Major League Cubs Lineup Takes Opener
The Cubs put up a four spot in the first and make it stand for the 6-3 series opening win over the Houston Astros.
Why the Cubs Won: Most of the regulars were back in the lineup sans Derrek Lee who took another day off as the bulging disc issue flared up again.They worked Mike Hampton over in the first inning to the tune of 35 pitches. On pitch 25, with the bases loaded, Reed Johnson lined the ball deep to the gap in left field that a diving Michael Bourn just missed and the ball rolled all the way to the wall. It had the makings of a possible inside-the-parker, but Johnson settled with the stand-up triple and the Cubs took the quick 3-0 lead. A passed ball by Gold Glover Ivan Rodriguez during Micah Hoffpauir's 10-pitch at-bat scored Johnson and the Cubs never looked back. Another passed ball scored Johnson again in the 6th and an Aramis home run in the 7th accounted for the other runs.
Rich Harden bounced back nicely from his last outing to lower his ERA to 4.83, which would have been even better if he hadn't come out for the 8th inning where he gave up a single, a 2-run homer to Lance Berkman and another single before finally being removed. The strikeouts weren't there - just four on the night - but he seemed to get stronger as the night went on retiring 10 in a row at one point including a few fastballs in the 94-95 range before the gas ran out in the 8th.
Carlos Marmol looks like he may be finding his groove again, needing just 10 pitches (8 for strikes) to clean up Harden's mess and Kevin Gregg just needed 12 (9 for strikes) to get the three-up, three-down save.
Armchair Managing: Rich Harden and his fragile arm were up to 92 pitches through seven innings. Not something I would normally worry about, but with a five run lead, having an at-bat in the top of the 8th and it being Rich Harden, thought Lou might might want to be quick with the hook.
Death Pool: You still have to think Bobby Scales will get sent down by Friday to make room for the starter that night, but with Bradley's suspension about to start and Lee hurting, maybe they'll DL Lee to keep a position player around a little longer.