Tuesday, April 26

4-26-05 -- Thoughts from JT - Cubs 10, Reds 6

Well, heartache and heartbreak still follow the Cubs, regardless of finishing off a determined Reds team with a thumping 10-6 win. It appears that the new Closer du Jour, Chad Fox, had suffered yet another arm injury, perhaps an aggravation of a career's worth of injuries:

1999 - Fox pitched six games for the Milwaukee Brewers before ending his season through elbow injury.
2000 - Fox never threw a single pitch that season due to a fractured right elbow.
2004 - For the Florida Marlins, Fox managed appearances in 12 games until his season ended with ulnar neuritis in his arm (basically speaking, a trapped nerve in his pitching elbow).

Nothing is certain about the rest of his season, and it continues to put pressure on a bullpen and a roster already rough with serious injuries. A bright spot still burns in the form of Joe Borowski, the durable reliever who is making excellent progress back from a broken bone in his arm.

I know I wasn't the only one lamenting as Fox's inability to finish the 9th Inning without giving up runs, and now we all know why.

Let's move on to a recap of the game. I'm sure there will be future posts today regarding Fox and his latest misfortune.

ESPN Boxscore: Cubs 10, Reds 6

++ Mark Prior
He continues to show excellent command of all his pitches, as well as the kind of good health that is essential in holding together an ailing pitching staff.

Throwing 106 pitches over 6 strong innings, he struck out 10 batters and walked 2, allowing 2 earned runs in the process. He looked good - velocity, location, pitch selection, pitch command - and his success has to be a positive factor in a tired dugout. The season is barely 3 weeks old, and 3 key players have fallen foul to the injury bug. Prior's good form is a sign of hope.

++ Barrett, Hairston Jr. - finding comfort at the plate
Aside from the blazing hot sluggers (Lee, Perez - never thought I'd mention Neifi in this category!), these 2 have been struggling to find consistency with the bat so far this season. That might be changing, however, as both recorded multi-hit games (Hairston Jr: 2-4, 2B, 3 R/Barrett: 3-4, 2 2B, 2 RBI) and showed signs that they can contribute where necessary this season.

++ Perez, Lee - always up to the challenge
Neifi continued his blazing streak in the starting lineup, going 2-5 with a huge 3-run HR in the 8th Inning to seal the game (4 RBI total for the evening) - need we say more? Perez's form has been a consistent surprise to all of us here at LB, and we have completely forgotten about the guy he's replaced. Almost.

Interesting note: Perez has already equalled his HR total from the entire 2004 season, and we're only 3 weeks in. Keep it up, Neifi.

Derrek was also steady, going 2-4 with a double and 2 RBI - 19 so far on the season.

++ Bringing runners home
Only 6 men left on base tonight - the Cubs brought home 10 of 16 who made it to 1st, which is a welcome change from previous double-digit LOB games. It's good to see the Cubs hitting well, and given that a tough week is on the cards (Highlight: Maddux vs. Clemens, Friday night), it's good to see solid swinging and patient at-bats.

-- Injuries, Injuries, Injuries
Patterson was a late scratch due to the stomach flu, replaced in CF with Hairston Jr. (Macias got what I hope is a rare start at 2B, batting 8th).

The big news was Chad Fox - leaving the game in the 9th with his arm hanging awkwardly by his side, a 30-pitch 1/3 Inning allowing a 3-run Adam Dunn HR - we can only hope his injury is not a serious recurrence of previous season-ending injuries within the first month of a season. The bullpen is struggling right now - Remlinger is slowly finding rhythm, Williamson and Borowski are still on the DL, and LaTroy is, well Latroy: struggling to close games, thus losing the 9th Inning job. Wuertz might be the next guy to try his hand with the save duties. Watch this space - if I dig up any articles today, they'll be posted this afternoon.

Either way, Dusty has some actual managing to do.


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