be 15-10 instead of 10-15,” he said. “They say you don’t win or lose the season in April. I feel we’re good where we are. … Let’s get a little momentum going and see what happens from there.”

– Carrie Muskat


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