Sometimes, during the course of a 162 game season, you’re going to have days where you feel you should have won but didn’t. Frustrating and Maddening days. When they happen, all you can do is try and remember days like yesterday – when you get a win you probably didn’t earn.
I had to triple check this morning that the Cubs split the double-header yesterday – because I wasn’t entirely sure after listening to the games yesterday. Garza pitched well until his last inning – when he decided to make things interesting. Both teams attempted to give the game to the other team. However, between Garza and the bullpen, the Cubs walked 9 batters from the 6th inning on. Holy Cow. The Padres couldn’t have been very happy, they were given many, many opportunities to take the lead and bring in the highly skilled Heath Bell. The Pads got enough hitting to win game two – which was a pretty good game, considering the Quade Bullpen Special was starting just an hour after an extra-innings affair.
The Padres have OUTSTANDING pitching and RIDICULOUS speed, more than enough to keep them in each and every game. I’m pretty confident that they’ll get enough hitting from this lineup to contend. They can’t all continue to slump for the entire year. Of course that’s what I thought last year about the Cubs, but I digress. I’ve seen way too much of Ludwick in the division – I KNOW he’ll turn it around. And he started in game 2.
The Cubs were extremely fortunate to come away with a series victory – thanks to Reed Johnson coming out of nowhere to hit a walk off homerun in the 11th. A timely contribution from an unlikely source. Good times. Reeeeeeeeeeed!
Some other good notes – Garza pitched 5 excellent innings. Soto cut down 4 of 5 runners in the second game (after waving them through the turnstiles in the first game), and pitchers in the bullpen not named Samardzija pitched relatively well – throwing strikes.
Don’t look now, but there is a four car pileup in the Central. With two more cars looking to join the mayhem. A four way tie for first… at 9-9. With two more teams within two games. Yikes. We’ve played some up and down baseball, but we’re right in this thing. And most importantly – a series win is a series win.
Bring on the Dodgers!
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 beat the Padres 1-0 in the 2011 Winter Classic at Wrigley Field last night. In the shootout, Marmol stopped four shooters and Colvin beat Qualls with a wicked top-shelf glove-side wrist shot.
Wait, that was baseball? With temperatures in the 20s? Yikes.
Polar Bear Zambrano, he of the short sleeves, has officially earned his reprieve from my regular Zambrano Watch with the best starting performance for the Cubs this year. 8 innings, 3 hits, 1 walk, 10 strikeouts. No decision, but that’s because…
Wrigley is a hitters ballpark, except, you know, when it’s not. Like last night. When the wind blows straight in at 10-15 mph, and it’s too cold to hold the bat, it’s a pitchers ballpark. The Padres should feel right at home… except for that snow of course.
Colvin’s pinch-hit walk-off double in the tenth may be FAR more important than a single win in April might suggest. Colvin has the raw talent to be an important piece of the Cubs for a long time, but now that the NL pitchers have adjusted to him – he has to adapt. When a rook starts knocking the ball around, teams start to look for a weakness. And when they find it, the entire league exploits it mercilessly, until the hitter adapts. If he adapts. The difference between a ‘AAAA’ hitter and a big league hitter is whether they can adjust. Last night may just give him the confidence that he needs to muscle his way back into the lineup. I’m pretty confident he will. Colvin will be solid. Which brings us to…
The Castro. Castro could be that extremely rare, truly elite hitter. Castro is frightening in that he has so far befuddled the attempts of the opposition to find a weakness. He uses the whole field and while he wants to hit more home runs, he takes what the pitcher gives him – and doesn’t swing for the fences on each pitch. The Castro is exciting to watch.
Congrats again to Zambrano, who appears to have thus far forced the Bad Z into remission. I’m a big fan Z. Keep it up, but…
I’m watching you. We need you, big Z.
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.