In a game that started with some early thunder, the fireworks were put out relatively early. The major league leading Chicago Cubs handled the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-1, behind 6 1/3 strong innings from veteran starter Jason Marquis.
With the Dodgers already training 1-0 in the bottom of the first, LA lead-off man Juan Pierre singled. Pierre promptly stole second, and after Andre Ethier popped out, Pierre made it to third on a Geovany Soto throwing error. The man with the porn ’stache, Jeff Kent, then followed up with an RBI groundout, scoring Pierre and pushing the Dodgers back to a 1-1 tie after the Cubbies tallied in the top of the first thanks to a Mark DeRosa round tripper.
From there on, the Dodgers bats were quieter than a silent film as they managed a measley three hits over the final eight innings, not being able to touch Marquis or relievers Carlos Marmol and Kerry Wood.
The Cubs’ bats came alive again in the fifth when DeRosa knocked in his second run of the game, scoring Alfonso Soriano. That was followed by an RBI double from third basemen Aramis Ramirez. This was more than enough run support for Marquis as he pitched one of his best games of the young season and the Cubs continued their hot streak and pursuit of their first title since 765 B.C. (or around there).
Soriano went a modest 1-for-5 in Sunday’s contest, dropping his batting average to a still decent .279. Soriano is never going to win a batting title, but from a fantasy standpoint, he’s all about his high homer numbers and ability to steal bases. On the season, he sits at a robust 15 dingers and a solid 40 RBI, tops for all lead-off hitters in baseball. If you can afford to take a hit on that .320 OBP (only a factor in OBP leagues), then he remains fantasy gold as his power and speed will pay nice dividends.
For the past few seasons, DeRosa has been a great super-sub type to own, but this year he’s enjoying a serious breakout. He went 3-for-5 on Sunday with two RBI, pushing his average over the .300 barrier at .303. With eight home runs and 34 RBI on the season, he is near the top of heap for second basemen in production. Combine that with his .391 on-base percentage and this guy is easily having a career year. If he continues at this pace, DeRosa could finish the season with around 20 home runs and 90 RBI, more than solid numbers for a second baseman.
Marquis had a solid start, only allowing one unearned run for his 89-pitch effort, while issuing just one walk — a nice recovery after he experienced a serious breakdown in his control the last time out. Marquis pushed his record to 4-3 on the season, lowering his ERA to 4.54. Dating back to May 18 in a game against Pittsburgh, Marquis hasn’t allowed more then three earned runs in a contest, going at least five innings in each of those five starts. While Marquis will never be your ace, if you are thin in the starting pitching department it can’t hurt to take a look in NL-only leagues since he is on a strong Cubs team and should continue to rack up more Ws as long as the Cubs stay hot.
While Dodger starter Brad Penny managed to toss his second straight quality outing Sunday, he still took the loss falling to 5-8 on the season with a Roseanne-like ERA of 5.38. Shockingly, in just 14 starts, Penny has double the losses he suffered in 33 starts in all of 2007. He allowed only three runs in six innings of work, but was unable to receive any run support and that lead to his ultimate downfall. After a 5-2 start, Penny has lost his last six decisions, and something just isn’t gelling right now (perhaps that 8.82 May tipped you off?). Is he hurt? I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up on the DL sooner rather than Later. Despite being a solid proven starter, you can’t rely on him on your staff right now. I like the fact that he’s turning it around so far in June, but it sure would be nice to see some Ws.
You take what you can get with Pierre. He will get you a handful of hits and a decent average, but will produce little to no power numbers (in fact, he’s headed for the worst full-season slugging mark of his career this year). He went 2-for-4 on Sunday with his usually Speedy Gonzalez stolen base (that’s 23 on the season now). His .281 batting average won’t hurt your team, but his zero home runs and weak 18 RBI won’t exactly help. If you need stolen bases and a slight average boost, Pierre’s your man.
At the age of 40, has Kent finally passed his twilight? He went 0-for-4 on Sunday, dropping his average to a Seattle Mariner-like .251 on the season, not good for a number three hitter (where he’s hit in the past few games), let alone a hitter in the nine hole. For the season, he does have eight home runs and 29 RBI, better power numbers than we’ve seen from him the past couple of years, but he’s been very inconsistent. At this stage of career, he is not reliable and you would be better suited starting someone else at second base if you have that luxury.