That one pitch to Aramis. (Game Recap: Cubs 2, Marlins 3)
Another loss, and the take home message is bad, so let's start with the good news.
- A 2-for-4 night at the plate for Starlin Castro, who also managed to make his fifth error. This kid must be feeling super jittery out there in the field. And crap like Aramis pulled in whatever inning that was, where he had a shot at the ball but pulled up to let Starlin have it -- that won't help. But I'm sure this'll get better, too.
- I was impressed with the location of Esmailin Caridad's fastball. His slider looked really good, but the Dan Uggla at-bat was all about locating the heater on the outside corners. I think this kid will come back from his poor start to the season just fine, and should be a factor in the Cub 'pen for years.
- Two hits and a walk for Kosuke Fukudome out of the leadoff spot. I've always liked the idea of batting Kosuke leadoff against righties, especially considering he and Theriot's career split numbers.
- And isn't Theriot a perfect 2-hitter? Last night in the eighth, Riot flipped one over towards the right field line, got it past the first baseman who was holding Kosuke on, and had himself a base hit. Lou is at least 22.2% of the way there in terms of how he should be setting his lineup batting Fuk and Riot 1-2 against righties (or 33.3%, I suppose, since I'm in favor of batting the pitcher ninth).
- Derrek Lee hit two doubles. His season batting average is still down at .220 though.
- Also, you know what else? I'm gonna put Randy Wells in the "good news" section. Eight innings, four hits, one walk, and eight strikeouts -- you can't really ask for more than that. The two home runs hurt, but that's still just three runs allowed in eight innings pitched. That's a chance to win.
OK, I'm pretty sure that's it for the good news. Most of the bad can be summed up by the fact that, aside from the guys mentioned above (Castro, Fuk, Riot, Lee), no Cubs were able to register a hit last night.
And then there's Aramis. Let the beating of the dead horse commence.
Before I get into his fateful at-bat in the bottom of the eighth, let me show you something:
Those are the pitches Aramis saw in his at-bat against LeRoux. You'll likely notice a few things: first, that the first pitch was a dead-center heater; second, that the two breaking balls LeRoux threw were both way out of the zone, so Aramis should have been looking for one pitch; third, that aside from the fifth pitch, every other fastball Aramis got was well up and out of the zone.
It's that first pitch that inspired the title of this recap. With two men in scoring position, late in a close game, the Aramis of yesteryear would have thanked God for the opportunity to swing at an offering like that first pitch there. These days, it's just strike one.
So that's cool.
Game recapped, wahoo. Let's get ready for a fun afternoon of Cubs baseball. And thanks so much to everyone for voting in our Lou Piniella Approval Ratings Poll.