Coleman, Cubs need offensive support vs. Brewers

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Coleman, Cubs need offensive support vs. Brewers

Sunday, April 10, 2011
Posted: 10:53 a.m.

Associated Press

Yovani Gallardo has not wasted any time building on his solid 2010 season.

The Milwaukee right-hander has a good chance to continue his success overall and against the Chicago Cubs on Sunday at Miller Park.

Gallardo (1-0, 1.20 ERA) won a career-high 14 games and made his first All-Star team last season. That effort also got him a contract extension that has not hindered his performance through two 2011 starts.

After allowing two runs in six innings of a 7-6 opening-day loss at Cincinnati, Gallardo recorded his fourth complete game when he allowed two hits and scored in a 1-0 win over Atlanta on Tuesday.

"I'm amazed," first-year Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said. "Knowing when to throw offspeed pitches, knowing when to elevate in the zone, he's got a great feel for it, a great athlete. He's going to help himself win other ball games with the bat and with his fielding.

"He's a special guy."

The Cubs (4-4) know that first hand.

Gallardo is 3-1 with a 3.19 ERA in seven starts versus Chicago, including 2-0 with an 0.95 ERA in three at Miller Park. He allowed eight hits over 14 scoreless innings in two home starts against the Cubs in 2010.

Milwaukee (4-5) gave starter Chris Narveson more than enough support in Saturday's 6-0 win to even the series. Prince Fielder had a career-high three doubles with four RBIs and Ryan Braun added two hits as the Brewers won for the fourth time in five games since starting 0-4.

Fielder started the season 3 for 17 without driving in a run the first five games, but is 8 for 14 with a homer and nine RBIs the last four.

"It's always good having a guy like Braun in front of you because he can go deep, get base hits and steal bases," Fielder said.

Braun is batting .367 with six RBIs this season, and is 4 for 5 against scheduled starter Casey Coleman.

With Randy Wells on the disabled list because of a forearm strain, Coleman will make his 2011 debut after going 4-2 with a 3.33 ERA in eight starts for the Cubs last season.

The right-hander was one of the last players sent to the minors in spring training.

"I understood I needed to go down and get work in and get back up here soon," Coleman told the Cubs' official website. "It stinks the reason I'm up here."

Coleman allowed a run and five hits in six innings of a 2-0 road loss in his only previous start against the Brewers on Sept. 12.

His teammates will need to find a way to break out of their road funk against Gallardo and provide some support after recording six hits while being shut out for the first time in 2011.

Shortstop Starlin Castro is 4 for 9 with three doubles against Gallardo, and batting .353 this season. He's hitting .348 in 11 games versus Milwaukee.

Chicago's biggest offseason acquisition, slugger Carlos Pena, has struck out five times in the series and is batting .222 without a homer for his new club.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Cubs: The Aroldis Chapman Show begins at Wrigley Field

Cubs: The Aroldis Chapman Show begins at Wrigley Field

Rage Against the Machine’s “Wake Up” blasted from the Wrigley Field sound system at 9:51 p.m. on Wednesday as Aroldis Chapman trotted toward the mound. Nothing would get lost in translation as the Cubs unleashed their new closer on the White Sox.

Chapman didn’t feel the full rush of adrenaline, because a revived offense scored five runs in the eighth inning, ending the save situation and any real suspense for the crowd of 41,166. The game within the game became looking up at the 3,990-square-foot LED video board in left field for the velocity reading after each pitch and listening to the oohs and aahs.

Chapman made it look easy against the middle of the White Sox lineup, with 13 of his 15 pitches clocked between 100 and 103 mph in the ninth inning of an 8-1 victory. That triple-digit default setting, fluid left-handed delivery and intimidating presence showed why the Cubs made a game-changing trade with the New York Yankees.

The first impressions from Tuesday’s press conference apparently bothered Chapman enough that he initially refused to speak to the reporters waiting around his locker after his debut. There had been questions about his 30-game suspension under Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy, the off-the-field expectations from chairman Tom Ricketts and where the wires got crossed with coach/translator Henry Blanco.

After taking a shower – and listening to a few associates inside the clubhouse – Chapman agreed to two minutes of questions with catcher Miguel Montero acting as his translator.

“It happened,” Chapman said when asked about his portrayal in the Chicago media. “Don’t want to go further with it.”

The controversy will begin to fade after Chapman struck out Jose Abreu swinging at a 91-mph slider that almost scraped the dirt, forced Todd Frazier into a routine groundball and struck out pinch-hitter Avisail Garcia looking at a 103-mph fastball.

“It’s just entertaining to watch the gun, beyond everything else,” manager Joe Maddon said. “He’s a different kind of a pitcher. You don’t see that every 100 years or so. He’s just that good. Everybody talks about the fastball. How good is the slider? The slider is devastating.

“He was very calm in the moment. He was able to get through the last couple days to go out there. It was almost good it wasn’t a save situation just to get his feet on the ground.”

Picture the drama and the excitement when Chapman isn’t throwing with a seven-run lead and has to get the final three outs in a playoff game at Wrigley Field.

“I’m not impressed – I thought we were getting a guy that threw 105,” winning pitcher Jason Hammel joked. “I’ve never seen anything like it.

“It’s jaw-dropping. To see that type of velocity and command, it’s almost unfair to have a slider and offspeed pitches after that, too.”

This is what the Cubs envisioned when they decided to weather the media storms and absorb the PR hits, how Maddon could reimagine the entire bullpen and the whole team would sense the game-over feeling when the ball is in Chapman’s left hand.

“That’s a confidence-booster for us and it’s a morale kick for anybody out there,” Hammel said. “For the other side, it’s got to be black clouds: ‘Oh man, we can’t let the bullpen get in there.’”

Cubs felt the inevitable sense of trading a big-time prospect like Gleyber Torres

Cubs felt the inevitable sense of trading a big-time prospect like Gleyber Torres

The New York Yankees directed blanket coverage of the Cubs in the weeks leading up to the Aroldis Chapman deal, looking closely at prospects throughout their farm system. Three names figured to be prominent if the Yankees decided to sell and the Cubs wanted to make a blockbuster trade: Gleyber Torres, Eloy Jimenez and Ian Happ.

The Yankees made Torres their headliner in that four-player return from the Cubs, getting the organization’s top prospect and a supremely talented defensive shortstop out of Venezuela. The Cubs invested $1.7 million in Torres during the summer of 2013, the signing formalized the same day as the Jake Arrieta trade with the Baltimore Orioles.

This has been years in the making for Theo Epstein’s front office, building the first-place team that drew 41,116 to Wrigley Field for Wednesday night’s 8-1 crosstown victory over the White Sox, watching Chapman throw 13 pitches in the ninth inning that hit triple digits on the huge video board, understanding that the Cubs had to sacrifice parts of their future for the now.

“That’s the right word – inevitable – just because of the timing of when we thought we were going to be good,” said Jason McLeod, the senior vice president of scouting and player development. “We all knew as we were doing this that there was going to come that time when you trade the player that you not only feel is an impact-type prospect, but the organization just loves the person.

“Gleyber certainly fits that. That was one of the tougher calls I’ve ever had where we’re trading a guy, just because of how much the kid meant to us personally, and just hearing him, too.

“He was – as you would expect (with) a 19-year-old – shaken up and saddened by it, just because in three short years he had dreamt of nothing but being a Cub and playing here at Wrigley. I just told him: ‘You’ll still be wearing pinstripes. They’ll just be a different (color).’”

The Cubs didn’t want to trade core guys off their major-league roster and have a middle-infield foundation with Addison Russell, Javier Baez and Ben Zobrist. So they gave up a high-floor player from Class-A Myrtle Beach while holding onto Jimenez and Happ and seeking out more possible deals before the Aug. 1 trade deadline.

“All of them would have been hard to swallow,” McLeod said. “But we know that’s part of why we try to stockpile as much talent as we can.”

The Cubs can market Happ as another polished college switch-hitter with first-round pedigree, second baseman/outfielder versatility and an early ETA (already at Double-A Tennessee during his first full season of professional baseball).

Jimenez – who got a $2.8 million bonus out of the Dominican Republic during the same signing class as Torres – enjoyed a breakout performance during the All-Star Futures Game in San Diego and almost has a .900 OPS at Class-A South Bend.

At the age of 19, with a 6-foot-4, 205-pound frame and a smooth right-handed swing, Jimenez reminds the Cubs a little bit of Kris Bryant during his freshman season at the University of San Diego, meaning the sky is the limit.

Tonight on CSN: Cubs-White Sox finale from Wrigley

Tonight on CSN: Cubs-White Sox finale from Wrigley

The Crosstown Classic concludes on Thursday at Wrigley Field as the White Sox square off against the Cubs on CSN Chicago. Coverage begins with Cubs Pregame Live at 6 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on Cubs Postgame Live.

Today’s starting pitching matchup: Chris Sale (14-3, 3.18 ERA) vs. John Lackey (7-7, 3.79 ERA)

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