In a 162 game season, all sorts of crazy crap will happen. Aaron Miles will hit a game winning homerun before it's all said and done. Carlos Marmol will resemble a drunken Bob Howry sometime before it's all said and done.
To the point. Jason Marquis will win games against the best offense in the National League. Fact is he just did. And Rich Harden will have games in which he looks like re-fried shiz. On a day when the offense is clicking, it's no big deal. But the Cubs could only manage 2 runs off of 7 hits and 3 walks, and Harden looked uglier than Tori Spelling after a long day without makeup.
Actually I'm being harsh on Harden. After all, the man managed to make 9 outs today, and 8 of them came from strikeouts. Think about that ratio! Hell, the only out not made by strikeouts happened when Chris Ianetta was gunned down at third. But between all the missed swings and the 8 fouled-off pitches by Garrett Atkins in the 2nd ('twas a 14 pitch at bat), Harden gave up 5 hits and walked 4 and he was chased before the start of the 4th due to having thrown 92 pitches.
However the Rockies' offensive surge abruptly ended after they drove Lou Piniella to turn to his incredibly shaky bullpen. Somewhere between the lines of that last sentence is a hell of a lot of sarcasm, by the way. Dave "Commander" Patton, Luis "Pops" Vizcaino, Not a LOOGY Cotts, and Angel Guzman threw 6 innings, allowed only 1 run between them, and struck out 6 batters.
Offensively, Derrek Lee finally came alive with a 3 for 4 day (including a 9th inning solo homerun), Reed Johnson got 2 hits in 4 at bats, and Micah Hoffpauir hit an RBI double in a pinch hit at bat. Otherwise it was pretty much a snooze fest. Oh well - maybe the Cubs are just gearing up for the matchup with the Cardinals starting tomorrow.
They say that a tie is like kissing your sister, and apparently in the Star Wars universe Luke Skywalker was all about ties. "Hey Emperor," he was known to shout, "let's just call it a draw! Where's my sister?"
Sorry, got distracted. The Cubs split their home opener with the Rockies. Surely this is one for the books, and based on the high demand and excitement of a home opener with Colorado, the Rockies will probably be the preferred opening team of the Cubs from now on. (Again with the sarcasm between the lines.)
On the bright side, Derrek Lee is narrowing in on batting his weight. Negatively, Rich Harden apparently hasn't learned that after the fourth consecutive foul ball, you should just walk that asshole. And sadly, Jason Marquis won. It's walk of shame time in the North Side.
Current Record: 5-3
Position in the NL Central: 1 game behind St. Louis for the lead
Best Possible Record: 159-3
Worst Possible Record: 5-157
On Pace For: 101-61
Jason Marquis (1-0, 2.57 ERA) Rich Harden (0-0, 1.50 ERA)
Jason Marquis returns to Wrigley Field with REVENGE! on his mind. He squares off against the best 4th starter in baseball, Rich Harden, who's coming off of a 6 inning 10 strikeout effort.
Lou Piniella continues to tinker. In Lou's world, if you're batting .125 then you're the ideal cleanup hitter because that's exactly where Derrek Lee is. I'm not really sure why.
Geovany Soto returns to the lineup today as well.
Everybody but Lee (.138) Soto (.143) and Aaron Miles (.143), who's starting second today for the Cubs.
This is what I get for forgetting to post. Harden's not on his B Game today. He's struck out 6 in 2.1 innings of work, but has surrendered a homerun to Seth Smith and a 2-run single to Jason Marquis.
Before you panic over the 1-hitter de Suck is tossing, keep in mind ... it's Jason Marquis. I doubt the Cubs are out of it yet.
I think we can call that one a bit unexpected. Five days after serving up 4 homeruns and 5 earned runs in 5 innings pitched, Ted Lilly took the mound for the first time at Wrigley Field and proceeded to hold the Rockies hitless until the 7th inning.
All told, Theodore Roosevelt "Psycho" Lilly went 6.2 innings, striking out 8, walking 2, and allowing only that 1 hit on 104 pitches. Meanwhile You-bald-ho, who threw shutout ball his last time out, walked 6 and failed to get out of the 4th inning, although he and the Rockies did escape numerous bases-loaded situations.
Amazingly the Cubs bullpen was mostly competent this time around. Angel Guzman, Aaron Heilman, and Kevin Gregg tossed 2.1 innings, allowing 0 hits, 2 walks, and striking out 4. Considering the circus he's been managing, Lou will take it.
Offensively, the only two Cubs not to get hits are ironically the two who've been the most successful. Ryan Theriot had his first 0-fer of the year and Mike Fontenot also failed to get a hit while starting third base for the first time in '09. The Fonz, meanwhile, collected 2 hits along with Derrek Lee (who drove in another run) and Three Finger Hill (who is now batting .300 on the season).
The Cubs also managed to draw 9 walks today, leaving most of them stranded (proving Dusty Baker's "base-clogging" manifesto to be right again). Among the regular walkers were Fooky (who walked three times) and Lee (who walked twice).
It was a dominating performance for Cubs pitching. Maybe that shouldn't be too surprising - after all, it was also a blisteringly crappy day weather wise and I'm pretty sure that Rockies manager Clint Hurdle intentionally got tossed so he could escape to the theoretically warmer comforts of the clubhouse. (Little did he know that the heater doesn't work in the Wrigley Field visitor's clubhouse.)
The Cubs have tomorrow off and will look for the pseudo-sweep on Wednesday.
It's opening day at beautiful, water-soaked, mud-filled, weather-worn Wrigley Field. Will the Cubs continue their early season success? Will Ted Lilly remember not to throw meat balls during games? Let's find out!
Pretty much everybody but Derrek Lee. In a moment of sanity today, Lou has moved Derrek down the lineup. But in a startling reversal, Lou only moved him to cleanup. (Because that's where I want to bat the guy with the .080 AVG. In the cleanup spot.)
Ryan Theriot - now batting .524 on the season. He's not just getting a hit per game, he's getting multiples.
Kevin Gregg - It would probably be easier on Cub fans everywhere for Gregg to just draft a letter to Lou via Gregg's agent requesting that he not be the closer, because the jackass is pitching like he doesn't want to be the closer! Man up, Gregg! Get 'er done, or get out of the way!
Series Preview, Rockies vs. Cubs (written 10 minutes before this GameCast)
Let me see if I've got this straight. The Cubs are opening their season at Wrigley Field against the Rockies in the midst of a torrential downpour. Unfortunately, the Cubs don't have an open date to make up the game with Colorado, so they're playing in the rain.
Except the Cubs aren't scheduled to play tomorrow. Go figure.
Anyway, let's take a quick look at this series:
Ted Lilly vs. Ubaldo Jiminez
In his first game of the season, Theodore Roosevelt Lilly intermixed an effective outing with a bout of batting practice. The result is that he either looked very good or he looked behind him in order to watch the ball sail out of the park. He served 4 homeruns in his first game of the year, and he is surely hoping to make up for it with a solid performance today.
His opponent, Ubaldo Jiminez is one tough S.O.B. You can tell becuase he's survived life with the name Ubaldo. He's also entering his second full sason as a Rockies starter - last year he threw just under 200 innings and went 12-12 with an ERA of 3.99. That's just about as good as it gets in Colorado. However he did throw 7 innings of shutout ball in his first game of the season, so he looks like he means business.
Rich Harden vs. Jason Marquis
Only in baseball can one pitcher give up 4 homeruns in a single game and walk away with a 9.00 ERA and the win, while another pitcher can strike out 10 in 6 innings of work and walk away with a no-decision. Chances are, Harden will not make every start this season. But it's comforting to know that he's still an ass kicker when he makes them at all.
His opponent is the legendary ex Cub named Jason Marquis, whose nickname while pitching for the North Side was de Suck. He won his first game as a Rockie last week, but he still sucks. If baseball is fair, then this game will be a no-brainer.
Crap, I dunno. Either the Cubs win or they lose. Or they split. but having won 4 of their first 6 while on the road, we can only hope that the team's success will continue now that they're home.
But one bit of sour news - although Geovany Soto pinch hit last night, he's still not in the starting lineup today. That means the Cubs are down two starters, although Koyie Hill and Reed Johnson both appear extremely capable of picking up the slack when necessary.
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Overview: A year ago at this time, the Chicago Cubs were 22-28, and in the middle of a 5 game losing streak that would leave them at 9 games under .500. They didn't have a foot in the grave, but they may have had a few toes still out of the grave.
This season has been a little different. The Cubs are not playing like a Dead to the Neck Up team. In fact, they have the best record in all of baseball, they are playing the shoddy Rockies, and although there are a few annoying question marks ::cough::edmondsleadoffstartingpitchingtheriot::cough:: the Cubs continue to have the best offense in all of baseball - only Philly comes close to Chicago's 296 runs scored - and one of the best rotations as well. (In the NL, only Atlanta has allowed fewer runs than Chicago.)
While I'm excited to see the Cubs host the Rockies, while the pitching is truly clicking, the offense really needs to crank things back up. The Cubs combined to score 8 runs in their recent 3 game sweep. Let's see them score 8 runs in one night. That would be pretty cool. Onward with the matchups:
Thursday, May 29 Jason Marquis vs. Jeff Francis
Wow. If ever there was a match-up in which Jason Marquis should win, it's this one. Jeff Francis is 1-5, with a 6.18 ERA. He's given up 71 hits in 59.2 innings of work. He's yet to win on the road, and he has a near-7 ERA at night. When Cubs players heard that Francis was pitching tonight, they started partying.
Me, I believe in the concept of players and teams being "due" - something that probably leads to Colin's head swelling and exploding. I've always felt that, when an obviously bad match-up occurs the underdog is favored, mostly because statistically speaking, even Anthony Young was due to win eventually. So, maybe it won't be as easy as it should be. But it sure as hell does look easy.
Friday, May 30th Ted Lilly vs. Aaron Cook
Not too long ago, I mentioned Cook as an example of a deadline pitcher who might come to Chicago. Consider this his audition for Jim Hendry. Realistically speaking, he's just not as good as his numbers convey. Cook has never won more than 9 games in a season, he's only tossed 200+ innings once, and his strikeout totals remain very low. In other words, since I believe in "dueness" or the law of averages, Cook is statistically set up to get his ass kicked by the Cubs.
Besides, Ted Lilly has just started to heat up. While Theadore Roosevelt Lilly is bound to have some more rough outings this year, he's really just starting to build a solid run as a starting pitcher. Lilly is "due" to pitch well for a while still.
Saturday, May 31st Ryan Dempster vs. Jorge De La Rosa
The man I have nicknamed Clownsevelt (at least for as long as he follows Lilly in the rotation) is Cookian in how well he's pitched this season, and it should continue on Saturday. Dempster is facing the dull Rockies, and his opponent on Saturday will be The Man with the Nine ERA, De La Rosa. Maybe De La Rosa is "due" to win, much as Dempster is "due" to eat ass.
Or maybe this whole "due" thing is overblown. Doesn't matter. The Cubs should maul these guys.
Prediction: I don't want to say the Cubs will sweep, but perhaps they should sweep. They have two very talented pitchers going in this series, and the worst starter on the team is opposed by a punching bag. Regardless, this is an excellent example of a time when the Cubs could and should be building a big head of steam. The Cardinals have played the NL West twice as often as the Cubs so far, and they still can't keep up with Chicago. The Cubs need to take advantage of their home field and their shoddy opponents and put some more distance between themselves and the rest of the NL Central.
Playing a series in which they average 5 walks, 12 hits, and 7 runs a game should help. Let's see it happen.