Game 2 Recap - Cubs Almost Lose to the Pirates Again
I know, I know, it's just the second game of the season and it doesn't matter where you get your wins, but losing to the 'effin Pirates irks me like nothing else. I feel comfortable labeling today's game the first must win of the season. :)
The Good: Z pitched well enough, and if not for a cramp, had a chance to leave with 7 IP and 3 ER. I think we'd accept that everytime. The team managed some extra-base hits, the first of the season by Z himself with Baker, Soriano and DeWitt also hitting doubles. The bullpen retired the last 9 in a row after Wood walked his first hitter (Ronny Cedeno of all people) and as a group struck out 6 over those 3 inningss. And of course the 8th inning...
Fukudome worked a nice walk laying off a close 3-2 pitch off the inside corner. Castro launched one to the ivy in right for a double that scored Fukudome. Byrd was due up next and all I asked for was something to the right side and he obliged on a 1-2 fastball with a grounder to Overbay who muffed it about as bad as anyone could muff a routine grounder. Castro hustled home for the second run after the ball bounced into short right. After a Ramirez flyout, Soto delivered his second hit of the day, but Pena popped out weakly leaving it up to Soriano to try and tie the game or better. After looking slow on a few fastballs, Soriano caught up to one on the outside corner and it dropped in right center easily scoring the tying run and Evan Meek was done for the day. Chris Resop came in and walked Colvin and then Blake DeWitt went with the pitch over the third basemen's head for the game-winning hit. And there was joy in Cubville....
The Bad: The hackers were back out, with the Cubs swinging at 4 of the first 5 pitches of the game and something like 39 pitches through 4. Here's what the first batter did in Maholm's 7 innings thanks to ESPN pitch-by-pitch summary:
- Strike (foul), J Baker lined out to center
- A Ramirez grounded out to third
- A Soriano flied out to center
- Ball, Strike (looking), S Castro singled to center
- Strike (foul), Strike (looking), Ball, Ball, Foul, G Soto singled to left
- Strike (foul), J Baker doubled to deep left center
- Strike (swinging), Ball, Strike (bunted foul), Foul, Ball, Foul, Ball, Ball, C Pena walked
I believe Z had the best early at-bat working Maholm to 7 pitches before his double. On the day they ended up with 2 walks off Maholm (and no runs) and then another two walks off Meek and Resop in the 8th (5 runs). The offense as a whole looked befuddled for the most part.
Z downed too much caffeine and not enough water again and had to leave with a cramp in his arm. It's the new Z everyone!!!
The Armchair Managing: I did think that in a 3-0 game with a runner in scoring position that Q-Ball should have burned Reed Johnson with 2 outs after Clint Hurdle went to the bullpen and Jose Veras. I think you put Fukudome in there because Reed is pretty much Neifi versus right-handers. It worked out in the 8th though when he did use Fukudome to lead-off and pinch-hit for Jeff Baker and he drew a walk on a close 3-2 pitch and ended up scoring. So all is forgiven in a win...
I'm curious about the Tyler Colvin plan. He handled himself well enough today against the lefty, but is this gonna be a strict platoon with Fukudome? Johnson would obviously be the better option for that against lefties, but I understand trying to get Colvin some at-bats while trying to use Fukudome's OBP advantage as the leadoff hitter. But if so, Colvin's numbers are sure to suffer although it'll certainly help him for next year having to battle lefties a lot. I imagine Q-Ball will try to play some sort of matchups, or the hot hand once they played long enough to figure that out. And I imagine Colvin will get the occasional start at first base too. Something to keep an eye on...
Garza vs. Ohlendorf tomorrow...
In all seriousness the Cubs have the fewest amount of games played in the NL which means they're gonna be facing quite the grind later on including 24 games in a row at the end of June and beginning of July so I hope he does get a few days off.
Meh. He only got one hit today. Maybe give him a rest?
Good thing the Cubs have five left-handed batters in the lineup. Velasquez is just tearing thru the righties [edit - doesn't seem to faze Bryant!]
ben zobrist gets to ride up front tonight cause he's a good guy at sports.
cubs with a 5 run lead and a lackey shutout through 3ip \m/
HAGSAG: I have not seen Joe Nathan out on the field, but he is supposedly at the UAPC.
ERIC S: Best outing I've ever seen from Manny Rondon, and I've seen most of his outings since the Cubs got him from the Angels.
M. Rondon is competing with six others (Dylan Cease, Bryan Hudson, Jose Paulino, Pedro Silverio, Jesus Castillo, and Erling Moreno) for a starting slot at Eugene, and (as you can probably tell from the EXST box scores) the competition has gotten fierce over the last couple of weeks, With the exception of Moreno, the Eugene SP candidates have upped their game lately, and M. Rondon's outing yesterday was especially impressive/dominating.
E-MAN: Pierce Johnsion was mixing a 92-94 MPH fastball with a plus-change-up AND curve, and he threw strike-after-strike-after-strike with all three of his pitches. I believe that was the best command and pitch-efficiency I've ever seen from Johnson, who often pitches from behind in the count and issues too many walks.
Of course now he has to avoid a recurrence of the lat strain (whch he has had previously in his career) as well as all of the other miscellaneous physical problems he's had over the last three years (hamstring, quad, back, etc).
PHIL: Any movement on P. Johnsons pitches? What was his "out" pitch? I know he was working on a 4th pitch, so wondering what he is looking like these days. Thanks.
AZ Phil, has Nathan showed up in Mesa yet? Thanks.
Eickhoff looks like a good young pitcher. Lets steal him!
Manny Rondon faced 13 batters ... and got 10 to K. Not a bad day's work.
With several other Cubs hitters bailing out on curves today I think overall it wasn't being seen well. It for sure looked silly but a good breaking pitch coming at you and then breaking down isn't the easiest thing to see and has made many hitters look silly. Also Soler should have more walks this year but for quite a few called strikes that were actual balls and even the called strike he bailed on was borderline.
it's not like we're talking about a guy who's never had issues with pitch selection and seeing the ball over here. we're talking about a guy who has some rather legendary swing-and-misses at breaking stuff who's been exploited low. going forward it's worth paying attention to seeing if he can be exploited inside, too. he seriously bailed out of the box on a called strike. sure it was a good curve, but he obviously didn't see that well at all.
It would seem like he is figuring it out now and it's really coming together. Really happy for him. Joe was really protecting him from the 3rd time through the order, but as you allude to, he is earning trust to go deeper.
Wondering if has potential to become a #3 pitcher? His current stats certainly support it.
That doesn't count b/c CRUNCH didn't see it on his 60" HDTV 5 times in replay.
I have seen many players "bail out" when the ball looked like it was gonna hit them.
Especially with the advent of the splitter and pitchers that can really get the ball to dance. Marmol, Sutter, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Derek Lowe, Smoltz, Arrietta...
These guys have made the best bail out only for the ball to come over the plate and be called a strike.
No shame in that. The same way players whiff hard enough to cause them to drill a hole in the ground from spinning.