Big day for Edwin Jackson, today is his first chance to show the new Cubs staff that he belongs as the number five starter. Travis Wood has already been solid this spring, so E-Jax needs to get going, now. I for one want Jackson to succeed, it means a better Cubs rotation, and the possibility of another team wanting his services. First pitch is 3:05 PM CST at beautiful Sloan Park, and can be heard on mlb.com if you have an account. There is no TV for today’s game as of right now, here is how the Cubs will lineup, Rizzo back in that familiar three spot.
1. Fowler – CF
2. Denorfia – RF
3. Rizzo – 1B
4. Castro – SS
5. Montero – DH
6. Olt – 3B
7. Ross – C
8. Coghlan – LF
9. Hererra – 2B
Solid pitching? Check. Just enough hitting? Check.
It seems simple, but the Cubs have played some solid baseball over the past 90 games (45-45 before tonight), and they aren’t showing any signs of slowing down with their latest win in Cincinnati tonight, their fourth straight. Travis Wood found his 2013 magic against his former employer, he worked six scoreless innings, giving up just two hits, while walking one, and striking out five. The Cubs pen shut, no, slammed the door once again, as Neil Ramirez, Pedro Strop, and Hector Rondon were lights out. Wood picked up his eighth win of the season, and Rondon registered his 22nd save of the year.
Offensively the Cubs got started in the first, and that was all they needed. Anthony Rizzo hit an absolute bomb off of Cy Young candidate Johnny Cueto in the first, it was his 30th home run of the season, that’s impressive. Starlin Castro returned from the bereavement list tonight, and picked up right where he left off, he went 2-for-4 in the win. Arismendy Alcantara joined the fun late, as he blasted a two-run shot to give the Cubs some insurance in the seventh.
Get ready for Jorge Soler, he debuts tomorrow!
Note: Anthony Rizzo left the game late with some back tightness, he should be fine.
Such a tough evening, on one hand you have to be thrilled with the Cubs coming back two different times in this one, on the other, throw strikes!!! The Cubs offense was up to the task tonight, but the pitching was dreadful, it started with Edwin Jackson, and ended with Pedro Strop, and James Russell.
Edwin Jackson “walked” away with a no decision in this one, and probably deserved worse. Jackson worked 4.2 innings, giving up six runs on nine hits, while walking four (yuck), and striking out four. Pedro Strop, who got the loss, worked a third of an inning, giving up one run, while walking two, and striking out one. The issue in this one was James Russell coming on and failing to do his job against Pedro Alvarez, he walked Alvarez to load the bases and Russel Martin delivered a game winning sac-fly.
Starlin Castro! What a night from Castro, he was 3-for-4 with two home runs, four RBI’s, and two runs scored. It was Castro’s first time hitting two home runs in a major league game, it was awesome to see, Castro is now hitting .310 on the season, look at that. Emilio Bonifacio continues to get hits, almost every time up to the plate, he was 3-for-5 with an RBI, a stolen base, and a run scored. Anthony Rizzo is also going well at the plate right now, he was 2-for-3 with a walk, an RBI, and a run scored in the loss.
I’ll leave you with this… STOP BUNTING! Goodnight.
** PHOTO CREDIT: ANDREW NELLES/AP
Scoring runs in the Major Leagues is hard, it’s really hard for this Cubs group. So far the 2014 season has featured outstanding pitching and horrendous clutch hitting, today was no exception. Jeff Samardzija was solid for the second straight time this year, and for the second straight time he walked away without a win. Shark worked seven strong innings, giving up two runs on six hits, while walking three and striking out eight as he took the loss.
I can’t really say that the Cubs were totally inept with the bats because they were able to get a number off hits against Cliff Lee. Ten hits to be exact, but that’s ten hits with no runs, mind numbing right now. One bright spot today was Starlin Castro who has been having better at bats as of late, he went 3-for-4 in the loss. The Cubs were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position today, and are 4-for-40 on the season, I’m sorry that I had to spell out the disaster that is the Cubs offense, it will get better, it has to.
MLB.com has no Cubs highlights, seems about right.
It was a day where all you had to do was “get the ball in the air, and it would go” — the problem with that is you actually have to, you know, hit the ball. That’s the one part of the equation the Cubs haven’t figured out yet this season. Anyone that follows this team religiously, like I do, knew that scoring runs would be difficult for this group, but yikes. Today’s hard to look at numbers? Two runs on three hits, that’s it, three hits today for our boys in blue.
With the lack of scoring comes the increased pressure on the pitching to not make a mistake, because one run could be it. Travis Wood pitched just fine today given the howling out wind, but made a few too many mistakes, and took the loss. The Cubs pen was also a little ragged as well, both Wesley Wright, and Brian Schlitter gave up runs to make the final score a little more ugly. Good news friends, it’s early, I think that’s a good thing.
* Photo Credit – Andrew Nelles/AP
Off and not exactly running for the Cubs as they fell to the Diamondbacks this afternoon 5-2 in their Cactus League opener. The star of the show today was the debut of new Cubs Park in Mesa, by everyone’s account it is the best Spring facility there is for the players and fans.
- Jeff Samardzija got the start and was a little too amped up as he walked the first batter of the game on four straight pitches. Samardzija settled down after that, and had a rather solid spring debut against a stout Diamondbacks lineup. Shark worked two scoreless innings giving up two hits while walking one, and striking out two.
- Starlin Castro looked really good at the plate on a day when Cubs hitters were anything but comfortable. On the day, the Cubs had five hits as a team, Castro ended with two of them. He finished the day 2-for-2 with a double, and an RBI.
- Two of the newest members of the Cubs bullpen struggled today, as both Wesley Wright, and Jose Veras were beat up. Wright, who took the loss, worked one inning giving up three runs on two hits while striking out three. Veras worked an inning, giving up two runs on two hits while walking one and striking out one.
- Hector Rondon, and Justin Grimm impressed out of the bullpen today. Grimm touched 97 on the gun while working a scoreless inning. Rondon also worked a scoreless inning, and struck out the side in doing so.
The Cubs will travel to Tempe tomorrow afternoon to take on the Angels beginning at 2:05 PM CST.
It hasn’t happened a lot (it will next year) but Starlin Castro lead off the game last night to give a few lucky people who still have faith in him three points. The race is tight, only 12 total possible points remaining (4 games), so if you are outside of that you are no longer on the standings, but thanks for playing! Here are the remaining contestants, good luck boys and girls!