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So far, off to a bad start

Posted By Paul Jackson On Apr 4 2011 @ 11:44 pm In Chicago Cubs | 14 Comments

Opening weekend didn’t go as planned for the Cubs. One would think starting the season facing the Pirates and the Diamondbacks would be beneficial to your team’s chances of starting off on the right foot. Think again.

The Cubs let a good start slip away in Game 1 of the series. Up 2-0 in the top of the 5th, Ryan Doumit led off the inning with a Single for the Pirates. After a ground out by Garrett Jones, Ronny Cedeno drew a walk and Kevin Correia sacrificed for the second out of the inning. With men on 2nd and 3rd, Dempster walked Jose Tabata and then promptly gave up a Grand Slam to Neil Walker, the ball easily clearing the right-center field fence. The Bucs would not relinquish the lead, taking Game 1 6-3.

In Game 2, things looked bad once again for the Cubs but an 8th inning rally provided the Cubs with all the runs they would need, scoring 5 off of Pirate reliever Evan Meek after Ross Ohlendorf was pulled with a shutout intact. Blake Dewitt delivered the game’s knock out punch, a 2 out, pinch-hit double to score Soto and Soriano,  the latter delivering the game tying 2 out single moments ago. Carlos Marmol slammed the door with a 3 K Top 9 to give the crowd something to dance to. Cubs win 5-3.

Game 3 seemed to be in the bag after a teeter-totter 6 innings. In Matt Garza’s first start with the Cubs and at Wrigley Field, he didn’t disappoint. The new starter erased Spring Training doubts about his ability with a 7 IP, 12 K, 3 ER performance: a career high in Ks for Garza. This game was back and forth though, the Cubs tied it at 2 in the 4th, the Bucs took the lead Top 5 and the Cubs tied it Bottom 5. In the top of the 9th inning it was Marmol with the opportunity to nail down a comeback win. In the previous inning, Kerry Wood got out of some trouble with some help from Tyler Colvin, gunning down the would-be-game-tying run from Right Field, showing the Cubs he can play some Outfield as well as hit. Marmol couldn’t get the same results. An error by Starlin Castro cost the Cubs the lead and Marlon Byrd couldn’t take advantage of a 9th inning error by the Pirates that put Castro on 3rd and Darwin Barney on 1st. Byrd hit into a close double play on the first pitch of the at-bat and the Cubs fell, 5-4.

—– Trend I don’t like

Seeing the Cubs go down early in each ballgame. It’s tough enough to win more than half of 162 games. Why make it harder on yourself by playing from behind all the time? The starters need to lock it up.

—– Trend I do like:

The bullpen, with the exception of Carlos Marmol, has been outstanding. The rest of the bullpen has compiled a 0.00 ERA in 7.1 IPs. I would like to note that fan favorite, Kerry Wood owns 3 innings of that stat.

Also, congratulations to Starlin Castro for winning the Co-NL MVP of the Week Award for the first (albeit short) week of the season. He’s a bright spot in the Cubs lineup so far this year, batting .500: 8-16 with 2 Triples and 4 Runs scored. If he doesn’t stick around for the next 20 years, I’m going to quit rooting for the Cubs. :)

With their next series against the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Cubs need to find some consistency in the lineup if they want to win. These are must-win games. How can you expect to compete with the likes of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Tim Lincecum, Tommy Hanson, Chris Carpenter, Zack Greinke, etc. if you can’t compete with the Pirates. I mean no disrespect, Pittsburgh is a great sports city and they deserve a baseball team they can root for. The fact is, the Pirates lost 105 games last year. The Cubs have no chance this year unless they can beat the teams they should beat, the bad teams. These two losses wouldn’t have stung as much if we played a higher caliber team but we didn’t. We played the Pirates and we lost 2 of 3.  It’s still early but you have to fix these problems in a hurry or the rest of the division is going to run away from you.

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