First off a hearty round of thanks to the nice folks over at Tub Girls (NSFW) for hooking us up with the image for today’s blog. If you like pictures of naked girls in bath tubs they should be bookmarked in your browser.
To all the nice people who have written asking why we don’t have a weekly Toko page, let’s just say we tried that experiment once before. However, he’s older and wiser now, and meds have gotten much better, so we may revisit it.
Not today, but ..... well, we’ll think about it.
A few others have written in asking if they can write a front page. The answer is yes. The rules are very simple; keep the article under 1,000 words, provide links to any articles you copy or cite and send a link for any image you want to see used. After that we handle the rest. Obviously, when it comes to content, think sports section of your daily newspaper and not Hustler.
Last night Tyler Emerick was in Arizona and watched as Paul Malholm hit his second career homer, this one a two run shot, and the team banged out 14 hits only to lose. And not just lose, but lose spectacularly.
When Cubs starting pitcher Paul Maholm smacked a two-run homer in the fourth inning on Saturday to give his club a lead, he simultaneously drove in more runs than the Cubs’ offense had in its previous two games combined.
It was the type of hit that could have jump-started and energized a beleaguered team to break out of a slump.
But for the second consecutive night, the Cubs stranded double-digit runners on base and failed to keep the D-backs offense at bay as they dropped their third straight game, 10-5, at Chase Field.
“We got some hits, scored some runs, but we left some people out there in key spots,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “Couldn’t get that big hit, the scoring-position stuff is getting bad.”
The Cubs had 14 hits, but left 10 on base and were 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position. They also collected nine hits and left 11 stranded on Friday.
David DeJesus and Starlin Castro each tied career highs with four hits on Saturday as the leadoff and two-hole hitters in the lineup. But Bryan LaHair, who batted third, went 0-for-5 and grounded into a double play.
“He had a tough night, he left a lot of people out there,” Sveum said of LaHair. “Have to get better with men in scoring position. He’s struggled all year and it’s continuing, you have to change the approach or whatever. He’s got to get better at that.”
Maholm hit the second home run of his career on a no-doubter to left field off D-backs starter Ian Kennedy, but was touched up for seven runs (six earned) on nine hits over 3 1/3 innings. His other homer came May 9, 2009, against the Mets. The last Cubs pitcher to hit one was Carlos Zambrano last August.
“I hit a home run on the first pitch, jogged around the bases and came in,” Maholm said when asked if the at-bat affected his pitching. “I would rather go 0-for-4 with four punchouts and get deeper into the game and win.”
The half-inning after Maholm hit his homer he allowed six runs to the D-backs, aided by a Luis Valbuena throwing error at third base that Maholm thought could have turned into a double play to end the inning.
“You make a pitch and think you’re getting out and then all hell broke loose,” Maholm said. “I didn’t make any pitches after it, and obviously it was a grind.”
The Cubs starter also walked Kennedy twice, including once when the pitcher was squaring around to bunt.
“It’s frustrating, that’s a word you can print,” Maholm said. “Obviously, in a bunt situation, I was trying to get him to hit the ball back to me hard and get a double play ball, but I just didn’t throw strikes.”
The outing was Maholm’s shortest since August 30, 2010, when he also lasted 3 1/3 innings, giving up eight runs to the Cubs as a Pirates pitcher.
The D-backs broke the scoreless tie in their half of the third inning on a leadoff homer by Justin Upton. The right fielder picked on a full-count fastball from Maholm and drove it into the left-field bleachers.
“We capitalized on mistakes,” Upton said. “That’s what you have to do if you want to score runs.”
Maholm briefly put the Cubs ahead, 2-1, in the fourth with his home run, but the 29-year-old allowed seven of the first eight batters in the bottom of the inning to reach base before Sveum brought in Jairo Asencio from the bullpen.
“He didn’t have a whole lot after the home run he hit,” Sveum said. “That seems to be our Achilles heel, when one of our pitchers gets a hit or does something good like that, the next inning ain’t too good.”
The Cubs cut into the deficit in the fifth with a two-run double from Steve Clevenger and a pinch-hit RBI single from Jeff Baker to make it 7-5, but Paul Goldschmidt countered with a solo shot in the sixth to put the D-backs ahead, 8-5.
Aaron Hill and Miguel Montero each followed with RBI singles to cap the 30-hit night between the clubs.
I find it interesting that in that maelstrom of futility the only guy who got thrown under the bus was LaHair. Malholm threw himself under his own bus. LaHair batted twice with runners in scoring position. That leaves seven more incompetent culprits who deserve their own sets of tire tracks. Soriano, Soto & Valbuena combined to go 1-13. They left the as many runners on base as LaHair did. Also, and it may just be me, but putting a rookie first baseman in the three hole just strikes me as stupid.
Our old pal Scoott Merkin drove up to Milwaukee last night to see if the Sox could snap out of their funk. He also went for the beer and brats. Well, for the beer, the brats and the cool big screen TVs they have at Hooligans since the game was in Chicago.
If Friday night’s crisp pitchers’ duel between Zack Greinke and Chris Sale represented the Rembrandt of baseball games, then Saturday’s 8-6 White Sox win over the Brewers falls closer to the Dogs Playing Poker on black velvet category.
But there are no bonus points for stylish victories, and after losing seven of their last nine games, Saturday’s 3 1/2-hour, sometimes plodding contest played before 30,337 at U.S. Cellular Field was just as significant as a no-hitter or perfect game. With every other team in the American League Central losing Saturday’s Interleague action, this victory actually held even greater importance.
“We’ll take every one,” said White Sox left fielder Dayan Viciedo through translator and White Sox manager of cultural development Jackson Miranda.
“It has been a rough go over the last week and a half and we showed that we’re still in it, we’re still fighting the right way,” White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham said. “That game was not easy. It felt like we kept clawing ourselves out, clawing ourselves out and we came out on top.”
Viciedo and Beckham played major roles during the club’s eighth win in 17 Interleague contests.
After going 7-for-53 previously in June, producing one extra-base hit and one multi-hit game during the month, Viciedo knocked out three hits and drove in four against the Brewers (33-38). Viciedo singled home one run off Milwaukee starter Randy Wolf during a two-run second and then launched a two-run home down the right-field line with one out in the fourth to give the White Sox (37-34) a 4-2 lead.
His run-scoring single in the sixth off Kameron Loe chipped a 6-4 Milwaukee advantage to one run.
“Mainly, his power and where he goes is to right field,” said Wolf of Viciedo, who now has 13 homers and 34 RBIs. “I left a curveball up. He’s one of those guys that really doesn’t need to get it all to hit it out that way.”
“Today was one of those where I had a great practice,” Viciedo said. “That always translates into games. What I did during practice came through on the field, so it was a great day.”
Beckham’s three hits raised his average to .246, and he added an important insurance run with a run-scoring single in the eighth against Tim Dillard. Alex Rios, who also chipped in three hits, delivered the game-winner with a seventh-inning single to center against reliever Jose Veras to score Beckham after Paul Konerko was intentionally walked.
That one-run lead barely survived the top of the eighth. With runners on first and second and two outs, closer Addison Reed replaced Matt Thornton in search of his first four-out save with the right-handed power of Aramis Ramirez and Corey Hart due up.
Reed walked Ramirez to load the bases, instead of giving in on a 3-1 count. Hart hit the next pitch on the ground to shortstop Alexei Ramirez, and after a brief bobble, he got the force at second to end the threat. Reed then cruised through the ninth for his ninth save.
“I like it. It just means I’m out there longer,” said Reed of the four-out save. “The longer I’m out there, the more fun I have. I was glad I got the opportunity. I kind of feed off of those situations. I love being out there pitching no matter who is up.”
Milwaukee grabbed a 6-4 lead against White Sox starter Dylan Axelrod and relievers Will Ohman and Nate Jones with three runs in the sixth, but Jones retired Ryan Braun on a fly ball to Rios with the bases loaded and two outs to keep the White Sox in the game. Orlando Hudson’s two-strike double off Loe tied the game in the bottom half of the frame.
Axelrod, making his first start in place of the injured Philip Humber, gave up five runs (four earned) on six hits over 5 1/3 innings. He fanned three and hit two, but while he went to five full-counts, he never issued a walk. He’ll get another chance on the mound and to live a personal dream by starting Thursday’s series opener at Yankee Stadium.
“Both teams battled, and I feel like I kept us in the game,” said Axelrod, who last pitched on June 14 for Triple-A Charlotte. “The offense picked me up at the end there. We needed that one. Hopefully, we’ll go out tomorrow and take another step forward and maybe get back into first place.”
Wolf yielded five runs on eight hits over 5 1/3 innings and was lucky to get off that easy. Defensive gems from Carlos Gomez, Aramis Ramirez and Rickie Weeks in the first inning turned three hard-hit balls into a perfect frame.
Brent Lillibridge had the defensive gem of the game with one out in the fifth, as he raced into right-center to corral Gomez’s long blast and then ran into the wall on the fly after making the catch. So there was some beauty in a game that wouldn’t exactly be considered a work of art.
This win propelled the White Sox to within one-half game of the Indians for the division’s top spot. Their 14 hits just might have awoken an offense hitting .202 with 26 runs scored over that rough nine-game stretch.
“You can sit there and hang your head and not do anything, but these guys have the ability to take it day by day and not let yesterday affect today,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “It’s a credit to these guys.”
I know I know, after Scott’s scintillating opening you want to buy a black velvet painting. Okay, CLICK HERE to get one.
Here’s all I can really say about the Sox; they are supposed to be in last place and they’re not.
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