The Iowa Cubs will play their 2009 home opener tonight after completing a 5-3 road trip with an 8-7 win yesterday in Albuquerque.
Early on the story is the booming bat of Jake Fox, who's filling the shoes of Micah Hoffpauir and then some. So far he's hitting a robust .516 with a video game OPS of 1.676. Extrapolations of Fox's torrid start over a season's course, always fun in April, lead to some numbers of federally stimulating proportions. Were he to maintain his soul-sold-to-the-devil paces and NOT be recalled, Fox would rack up, for instance, 70 homers, 280 R'sBI and, gulp, 595 total bases.
I can't wait to get to the ballpark tonight and see how his road show plays in Des Moines.
Jake isn't the only Fox off to a fast start. Chad has racked up four straight scoreless outings out of the bullpen and recorded a save in yesterday's win.
Jose Ascanio is transitioning nicely from relief work to the rotation with two scoreless starts, each lasting four innings, as he stretches out to higher pitch counts. Ascanio has issued just one walk against eight strikeouts.
Jeff Samardzija had a lackluster two-inning stint out of the pen in the season opener but followed that with four shutout frames in his first start of the year later on the trip. He'll start again over the weekend and I plan to be there for a good look. He says he's throwing three sorts of fastballs now, along with his slider and a changeup that's the big work in progress. Samardzija reports throwing it several times in his last outing for strikes and says it's coming along. He threw 62 pitches last time out and will be rationed to about 75 on Saturday night en route to a routine workload in excess of 100.
Mitch Atkins has struggled in his two starts thus far, allowing 15 hits and 14 runs in just nine innings.
At the plate, CF Sam Fuld has played the best supporting role behind leading man Fox out of the leadoff spot.
April 17th sounds just about right for a midwest opening night and, sure enough, it looks like the I-Cubs have caught a break from the weatherman for a change. Afternoon highs in the low 70's are expected to give way to a comfortable evening. Unlike Ascanio and Samardzija, I think I have a good shot at going the distance my first time out...MW