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...
I don't think his issue(s) will have anything to do with it. He hasn't hit since he's been back. Coghlan has the hot hand.
I'm not a denier but definitely a skeptic on Strop and Grimm, who struggle with fastball control. Strop doesn't go near the ninth inning, and note how Grimm couldn't close the deal even with a 5-run lead. So Felix Pena comes in and gets the 3-pitch game-ending strikeout like it was nothing.
And how about Almora missing that very catchable ball? That was unexpected after all the hype about his glove.
When Trea Turner misses balls like that--which he does--I draw conclusions from it. It seems to be the one chink in his armor. But I'll give Almora another chance.
Assuming Soler is good to go, I think it comes down to 3 of the following 4: Coghlan, TLS, Sczcur, Almora. Of the 4, TLS seems to be the hardest to justify, particularly given his behavioral issues.
I'm wondering if both Coghlan and LaStella make it. With Javy being able to play all the infield spots and Joe maybe wanting late-inning D when Soler plays (assuming he plays), hence either Szczur or Almora, I think LaStella might be the odd guy out.
Hendricks needs the win, anyway, plus a couple more.
My hunch is that Hendricks wins the Cy Young . . . for Lester. That is, without Hendricks tipping the scale toward the Cubs, Scherzer tops Lester.
Old Cub fans remember when Ken Hubbs died at 22 in the crash of a small plane he was piloting in a storm in Utah in 1964. But Hubbs was not an elite power pitcher like Score and Fernandez. Score lived a long time after the accident but it was (effectively) career-ending.
HAGSAG: Since I've only seen them throw in one game and in one "live" BP session, all I can do is provide initial first impressions.
Brailyn Marquez is listed at 6'4 but is probably more like 6'5 or 6'6. I would describe him as a younger version of Bryan Hudson, throwing a ton of ground balls but not getting a lot of swings & misses (yet). Because of his size he could eventually grow into more velocity, but right now he's mostly a pitch-to-contact guy. He generally throws strikes.
Phil, do Marquez and Ocampo look like prospects?
It helps when your defense has declared war against the H in WHIP.
Lackey finishes with a 3.35 ERA. Currently good for 13th in the NL. Not bad for a guy signed to be a #3 starter in a 15-team league.
He is also 6th in WHIP. Pretty amazing: Cubs have the #2, #3, #5 and #6 starters in WHIP.
Completely meaningless game, but Pena striking out Sean the Turd to with the bases loaded was very fun.
Other than one bad game in SD, Pena has been very good. Even with that game, 9.0 IP, 13 K, 0.89 WHIP.
101 wins...most since 1910 (104).
neat. ...or sad. pick one. pick both. 'murica.
Just looked up Grimm's stats -- after a great run, he gave up 2 runs vs. MIL then didn't pitch for 10 days. Don't remember why?
Sean Rodriguez's helmet looks like it's taking a dump
Grimm not doing himself any favors lately re: making the playoff squad. Seems to have lost the feel for his curveball.
j.grimm is literally worse than hitler.
felix pena, your turn.