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.
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.
The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Chicago nine that day:
The peerless Rockies had not yet lost – in regulation play.
The score was very close, two one in favor of the Blue,
But in the fifth the Purple would see what they could do.
Hill’s pickoff left the infield, a man to third – Rox taking aim,
An uneasy feeling fell upon the Cub fans at the game.
With just one pitch, a tiring Casey hit Giambi near the hat
And from the nearby circle, Mighty Tulo strode to bat.
One fastball was thrown outside, followed quickly by two more,
A wiser man might walk this beast, not to risk a score of four.
A hitters count, and this fastball was headed o’er the plate,
Out of his hands, Cub fans cringed at their impending fate.
Ball hit bat, but traveled much less far than was expected,
To Pena’s glove outside the lines, the runners still were stranded
The game went on, but this game turned with Tulo at the bat
There is no joy today in Denver, young Casey saw to that.
And we’re back to 500. Hopefully the start of a nice move in the right direction.
On any given day… even the unlikely can happen.
The best thing I can say about last night is Chacin helped out my fantasy team…
Well, that’s not true. Other than one inning, where he fell behind the hitters, Garza pitched well. Aramis is starting to heat up, which may be the single most important factor for the Cubs season. And the bullpen was outstanding. For those worried about the Cubs signing of a couple of journeyman starters to minor league contracts this week… this is why. Russell and Samardzjia are pitching well in relief, and are probably best there.
Castro’s error allowed another run to score on a bases clearing triple, but by then the damage was already done. If you don’t take a second to square up the body before the throw you end up pulling a Dunston. But I don’t want to rag on Castro’s defense, which is MUCH improved so far this year. That’s just another thing to work on. No big deal. Any offense by a player not named Ramirez, and one mulligan pitch for Garza… and this would have been a game. C’est la vie.
Sometimes, you just have to tip your cap to a superior team. The Rockies are simply the class of the NL at this point (with the Reds and Phils pretty close behind). Chacin is a bona fide stud, and their offense is going to rough up most pitchers.
This offense is going to be a bit dependent on the long ball, lacking speed and contact hitters (other than Castro, and now Barney/Baker). Sooner or later, hopefully, the home runs increase. And the starters avoid that ONE bad inning they all keep giving up…
And of course… looking for a pick me up, I rolled from the Cubs game right to the Hawks game. Ouch.