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Better, closer, warmer

Posted By Paul Jackson On Apr 6 2011 @ 6:09 pm In Chicago Cubs | 2 Comments

Well, the Cubs won their first series of the year. Today at 3:50 central time, J.J. Putz was able to salvage one victory for the Diamondbacks. I guess I should feel better about taking a series but I really felt this opening home stand was a good way to get off on the right foot this season. Before we preview, let’s recap.

For Arizona in Game 1 it was a tale of too many men left on base. Willie Bloomquist led off the top of the 1st with a homer and Kelly Johnson singled. Randy Wells, making his first start of the season for the Cubs, got Justin Upton to fly out before dispatching Russell Branyan and Chris Young on swinging strikes. Miguel Montero led off Top 2 with a single, nobody scored. The song remains the same until a big moment in the top of the 8th and Kerry Wood sealed it. The Diamondbacks were down 2-1. Castro allowed Upton to reach on an error and Russell Branyan followed that up with a single. After a groundout and an intentional walk Ryan Roberts was called out on strikes and Gerardo Parra popped out to Alfonso Soriano, stranding the bases loaded. In the meantime, the Cubs got a Soriano homer Bottom 3 and a Carlos Pena Sac Fly Bottom 4. Chicago added two in the Bottom of the 8th and Carlos Marmol shut the door. Cubs win, 4-1.

Andrew Cashner made his first career start as a Cub and he looked great for 5.1 IP giving up one run on two hits, one walk and two strikeouts. The Cubs got two runs off a Miguel Montero throwing error and a Starlin Castro RBI double. Ryan Roberts then hit a home run for AZ to cut the lead in half. Tyler Colvin stepped into Pena’s shoes and showed he could hold his own at first base. He connected on a two-run homer in the third inning of Tuesday’s game to put the Cubs up 4-1. The bullpen couldn’t keep the Win in line for Cashner, allowing Arizona to tie the ballgame at four a piece in the 7th but the Cubs came back with two runs in the bottom half. Sean Marshall gave up a run in his successful, fill-in closing effort. Cubs win, 6-5

Ryan Dempster made his second start of the year today as the Cubs tried to complete the sweep of the Diamondbacks. Chris Young (2 for 5 with a Triple, a Double and two RBI) would have no part of it and, apparently, neither would Ryan Dempster (7 Innings, 5 Runs, 4 Earned) and the Cubs defense (3 Errors).  Ryan Dempster struggled for much of the afternoon after starting the game in good shape. An RBI Triple by Chris Young turned into a 2-Run, Inside-the-park Home Run on an error by Alfonso Soriano. Geovany Soto and Blake Dewitt also contributed errors to the cause and the Diamondbacks added three in the 5th and one in the 8th on Catcher, Miguel Montero’s Home Run.  The Cubs fought back and made it interesting, but they couldn’t make it all the way. Diamondbacks win, 6-4.

As of today the Cubs placed Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner each on the 15 day DL. They are expected to call up Casey Coleman from Triple A to start for one and give lefty James Russell a start for the other. Randy’s injury, a forearm strain appears to be less serious than Cashner’s rotator cuff strain. They’ve had the best two pitching performances I’ve seen out of the starters so far this year, so I’m hoping for a quick recovery.

At 3-3, the Cubs start at Milwaukee on Friday before heading to Houston for a 3 game series. This is yet another opportunity to pounce on poor and/or struggling teams. The Crew is swinging a hot bat, but they’re 1-4 and the Astros haven’t been able to buy a win yet. You want to be able to beat each team at it’s best, but if you’re given a break in baseball, you better take it. This is another couple series we should take at least 4 W’s out of, maybe 5.

And hey, at least the Cardinals are 2-4. :)

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