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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Consider this a stiff test for the Cubs, nothing against the Pirates, but the Braves are a different animal. The weather should be much nicer than it was in Pittsburgh so hopefully that means that Cubs bats will heat up with the temperatures as they have been cold as ice so far. That said, the Cubs enter the series with a 2-1 record, the same as the Braves, below you will find all the important information pertaining to the upcoming series, everything you need to know in one convenient place.
Cubs won two out of three against the Pirates in Pittsburgh
Braves won two out of three against the Phillies at home
Game Times and Broadcast Information:
- Friday, April 5, 2013 – 6:30 PM CST on CSN+ (click to find your channel), MLBN
- Saturday, April 6, 2013 – 6:10 PM CST on WGN TV
- Sunday, April 7, 2013 – 12:35 PM CST on CSN Chicago
Starting Pitchers Scheduled:
Game One – Scott Feldman (0-0, 0.00)
– Career vs. Atlanta (1 GS) (0-0, 2.57 ERA)
Game Two – Carlos Villanueva (0-0, 0.00)
– Career vs. Atlanta (10 appearances, 1 GS) (1-2, 7.20 ERA)
Game Three – Jeff Samardzija (1-0, 0.00)
– Career vs. Atlanta (8 appearances, 2 GS) (2-0, 2.66 ER)
Game One – Mike Minor (0-0, 0.00)
– Career vs. Cubs (4 GS) (4-0, 4.30 ERA)
Game Two – Julio Teheran (0-0, 0.00)
– Career vs. Cubs (First appearance)
Game Three – Tim Hudson (0-0, 6.23)
– Career vs. Cubs (6 GS) (2-1, 3.44 ER)
Who’s Hot / Who’s Not:
For the Cubs, the entire offense is frigid, only scoring six runs over the first three games of the season. They aren’t getting hits either as they have the worst team batting average in all of baseball at .121, they don’t ask how, just how many when it comes to wins….or something like that. Closest thing resembling a hot hitter would be Nate Schierholtz, Nate had a huge two-run homer yesterday, and is hitting .333 on the season. The Cubs pitching has been fantastic, well Cubs pitching not including anyone named Carlos Marmol. The Cubs are 8th in the Majors with a 2.08 team ERA, a big reason why they are 2-1.
The Braves have as many home runs as the Cubs do runs (six). Freddie Freeman is on a mission in the early going, hitting .500 (5-for-10) with one double, one home run, and six RBI’s. One of the Braves newcomers isn’t finding things so easy, B.J. Upton has been slow out of the gate going 0-for-11 with seven strikeouts. The Braves are hovering around the middle of the pack when it comes to team ERA with a respectable 3.00, surprisingly Tim Hudson isn’t helping as his only start was a rough one where he gave up three runs in 4.1 innings of work.
Look for the Cubs bats to get healthier in this series despite having to face two young stars in Minor and Teheran, and one solid veteran in Hudson. Unfortunately the Braves will continue their hot hitting and take two out of three from the Cubs this weekend.
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Now that’s a baseball game right there, I hope you didn’t blink at all because if you did you probably missed another stellar Cubs victory. Paul Maholm and Tim Hudson were both at the top of their game this afternoon and the result was a 1-0 Cubs victory in just two hours and five minutes. After six straight shut down innings the door was open for the Cubs and they busted through. David DeJesus led the 7th off with a base hit, Campana sacrficed him to second, and Castro grounded out to the right side to move him to third with two outs. Then Bryan LaHair came up with a ginormous hit to put the Cubs on top 1-0 which was all they needed.
Cubs starters have been dominant, especially in this series, and Maholm was no different today. Maholm worked seven spotless innings only allowing three hits while earning not only his fourth win of the season but his fourth straight victory. A 4-2 home stand is good, it’s great considering the opponents. The Cubs won four of six from two of the best teams in the National League, they are showing just how good they can be, and it’s a treat to watch. Full box score and highlights after the jump.
The Cubs go for another series win today behind Paul Maholm. Maholm is coming off 3 spectacular starts and has always had success against the Braves. Alfonso Soriano will not be in the starting lineup today because of a sore knee so rookie Adrian Cardenas makes his first big league start in left field. 1:20 PM first pitch, go Cubs!
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The Cubs look to keep things rolling as they welcome the Atlanta Braves to Wrigley Field for a three game set. This will be the second series in a row where the Cubs will be facing one of the best teams in baseball. The Cubs first test was over the weekend against the Dodgers, and they passed with flying colors taking 2 out of 3. If the Cubs are going to do the same thing in this series they are going to need an outstanding pitching effort. They have been getting that lately, but they will be really tested in this series against the top run scoring team in the National League.
The Braves are led by the usual suspects in Chipper Jones, and Brian McCann, but are also getting solid production from Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward. The Cubs should be able to take advantage of a Braves pitching staff that has been knocked around a bit this season. The Braves come into the series with a 4.41 ERA which ranks 14th in the National League. The Cubs haven’t lost a series since the April 20-22 series to the Reds, let’s keep that going, go Cubs!
Full preview/breakdown after the jump.