The final day before the trading deadline was an eventful one. Though no top-level players changed hands, a good deal of players will be donning new uniforms the next time they take the field. The Los Angeles Dodgers traded Josh Bell and Steve Johnson for Baltimore closer George Sherrill. The Pirates traded John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny to the Cubs for Kevin Hart, Josh Harrison, and Jose Ascanio. The Royals only needed to send cash considerations to the Tigers to obtain Josh Anderson.
Deals to look out for tomorrow: Roy Halladay talks are “dead” according to J.P. Ricciardi, though the team is open to discussing deals tomorrow. The Rangers, Angels, and Red Sox are still in the hunt. Padres closer Heath Bell may be on the move as well. The Marlins are reportedly interested, but are unwilling to part with the players San Diego wants. Bell’s teammate Adrian Gonzalez is also said to be the subject of heated talks between the Padres and Sox, but no deal is iminent.
MLB Baseball Tickets are available now!
Chicago Cubs left fielder Alfonso Soriano will remain in the leadoff spot this season. Arriving in camp in better shape than usual, Soriano will be the anchor of virutally the same lineup as last year. The question mark forLou Piniella’s offense is who will be backing up the infield. “There are going to be times when he’s not in the lineup, so basically we have to figure out who is going to be that guy, and how you do it is play around with it in Spring Training” Piniella told MLB.com after Friday’s workout. Micah Hoffpauir could be one left-handed option off of the bench.
Carlos Zambrano will not be representing Venezuale in the World Baseball Classic this Spring. After suffering through intermittent shoulder problems in 2008, Big Z has decided against taking a chance playing earlier than usual.
Chicago Cubs tickets are available now!
The Chicago Cubs were never in it. They didn’t choke, didn’t have bad luck, they just never showed up. Saturday’s 3-1 victory by the Dodgers complete the three game sweep of yet another Cubs team with high expectations. Their Championship drought now stands at 100 years as Lou Piniella’s playoff record with the Cubs drops to 0-6.
“This is six games I’ve managed now in the postseason and we have scored just 12 runs. That doesn’t get it done”, said Piniella according to ESPN.com.
For the other side, the Dodgers have a much different story. Counted out for much of the year their 2nd half resurgence, thanks in large part to Manny Ramirez, has put them in position to shock everyone in their path. Manager Joe Torre seems to have this Dodgers team focused and motivated. Torre is no stranger to postseason play with now 79 playoff wins under his belt. The first 76 of course came with the Yankees. His last three however remind you more of his first postseason go around with the Yankees in 1996. That team not yet a super star ladened lineup were more the underdog than favorite. Either way if Torre and the Dodgers have their way, Torre will be celebrating his 87th postseason victory come the end of October.
MLB Playoff TicketsDodgers Playoff Tickets
The Chicago Cubs, the “best team in the National League” find themselves on the brink of elimination in the NLDS. Despite having the home field advantage over the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Cubs have looked woeful at home in games 1 and 2. Game 2 was especially bad for the Cubs defense. Every infielder had an error and the Cubs found themselves down 5-0 because of it at the end of the 2nd inning. Four of those five runs were un-earned. According to ESPN.com, Manager Lou Piniella was anything but impressed.
“It wasn’t good baseball. In fact, the last two days, that’s probably been the two worst games we’ve played all year. It wasn’t fun to watch, I’ll tell you that.”
The Cubs now face the uphill battle that only the 2001 Yankees have overcome in Division Series play. Their focus however is only on the next game. In game 3 in L.A. they will send Rich Harden to the mound to face Hiroki Kuroda. If the Chicago Cubs are eliminated, it will put their Championship drought at 100 years.
MLB Playoff Tickets
The Dodgers piled on the runs to defeat the Chicago Cubs in game 1 of their NLDS. Trailing 2-0 in the 5th inning, James Loney hit a grand slam to give the Dodgers the lead for good. Manny Ramirez and Russell Martin would later add solo shots to pad the Los Angeles lead. The shocked Cubs crowd was silent throughout the onslaught. The Cubs are hoping to shrug off the obvious stat that the team that wins game 1 in the division series often goes on to win the series.
The Cubs send Carlos Zambrano to the hill on Thursday night and hope to even things up in front of the home crowd at Wrigley. With the best record in baseball this year, there are high expectations for this Cubs club.
MLB Playoff Tickets
The third inning of yesterday’s Cubs-Astros game had more offense than most entire games do. Houston fired first, with a Lance Berman RBI double and a Carlos Lee 3-run homer. The Cubs answered with a monster offensive surge. Mark DeRosa hit a monster grand slam, Cubs hurler Jason Marquis helped his own cause with an RBI double, and Alfonso Soriano capped the frame with a 3-run homer.
Marquis ended a 4-game losing streak, tossing 6 1/3 innings before being lifted for Sean Marshall in the 7th. Marshall struck out one and only allowed one hit in an inning and a third. Jeff Samardija pitched a perfect ninth, striking out one and looking like a possibilty as the Cubs closer of the future.
Offense was the story in Tuesday night’s game as well. The teams scored a combined 18 runs on 26 hits. Cubs closer Kerry Wood returned from the DL and only gave up 1 hit pitching in the 8th inning.
The Milwaukee Brewers entered their 4-game series with the Chicago Cubs on a 7-game winning streak. The Cubs had barely managed to salvage one of three games from the Marlins. The streaking Brewers not only had sole possession of second place in the NL Central, but also also of the first place spot in the NL Wildcard race. Chicago made a bold statement over the next four games.
A solid outing from Ted Lily, as well as a dominant 9th inning from Carlos Marmol helped to snag the Cubs their first win. In the second game, the Cubbies’ offense unloaded on Ben sheets in the 6th inning, scoring 5 runs for a dominant Carlos Zambrano. Chicago racked up 7 runs on 15 runs, and Jeff Samardija picked up his first career save. The third game of the series had a similar story – outstanding pitching from Ryan Dempster, productive offense. The Cubs cruised to a win again. Former Athletic Rich Harden stymied the Brew Crew in the final game of the series, striking out 9 in 7 innings while only giving up 1 run on 6 hits and a walk. May pickup Jim Edmonds hit two homers (one of them being a grand slam that broke the game open), while Kosuke Fukudome and Alfonso Soriano contributed dingers of their own.
After the sweep, the Brewers found themselved tied with the St Louis Cardinals for both second place in the NL Central as well as NL Wild Card. Both teams sit 5 games behind the Cubs with 2 months to go in the season.
Reed Johnson belted a grand-slam in the 8th inning of Wednesday’s 10-6 Chicago Cubs victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks, and the home run proved to be the ultimate difference in the game. The home run was Johnson’s fourth on the season but helped propel the Cubs to only their second victory since the All-Star break.
Ted Lilly pitched six innings allowing six hits and three earned runs en route to his 10th victory on the season. Lilly also chipped in on the offensive side of things connecting on an RBI single in the fifth inning and then stealing third base which led to an RBI ground out by Ryan Theriot later in the inning.
“Obviously the big blow was the grand slam but Lilly did his part, a little base hit,” Cubs manager Lou Piniella said.
“I mean the hit, I don’t know how to explain that one,” Lilly said. “That one kind of worked out. I didn’t hit it hard or anything, caught a break there.”
The Cubs may have also caught a break with Johnson’s grand slam. The ball was driven to right-center field and appeared to just clear the fence. As it was coming down, a fan reached over trying to make the catch himself but from the perspective of many, also looked as if he grabbed the ball from in play to make it a home run. The umpiring crew came together to make an official ruling and determined that the ball had cleared the fence before the fan touched it which resulted in a grand slam.
Arizona manager Bob Melvin was not very happy about the call but replays show that it appeared to have been the correct ruling.
“Early on, for the first few innings, we had some opportunities we didn’t cash in on,” Melvin said. “But we had been swinging the bats better, we had been better in those situations. There were a couple of man-on-thirds with less than two outs that we didn’t get in and those end up costing you as the game goes on a little bit.”
Along with the win, another good sign for the Cubs was the return of Alfonso Soriano to their lineup. Soriano was activated before the game and hit in the leadoff spot for the first time since fracturing his finger on June 11th. He went 1-5 including, a double in the six run eighth inning for Chicago.
The loss leaves the Diamondbacks only one game ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers for first place in the NL West while it give the Cubs a one game advantage over the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central.
Next up for the Cubs will be the Florida Marlins, who head into Wrigley for a four game series that begins today
During January of next year the friendly confines of Wrigley Field will play host to the annual outdoor NHL game; the NHL Winter Classic. The Chicago Blackhawks will be matched up against the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings. Last year’s Classic featured the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Buffalo Sabres, and was played at Ralph Wilson stadium. The game set the NHL attendance record at 71,217, and was one of the most-watched NHL games in history.
Blackhawks executives hope that the 2009 Classic will resonate with the fans like the previous edition. The birds-eye-view camera angles and falling snow created an atmosphere that hockey fans raved about.
Prior to a Cubs game, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced that the classic will be played on January 1st at Wrigley.
2009 NHL Winter Classic Tickets are available now!