A Sweet Debut

Game Two – Cubs 4 Reds 1
WP – Ted Lilly (1-0) LP – Bronson Arroyo (0-1) Save – Ryan Dempster (1)

wflag.jpg Ted Lilly made his Cub debut one to remember. One of the major acquisitions in the off-season by Jim Hendry led the Cubs to their first victory of the season and in the process gave Lou Piniella his first victory as well. Lilly was in full command all night, hit his spots and threw ahead in the count. Lilly did not allow a hit until the top of the 5th and had only allowed one base runner through the first four frames. He struck out 9, gave up 3 hits and walked just 1 in 7 innings.

With temperatures in the 30’s and snow falling during the game Wednesday was the polar opposite of Opening Day. Bronson Arroyo, who did not lose to the Cubs in 2006, was almost as good as Lilly. Arroyo received a little more help from his defense that Lilly needed on the night….Jeff Conine made a fine play on a ball in the 1st inning off the bat of Cliff Floyd to save a run. But Ted Lilly was more than advertised….

Lilly threw first pitch strikes to six of the first nine Reds he faced and struck out the side in the 3rd. Through the first 4 innings he faced only one over the minimum. Ken Griffey Jr., Adam Dunn and Bronson Arroyo were the only Reds to record a hit….Arroyo’s was a bunt single in the 6th that led to the only Reds run of the game. Arroyo led off the inning with a bunt single that Lilly fielded but was not able to make a play on. Ryan Freel hit a sharp liner to Mark DeRosa who made a very good defensive play. DeRosa tossed to 2nd but Cesar Izturis’ throw to Derrek Lee was off the mark….Freel was safe. Brandon Phillips flied out to Jacque Jones and with Adam Dunn at the plate, Freel stole 2nd. Dunn then hit a long single off the base of the right field wall to plate Freel….the only run off of Lilly. At that point the game became 2-1 Cubs, the missed double play, cost Lilly a run and could have led to a big inning. The Cubs defense has to make those plays. Edwin Encarnacion followed Dunn by reaching on catcher’s interference but Griffey lined out to left to end the inning. Lilly retired the Reds in order in the 7th to end his evening.

The signing of Ted Lilly came at much controversy. He threw extremely well and the Faithful has to be happy about his debut. Lilly threw strikes (101 pitches, 70 strikes) and the Cubs won the game.

Bobby Howry pitched a perfect 8th and set it up for Ryan Dempster in the 9th. Dempster was effective after a “little pep talk” from Lou Piniella. Piniella is not going to except pitchers not throwing strikes and he proved it on Wednesday for all to see. Dempster struck out Dunn to start the inning but walked Encarnacion on 5 pitches. Piniella visited the mound, told him “politely” what he wanted Dempster to do. With a 2-0 count on Griffey, Dempster found the strike zone and got Griffey and Jeff Conine to fly out to Ryan Theriot in left to end the game. Remember the previous management is long gone….

Bronson Arroyo pitched good enough to win on most days but he had trouble recording the final out in a couple of innings and a bad defensive play in the 4th led to the first Cub runs on the day. In the 1st inning, Derrek Lee walked with 2 outs, Aramis Ramirez followed with a single to center but Jeff Conine made a fine play on a ball off the bat of Cliff Floyd to save a run. In the 4th, Ramirez led off the inning with a single to right, Floyd followed with a single of his own to Griffey. After Barrett struck out, Mark DeRosa hit a hard single to left to load the bases. Cesar Izturis recorded the first RBI for the Cubs on the new season with a single to right to plate Ramirez. Ted Lilly then stepped to the plate and recorded his first RBI as a Cub. Lilly attempted a bunt, the ball went in the air and both David Ross and Arroyo let the ball fall in between them. Ross threw the ball to 2nd but Floyd scored from 3rd on the play. Alfonso Soriano ended the inning with a fly out to left.

In the 8th the Cubs chased Arroyo from the game. Derrek Lee singled to left, Ramirez did the same and Jerry Narron pulled Arroyo for Mike Stanton. Ryan Theriot pinch-hit for Cliff Floyd and sacrificed Lee and Ramirez to 2nd and 3rd. Barrett was intentionally walked. Todd Coffey was brought in to face DeRosa who singled to left to drive in Lee and Ramirez.

Alfonso Soriano doubled in the 7th off of Arroyo for the first extra base hit on the season for the Cubs.

The Cubs evened the series at 1-1 but most importantly Ted Lilly had a tremendous outing, Lou Piniella won his first game as a Cub and the Cubs showed a little of the swagger that Lou has spoken so much about.

Jason Marquis will make his debut on Wednesday against Kyle Lohse. The game starts at 11:35am C.T.

Quote of the Day

"When you play, play hard; when you work, don’t play at all." – Theodore Roosevelt