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...
When we played the Reds with Chapman, I always thought of it as an eight-inning game. So now other teams have eight innings to try to get a lead against the Cubs. Should be a challenge, assuming three or four Cubs ever start hitting again.
I don't really try to get to know and like these players personally. I'm rooting for laundry, for the most part. Exceptions might be when a player makes trouble in the clubhouse or in the dugout. (Zambrano and Bradley come to mind. Also Papelbon.) But I don't think Chapman is one of those jerks.
Unfortunately, a pretty good summary. It looks like next year Heyward will be getting yet another batting stance adjustment.
The recent good news has been Baez. I'm afraid about the next league adjustment on him, though, which is probably right around the corner.
Bryant I don't worry about too much. Just not seeing the ball well right now. He'll turn it around. Russell's been good with men in scoring position all year and he's 22ish. He'll be fine but next year is likely to be his breakout year.
If Travis' back-to-back-to-back walks cost Hendricks the ERA title, that would really suck.
Edit: "A lifeless loss to a lousy Sox team."
This place is a real downer after a loss to the Sox.
I expect they will go 5-9 games above .500 the rest of the year. 96-98 wins will win the Division.
They should have one more 2-3 week hot streak in them.
However, several players are just "average" for the last month: Zobrist, Ross, Russell, Ceasar. Montero is terrible, plus he cannot throw anyone out. -WAR. Heyward is abysmal at the plate, but a plus in the OF. Still with RISP he has been terrible. KB has not been driving in runs as of late. But Apparently the team is still above average with RISP according to S Sahadev.
I came to that realization tonight. I kept expecting them to play better, but now I realize they aren't going to. They are a .500 team now.
- They have one reliable starting pitcher. Jake's magic is gone, and it doesn't look like it's coming back. Lester has been lousy recently. Lackey's ERA goes up every time he pitches.
- Heyward has been dead weight all year. I can't remember a single series where he was a significant offensive contributor. Not one. Great defense, but but if he were hitting .270 with 10 HR and played average defense, the Cubs would be better off.
new rule...no one's allowed to throw k.bryant a changeup
Team is .500 since early May and is playing like a .500 team. Lack of offense seems to be putting a lot of pressure on the pitchers...and they aren't handling it terribly well.
.500 the rest of the way still may win the division though.
...i hate espn.
nothing like settling into a cubs game to get a few minutes cutaway for an ortiz AB in the 6th inning of the det/bos game.
oh, at least they're doing split screen now...i guess.
I'm liking this rookie Nathan.
Richard DFA'd. Meh...
Throwbacks with fashionable cutouts would be a nice touch.
The next 2 games are nationally televised. I think we dominate tonight, hitting 3 HRs off Shields. Great night for KB to end HR drought facing HR prone pitcher in one of the most hitter friendly parks in the league.
If the ball didn't deflect off the pitcher's mound, the game wouldn't have ended. Montgomery did miss his location though, but if that same contact was made and went in any of direction, good chance of ground out if it doesn't get through.
If it was 1 night later, Chapman would be out there and we probably would be going to extras.
Also, If KB wasn't robbed of a HR, perhaps we would have won. We will never know. Nice play by Melky though.
The comparison isn't Chapman replacing Rondon. It's Chapman replacing Richard (hopefully) in the pen. Chapman's better.