Can we schedule a rain delay more often?
After a long rain delay, the Cubs offense caught on fire. Finally. And even got a few (lots) of hits with men in scoring position. 7-for-13 with RISP? Can I get a Hallelujah?
Enough runs to survive another rocky bullpen outing. Production from the entire lineup. Garza survived the rain to pitch very well. Castro returned from his mini-vacation. Pena remembered that not all at-bats must end in a HR, K or BB. It’s fine to hit a single or double every once in a while. Especially with men on base. Quade didn’t try to get just one more inning out of a starter, and allowed the relief pitcher to start a fresh inning.
Hallelujah. A Good Day At Wrigley.
Oh, and I promised not to talk about the future plans of He Who Shall Not Be Named until the season is over. You’re welcome.
If the Cubs bats don’t look hot again today, I’ll be the guy standing on the roof at Wrigley, dumping buckets of water on the home plate umpire.
The sun’ll come out tomorrow. Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow there’ll be sun!
But can we have rain again today?
The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming!
Hmm, I mean, the Redlegs and Redbirds are coming!
The Cubs bid adieu to the West Coast, and settle in for a hectic month. Lots of home games. Lots of division games. The defending World Series Champions. A trip to Fenway.
And to start it all off… a Reds/Cardinals/Giants homestand. Very, very tough.
In April, it was easy to say that it’s early, there’s plenty of time left in the season. And there is. But this is a month to take advantage of. Win series at home. Get back above .500. Make sure that the division rivals lose a few games.
The rotation is starting to hit its stride. The bats are heating up.
Garza starts us off after setting a Cubs record for most strikeouts in an April (51!).
It’s time to recap April, locate those kernels of hope, drink the blue kool-aid and look forward to May! Woooooooo! May!
After a rough start, the Cardinals promenaded their way back to the top of the division, with the rest of the teams mired in the mud within a few games of the .500 Reds. The Cubs? Right about where most people expected them to be. I was hoping for better, but there are plenty of reasons why a 12-14 record in April is exciting…
- The Starting Pitching has not been good. Not good at all.
What was hoped to be a strength struggled through the monsoons of April, the injuries to Cash and Wells, and the disappearance of Dempster. The Cubs rank dead last in the NL in quality starts (it’s not even close), team ERA, and walks issued. Garza and Big Z have 7 of the 8 quality starts. The Cubs still managed to win 12 games.
- The Bullpen was a little bit Dr. Jeckyll and a little bit Mr. Hyde.
Marmol, Marshall and Wood have been very, very good. Samardzija has been shockingly useful. It’s almost as if he realized this is the last year the Cubs are going to be paying him. The rest have been up and down and up and down. Although, with even a little bit of starting pitching, the Cubs won’t depend on them nearly as much. Despite the ups and downs, and the fan-favorite All-Bullpen Days, the Cubs still won 12 games.
- The Offense has mainly consisted of Castro, Barney and Soriano.
Zambrano is tied for THIRD on the team in homeruns with 1. Soriano has almost as many homeruns as the REST OF THE TEAM COMBINED (10 of 21 total). Barney has more RBI than Ramirez (14 – 11). Pena is SOMEHOW hitting worse than last year. Unsurprisingly, the Cubs are 12th in the NL in runs scored. The Cubs still won 12 games.
- The Cubs do not lead the league in Antidefense, but they’re close.
Not every Cub feat of antidefense shows up in the errors column. Thankfully. There have been enough botched run-downs, missed bunt assignments, dropped fly-balls (it’s not just a south-side disease), Dunston like throws to first base, throws to the wrong base, and pigeon attacks in the outfield – to lose a few close ones. The Cubs still won 12 games.
- Quade is learning on the job.
Early in the year, I admonished Cub fans to trust in the Quade. I’ll stick to that. He IS getting better. The Quade is sticking with a struggling and/or tiring starter less often (trying to squeeze that ONE more inning out of a pitcher is almost always a big bucket of Fail when facing major league hitters). Heck, he even got thrown out of a game for the first time. And then promptly admitted being wrong for arguing (after seeing the replay). Despite some puzzling batting orders (always overplayed in the media), and lack of Tweeting from the clubhouse… the Cubs still won 12 games.
The Cubs have hit just well enough to hand off some leads to the three headed monster in the back of the bullpen. And that is enough to go 12-14. Despite a lot of room for improvement.
So I’m proudly drinking the Blue Kool-Aid out of a glass that looks half full. 3.5 games back after significantly under-performing for the month? Sign me up.
Now, bring on May. Cardinals and Reds at Wrigley? First road-trip to Fenway?
This is the Month!
Thank goodness for the Blackhawks.
Well then. In the spirit of optimism, I will balance the bad with the good from last night’s Comedy of Errors.
Bad: Castro makes an error in the top of the second inning.
Good: Darwin Ryno Barney homers in the bottom of the first to give the Cubs a lead.
Bad: Castro makes a second error in the top of the second inning, leading to the first Rockie run.
Good: Garza pitching 6 innings: 1 ER, 3 H, 0 HR, 1 BB, 7 K
Bad: Castro makes his third error in the top of the second inning, allowing two more runs to score.
Good: With men on base in the first inning, Carlos Pena did not strike out… he walked… (I’ll do optimism, but I can’t promise to leave out the sarcasm)
Bad: With the bases loaded in the third and two out, Garza grounds out. Not your fault Garzy, we don’t pay you to hit. But it still sucks.
Good: Jeff Baker went 3-4 as the unlikely cleanup hitter.
Bad: Castro went 0-5 in the three hole. He’ll be fine, but it’s hard to argue with the notion that he hits better in the leadoff spot.
Good: Fukudome went 5-5 in the leadoff spot. Damn it, only one of you can lead off, someone has to hit third behind Sandberg.
Bad: Garza makes a throwing error in the fifth, leading to the Rockies fourth consecutive unearned run.
Good: Garza picks off Tulowitzki to end the fifth inning.
Bad: Pena strikes out with two men on base to end the fourth inning.
Good: The much maligned Samardzija (frequently by me) pitched two scoreless innings. And didn’t walk anyone.
Bad: With two men on and two out in the sixth inning, Baker strikes out.
Good: Reed Johnson channels his inner Craig Biggio with the patented ‘pretend to turn away from the inside fastball but don’t actually back away – causing the arm to move directly into the path of the pitch’ move, drawing a HBP. It needs a catchier name, but I like the results.
Bad: Cubs score only three runs, despite plenty of chances.
Good: Cubs pitchers only gave up one earned run.
Bonus Bad: Cubs defense gave up four unearned runs.
Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale.
Well, it’s April. And the field was wet (apparently only when we were on defense). I’m not worried about it. The boys will bounce back today.
Oh look! The Blackhawks play again tonight… Thank goodness.
A Day-Night doubleheader in the Frozen Confines today! Hopefully they can get both games in.
Garza, from SoCal by way of Tampa (and Minnesota to be fair) will start the first game, before the temperatures dip even further… and the Quade bullpen special will start the second game. Russell, a Texas native, who had an extremely odd outing in his first major league start, will get his chance at redemption – in the freezing night game. Tough luck kid. We’re rooting for you (even if you don’t see too many brave Inuit in the stands).
Holy crap, Q. Where’s the Canadian Dempster?
Should be a long, cold, EXCITING day!
Let’s make this the last day of the season we aren’t above .500. Wooooooooo!
The Cubs road trip ended in Denver last night on a sour note. Until the 8th, the boys had a chance to sneak out of Colorado with a series win. Alas, the Rockies powerful offense took advantage of the bullpen and the road trip ended with 4 wins and 5 losses. There’s no denying the Rockies are the best team in the league right now… and Ubaldo is back.
It’s hard to be excited about our record… but WE’RE PLAYING .500 BALL! A couple of games could have been stolen, but that’s always going to happen. We haven’t gotten much from our starters, the bullpen has been a little up and down, and haven’t started hitting the long ball yet. But I’m confident we’re moving in the right direction.
All things considered, a 7-8 record is not too shabby at this point. The difference between a playoff team and a .500 team is usually not as much as people realize. Even the best teams go .500 for stretches, and make up ground on a few homestands and road trips. A 5-1 here, a 6-3 here, and pretty soon, you’re in the running.
Now, I’m not drinking the blue Kool-aid (at least not too much), but the record isn’t too bad considering how much room there is for improvement. Pitching, Offense, Defense, Baserunning. Plenty to work on, and as I expected – despite the Reds having the most talent – this division is shaping up to be a no-holds-barred 12 round steel cage death match.
Welcome back to Wrigley, Cubbies.
And a big Chicago welcome to the Padres of gorgeous, sunny San Diego.
The forecast for tonight’s game is 37-40°, Wind NE at 16 mph, and a 30% chance of SNOW. Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in SoCal any more.
It’s time to embrace the great city of Chicago’s secret weapon: our Qoaches.
It all started with that crafty Quenneville intimidating opponents with the stache while Toews, Hossa, Keith, Sharp and the boys muscled their way through the league to return home with Lord Stanley’s Cup.
And, while you got some much needed rest last night, Qhibodeau was plotting this year’s Running of the Bulls. Captain Rose, Noah, Boozer, Deng and a grizzly band of pirates are preparing to sink the fleets of King James and Admiral Hollywood, before the entire league sinks into the Maelstrom of Labour Disputes. Population Two.
Which brings us to the Quade. It’s been wacky so far, and I have no doubt it will continue. The most impressive two fifths of the rotation so far this year on the DL after just one turn through the rotation? Check. A second-base platoon with TWO hot-hitting right handed batters? Check and Check. Russell scheduled to get the start as the 5th man WITHOUT getting stretched out? Quade planning on 45 pitches from him and then rolling with the bullpen? Probably followed by newly promoted Stevens for a couple of innings? Yes!
He’s going to take a ton of heat for it, especially if it fails, but I love it. The fifth starter will probably be used three times this month. Russell doesn’t really have time to be properly stretched out, but he’s pitched well. The AAA season has just started, and there’s no sense screwing up the development plan for the Iowa starters this early – especially since Russell was the next best choice in Spring Training along with Coleman. If we need a longer term solution (cross your fingers for NO), the Iowa starters, Coleman and Russell will all have had a few starts, and the Q can make a decision. A three inning start is perfect to stretch him out, and move him into a starter’s routine. His next start, he should be ready to throw 80+ pitches. Heck, it beats a SIMULATED GAME. Bah-dum-bum. Tip your waitresses Cubs fans, I’ll be here all season.
Trust in the Q.
Also, if the Bears want to jump on the bandwagon, I would recommend:
No need for the White Sox to change anything. Ozzie is already crazy enough to be an honorary Q.