Early on in this one it looked like the Cubs were going to fall back into their familiar, troubling ways as they put two guys in scoring position with one out in the first only to see Javier Baez foul out. Then Addison Russell, as he has done for the better part of the last two months, came up with a huge two run single to give Kyle Hendricks more than enough in this one. Hendricks was dominate as he went the distance against the Marlins for his tenth win of the season and lowered his ERA to 2.22, that’s an elite level right there. Joe Maddon needed a big effort from his starter, and allowed him to get there as Hendricks tossed 123 pitches which is a career high by quite a bit.
The Cubs had hits up and down the lineup but once again struggled to cash in as they left nine guys on base in the first four innings which is almost impossible. Hendricks came up big this time with the bat as he laced a one out RBI single in the fifth to push the Cubs lead to three, and they never looked back. Anthony Rizzo also had a huge night at the plate going 3-for-3 with a double, a triple, a walk, and a run scored. The win is the Cubs’ second straight and fifth in their last six on this home-stand which continues tonight against the Marlins.
Two games into his Cubs career, Jason Hammel is 2-0, both wins coming against the NL Central rival Pirates. Hammel was brilliant once again, as he worked seven strong innings, giving up three runs on three hits (all solo HR’s, more on that later), while walking one, and striking out six. Pedro Strop made things interesting in the ninth as he gave up two more solo home runs to make things closer than they needed to be. The Pirates had six hits tonight, five of which left the ballpark, and the Cubs still won, baseball.
More good signs from the Cubs offense in this one as well, the Cubs scored seven times on fourteen hits in the win. (Insert Emilio Bonifacio had two hits sentence). Anthony Rizzo is scorching hot right now, he went 4-for-5 with two doubles, an RBI, and two runs scored, he’s now hitting .375 on the season. Mike Olt, finally getting a start, responded in a big way, he went 2-for-5 with his second home run of the season, three RBI’s, and a run scored. Same goes for Junior Lake, as he went 1-for-4 with his first home run of the season, two RBI’s, and a run scored.
** PHOTO CREDIT: BRIAN KERSEY/GETTY IMAGES
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.
Jeff Samardzija was about as dominant as a pitcher could be today, unfortunately the final score really doesn’t tell the story. The Cubs offense got back to normal as they could only manage five hits and one run against Braves starter Tim Hudson in the loss. The game changed in the sixth as the Braves looked to get a break as the home plate umpire ruled that Chris Johnson was hit by a pitch, it looked like it missed him on the replay but it was a close call. That loaded the bases and Ramiro Pena followed with a ground ball base hit, which arguably could have been had by a Major League second baseman, unfortunately the Cubs had Alberto Gonzalez there. Just like that it was 3-1 Braves and basically over given the Cubs lack of offensive anything. Home opener tomorrow!
At The Plate – Nothing good really. After yesterday’s “explosion” the Cubs could only manage five hits, and only one extra base hit. Starlin Castro might be on the verge of getting hot as he was 2-for-4 with two singles. Anthony Rizzo provided the only RBI of the game and finished the day 1-for-4, and David DeJesus doubled for his only hit of the game. The Cubs left seven guys on base and were o-for-4 with runners in scoring position today.
On The Mound – It was the Jeff Samardzija show, and it’s really unfortunate that he didn’t get a win, or a no decision and was hung with a loss because he really didn’t deserve it. Samardzija went 5.2 innings giving up four runs on four hits while walking four and striking out thirteen. Hector Rondon had a solid inning of work out of the pen as he allowed nothing while striking out two. Hisanori Takahashi gave up a run in his inning of work, a solo home run to Dan Uggla, he also struck out one.
Stat Of The Night – Jeff Samardzija set a career high with thirteen strikeouts in only 5.2 innings, besting his previous high of eleven.
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Over the course of 162 games there will be losses that are harder to take than others, this is one of those losses, in fact this might be the toughest one of the season. After an outstanding performance from Carlos Villanueva the Cubs held a 5-1 lead in the 8th inning. A poor outing from Kyuji Fujikawa made the game close and another Carlos Marmol meltdown gave the Braves a walk-off victory. All of this could have been avoided if the Cubs capitalized on a golden opportunity in the top of the 8th. The Cubs loaded the bases with no outs and failed to push across a run, that usually comes back to haunt you, and tonight is definitely did.
At The Plate – The Cubs finally found some offense, unfortunately it was the failed opportunities that will be remembered in this one. The Cubs pounded out thirteen hits, a season high by far, but unfortunately that wasn’t enough. Every Cubs hitter in the starting lineup registered at least one hit, even starting pitcher Carlos Villanueva. Anthony Rizzo got things going as he was 2-for-5 with a home run, two RBI’s, and a run scored. Nate Schierholtz had another solid game going 2-for-5 with a double, an RBI, and a run scored. Welington Castillo and Luis Valbuena also had two hits with Valbuena hitting his first home run of the season.
On The Mound – A tale of two games for sure, Carlos Villanueva got the start and was outstanding. Villanueva went 6.2 innings giving up one run on six hits while walking two and striking out six. Kyuji Fujikawa had a rough inning as he could only throw his fastball for strikes. Fujikawa gave up three runs in one inning of work on four hits while walking one and striking out one. Carlos Marmol was a disaster, he entered the ninth with a lead and could only record one out before the game was over. Marmol gave up two runs, on two hits, a solo home run to B.J. Upton and a solo home run to Justin Upton. Look for Marmol to be officially removed from the closer roll as early as before first pitch tomorrow.
Stat Of The Night – Coming into the night the Cubs had 16 hits on the season, they registered 13 tonight.
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More of the same from the Cubs offense tonight in Atlanta as they could only manage five hits and one run in a 4-1 loss. Sure Mike Minor was pounding the zone, but Cubs hitters made things way too easy on Braves pitching by having way too many aggressive at bats. The Cubs have two losses now, both with the “lefty lineup” on display, meaning DeJesus and Schierholtz on the bench. Not saying that they would have made a difference, but the Cubs always seem to struggle against lefties. Scott Feldman was all over the place, but battled, the result was being over 100 pitches and out the game before the end of the fifth inning. It’s not the end of the World, the Cubs are 2-2 which is probably a fair record at this point, if not better than it should be given the offensive struggles.
At The Plate – Another night, another low number in the hit column for the Cubs. Alfonso Soriano, Scott Hairston, Welington Castillo, and Alberto Gonzalez were all 1-for-3. Hairston provided the only offense of the night with a solo home run in the fifth inning off of Minor.
On The Mound – Scott Feldman made his Cubs debut and really never settled into a groove. For the most part he was able to pitch around trouble but couldn’t get out of the 5th. Feldman went 4.2 innings giving up four runs on five hits while walking four and striking out one. The bright spot was the bullpen, Michael Bowden and Hector Rondon shut the door over the last 2.1 innings but it was to no avail.
Up Next – Carlos Villanueva will make his Cubs debut opposite Julio Teheran at 6:00 PM CST. The Cubs will have their hands full again as Teheran is a high-class talent that will give them fits if they aren’t patient.
Stat Of The Night – The Cubs have 16 hits in the first four games of the season.
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Another day, another solid start from Ryan Dempster, and another loss. Such is life at this point with the Cubs, do everything but win. Once again the Cubs entered the late innings hanging on to a one run lead. By now, everyone should know that odds are the outcome is not going to be a favorable one for Cubs fans and players alike.