It was a day where all you had to do was “get the ball in the air, and it would go” — the problem with that is you actually have to, you know, hit the ball. That’s the one part of the equation the Cubs haven’t figured out yet this season. Anyone that follows this team religiously, like I do, knew that scoring runs would be difficult for this group, but yikes. Today’s hard to look at numbers? Two runs on three hits, that’s it, three hits today for our boys in blue.
With the lack of scoring comes the increased pressure on the pitching to not make a mistake, because one run could be it. Travis Wood pitched just fine today given the howling out wind, but made a few too many mistakes, and took the loss. The Cubs pen was also a little ragged as well, both Wesley Wright, and Brian Schlitter gave up runs to make the final score a little more ugly. Good news friends, it’s early, I think that’s a good thing.
* Photo Credit – Andrew Nelles/AP
– Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL –
Friday, April 4, 2014 – 1:20 PM CST
(TV: MLBN, WGN) (RADIO: WGN 720)
Saturday, April 5, 2014 – 1:20 PM CST
(TV: CSN) (RADIO: WGN 720)
Sunday, April 6, 2014 – 1:20 PM CST
(TV: WGN) (RADIO: WGN 720)
– Series Vitals –
– Pitching Matchups –
Hernandez (Career vs. Cubs) (4 – 0; 1.95 ERA, 7 appearance, 7 starts)
Wood (Career vs. Phillies) (0 – 0; 2.11 ERA, 3 appearances, 3 starts)
Lee (Career vs. Cubs) (6 – 2; 3.19 ERA, 10 appearances, 10 starts)
Samardzija (Career vs. Phillies) (1 – 3; 10.80 ERA, 9 appearances, 3 starts)
Burnett (Career vs. Cubs) (7 – 2; 2.99 ERA, 11 appearances, 11 starts)
Villanueva (Career vs. Phillies) (2 – 0; 1.71 ERA, 14 appearances, 1 start)
Let’s go Cubs!
One job for Jason Hammel today, go deep into the game and save the bullpen after last nights marathon, job well done. Hammel worked 6.2 innings giving up one run on just two hits while walking one, and striking out five to earn his first victory as a member of the Cubs.
The Cubs offense continued to sputter along in this one, but they were able to push across single runs in each of the first three innings. Emilio Bonifacio, the every man, went 2-for-4 with a double , and two runs scored, his average dropped to .688 on the season, yeah. Mike Olt showed why he should be the every day third baseman as he drilled his first Major League home run in the second inning, an opposite field job that just got out. As a whole the Cubs offense is still struggling, but they were 2-for-3 with runners in scoring position today, a step in the right direction. The pitching on the other hand has been nothing short of brilliant, and today was no exception. With Jose Veras unavailable today, Pedro Strop shut the door in the ninth for his first save of the season, a much needed victory.
Mike Olt showed off some of his power earlier today. Cubs lead 3-0, bottom of the 6th in Pittsburgh.
We are getting an early look at what Ricky Renteria might do on a daily basis with the lineup. The good? I like sitting Barney and giving Bonifacio a start at second base against the right-handed pitcher. The bad? I don’t like that Olt is sitting in game two after an off-day, I think he is the every day third baseman so he should be in there. I understand the though process, I just want him to play as much as possible. I also like that Ryan Kalish gets an opportunity tonight, I think a lot of people will be fans of his immediately.
First pitch is at 6:05 PM CST on Comcast SportsNet Plus
The Cubs did some good things today, getting hits with runners in scoring position was not one of them. But about those good things, the Cubs pitching was stellar, and their defense was just as good. Jeff Samardzija loves facing the Pirates, especially in Pittsburgh, one year after going eight scoreless against the Buccos, he went seven scoreless but settled for a no decision. Pedro Strop, Justin Grimm, and James Russell all did their job out of the bullpen, Carlos Villanueva, not so much. Villanueva faced one batter, and that was it, Neil Walker blasted a walk-off home run to move the Cubs to 0-1 on the young season.
The Cubs struggles were front and center at the plate as they went 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position, yikes. They also struck out a lot, eleven times to be exact as they were baffled by Francisco Liriano all day long. I did like the Cubs approach today though, as they worked deep counts and were able to get to the Pirates pen by the 7th inning, it just didn’t work out. Emilio Bonifacio had a big day at the plate in his debut as he went 4-for-5 with a double, the Cubs as a whole only had six hits in the loss.
* Photo credit: GENE PUSKAR/AP
Opening Day is upon us, one of my most favorite days of the year. Jeff Samardzija, who owns the Pirates will take on Francisco Liriano, who owns the Cubs, something’s gotta give, or the bullpens will decide it. Below are the lineups, first pitch is at 12:05 PM CST, and the game is on ESPN (outside of Chicago), and WGN TV.
Monday, March 31, 2014 – 12:05 PM CST
(TV: ESPN, WGN) (RADIO: WGN 720)
Wednesday, April 2, 2014 – 6:05 PM CST
(TV: CSN+) (RADIO: WGN 720)
Thursday, April 3, 2014 – 11:35 AM CST
(TV: MLBN, CSN) (RADIO: WGN 720)
– Series Vitals –
– Pitching Matchups –
Samardzija (Career vs. Pirates) (4 – 3; 2.11 ERA, 18 appearances, 7 starts)
Liriano (Career vs. Cubs) (3 – 2; 2.72 ERA, 6 appearances, 6 starts)
Jackson (Career vs. Pirates) (6 – 2; 3.19 ERA, 10 appearances, 10 starts)
Morton (Career vs. Cubs) (2 – 4; 4.91 ERA, 9 appearances, 9 starts)
Hammel (Career vs. Pirates) (2 – 1; 4.35 ERA, 4 appearances, 3 starts)
Rodriguez (Career vs. Cubs) (9 – 7; 3.60 ERA, 24 appearances, 24 starts)
– Weather –
Today, the Cubs announced that Jeff Samardzija will open the season in Pittsburgh, as he did in 2013. Rick Renteria said it was an easy decision to make, and I would have to agree, Shark is the top guy while he is here with this group. I’m not sure Travis Wood was given any consideration, but wouldn’t be surprised if he was given his stellar 2013. Wood will follow Samardzija, and Edwin Jackson will pitch game three in Pittsburgh, just a short 17 days away.
Jim Callis, formerly of Baseball America, and currently of MLB.com appeared on the David Kaplan Show on Tuesday night (Listen to the whole interview here) and couldn’t say more good things about the Cubs system, specifically their bats. During the interview, Callis said that he can’t remember a minor league system having four high level position players all at once. Callis has been around a long time, and is an expert when it comes to minor league baseball, and Major League baseball prospects, so hearing that should get a lot of people excited.
Many Cubs fans have this notion that Javier Baez is the best all around player in the history of ever, while I like that enthusiasm, he is just as bad defensively as Castro. Fans thinking Baez will supplant Castro at short could be mistaken and Callis touched on that as well. He thinks Baez can be an okay short-stop but a great third baseman. The same thought was shared in regards to Bryant he can be an okay third baseman, or a great right fielder. Bottom line, guys are going switch positions and most likely play wherever allows their bat to get in the lineup.
When asked which Cubs prospect would be the one that Callis trades for pitching he responded with Jorge Soler. Some scouts feel that Soler has not given 100% effort during his time in the minor leagues. I think I can agree, but I can also see why they could be saying tha. Soler is being paid like a major league ballplayer, and wouldn’t be surprised if he’s becoming disinterested with the Minor League lifestyle, competition, etc. I don’t think that Soler is lazy but I understand what Callis is saying, the effort supposedly isn’t there and could translate to different levels so the Cubs could trade him for arms.
Finally, Kaplan asked Callis about when the Cubs will contend, and when will we stop hearing about the Cubs prospects and hear more about winning at the Major League level? Callis agreed that this upcoming season could be pretty ugly, but you never know when you have a young team. The middle to end of 2014 is when we will start seeing some of these prized prospects hit the North Side and by 2016 he feels the Cubs can become legit contenders. He doesn’t rule out 2015 necessarily and he thinks the 2015 team is when the Cubs start becoming an “interesting” ball club, that’s usually a good thing. Spring training can’t get here soon enough.