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!
Welcome to “Riding the Bus” — How about that graphic, eh?? We’re excited, as usual, to bring you recaps of every Cubs minor league game, every night. Thanks for stopping by, hope you enjoy it.
At The Plate:
The Cougars brought their bats with them in the opener as they pounded Quad Cities pitching to the tune of eight runs on eleven hits. Jake Hannemann did a nice job out of the lead-off spot tonight, going 2-for-5 with two runs scored. DH for the evening, Ben Carhart was all over the base paths, Carhart was 1-for-2 with three walks (CUBS WAY!), an RBI, and three runs scored. Dr. Doubles, I mean, Yasiel Balaguert was locked in tonight, he went 4-for-4 with three doubles, and two RBI’s. The ninth spot in the order also got a spark tonight, Carlos Penalver went 3-for-3 with a walk, two stolen bases, and a run scored.
On The Mound:
All in all, a pretty solid effort from the Kane County staff tonight. 2012 first round draft pick Paul Blackburn made his single A debut tonight, and it was hit and miss. Blackburn worked four innings, giving up four runs on nine hits (not so good), while walking none (good), and striking out three. The pen was tremendous, Nathan Dorris, James Pugliese, and Jose Arias all had scoreless appearances. Dorris got the win, as he worked two innings giving up one hit, while walking one and striking out three.
At The Plate:
The Daytona Cubs mirrored the Major League club in this one as they dropped a tough 1-0 game to the Manatees. The D-Cubs could only manage five hits while getting shut out by a quartet of Brevard County pitchers. Dan Vogelbach was one of the few Cubs to register a hit, he was 1-for-3 in the loss. Jeimer Candelario, and Marco Hernandez also finished the night going 1-for-3 with a single. Gioskar Amaya was seeing the ball the best as he went 2-for-2 with a stolen base, and a walk.
On The Mound:
Nothing but good things from the Daytona staff in this one, unfortunately it wasn’t good enough. Felix Pena got the opening day start and was great, he worked six innings giving up one run on three hits, while walking one and striking out three. Zach Cates, and Arodys Vizcaino each worked a scoreless inning out of the bullpen.
At The Plate:
Grumble, grumble, grumble. A tough opening day loss for the Smokies as they built a 5-0 lead early, then lost it late. Zeke DeVoss, a personal favorite, went 2-for-5 out of the lead-off spot with a triple, and an RBI. Kris Bryant! Bryant, making his AA debut tonight went 1-for-3 with his first home run of the season, a walk, an RBI, a stolen base, and two runs scored. Fun fact here, Bryant went deep off Reds starter Mat Latos who was making a rehab start, then Bryant swung at a 3-0 pitch later in the game, then Latos hit him, sucks getting torched in AA doesn’t it, Mat? Jorge Soler was 1-for-1 with a double in this one, he left early, and I think that was the plan ahead of time as he is coming back from a couple of injuries.
On The Mound:
Tough go of it for the Smokies pitching in this one as they seemed to lose their command as a group. Dae-Eun Rhee got the start and was solid early, then the plate started jumping around on him. Rhee worked four innings giving up three runs, two earned, on two hits while walking four, and striking out four. Ryan Searle took over and was actually pretty good, he worked three innings giving up one run on one hit, while walking three, and striking out five. Tony Zych took the loss in this one as he worked one inning, giving up two runs on five hits, he didn’t walk or strikeout anyone.
At The Plate:
Not a lot went right tonight for the Iowa Cubs as they had trouble scoring, and keeping Memphis from scoring. Javier Baez made his triple A debut tonight, going 0-for-3 with a walk, and an error. A rededicated Josh Vitters has a solid night, he went 2-for-4 with his first home run of the season, an RBI, and a run scored. Christian Villanueva, the new Iowa third baseman went 2-for-4 with a double, and a run scored in the loss.
On The Mound:
Not so good. Chris Rusin, who just lost out to Carlos Villanueva for the number five start spot in Chicago, struggled. Rusin worked 3.2 innings, giving up five runs on six hits, while walking four, and striking out two. Yoanner Negrin was lights out tonight, he worked 3.1 scoreless innings, giving up one hit, walking none, and striking out four, stellar. Casey Coleman, yes, he’s still here, wasn’t sharp, he worked one inning, giving up five runs, four earned, on four hits while walking two, and striking out one. Mop up duty belonged to Marcus Hatley, and he did a fine job, working one scoreless innings while striking out two.
Thanks for reading!
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.
It’s opening day again! Here is the schedule for today…
6:35 PM CST
Memphis Redbirds (0-0) @ Iowa Cubs (0-0)
6:30 PM CST
Tennessee Smokies (0-0) @ Pensacola Blue Wahoos (0-0)
5:35 PM CST
Daytona Cubs (0-0) @ Brevard County Manatees (0-0)
7:00 PM CST
Kane County Cougars (0-0) @ Quad Cities Bandits (0-0)
Check back tonight for recaps!
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
With no Cubs game today, it makes sense to shine a light on the Minor Leagues. We cover every level of Cubs baseball here on the blog, and recently it has been a lot more fun than writing about the Major League club as the future offers a bit more promise, I think you agree.
The Daytona Cubs open the season this week, Thursday to be exact, here is their opening day roster. This roster might be tweaked before then, but here is how it stands at the moment.
- RHP – Zach Cates
- RHP – Michael Jensen
- LHP – Austin Kirk
- LHP – Andrew McKirahan
- RHP – Felix Pena
- RHP – Starling Peralta
- RHP – Austin Reed
- RHP – Jose Rosario
- RHP – Tayler Scott
- RHP – Arodys Vizcaino
- RHP – Yao-Lin Wang
- LHP – Rob Zastryzny
PLAYERS TO WATCH
There are a number of intriguing arms that will start their season at Daytona this year, Arodys Vizcaino has to be at the top of that list. Some might be surprised by seeing his name here, but he is coming back from a long recovery from two different elbow procedures. Slow and steady wins the race here as the Cubs are very high on Vizcaino, there is no reason to start him any higher.
I’m very excited to Rob Zastryzny starting at Daytona this year, the left-handed starter was the Cubs second round pick last year. That’s right, this is his first full professional season, and he is starting at high A, that’s something to be excited about.
I enjoyed watching Tayler Scott at Kane County last year, and think that he could start making a name for himself this year. Scott was a 5th round draft pick of the Cubs in 2011, and has jumped a level each professional season.
- Gioskar Amaya (R-2B)
- Jeimer Candelario (S-3B)
- Marco Hernandez (S-SS)
- Tim Saunders (R-2B)
- Rock Shoulders (L-DH/1B)
- Dan Vogelbach (L-1B/DH)
PLAYERS TO WATCH
This is a very exciting roster, and is basically the same group of guys that made Boise so entertaining two years ago, minus a few players here and there.
For an organization with little catching depth, the Cubs boast three solid ones at Daytona. My favorite backstop has to be Chadd Krist, Krist was drafted in the 9th round of the 2012 draft by the Cubs. In two professional years, Krist has played at four different levels, and I expect him to play at two more this year. He finished 2013 at Daytona, and if he displays the same approach this year as he did last year, then Tennessee will be calling.
Where to start in the infield? Amaya and Candelario are going to be a lot of fun to watch as they continue their ascension in the Cubs system. Both guys were signed by the Cubs as non-drafted free agents, and both are considered to be top-20 prospects in the Cubs system by MLB.com.
All eyes will be on Dan Vogelbach, and Albert Almora this season, and I don’t think either guy will finish this year at Daytona. Almora was sidelined for parts of he first two professional seasons, but his production while on the field has been outstanding. He played all of 2013 at Kane County and finished with a .329 average, and an .842 OPS, he’s heading to Tennessee shortly. Vogelbach was originally though of as an overweight, monster power designated hitter when he was drafted. The only thing he has done since then is work hard in order to make his own opportunities. Since he was drafted, Vogy has lost all sorts of weight which has allowed him to improve his defense, but he hasn’t lost any of the power. 2013 was a big one for Vogelbach, he played at Kane County and Daytona, registering 19 home runs, and 76 RBI’s, he will be in Tennessee at some point this season.
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