Two games into his Cubs career, Jason Hammel is 2-0, both wins coming against the NL Central rival Pirates. Hammel was brilliant once again, as he worked seven strong innings, giving up three runs on three hits (all solo HR’s, more on that later), while walking one, and striking out six. Pedro Strop made things interesting in the ninth as he gave up two more solo home runs to make things closer than they needed to be. The Pirates had six hits tonight, five of which left the ballpark, and the Cubs still won, baseball.
More good signs from the Cubs offense in this one as well, the Cubs scored seven times on fourteen hits in the win. (Insert Emilio Bonifacio had two hits sentence). Anthony Rizzo is scorching hot right now, he went 4-for-5 with two doubles, an RBI, and two runs scored, he’s now hitting .375 on the season. Mike Olt, finally getting a start, responded in a big way, he went 2-for-5 with his second home run of the season, three RBI’s, and a run scored. Same goes for Junior Lake, as he went 1-for-4 with his first home run of the season, two RBI’s, and a run scored.
** PHOTO CREDIT: BRIAN KERSEY/GETTY IMAGES
Such a tough evening, on one hand you have to be thrilled with the Cubs coming back two different times in this one, on the other, throw strikes!!! The Cubs offense was up to the task tonight, but the pitching was dreadful, it started with Edwin Jackson, and ended with Pedro Strop, and James Russell.
Edwin Jackson “walked” away with a no decision in this one, and probably deserved worse. Jackson worked 4.2 innings, giving up six runs on nine hits, while walking four (yuck), and striking out four. Pedro Strop, who got the loss, worked a third of an inning, giving up one run, while walking two, and striking out one. The issue in this one was James Russell coming on and failing to do his job against Pedro Alvarez, he walked Alvarez to load the bases and Russel Martin delivered a game winning sac-fly.
Starlin Castro! What a night from Castro, he was 3-for-4 with two home runs, four RBI’s, and two runs scored. It was Castro’s first time hitting two home runs in a major league game, it was awesome to see, Castro is now hitting .310 on the season, look at that. Emilio Bonifacio continues to get hits, almost every time up to the plate, he was 3-for-5 with an RBI, a stolen base, and a run scored. Anthony Rizzo is also going well at the plate right now, he was 2-for-3 with a walk, an RBI, and a run scored in the loss.
I’ll leave you with this… STOP BUNTING! Goodnight.
** PHOTO CREDIT: ANDREW NELLES/AP
** Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL **
Tuesday, April 8, 2014 – 7:05 PM CST
(TV: CSN) (RADIO: WGN 720)
Wednesday, April 9, 2014 – 7:05 PM CST
(TV: WGN) (RADIO: WGN 720)
Thursday, April 10, 2014 – 1:20 PM CST
(TV: WGN, MLBN) (RADIO: WGN 720)
** SERIES VITALS **
** PITCHING MATCHUPS **
Morton (Career vs. Cubs) (2 – 4; 4.36 ERA, 10 appearance, 10 starts)
Jackson (Career vs. Pirates) (3 – 3; 5.36 ERA, 8 appearances, 8 starts)
Rodriguez (Career vs. Cubs) (9 – 8; 3.63 ERA, 25 appearances, 25 starts)
Hammel (Career vs. Pirates) (3 – 1; 3.62 ERA, 5 appearances, 4 starts)
Cole (Career vs. Cubs) (2 – 0; 2.08 ERA, 2 appearances, 2 starts)
Wood (Career vs. Pirates) (4 – 5; 3.35 ERA, 10 appearances, 9 starts)
Scoring runs in the Major Leagues is hard, it’s really hard for this Cubs group. So far the 2014 season has featured outstanding pitching and horrendous clutch hitting, today was no exception. Jeff Samardzija was solid for the second straight time this year, and for the second straight time he walked away without a win. Shark worked seven strong innings, giving up two runs on six hits, while walking three and striking out eight as he took the loss.
I can’t really say that the Cubs were totally inept with the bats because they were able to get a number off hits against Cliff Lee. Ten hits to be exact, but that’s ten hits with no runs, mind numbing right now. One bright spot today was Starlin Castro who has been having better at bats as of late, he went 3-for-4 in the loss. The Cubs were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position today, and are 4-for-40 on the season, I’m sorry that I had to spell out the disaster that is the Cubs offense, it will get better, it has to.
MLB.com has no Cubs highlights, seems about right.
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