Tag:Randy Wells
Posted on: February 24, 2012 10:02 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2012 7:57 pm
 

Spring primer: Chicago Cubs



By Matt Snyder


After watching the Cubs go from a 97-win club to a 71-win version in just four seasons, owner Tom Ricketts took serious action in 2011. He fired general manager Jim Hendry and landed his version of a big fish, in former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein. Epstein took over as club president then added Jed Hoyer as general manager and Jason McLeod as senior vice president of scouting and player development, among other front office pieces. The new management group then hired Dale Sveum as the big-league manager and started to clean house. It's going to be a long process, but said process has begun in earnest.

Scott Miller's camp report: Cubs Giddy With Optimism | Likes, Dislikes

Major additions: OF David DeJesus, 1B Anthony Rizzo, 3B Ian Stewart, LHP Paul Maholm, RHP Chris Volstad, LHP Travis Wood
Major departures: RHP Carlos Zambrano, OF Tyler Colvin, RHP Andrew Cashner, 3B Aramis Ramirez, 1B Carlos Pena, LHP Sean Marshall, LHP John Grabow

Probable lineup
1. David DeJesus, RF
2. Starlin Castro, SS
3. Marlon Byrd, CF
4. Bryan LaHair, 1B
5. Alfonso Soriano, LF
6. Ian Stewart, 3B
7. Geovany Soto, C
8. Darwin Barney, 2B

Probable rotation
1. Matt Garza
2. Ryan Dempster
3. Paul Maholm
4. Randy Wells
5. Travis Wood

Chris Volstad will also be in the mix, but I gave Wood the nod because he's left-handed.

Back-end bullpen
Closer: Carlos Marmol
Set-up: Kerry Wood, Jeff Samardzija

Important bench players

IF Jeff Baker, C Welington Castillo, OF Tony Campana, OF Reed Johnson

Prospects to watch
There are two here in particular that could make an impact in 2012: OF Brett Jackson and 1B Anthony Rizzo. It's entirely possible both are in the lineup come August. With Rizzo, it's a matter of whether or not LaHair can hit in the majors long-term -- as he could merely be one of those so-called Quadruple-A players. If that is the case and Rizzo is hitting well in Triple-A, the Cubs might well decide to turn to Rizzo. With Jackson, he's blocked all over the outfield, however, center field could easily be cleared in July. If the Cubs fall out of contention prior to the trade deadline -- and let's face it, that's a pretty good bet -- Byrd is a great trade candidate (sorry, I don't think the Cubs can deal Soriano just yet due to his contract). Byrd is in the final year of his contract and can play all three outfield positions, so surely some contender would cough up one mid-tier prospect for him. If that happens, the logical step for the Cubs would be to see how Jackson fared in center field for the final two months to determine if he can stay there or if he needs to be moved to a corner.

Fantasy sleeper: Bryan LaHair
"Usually, when a player in his late 20s puts up eye-popping numbers at Triple-A like a .331 batting average, 38 homers and 1.070 OPS, he's dismissed right away as a Quadruple-A player, but apparently the Cubs' front office thinks LaHair is different -- and not just because of his impressive 59 at-bat stint in the majors last year. The experiment could still be a failure of Kila Ka'aihue proportions, which is why you shouldn't bother with LaHair in mixed leagues, but late in NL-only formats, why not?" - Scott White [Full Cubs team fantasy preview]

Fantasy bust: Carlos Marmol
"If blown saves were Marmol's only problem, it'd be one thing, but the bottom line is he's not the efficient out-getter that Epstein and Hoyer would like their closer to be. His walk rate is as bad as it gets, and as a result, he's always pitching out of jams. Sure, his high strikeout rate helps compensate for it, but if he produces anything short of a best-in-the-league-type hit rate, his WHIP is in the danger zone." - Scott White [Full Cubs team fantasy preview]

Optimistic outlook
The deep pitching staff throws well and pays immediate dividends, as the bullpen improves with much better rest. Plus, behind the changes in right field and third base, the defense is also improved. Even Marmol's control issues drastically dwindle. LaHair and Stewart prove they can hit major-league pitching throughout the season and DeJesus turns out a perfect leadoff man for the suddenly balanced offense. And the Cubs find themselves right in the thick of the NL Central race with the Cardinals, Reds and Brewers until the end of the season, possibly even finishing somewhere in the top three.

Pessimistic outlook
By the end of July, Garza, Dempster and Byrd are all traded as the Cubs have no shot of making the playoffs. The Cubs try to avoid the cellar in a battle with the Astros, but continue the rebuilding effort and look forward to hitting the 2013 free agency class full-steam (less than $40 million is committed to 2013 payroll so far). Really, this is more realistic than pessimistic, because as much as the Cubs' coaches, players and front office say they're trying to win this year, it's obvious this is a two-year plan at the absolute minimum.

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Posted on: February 22, 2012 9:59 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2012 10:06 pm
 

New Cubs manager Sveum puts together bunt tourney

By Matt Snyder

As the Cubs franchise strives to do a complete makeover, fundamentals have been reemphasized in camp this season. More attention is reportedly being paid to baserunning and pitchers' fielding, for example. Also: Bunting.

And in the spirit of the upcoming March Madness -- watch the NCAA basketball tournament on CBS! -- new manager Dale Sveum has devised a 64-man bunting tournament that will begin Thursday. With there only being 62 players in camp, Sveum threw himself in the bracket along with strength coach Tim Buss (via Chicago Tribune). Tribune beat writer Paul Sullivan has posted a picture of the entire bracket on his Facebook page.

Sveum made setup man Kerry Wood a No. 2 seed -- and if that's an accurate ranking, it's a good thing the Cubs are refocusing on bunting considering Wood hasn't had a big-league plate appearance since 2007 -- and put himself against Wood in Round 1 as a 15.

Sullivan reports the players' consensus is that starting pitchers Ryan Dempster and Randy Wells are the favorites, though speedy outfielder Tony Campana named himself the man to beat.

Having seen many Cubs games the past several seasons, I'd be shocked if anyone beats Dempster -- not that the winner really matters. And my reaction to seeing Alfonso Soriano as a 15-seed? How are there at least four worse bunters in camp?

Two things here do matter, though:

1. The focus on fundamentals.
2. Having fun. It's a long spring training and exercises like these help bring the team together. If you scoff at that notion, note that Joe Girardi had the 2009 Yankees compete in a billiards tournament in spring training as a team-building exercise. Obviously these Cubs don't have the same level of talent as the eventual '09 World Series champions, but the point remains that Sveum has his head in the right place.

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Posted on: November 27, 2011 11:28 am
Edited on: November 27, 2011 12:28 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Chicago Cubs



By Matt Snyder


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule of this feature, click here.

When we discuss the Chicago Cubs, no baseball fan is lacking an opinion -- specifically, everyone seems to have some pet theory as to why the Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1908. I've long argued with the people who believe the streak has something to do with a stupid "curse" or somehow now has something to do with playing so many more day games than everyone else. No, the real problem is they've never put a top-to-bottom management system in place that has done the job consistently for more than a small handful of seasons. It's possible current Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts has done so with Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, et al (in fact, I'd argue it's likely), but that's a different discussion for a different forum.

For now, we're left looking at one of the worst Homegrown Teams in our series.

Lineup

1. Kosuke Fukudome, RF
2. Darwin Barney, 2B
3. Starlin Castro, SS
4. Tyler Colvin, LF
5. Casey McGehee, 3B
6. Eric Hinske, 1B
7. Geovany Soto, C
8. Sam Fuld, CF

Starting Rotation

1. Ricky Nolasco
2. Kyle Lohse
3. Andrew Cashner*
4. Carlos Zambrano
5. Randy Wells
* - if Cashner fell injured like he did in the real 2011 season, the options would be: Jon Garland, Dontrelle Willis and Casey Coleman.

Bullpen

Closer - Kyle Farnsworth
Set up - Kerry Wood, Sean Marshall, Carlos Marmol, Al Alburquerque, Juan Cruz, Michael Wuertz
Long - Jeff Samardzija, Rich Hill, Sergio Mitre

Notable Bench Players

Robinson Chirinos, Ryan Theriot, Ronny Cedeno, Brandon Guyer, Corey Patterson, Felix Pie, Tony Campana, Lou Montanez. In fact, feel free to grab any of these guys, plug them in the lineup and play around with it. There's really no wrong answer, because it's one marquee player (and he's only 21) amidst a heap of mediocrity at this point. Maybe Guyer proves a good player, McGehee bounces back and/or Colvin becomes a good everyday player, but we have to go on what we've seen up to this point.

What's Good?

The bullpen is really strong. It's well-rounded with righties and lefties, depth, power pitchers and specialists. Of course, there could be an issue with the lack of a reliable closer when it comes to either Farnsworth or Marmol, but a new-age manager might just abandon that idea and use whoever makes the most sense in the ninth.

What's Not?

The starting rotation doesn't have a true ace (or No. 2, for that matter). The infield defense sorely lacks range and the outfield isn't great either. The team speed is minimal, there isn't a good option at leadoff (or in the two-hole, or cleanup, or fifth ... you get the point) and who is the best power hitter? Colvin? Soto? Basically, everything other than the bullpen and Starlin Castro is lackluster.

Comparison to real 2011

You have to give former general manager Jim Hendry credit for scraping together a team good enough to win three division titles in six years, considering this bunch. Then again, he was in charge as the organization was assembling nothing more than a mediocre foundation (Baseball Prospectus now says the minor-league system is "not bad" but is more "depth than starpower."). Let's leave out the excuses, because there are far more bad picks (Montanez at third overall as a shortstop, for example) than there are instances of bad luck (Mark Prior, for example).

The amazing thing is that the 2011 Cubs were 71-91 and I actually think that team was better than this Homegrown unit. When we do the Homegrown rankings in mid-December, expect to see the Cubs toward the bottom. That probably changes in five years, but we're doing this exercise in the present. And this team would probably win somewhere in the ballpark of 65 games. Maybe fewer.

Up Next: Seattle Mariners

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Posted on: September 27, 2011 6:50 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Chicago Cubs

By Matt Snyder

Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s R.I.P. series...

Team name: Chicago Cubs
Record: 70-90, 24 games back in NL Central
Manager: Mike Quade
Best hitter: Aramis Ramirez -- .306/.360/.506, 25 HR, 92 RBI, 79 R, 35 2B
Best pitcher: Matt Garza -- 9-10, 3.35 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 189 K, 191 IP

After the 2008 season, the Cubs were in the middle of a bit of a golden era in the franchise. They had been division champions three times in a six-year span. That isn't saying much for a lot of teams, but this franchise hadn't had that kind of success since playing in the World Series four out of five seasons from 1906-1910. Alas, they were swept in the NLDS in 2008, despite having the best regular-season record in the National League, so general manager Jim Hendry decided to do some tinkering. The Cubs finished just five games over .500 in 2009 before coming in fifth place in 2010 and are currently in fifth again. And Hendry's out of a job, likely to be followed by Quade and some other coaches.

2011 SEASON RECAP

They were 9-8 and tied for first place after the first game of a doubleheader on April 20, but that was the high point in the standings. The Cubs would go on to lose six of seven games and never be a serious threat the rest of the way. They fell to 10 games back on June 4 and never got closer than nine back in the Central from that point forward. They actually moved up to fourth place September 19 for the first time since May 26, but the overwhelming majority of the season has been spent in fifth place, thanks to the lowly Astros. The biggest positives: Starlin Castro is well on his way to being a major-league star, Darwin Barney appears an adequate option at second base, Matt Garza had a good season, Sean Marshall is still great in middle-to-late inning relief and Jeff Samardzija finally doesn't look like a huge bust. The biggest negative is that this appears to be a badly flawed roster with not near enough help on the way from the minors.

2012 AUDIT

This is the toughest assignment of the R.I.P. series, because there's no way to know the direction of the ballclub until a new general manager is hired. The club is not immediately set up to compete, but there's a stipulation: With more than $50 million in payroll falling off before 2012 and even more off the books before '13, the Cubs could decide to be a major player in free agency. The franchise has enough money to grab, for example, Prince Fielder, C.J. Wilson and still have money left over to bolster the bullpen and find a fill-in at third base. On the other hand, many would argue that still isn't enough to make the Cubs immediate contenders in the National League. If the new GM agrees, he might be more in favor of leaving the payroll low for a season or two while building the system with a youthful foundation before pouncing on big-name free agents to fill holes in 2013 or 2014. One thing that should scare fellow franchises in the NL Central if the Cubs choose to spend big in the near future, is that the Cubs are clear of all big contracts except Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Marmol (and Matt Garza likely has a deal by then, too, I'd guess) prior to 2013 and Marmol's off after '13. They have the resources to be the Red Sox of the NL. It's just a matter of if the Cubs can put the correct plan in place, and that all comes down to who chairman Tom Ricketts hires as his next GM.

FREE AGENTS

Aramis Ramirez, 3B (mutual option)
Carlos Pena, 1B
Reed Johnson, OF
Ryan Dempster, SP (player option for '12)
John Grabow, RP
Jeff Samardzija, RP (club option for '12 and '13)

OFFSEASON FOCUS

Where to even begin? This roster is a mess. First of all, I'd listen to offers for everyone except Starlin Castro. That doesn't mean you have to trade guys like Barney, Marshall or Soto, but you never know if the return might work with the game plan of the new GM. Let's sort through some of this and see what can be done short-term with the eyes on the future. My goal would be to contend in 2013. If it happens in 2012, that's just gravy.
  • Get Prince Fielder. He's 27 and incredibly durable (has never played less than 157 games in a full season). He'd then be the anchor for the Cubs for the foreseeable future, even if it takes a few years to build around him and Castro. Also of importance, if you bat Castro second and Fielder third, Castro's strike zone woes become less an issue (though he has walked more times than he's struck out in September, so it's getting better already).
  • Give Andrew Cashner one last shot to stay healthy in the rotation and also see if Samardzija can be successful as a starter. Having a rotation of Garza, Dempster, Randy Wells, Cashner and Samardzija won't be winning any championships, but Dempster is gone after 2012 and there'd be plenty of money to go after free agents. By then, they Cubs will know if they need just one guy or up to four with Garza. And the list of free agent starters after next season could have some big names -- assuming they aren't granted contract extensions -- like Matt Cain, Zack Greinke, Cole Hamels, Shaun Marcum and James Shields.
  • Read the riot act to Carlos Marmol. Considering the Cubs likely can't contend in 2012 and Marmol is signed through 2013, he has one year to fix himself. Marmol has blown an MLB-high 10 saves (he's tied with Jordan Walden). You can't count on closers to be perfect, but let's say Marmol only blew four saves, which is a very reasonable percentage. The Cubs would be 76-84, which isn't awful at all considering some of the injury issues and poor roster construction.
  • Give Bryan LaHair a shot in right field. LaHair is 28, so he's hardly a prospect, but it's possible he's a late bloomer like Ryan Ludwick or Jayson Werth. LaHair had 38 home runs, 109 RBI and a 1.070 OPS in 129 Triple-A games. He's hitting .309/.391/.545 in 19 games for the Cubs this season. Again, the eyes are on 2013 here, so if he flames out as many expect, you can address the position next offseason. But he's at least earned the chance to get an extended look in the bigs.
  • If the Cubs do fall out of contention in 2012, Marlon Byrd needs to be traded at the deadline and prospect Brett Jackson can then take over in center field. If Jackson is deemed ready earlier in the season and LaHair doesn't pan out, Byrd could be moved to right. 
  • I'd personally bring back Aramis Ramirez for two or three years, assuming the Cubs don't have to break the bank. The last thing they need is another albatross contract, so if he's demanding something like four years and $50 million, it's time to move on. But if it's reasonable, it makes sense to keep him. He's only 33 and has shown has can still swing the bat. He's got to have two to three years left of above-average production at third base. Prospect Josh Vitters had completely fallen off all prospect rankings prior to this season, but rebounded with a decent showing in Double-A this season (.283/.322/.448 with 14 homers, 81 RBI and 28 doubles) and he's still only 21. In two years, the Cubs will have an idea if he is going to be the next third baseman or not. If not, they can look outside the organziation or perhaps someone in the farm system will have emerged. Keeping Ramirez is a natural bridge to when it comes to that.
And there's a lot more, too, but those are the big ones.

The main thing here is the hire a new GM that puts the main focus on building the minor-league system. That way in a few years free agency won't be the only avenue to fill out a winning ballclub. Remember, people complain about the Yankees, Red Sox and Phillies in free agency, but lots of players -- Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Kevin Youkilis, Jon Lester, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels and several others were developed from within the respective systems. The Cubs have been terrible at developing their own in recent years and leaned on trades and free agency to bail them out. It needs to be a combination or everything will eventually fall apart like it did this season. From there, they can start to think about breaking a faux-curse and easing the pain of the legions of true fans.

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Posted on: August 30, 2011 1:43 am
 

3 Up 3 Down: Hudson mystifies Rockies

Hudson

By Evan Brunell

3 upDaniel Hudson, Diamondbacks: Hudson has emerged as a go-to guy in the Arizona rotation, and he shut down the Rockies over seven scoreless innings, giving up six baserunners and punching out eight. The victory was the seventh straight for a team that has now pushed their division lead to five games, with Hudson tacking on a RBI single in the 5-1 victory. The righty is projected to crack 220 innings pitched, which would be over 40 innings greater than his previous major-league career high. It's a trend the D-Backs may want to monitor down the stretch, and he could be in line for a break once the postseason push ends.

Randy Wells, Cubs:  Wells threw the game of his life on Monday, handcuffing the Giants in a complete-game two-hitter, allowing just one walk and whiffing seven. The outing pushes Wells' ERA to 5.06, a sight better than the 6.08 ERA he was rocking back in early July. The 29-year-old's season has been a significant setback from the last two years, in no short part due to injury, but a strong September could make the picture look much different.

Salvador Perez, Royals: The Royals think quite highly of Perez, believing he can be a durable starter for them. But Perez's value is on defense, where he draws rave reviews despite being just 21. But for one night, he was the offensive star. During a 3-for-4 night, Perez hammered a 415-foot homer, the first of his career.  "I crushed that ball," Perez told the Associated Press. "I felt so happy -- it was unbelievable." Perez is now hitting .295 on the year.



Max Scherzer, Tigers: "I don't know what it is about Scherzer," Royals second baseman Johnny Giavotella told the Associated Press after Scherzer couldn't solve Kansas City in an offensive attack that eventually rapped out 18 wins. "We've put good swings on the ball against a lot of pitchers and not gotten anything to show for it, but we've been better against him." Scherzer, who had been demonstrably better in the second half, took a big step back with 10 hits allowed in three innings, coughing up seven runs. It's his worst performance on the year, although others come close to rivaling it. This is a pitcher on the cusp of putting it all together, but a true stinker every now and then keeps setting him back.

Tim Lincecum, Giants: Lincecum had an uncharacteristically bad start, giving up three bombs for the first time in his career as the Cubs walked all over the slumping Giants. Lincecum got through six innings, giving up four runs and walking four, striking out just three. The loss pushes Lincecum to just one game over .500 at 12-11 despite a 2.58 ERA. That's what a moribund offense does for a pitcher's perceived effectiveness in wins and losses. With seven more strikeouts, Lincecum will get 200 whiffs for the fourth consecutive season. Once he does that, he will become the seventh pitcher since 2000 with at least four consecutive years with at least 200 strikeouts. Justin Verlander already became the sixth pitcher earlier this season.

Alex White, Rockies: Alex White is a talented pitcher, but he's got a long ways to go. Despite pitching in the minors with solid command, he's walked 16 over five starts and 27 innings, two of those starts coming with the Rockies. In those games, White has given up five runs per game. The sixth inning was White's downfall, as he gave up four runs and seven baserunners. All told, he walked six, while punching out just three. White has some serious upside long-term, but he's not ready to tap into it just yet.

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Posted on: August 13, 2011 7:29 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 12:13 am
 

Uggla extends streak to 33 games

Dan UgglaBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Braves second baseman Dan Uggla has extended his hitting streak to 33 games with a first-inning single off of Cubs' starter Randy Wells. He added a solo homer in the fourth inning, his 15th home run during the streak and 27th overall.

Only 18 players have ever had longer hitting streaks than Uggla's, whose is the longest since 2006 when Philadelphia's Chase Utley hit in 35 consecutive games. That same season, Utley's teammate, Jimmy Rollins, had a 38-game hitting streak come to an end. Rollins hit in the final 36 games of the 2005 season and the first two of the 2006 season.

With a 3-2 count, Uggla hit a liner into center. It was the 13th time in the streak he has gotten a hit in his first plate appearance.

"I ain't complaining about getting them out of the way in the first inning either," Uggla told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "It takes a little bit of the edge off."

Uggla finished 2 for 3 with a walk and was hit by a pitch. Uggla is now hitting .232 on the season. 

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Posted on: August 13, 2011 10:28 am
Edited on: August 13, 2011 7:13 pm
 

On Deck: Uggla and Braves on 5-game streak

OD

By C. Trent Rosecrans


Follow all games live with CBSSports.com's GameTracker.

Continuing the streaks: You may have heard that Dan Uggla has a streak going, but so does his team. While Uggla's hitting streak is now at 32 games, the Braves have a more modest five-game winning streak going, tied for the longest current streak in baseball along with the Rays. Atlanta's still 7 1/2 games behind the Phillies in the National League East, but at 70-49, it has the second-best record in the National League and a six-game lead over San Francisco and St. Louis in the Wild Card race. Uggla is 1 for 2 with a walk in three career plate appearances against Cubs starter Randy Wells, who is allowing 10.7 hits per nine innings. Cubs at Braves, 7:10 p.m. ET

Tim LincecumAce time: After a loss and a Diamondbacks victory on Friday, the Giants are two games behind Arizona in the NL West, their biggest deficit since May 7. The good news is that their ace is on the mound tonight in Florida, as Tim Lincecum faces off against Javier Vazquez . Lincecum struggled some (by his standards) in the first half of the season, but since a disastrous start against Cincinnati in June, he has a 1.67 ERA in his last 10 starts. Of course, he needs someone to score some runs for him to pick up a victory, because even in those 10 starts in which he's allowed a total of 13 runs (12 earned) and struck out 71 batters in 64 2/3 innings, he's gone just 5-4 and the Giants are 5-5 -- maybe if he were hitting better than .095/.156/.095 -- but at least he has an excuse, he's a pitcher. The rest of his team has no such excuse. Giants at Marlins, 7:10 p.m. ET

Jered WeaverCy Weaver returns: Ervin Santana stepped up nicely on Friday filling Jered Weaver's usual spot in the Angels' rotation, and now the Blue Jays get to face Weaver, who was pushed back a day because of his six-game suspension for his part in the fracas in Detroit. Weaver enters the game 14-5 with a 1.78 ERA and 3.85 strikeouts for every walk. As good as he was leading up to his All-Star Game start, Weaver's been better since then, going 3-1 with a 1.49 ERA in his five starts since the break. He allowed seven hits and struck out eight in his last start, a shutout against the Mariners on Aug. 5. That said, his opposite is hardly a slouch. Toronto lefty Rickey Romero has gone at least eight innings in each of his last three starts and has given up just three runs and nine hits over that same span, while striking out 21. Angels at Blue Jays, 1:07 p.m. ET 

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Posted on: July 24, 2011 1:56 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Bard helps Francona get 1,000th win

Daniel Bard

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Daniel Bard, Red Sox: The right-handed reliever notched his 24th straight scoreless inning and team-record 23rd consecutive scoreless outing. It may not have been pretty, but got the job done after loading the bases with no outs in the eighth inning of the team's 3-1 victory over Seattle. Bard got Mike Carp to fly out to left, Jack Cust looking at a backdoor slider and Franklin Guitierrez to ground out, ending the inning. Bard hasn't allowed a run since May 23 and just 11 all season (and just seven since an opening day meltdown in against Texas), lowering his ERA to 1.85 on the season. The victory was the 1,000th for Terry Francona as a manager and extended Seattle's losing streak to 14 games.

Randy Wells, Cubs: The right-hander picked up his first win since April, allowing just one run on five hits in six innings against the Astros. Wells won his first start of the season on April 4 against Arizona before going on the disabled list with a strained right forearm, missing nearly two months. In nine starts since coming off the DL, Wells was 0-3 with a 7.38 ERA and the Cubs had gone 2-7 in those starts.

Sick Reds: Neither Jay Bruce nor Edgar Renteria felt well enough on Saturday to start the Reds' game against the Braves, but both came in when needed and performed. Renteria, battling a stomach illness, was forced into action when Zack Cozart suffered a hyperextended left elbow in the fourth inning. Renteria went 2 for 4 with three RBI, the most runs he's batted in since his three-run homer in last year's World Series.  Retneria drove in the go-ahead run with a two-run double in the sixth, making it 3-2 Reds. Cincinnati would go on to score eight more, including another RBI single by Renteria in the seven-run seventh. Bruce, struggling an inner-ear problem,  was called on to pinch hit leading off the sixth and doubled off of Derek Lowe. He was immediately pulled for pinch-runner Mike Leake, who scored the team's second run of the day on Renteria's double. 


Houston Astros: How about this stat from Brian McTaggart of MLB.com? The Astros' last 27 hits have all been singles. That includes nine hits in Saturday's 5-1 loss to the Cubs and 10 hits in Friday's 4-2 loss in Chicago. Their last extra-base hit was Humberto Quintero's second-inning double on Wednesday. Houston has now lost 33 of its last 43 games.

Chad Qualls, Padres: Coming into Saturday's game in Philadelphia, Qualls had allowed just home run in 48 1/3 innings -- an intro like that tells you exactly what's coming: Qualls allowed three homers along with another hit and a walk in his 1/3 inning of work in the Phillies' five-run seventh inning. Michael Martinez's three-run shot broke a tie, and then Ryan Howard and Chase Utley also took him deep in the inning to give Philadelphia a nice cushion in an eventual 8-6 victory. Philadelphia has now beaten San Diego in nine straight contests.

Corey Patterson, Blue Jays: Patterson came into the game as a defensive replacement in the ninth inning, but misplayed Michael Young's drive to right, allowing the winning run to score with two outs in the ninth inning of Texas' 5-4 victory. Toronto reliever Marc Rzepczynski came into the game in the ninth with a 4-3 lead and walked Mike Napoli before committing a throwing error on Mitch Moreland's bunt attempt. Jon Rauch replaced Rzepczynski, but the Rangers had back-to-back sacrifice bunts to tie the game and set up Young's game-winner. On Young's liner, Patterson got turned around twice and let the ball bounce off the wall, allowing Craig Gentry to score easily from third.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com