Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Game Recap: Cubs 4, Nationals 3

recap
Seems like four was a magic number tonight.  Cubs win their fourth straight by scoring their fourth run of the game on a four pitch walk.  Should ESPN ever decide to go with an ESPN4, the highlight of A-Ram taking the walk should clearly be the centerpiece of the commercial.

The game itself wasn't pretty by any means, but it was finally a relief to have one of "those" games tilt in the Cubs' favor.  The Cubs opened the scoring in the second by stringing together doubles by Byrd and A-Ram.  Later that inning, Silva the (quality start) Hutt got an RBI on a bases loaded walk.  For the record, Silva has 2 RBI in 10 plate appearances while Milton Bradley has 10 RBI in 52 plate apperances.  Just saying, if you project it out, the production is about the same...

The second inning rally ended with a "here we go again" moment when Theriot flew out to right and watched Willy Taveres gun Soto at home.  Even the most optimistic Cub fan tends to get a little nervous when a momentum-changing moment such as that play occurs, and I am no exception.  The Cubs tacked on another run in the third on a Byrd infield single, driving in Baker who had tripled two batters earlier.  The Cubs didn't score after that until the bottom of the tenth, when Ramirez drew the bases loaded walk.

The real story was once again the starting pitching staff.  Carlos Silva turned in another quality start with a final line of 7 IP, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K.  Silva sent down the first nine batters he faced in the game.  He hit a bit of a rocky patch in the fourth inning when he allowed two runs on three hits.  Even more interesting than the fact that Silva turned in a quality start is the fact that today's start was the first start that Silva allowed more than one earned run.  Moreover, over his first four starts he has a 1.73 ERA and a 0.77 WHIP.  Because Silva has only walked three batters in over 26 innings, it's not like he's pitching on a mound surrounded by four leaf clovers while hiding a horsehoe in his jock.  However, because he is currently holding batters to a .173 BABIP, his numbers are due to regress as the season goes on.  Despite all of that, color me impressed so far with Silva's start to the season.  I didn't think he'd cut our rotation out of Spring Training, much less be one of our most productive starters.

The bullpen was near flawless tonight as well.  Marshall, Marmol and Zambrano combined for 3 scoreless innings.  The latter, Zambrano, made his Wrigley Field debut out of the 'pen and only gave up a hit over 1 2/3 innings.  While I was only able to watch on Gamecast when Z was in the game, it seemed like he was relying a little bit too much on his fastball.  To be honest, it felt like his Opening Day pitch sequence but with better results.  I know that he is still re-learning the process of coming out of the bullpen, and that part of that process is understanding what pitches are "on" on any given night.  However, out of the 27 pitches Z threw over the 1 2/3 innings he was in, 22 of them were fastballs.  Again, he was effective, but I'd like to see him mix it up a bit more in the future.

Regardless of those criticisms, winning does solve a lot of things.  The bats are awake, the pitching staff has been solid, and the Cubs have won four straight and made the jump into second place in the division standings.  I'd love to see the momentum continue for the ballclub and watch the Cubs run the streak to five tomorrow.

Cubs win!

Love the Silva/Bradley stat.

The fourth inning was really the first time we've seen Silva struggle at all this season. It was good to see him come back down to Earth yet still throw seven innings of three-run ball. He only had 90 pitches, and if his spot hadn't come up in the 8th, he might have been able to pitch another inning.

Zambrano seemed to be struggling with his slider (and his fastball, for that matter--he went to, what, three 3-2 counts?)--it would usually be in the dirt when he threw it, so I think decided to go mostly with the fastball.

Chicago Tribune's Chicago's Best Blogs award