Cubs

LIVE: Cubs clawing back, trail Arizona 4-3

459243.jpg

LIVE: Cubs clawing back, trail Arizona 4-3

Sunday, May 1, 2011
Posted: 11:16 a.m.

Associated Press

Alfonso Soriano's hot streak has helped the Chicago Cubs put together back-to-back road wins for the first time this season.

Looking to continue their impressive play at Chase Field, Soriano and the Cubs close out a four-game set with the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday.

After a poor pitching performance led to an 11-2 loss in Thursday's series opener, the Cubs (12-14) have rebounded with two straight wins thanks in part to Soriano's surging bat.

The 13-year veteran, whose production has been known to come in spurts, homered twice in Friday's 4-2 win and took a share of the major league lead with his 10th home run to help Chicago to a 5-3 victory Saturday.

The Cubs have taken 10 of 12 against the Diamondbacks (11-15) overall and five of six on the road.

Soriano, who has four homers and five RBIs in his last three games, is batting .346 with six home runs and 12 RBIs in his last eight in Phoenix.

While Soriano has produced an offensive spark, manager Mike Quade provided some inspiration after he was ejected for arguing a call in the ninth inning Saturday.

"He knows what he's doing. He can get us riled up any time he wants. It was a good time for it," said second baseman Darwin Barney, who went 2 for 5 and drove in one of Chicago's two runs in the ninth. "Everyone's battling. This team doesn't give up. We're just trying to enjoy it, thrive on it and keep winning."

Matt Garza gave up three runs in eight innings as the Cubs improved to 9-2 when their starter allows four runs of fewer.

"Whoever coined the phrase 'pitching is 90 percent of the game' either was really smart or was stating the obvious," Quade said. "It's about setting the tone and keeping your club in the game."

Chicago will look for Casey Coleman (1-1, 7.43 ERA) to do just that Sunday. Coleman, though, hasn't pitched since allowing a season-worst six runs and six hits in 2 2-3 innings of a 12-2 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 22.

"I don't think I've seen Casey like that since he got here last year," Quade told the Cubs' official website. "He looked completely out of sync from the get go. I really haven't a clue why. He was missing down, and you watch him and that's kind of what we want, but not that often."

The right-hander, who has never faced Arizona, is 3-0 with a 3.04 ERA over his last four road starts dating to last season.

The Diamondbacks, meanwhile, have lost seven of 10 and will turn to Daniel Hudson to get them back on track.

After losing his first four starts, Hudson (1-4, 5.64) finally showed signs of coming around in his most recent outing, surrendering three runs and 10 hits in six innings en route to earning his first victory of the season in Tuesday's 7-5 win over Philadelphia.

"I thought I threw a lot of good pitches, especially in the first inning," Hudson told the Diamondbacks' official website. "They found a couple of holes. It's probably the best stuff I have had all year."

Hudson has compiled a 2.60 ERA in nine starts at Chase Field since he was acquired from the Chicago White Sox on July 30.

Shortstop Stephen Drew went 2 for 4 with two RBIs Saturday, giving him 11 in his last seven home games.
Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Cubs still searching for answers for Tyler Chatwood's puzzling control issues

Cubs still searching for answers for Tyler Chatwood's puzzling control issues

Tyler Chatwood looked to be turning the corner with his control issues, but alas, he and the Cubs aren't so lucky.

After walking only two batters in a solid start in Atlanta last week, Chatwood had taken a big step in the right direction. It was, after all, only the third time he'd walked fewer than 5 batters in an outing this season.

Those control woes reared their ugly heads once again Tuesday night at Wrigley Field in a 10-1 loss to the Indians. Chatwood walked 6 batters and managed to net only 8 outs, getting hammered for 4 runs in the third inning.

"Ugh, it was tough," Maddon said. "The stuff was so good, we just couldn't get a strike."

"It's definitely frustrating," Chatwood said, "because one at-bat, I'll feel really good and the next one, I feel like I'm fighting myself.

"Last time [out], I was able to stay in the rhythm. Tonight, I was kinda battling, rushing rather than staying back, so it's just keeping that feeling and maintaining that."

His season ERA is only 3.74, which looks good until you consider his WHIP is 1.62 and he's walked 40 batters in 45.2 innings with only 41 strikeouts in the process. He now leads baseball in walks per 9 innings.

Chatwood said earlier this month in St. Louis that he's figured out what has led to the startling lack of control and while he didn't elaborate on the mechanical issue, he was working hard at correcting the problem in bullpens.

He's also used the term "fighting myself" at least a dozen times this month alone and it's become a common refrain for his explanation of what's going on. 

"He's got a busy delivery when he throws the baseball," Maddon said. "He's kinda busy what he does with his hands. It's not like he can just change it easily because that's how his arm works, how his body works.

"Sometimes, like you see him the other day, everything's on time and how good it can be and when it's out of sorts a bit, then all of the sudden it becomes shotgun. Ah man, you can see the movement [on his pitches] from the side, how good it is. 

"We gotta harness it somehow. I spoke to him briefly on the bench; I reassured him it's gonna be fine, it's gonna be really good by the end of the year. We gotta figure it out and he knows that. But man, that's good stuff. We just gotta get it in the zone."

Chatwood also admitted part of the problem is mental in that he's trying to force pitches rather than trusting his stuff. He's also gotten into the bad habit of drifting down the mound, though he's not sure when or where he picked up that hitch in his delivery.

Chatwood and Cubs pitching coach Jim Hickey are working on slowing his delivery down to get his arm in the same spot on a more consistent basis.

When the Cubs signed Chatwood over the winter, it was easy to see why.

He just turned 28 in December, his peripherals and a move from hitter-friendly Coors Field foretold a potential leap in performance and his stuff is nasty. Plus, he signed a three-year deal at a relative bargain of $38 million.

Once the Cubs signed Yu Darvish in spring training, you could make the case that Chatwood could be among the best No. 5 starters in baseball.

Nine starts later, the honeymoon period is well over with Chatwood, as he threw only 30 of his 74 pitches for strikes Tuesday night and sent catcher Willson Contreras sailing all around home plate for pitches way out of the zone.

Still, it's clear to see there is some intriguing talent there and the season there is roughly 70 percent of the season remaining before the Cubs make what they hope is another run at the World Series.

"I have a lot of faith," Maddon said. "I know we're gonna reap the rewards, the benefits as he figures this thing out."

Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: Marlon Byrd discusses his suspensions for PED use and Ozzie Guillen offers a solution to the PED problem

marlon-byrd-522.jpg
NBC Sports Chicago

Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: Marlon Byrd discusses his suspensions for PED use and Ozzie Guillen offers a solution to the PED problem

Ozzie Guillen explains why he thinks Manny Machado is a better fit for the Cubs than the White Sox. Plus, Guillen and Marlon Byrd react to 19-year-old Juan Soto hitting a homer in his first at-bat with the Nationals.

Later in the show the guys debate who had the better rants in front of the media: Guillen or Byrd?

Finally, Byrd opens up about his PED suspensions, relates to the guys caught using PEDs now and Guillen offers up a solution to rid baseball of PEDs entirely.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: