Cubs

Cubs prevail with extra-inning victory

536944.jpg

Cubs prevail with extra-inning victory

Monday, Sept. 12, 2011
Posted: 12:10 a.m. Updated: 1:35 a.m.

Associated Press

Box score Photo gallery
NEW YORK -- Jason Bay and the New York Mets missed several opportunities to provide a special ending to a moving night.It was hard to complain about the outcome, though.Carlos Pena hit a go-ahead single in Chicago's six-run 11th inning, and the Cubs beat New York 10-6 on Sunday night in a game that ended nearly five hours after the Mets held a touching ceremony to mark the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11."It was a little bit different today. Obviously, you could tell the atmosphere was a little bit different. But I think most of us have played in emotional games or seesaw games before," Bay said. "It was actually fun because it was different. Obviously, not fun losing. We had chances but it was pretty special to be a part of."The Mets' disappointing finish came with nearly all of the 33,502 fans - several thousand first responders and their families receiving free tickets - long gone from a game that started at 8:20 p.m. There was a 24-minute pregame tribute to victims of the attacks, their families and many of the first responders that worked tirelessly at the World Trade Center site in 2001.Making just his sixth big league appearance, Josh Stinson (0-1), the Mets' seventh of nine pitchers, walked Marlon Byrd to start the 11th and gave up a single to Bryan LaHair. Pena singled for the lead.Pinch-hitter Alfonso Soriano and Darwin Barney each hit two-run doubles off Ryota Igarashi before the first out, and Geovany Soto added a sacrifice fly."You keep grinding and grinding," Pena said. "It's not easy."New York trailed 4-1 after five innings but scored twice in the sixth off Matt Garza. The Mets tied it with an unearned run when reliever Jeff Samardzjia made a bad throw on Justin Turner's infield single.The Mets loaded the bases in the first, ninth and 10th innings but came up empty each time. Ramon Ortiz (1-2) got David Wright to pop out to end the 10th before the Cubs went ahead in the 11th, eliciting mocking calls from the few remaining to bring in an experienced pitcher when Stinson gave up the go-ahead hit to Pena."As we went through the ballgame, we had the guys at home plate we wanted to have at home plate several times," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "But we didn't get it done."The mood was much different before the game. With the stadium lights dimmed and fans holding electronic candles in one hand and many using the other to take photos with their phones, the Mets held a dignified ceremony that included members of the 2001 team that played in the first professional sporting event in New York, 10 days after the World Trade center collapsed.Players from the Cubs and Mets escorted members of "Tuesday's Children," a charity for families affected by the attacks, onto the field, where they lined up among the uniformed emergency-service workers on the first- and third-base lines. A 100-by-300 foot flag was held by 225 first responders and victims' family members from "Tuesday's Children.""It was really, really well done," Collins said. "Even Mike Piazza, standing next to me, said, 'Boy, isn't this beautiful out here. What a nice tribute.' I think he's absolutely right."Marc Anthony sang the national anthem, as he did on Sept. 21, 2001. Piazza, who hit a rousing two-run homer in the eighth inning to help the Mets beat the Atlanta Braves that night, caught a ceremonial first pitch from John Franco, a teammate on the 2001 squad.There was no uplifting ending this time for New York.The Cubs scored late in each of the three games, losing the opener Friday, but winning the last two to take their first series in New York since 2006."We don't do things the easy way, that's for sure," Cubs manager Mike Quade said. "They kept playing, they kept battling."Mets players briefly considered defying Major League Baseball's policy by wearing the caps they wore pregame honoring New York City's emergency-service units during the game."What are they going to do, fine us?" catcher Josh Thole said before deciding against it.Joe Torre, MLB's executive vice president for baseball operations, told The Associated Press the decision was made to keep policy consistent throughout baseball and that "certainly, it's not a lack of respect."Between innings, the Mets played videos on the main scoreboard that paid tribute to the recovery efforts. They also thanked the 2001 squad's manager Bobby Valentine, who was not able to participate in the pregame ceremony because he was part of the ESPN broadcast team for the game.American Idol contestant Pia Toscano sang "God Bless America" during the seventh-inning stretch, standing with several uniformed first responders around Major League Baseball's red, white and blue logo that was painted on the grass in front of the Mets dugout.Mets starter Miguel Batista was with the World Series champion Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001, and made two appearances in the stirring series against the New York Yankees that inspired the city. He threw 7 2-3 shutout innings in Game 5, won by New York in the 12th inning. He also got one out in Game 7.On Sunday, though, the 40-year-old journeyman, making his third start for the Mets, struggled with his command. He walked three in five innings, hit two batters in the third and gave up four runs and five hits.Garza gave up three runs in seven runs, walking three and striking out four.Jason Pridie hit a two-run shot in the 11th.Notes:
Mets reliever Bobby Parnell said his dad, a fire chief in Salsbury, N.C., recently received a piece of steel from the World Trade Center site that will be used in a memorial. ... Quade, who was a coach with the Oakland Athletics when they played the Yankees in the 2001 playoffs, deliberately didn't visit the site on this trip. "I did not want to get angry again," he said. ... Mets LHP Johan Santana will make his third rehab start this week for Class-A Savannah in the South Atlantic League's championship series. He threw three innings in his previous start for Savannah. Collins said he should pitch four innings this time.Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Jon Lester saw a start like this coming

Jon Lester saw a start like this coming

Jon Lester had easily his worst outing of the year, allowing the Cardinals to score eight runs on seven hits, the veteran All-Star only managed three innings before Joe Maddon turned to his bullpen. 

The Cardinals would take game two of the series by the score of 18 to 5, and while none of the Cubs pitchers could silence the Cardinal bats, Lester didn't shy away from his poor outing. 

"You know, I don't want to chalk this up as bad days happen," said Lester. "I think mechanically this has kinda been coming." 

Lester knew he was struggling to hit his spots, and while his ERA was a sparkling 2.58 coming into this start, his peripheral stats had him pegged as a potential regression candidate in the second half of the season.

His 4.35 FIP and 3.30 walks per nine innings show a pitcher who is relying heavily on his defense to get outs, which isn't surprising for a 33-year-old veteran but the walks are a concern. 

Cubs manager Joe Maddon was aware Lester had been working on his mechanics, but even he was surprised that Lester's start went downhill so quickly. 

"I thought he had good stuff to start the game, hitting [92-93 mph] and I'm thinking this might be a good day," said Maddon. "But you could just see from the beginning he was off just a little bit." 

Over Lester's last four starts his ERA has been an uncharacteristic 4.57, issuing 10 walks over those four starts, and only making it past the 6th inning once. At this point of Lester's career, he knows the best way for him to get outs isn't through strikeouts but by inducing soft contact and avoiding walks. 

And while both his hard contact rate and walks have increased this season, Lester's experience and high baseball I.Q. has allowed him to navigate his way through sticky situations. 

"I've been getting outs," Lester said candidly. "I just feel like when I've had that strikeout or I have a guy set up for that pitch I haven't been able to execute it." 

And while this outing was one to forget, it's at least a positive sign that Lester is aware of his issues on the mound. The veteran knows how to get outs and he knows what he needs to do to be successful in the latter part of his career. He just needs to get back to executing those pitches. 

Just don't expect Lester to dive head first into the analytics on how to fix his issues, he'll stick to hard work and baseball common sense. 

"I'm not too concerned with the analytic B.S., I'm worried about my mechanical fix for my next start." 

Cubs set the wrong kind of history in blowout

Cubs set the wrong kind of history in blowout

Cubs fans had plenty to cheer about late in Friday's game against the Cardinals, but not in the way they expected.

With St. Louis absolutely wearing out the Cubs pitching staff in an 18-5 blowout, Joe Maddon turned to a trio of position players to pitch.

In front of 41,077 people at Wrigley Field for the second game of the official second half of the season, Tommy La Stella came on to pitch for the Cubs with 2 outs in the top of the sixth inning. After La Stella got 4 outs, it was Victor Caratini's turn for the eighth inning.

The Cubs have actually used multiple position players as a pitcher before, but it was back on June 16, 1884 in a 20-9 loss, according to historian Ed Hartig. Obviously, the game of baseball was quite different back then.

But just using two position players on the mound wasn't enough for this wacky day at the ballpark.

Ian Happ got the nod for the ninth inning on the mound, serving as the third different position player on the mound. He joked he was using his sinker effectively and that he's now the Cubs clubhouse leader in ERA after not giving up a run in his inning of work.

Was there a friendly competition between Happ, Caratini and La Stella?

"Yes," Happ said. "I won." 

How did Maddon determine who would get the opportunity to make history?

Well, for starters, the process began with getting a certain player OUT of the lineup.

"I had to take Rizzo out of the game because he would've been badgering me the whole time," Maddon laughed. "So it started by getting Rizzo out, and that made my decision-making process a lot easier. Otherwise just imagine him harping in your ear constantly that he wants to pitch and every time I go out to the mound and the game may be lopsided as I'm maybe bringing somebody else in, he reminds me.

"At some point, hopefully in a good situation where we're leading [he can get in and pitch]."

Seeing a position player pitch has actually been a pretty common occurence under Maddon as he's done everything he can to limit the stress on the bullpen:

"I think the fans kinda started to enjoy it, too, which is always fun when you're getting blown out," said Kris Bryant, who connected on his 11th homer of the season in the blowout loss. "Those guys stepped up for us to save the bullpen. So there ya go. We're making history."

Meanwhile, on the other side, Matt Carpenter had a record-setting game.

Before being removed from the game in the sixth inning, Carpenter smashed 3 homers and 2 doubles and drove in 7 runs. It tied a Cardinals record for total bases (16) while tying the MLB record for most extra-base hits in a game (5):

It also was only the second recorded game in MLB history where a player had 3 doubles and 2 homers. The other? Bryant, of course — in Cincinnati in 2016.

Of course, the fact he did it all before the game reached the seventh inning is remarkable:

Offensively, the Cubs left 12 men on base, which would normally be the focal point of ire for the fanbase if not for the rest of the day's events...