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...
2nd in defensive WAR, NL.
6th in NL in RBI
Go complain about something else, like, "they never play good against the good teams", or some other shit.
Addy really has trouble breaking through .250 BA -- after his hot streak got him to .251, he has gone 1-for-17.
Thank goodness for Jansen's 2 WP on Friday -- otherwise this would have been a sweep.
There seems to be a direct correlation with overconfidence in the Cubs offense against mediocre/young pitchers and really poor offense against mediocre/young pitchers. So, let's fear the Pirate pitchers!
Rizzo due for a power surge -- one HR in August so far. He truly does hit them in bunches.
Sometimes I'm not as supportive of Cahill as maybe I should be. There, I said it.
Rough 8th inning all around -- HBP, Cahill error, Javy's poor decision.
Oh well - given that the Cubs didn't look like they were going to score, it's better to lose in 9 innings, save the bullpen and get changed for the PJ trip home.
Baez still learning
heyward with his 3rd multi-hit game since the all-star break (all in august)...2nd in the past 3 games during his 7 game hitting streak.
he's gone from flirting with a sub-.300 ob% to nearing .310 ob% in 3 games (1 game was just a 1 for 1 pinch hit appearance). all 5 hits in the past 3 games have come in a row...neat.
stewart with 7Ks through 3ip...of course.
that 10-13 mph difference in his fastball/change is working today...and they're swinging at his crappy slider.
brock stewart...steven brault...fun times for the cubs hitters vs allegedly competitive teams...maybe.
Maddon would have started three lefties against the Dodgers, Montgomery, Zastryzny and Lester, except that he doesn't have the juice to do that. No manager does. Maddon has a boss, Epstein (and probably Hoyer, too), who gave him a starting rotation of five guys including Hammel. Maddon was asked yesterday about the starting group for next year and basically said, Not my call, that's why I drive away in my RV in the summer and occasionally check in, etc.
video of Maddon.
always nice that he actually tries to honestly answer questions. Does mention that he wanted to give Zastr? a chance in a meaningful spot rather than a mop-up role.
#Cubs Maddon: "I'm not going to make up an excuse for why I did what I did. It has nothing to do with lack of confidence" ... "It was the right thing to do today based on what I saw, what their lineup looked like and Rob Z.'s availability." #Cubs
Hammel not particularly understanding of getting pulled out...as he should. Be curious what Maddon had to say. All I can think of is is keeping arms fresh and maybe wanting to see if Zastr? is worth considering for the playoffs and how he'd do against the Dodgers.
Heyward, Russell, Baez, Bryant, Ross in particular...although Bryant's a bit hard to judge with all the positions.
Fowler and Rizzo in the top half of the NL for their positions as well (per fangraphs)...Zobrist right at the halfway cutoff for 2b in the NL.
I'm sure some luck is involved too, but the Cubs and Maddon knew what they were doing.