Results tagged ‘ Fukudome ’

Homestand happenings

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for INSIDE THE IVY LOGO.jpgThere’s so much that our players do for the community that goes unnoticed — just fine with them, of course, but also truly deserving of mention.

Ryan Dempster and Ted Lilly both hosted charitable ticket programs this weekend, packing the terrace with groups of kids.

On Saturday, Lilly invited 50 members of Maryville Academy and spoke with them during batting practice. The three programs included young men and women ages 13-21 and help offer residential care and training for those with intellectual disabilities, mental illness and emotional problems.

Dempster kicked off the fourth year of “Dempster’s Dugout” with a group of 40 from Camp of Dreams, a Chicago non-profit devoted to enriching the lives of underserved youth ages 9-18. He met with the “Dreamers” during batting practice and treated them to lunch at the ballpark.

Kudos for their work supporting the community and cherishing their influence as Cubs players.

Other observations

? Cubs players enjoyed having Henry Blanco back in the “Friendly Confines.” It was a nice touch when Alfonso Soriano flashed a smile and gave a gentle tap on Blanco’s shin guard at the plate last Tuesday.

 


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Randy Wells threw a dirty change-up to strike out Michael Bourn in the fifth inning Saturday. Wells gave up just four hits and three walks over six shutout innings, striking out four. In our June “In the Dugout” Q&A, Lou Piniella told Vine Line that he has been impressed with Wells since his cup of coffee last year and that the strike-thrower figures to fit in somewhere in the rotation or bullpen.

 


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Kosuke Fukudome’s former hitting coach in Japan, Kyosuke Sasaki, watched Sunday’s game from the seats near the Cubs’ on-deck circle. Sasaki has worked with Kosuke this season, as you can read in this cubs.com story.

 

– Sean Ahmed

A season of small tweaks and big results

Everyone in the front office was buzzing today after yesterday’s win over the Nationals put the team 30 games over .500, with the best record in the majors.

DeRo with homers in four straight games (and a career-high 18) … Geovany finding the bleachers for his 19th home run, tying a franchise record for a rookie catcher … Harden throwing 109 pitches over seven innings, allowing just a solo home run.

And perhaps topping it all was Kosuke slugging a pinch-hit, no-doubt home run down the rightfield line. He said after the game that what made him feel so good about the home run was how much it mattered to his teammates.

Interesting tidbit from Pat and Ron yesterday: Kosuke worked with Lou and hitting coach Gerald Perry on his swing this weekend. They recommended he spread his feet a little more so that he doesn’t have to take such a large stride for his swing. The hope was to help him shorten his swing. Sure enough, yesterday’s home run stroke on Steven Shell’s 2-0 pitch looked pretty compact …

Some around the office have argued that this team reminds them most of the 1984 Cubs. What do you think?

Tonight’s lineup

Soriano, LF
Theriot, SS
Lee, 1B
Ramirez, 3B
Edmonds, CF
DeRosa, 2B
Fukudome, RF
Soto, C
Lilly, LHP

Right-hander Jeff Karstens (2-2, 2.25 ERA) pitches for Pittsburgh. It’s the second time the Cubs will have faced Karstens since the Pirates acquired him from the Yankees in July. Let’s also hope this time is better than the first: Karstens threw six shutout innings Aug. 1 despite allowing nine baserunners.

Did you know?

Yesterday’s victory gave the Cubs eight straight series wins. …

The Cubs pitching staff became the first to 1,000 strikeouts on Saturday on Ryan Dempster’s second-inning strikeout. The team has led the majors in strikeouts for seven consecutive seasons (since 2001). …

The team’s +175 run differential is tops in the majors by over 60 runs.

Notes from a great win

It may have been near-freezing — the wind blowing in across rightfield was rippling jackets in the upper deck like flags — but the Cubs made every second worth it with last night’s 3-1 win. …

? How cold was it? The Dodgers were so unprepared for the 40-degree drop that most everyone but Joe Torre was wearing black MLB coats instead of their team’s. …

 

? The Cubs dugout already was chirping in the first minute of the game, when Sean Gallagher seemed to have a called strikeout of Juan Pierre. Home plate umpire Bob Davidson immediately took off his mask and yelled at the coaches that the pitch was inside.

 

When a ball deflected off of Gallagher’s pitching hand two batters later, Lou calmly talked with Davidson before returning to the dugout. But he also couldn’t contain a cheeky smile toward Dodgers third base coach Larry Bowa, also known to have some animated relationships with umpires. …

? Davidson spotted a young kid between innings and walked over to hand him a ball. …

 

? Kosuke had a great game, reaching three times on a walk, single and double. Cubs fans obviously recognized the importance of his matchup last night with Hiroki Kuroda: In the bottom of the sixth, the fans were on their feet clapping as Kosuke drew a walk after falling behind 0-2. …

 

? Carlos Marmol was frustrated with his stuff in the eighth inning and ended up loading the bases before getting out of the jam. He had trouble commanding his slider, throwing just one for a strike to the first four batters. When Los Angeles’ James Loney swung at a 2-2 slider in the dirt for the second out, that seemed to be the turning point. He threw a couple good ones to Matt Kemp before inducing a weak grounder to short to end the inning.

 

Tommy Lasorda, MLB Ambassador

Before the game, I had the opportunity to talk with Tommy Lasorda for an upcoming issue of Vine Line. We discussed the city of Chicago, the progress of Japanese baseball considering last night’s Kuroda-Fukudome matchup, and managing against Lou when Lou was a player in the 1978 World Series. He was animated and said he always loves coming to Chicago, where he makes sure to hit the Italian food of Carmine’s on Rush St. first.

Jim Hendry also stopped by to talk to his friend of some 30 years, and the two had a lot of fun exchanging old stories and calling out each other’s repeat jokes. Lasorda also congratulated Jim on the job he has done with this team and said, “If we don’t win tonight, I sure hope you do.”

Tonight’s lineup

Closing out the series against right-hander Derek Lowe (2-5, 5.03):

Soriano, LF
Theriot, SS
Lee, 1B
Ramirez, 3B
Fukudome, RF
Soto, C
DeRosa, 2B
Johnson, CF
Zambrano, RHP

– Sean Ahmed

The Windy, and Chilly, City

Apparently the one day of 80-degree weather that the Dodgers brought with them won’t last the series: It’s been in the 40s all day today with a blustery 20 mph wind blowing in.

If yesterday’s weather played host to a well-played 3-1 game, I’m wondering what these unfriendly conditions will produce. Let’s hope it’s a nine-inning Cubs win. …

Dodgers legend Tommy Lasorda will be singing the stretch today. He’s previously sang it in 1999, 2002, ’03, ’05 and ’06. …

The Dodgers requested early batting practice today, and they could be seen setting up the field and walking to the rightfield batting cage around 1 p.m. this afternoon. …

The “Friendly Confines” feel that much friendlier with an overflow media packing the home and visitor’s clubhouses. Some dozen-and-a-half Japanese media outlets are expected at tonight’s game to cover the Kosuke Fukudome vs. Hiroki Kuroda matchup.

It’s a fascinating experience seeing how the Japanese media covers these stars on a daily basis. Though they primarily follow around the Japanese players, they also will ask coaches and teammates laregely about these players’ performances.

Today’s Lineup

The middle infielders — Ryan Theriot and Mark DeRosa — are getting a rest today, and Jim Edmonds, fresh off his first hit in 14 at-bats, has been moved up in the order.

Soriano, LF
Fontenot, 2B

Lee, 1B

Ramirez, 3B

Fukudome, RF

Edmonds, CF

Soto, C

Cedeno, SS

Gallagher, RHP

Right-hander Kuroda (2-3, 3.48 ERA) takes the mound today. He throws pretty hard and has been a great pickup for the Dodgers so far this season.

On to the Astros

Everybody around the office was relieved that we got our first win yesterday. Nobody was truly panicking, but we all were looking for a win to really set the bar for this season. Yesterday, the Cubs hit, pitched and ran like they’ve been looking to do since returning from Mesa, Ariz.

Soriano, LF

Theriot, SS

Lee, 1B

Ramirez, 3B

Fukudome, RF

DeRosa, 2B

Soto, C

Pie, CF

Hill, LHP

The Astros will start with right-hander Chris Sampson on the mound.

Walk hard

There’s no question that Fukudome is a patient hitter. Already in his first three major-league games, he’s walked four times and several times taken at-bats deep into the count. Oh, he can hit, too: He’s 4-for-8 with two doubles and that three-run home run from Opening Day. That homer came on the first pitch.

Rewind and reverse

Kerry Wood looked good closing the ninth-inning of Ryan Dempster’s excellent start yesterday. It was just a few years ago that Dempster was sealing Wood’s games.

Game No. 2

After their first of four off-days this April, the Cubs get back to game action today against the Brewers. Two of those off-days, both yesterday’s and the one next Tuesday during the series in Pittsburgh, are built in to the schedule in case Opening Day should be postponed.

Today’s lineup is the same as Monday’s:

Theriot, SS
Soriano, LF
Lee, 1B
Ramirez, 3B
Fukudome, RF
DeRosa, 2B
Soto, C
Pie, CF
Lilly, LHP

Right-hander Jeff Suppan is on the hill for the Brewers.

Great debut

Kosuke Fukudome reached base in each of his four plate appearances Monday, including the three-run home run Michael reflected on in yesterday’s post.

According to Cubs historian and Vine Line contributor Ed Hartig, Fukudome is just the 12th player since 1956 to notch multiple hits and RBI in his Cubs debut. Of those 12, he was just the fifth to accomplish the feat in his major-league debut. He joins a list that includes Ron Santo (June 26, 1960 at Pittsburgh).

He was the first to homer in his Cubs debut since Henry Rodriguez on March 31, 1998 at Florida.

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