I understand that the Cubs won’t be competitive this year, maybe competitive in games, but not to the point of winning anything substantial, but the one thing I expect to see at least is strong fundamental play. When the roster is hollowed, which it is, one would expect to see the little things done right, and players paying attention. We are only sixteen games into this season and it is clear that in some games the Cubs just aren’t mentally there. I suppose I shouldn’t be as upset about it because this kind of stuff happens on bad teams, and for the most part the Cubs have fought in games but today just got to me. It also is starting to get to Dale Sveum, “”This is obviously getting old…we’re making mistakes that rookie ball people make.” The Cubs only had four chances with runners in scoring position, they did convert once, but it wasn’t enough as four unearned runs did in the Cubs and Edwin Jackson, just frustrating.
At The Plate – The Cubs managed to out-hit the Brewers in this one 7-6, but the Brewers didn’t make any errors and thus they won. Of the seven Cubs hits only two were of the extra-base variety. David DeJesus was 1-for-3, as was Luis Valbuena. Alfonso Soriano was the only Cubs player to register an RBI, he was 1-for-4, and also made an error. Starlin Castro was 1-for-4 and he also made an error, the other error was made by Edwin Jackson. Nate Schierholtz, and Dave Sappelt were the only Cubs with extra base hits, both doubles.
On The Mound – Edwin Jackson had a “quality” start by definition of the rule book as he went six innings giving up five runs, one earned, on four hits while walking one and striking out four. Hector Rondon, and Kameron Loe both worked scoreless innings in relief but by then the game was decided.
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I suppose this one sums up the Cubs season to this point, some good, some bad, some really bad, and a loss. The Cubs looked like they were going to cruise in this one as they built a 5-0 lead in the third inning, but as quickly as they built it, they lost it. The turning point seemed to be the 4th and 5th innings. Scott Feldman was working a lot of deep counts so he wasn’t exactly cruising, but he was effective. One the ropes again in the fifth Feldman looked to get an inning ending ground out but Castro booted it which allowed a run to score and the inning to continue. Angel Pagan followed with a ground ball to the right side which should have been the end of the inning but a combo of Feldman getting over to first slowly and Brent Lillibridge being Brent Lillibridge resulted in no out and the inning continued, again. When it was all said and done it was a 5-4 Cubs lead heading to the 5th, that’s where the wheels came off again. The Giants plated three runs in the 5th to take a 7-5 lead, the Cubs crept closer in the eighth and threatened in the ninth only to come up short in another mind numbing loss that was seemingly there for the taking.
At The Plate – Early on it seemed like the Cubs were going to break out in a big way as they scored five times through three innings, but as it happens so often, the offense stopped, and could only score one more time over the last six innings. All eight position players had at least one hit in the Cubs lineup, with three guys having multi-hit games. Starlin Castro was 2-for-5 with a double and a run scored, he’s now hitting .275 on the season. Nate Schierholtz tried his best to make his former employer regret letting him go as he was 3-for-4 with two runs scored. Welington Castillo continued to destroy the ball as he was 2-for-4 with a run scored, Brent Lillibridge and Anthony Rizzo each had two RBI’s, with Rizzo’s coming on a two-run home run in the third.
On The Mound – Scott Feldman was good and average I would say in this one. He had solid command of his two-seam fastball, but after getting ahead early in counts he couldn’t put anyone away, the defense behind him didn’t help either. Feldman could only last 4.1 innings giving up six runs, two earned, on seven hits while walking three and striking out three to fall to 0-2 on the season. The turning point in my opinion was the ineffectiveness of Hisanori Takahashi out of the pen. Takahashi went 1.2 innings giving up one run on two hits while walking two, and striking out two. One of those walks was to opposing pitcher Ryan Vogelsong with the bases loaded to tie the game at five. Michael Bowden, Shawn Camp, and James Russell all had scoreless appearances.
Up Next – The weather might be slightly better tomorrow, meaning that thing they call the sun might actually show its face, yes the sun has a face. But temps are only supposed to be in the low 40’s again and there is a chance for afternoon showers. Once things get started it will be Carlos Villanueva against Matt Cain.
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A lot has been made about the Cubs re-dedication, or should I say dedication to the defensive side of the game this Spring, but is it just all talk? I know it’s early, but the numbers suggest that maybe the Cubs are on to something. Through three spring training games last year the Cubs committed a whopping nine errors, this year, one. The typical excuse used by many, including the coaching staff last year was that it was early, and mistakes will happen. Well, maybe that’s why that coaching staff, well most of it, is now unemployed. Ballplayers are ballplayers, and typically most of them learn the fundamentals at a very early age, that doesn’t mean that those players shouldn’t continue to practice them. Half the battle with defense is a players desire to actually field a ball the correct way, for years Alfonso Soriano was allowed to hop when making catches. Aramis Ramirez was allowed to ole balls left and right, and there was no consequence, more importantly it never changed, those days are over.