The Cubs did some good things today, getting hits with runners in scoring position was not one of them. But about those good things, the Cubs pitching was stellar, and their defense was just as good. Jeff Samardzija loves facing the Pirates, especially in Pittsburgh, one year after going eight scoreless against the Buccos, he went seven scoreless but settled for a no decision. Pedro Strop, Justin Grimm, and James Russell all did their job out of the bullpen, Carlos Villanueva, not so much. Villanueva faced one batter, and that was it, Neil Walker blasted a walk-off home run to move the Cubs to 0-1 on the young season.
The Cubs struggles were front and center at the plate as they went 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position, yikes. They also struck out a lot, eleven times to be exact as they were baffled by Francisco Liriano all day long. I did like the Cubs approach today though, as they worked deep counts and were able to get to the Pirates pen by the 7th inning, it just didn’t work out. Emilio Bonifacio had a big day at the plate in his debut as he went 4-for-5 with a double, the Cubs as a whole only had six hits in the loss.
* Photo credit: GENE PUSKAR/AP
Cold weather usually favors the pitchers, while it was cold, I think both guys didn’t need any help today. Jeff Samardzija and A.J. Burnett had themselves a nice tidy pitching duel today in the opener with Samardzija getting the better of the tattooed righty while spinning a masterpiece. The Cubs jumped out in front early on a loud, and long home run from Anthony Rizzo, and that was all the Cubs needed as Shark shut the door the whole day. The Cubs had to endure the customary Marmol implosion in the ninth inning, but Sveum showed a quick hook in getting Marmol out-of-the-way so Russell and Fujikawa could finish off the victory.
At The Plate – The Cubs only managed six hits on the day, but they were productive. Starlin Castro was 2-for-4 with two singles, a stolen base, and one run scored. As I mentioned, Anthony Rizzo had the big blow, Rizzo ended the day 1-for-4 with that massive two-run homer in the first. Nate Schierholtz enjoyed a solid Cubs debut as he was 1-for-2 with a walk and a run scored. Welington Castillo rounded out the offense today going 2-for-4 with two opposite field doubles, and an RBI.
On The Mound – It was the Jeff Samardzija show from start to almost finish. Shark went eight dominant innings giving up no runs on two hits while walking one and striking out nine Pirates. He turned things over to Marmol in the ninth, and things got sketchy. Marmol was only able to retire one hitter in the ninth, he hit McCutchen and gave up one hit, and a run as well. James Russell took over and retired the only hitter he faced, then the new Cubs import Kyuji Fujikawa retired the only man he faced, on two pitches, two earn his first Major League save.
Up Next – The Cubs have tomorrow off, which is the worst after a winning opening day, now we have to wait till Wednesday to watch them play again. That is when Edwin Jackson will make his Cubs debut against Wandy Rodriguez at 6:05 PM CST.
Thanks for reading,