For the third straight game the Cubs found themselves in a nail bitter that looked like it would come down to the final innings to decide a winner, that’s exactly what happened. The Cubs got another outstanding starting pitching performance, the third straight one to start the 2012 season. This time it was Jeff Samardzija who had the honors, and he was the best of the bunch so far. Samardzija all but cruised through the first 8 innings on Sunday, holding the Nats to one run and three hits up to that point. It looked like another one run advantage heading to the ninth, but the Cubs came through with two huge insurance runs in the bottom of the 8th inning. Starlin Castro roped a one out run scoring double, and then Ian Stewart came up with a huge RBI single off of lefthander Sean Burnett to give the Cubs a 4-1 lead.
It’s only two games, but it’s certainly a disturbing trend. For the second straight game the Cubs played great baseball through 7 innings, and seemed to be on their way to a victory. Instead of being 2-0, they are now 0-2 after Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol both were terrible for the second straight afternoon. Heading to the 8th inning the Cubs led 4-2 with Kerry Wood taking the mound. Things went well enough early as Wood set down the first two Nationals hitters that he faced, then things got ugly, really fast. Danny Espinosa got the rally started launching a solo shot to the left center bleachers to make it a 4-3 game. No harm done, solo home runs will happen, especially with the wind blowing out, but Wood unraveled. Wood gave up a broken bat single to Ryan Zimmerman, then another base hit to Adam Laroche, and just like that his day was over. Sveum decided to go back to Marmol to try to get out of the inning, but that only threw gasoline on the fire. Marmol started his effort with a walk to Jayson Werth, he then gave up a two run single to Chad Tracy, and ended his day with by giving up a double to Bernadina and just like that it was 6-4 Nats, and the game was all but lost.
It has been reported by Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun Times that the Cubs have shown interest in acquiring LHP John Lannan from the Washington Nationals this week. The Cubs have apparently already discussed the left-handed throwing Lannan and former Cub Tom Gorzelanny. Lannan, 27 requested a trade earlier this week after he was optioned to the minor leagues. He is set to earn $5MM this year and is under team control through 2013. It is speculated that Marlon Byrd would be going back to Washington in the deal, but only time will tell if this rumor has any truth to it or not.
One of the first things Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer mentioned when taking over the Cubs was how devastating late game losses can be. They were referencing the 2011 struggle of Carlos Marmol, who last year was anything but automatic in the ninth inning. Fast forward to today, and what seemed like a perfect opening day victory, enter the Chicago Cubs bullpen. With the Cubs holding a precarious 1-0 lead with two outs in the 8th inning Ryan Dempster exited the game to a standing ovation from the Wrigley faithful. That was the last thing Cubs fans had to celebrate this day, as Wood went on to walk three straight hitters, two of which he was way ahead of, to force in the tying run.
The familiar sights, sounds, and smells (good and bad) were there yesterday morning at Wrigley Field for the Cubs workout prior to today’s season opener against the Nationals. One thing was out of place, “I don’t ever remember seeing ivy on the wall on opening day,” head groundskeeper Roger Baird said. That’s right, when the Cubs take the field today, April 5th, there will be green ivy on the walls. Of course it’s nowhere near as lush as it would be in the heart of the summer but it’s still a welcome sight for fans and players alike.
Three days to go, the Cubs open the 2012 campaign against Strasburg and the Nationals on Thursday, here is how the Cubs will lineup against Washington’s ace.
David DeJesus RF
Darwin Barney 2B
Starlin Castro SS
Bryan LaHair 1B
Alfonso Soriano LF
Ian Stewart 3B
Marlon Byrd CF
Geovany Soto C
Ryan Dempster P
Should be a formidable task to say the least, check back here before opening day as we will roll out our series previews, and all things Opening Day.
Thanks for reading,
– George Cotugno
Davey Johsnon has announced that Stephen Strasburg will be the Washington Nationals opening day starter against the Chicago Cubs on Thursday, April 5th. He has never been to Chicago, let alone Wrigley Field, but obviously said it is a “tremendous honor.” Hopefully we can make his first appearance in Wrigley one he would like to forget. The Cubs have yet to announce their opening day starter, it appears it will either be Matt Garza or Ryan Dempster.