A New Skipper … A New Look Cubs? – Cubs 9 Nationals 1

Game One Hundred Twenty-Six – Cubs 9 Nationals 1
WP – Casey Coleman (1-1) LP – Livan Hernandez (8-9) Save – None

wflag.jpgBoy was that refreshing! For the first time in recent memory, the Chicago Cubs cruised to an easy win without any “excitement” what-so-ever in the late innings. Interim manager Mike Quade won his first managerial game in the big leagues. He tweaked the lineup slightly and was able to get some production out of the slumping Cubs.

Mike Quade put his own stamp on the line-up by moving Blake DeWitt to the leadoff spot. DeWitt responded well with a 3-for-5 day that included a home run, a double and two RBI. Tyler Colvin, who started in right field and moved to center after Marlon Byrd left, was dropped to the number six spot in the order. Alfonso Soriano (2-for-5, two RBI) moved down to the seven-hole, while Geovany Soto hit eighth in his return from the DL.

Casey Coleman earned his first big league win with an excellent start Monday night. Coleman allowed just one run on three his with two walks and three strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings. Andrew Cashner and Thomas Diamond put together 2 2/3 perfect innings to close out Coleman’s win.

The only negative on Q and Coleman’s night was Marlon Byrd getting hit in the hand by Livan Hernandez in the third inning. Byrd stayed in and ran the bases but was lifted for Kosuke Fukudome in the bottom of the inning. X-Rays came back negative and Byrd is listed as day-to-day.

With Monday’s victory, the Cubs improved to 52-74 on the season …

Casey Coleman, making his second big league start, worked a gem to earn his first victory. Ryan Zimmerman singled with one out in the first inning, and then the Cubs rookie right-hander would not allow another hit until Adam Dunn singled to start the seventh.

The Cubs did nothing in the first, and missed out on a no out, two on chance in the second. Aramis Ramirez walked, Xavier Nady singled, but then Tyler Colvin and Alfonso Soriano were both called out on strikes. Geovany Soto, who was activated from the disabled list before the game, was intentionally walked to bring up Coleman, who bounced one back to the mound.

The offense broke through in the third inning. In fact they exploded for five runs to stake Casey to a comfortable lead. Blake DeWitt started the rally with a solo-homer on a line drive to right. The versatile infielder was not expected to have much pop since he hit only one home run in four months with the Dodgers, but already has three in his first month as a Cub.

Starlin Castro (2-for-6) singled but was caught stealing, and then Livan Hernandez lost his control. The next three batters received free passes (two hit batsmen, one walk) to load the bags. That set up Tyler Colvin’s two-run single and Alfonso Soriano’s bloop hit that will go down as a bases clearing triple in the box score. Alfonso managed to place the drive right in between the foul line and the glove of a diving Willie Harris.

The Cubs tacked on in the fifth when Casey Coleman helped himself with a run scoring single and DeWitt delivered a sac fly for another RBI. They broke the game wide open with tallies in both the sixth and seventh innings. A bases loaded walk by Geovany Soto (0-for-2, three walks) forced in the sixth inning tally, and Kosuke Fukudome (2-for-4) plated Castro with a seventh inning single.

The only bad occurrence of evening came in that prolific third inning, when Marlon Byrd was hit in the hand with a pitch. He stayed in to run the bases, but then left in the bottom of the frame when Kosuke came on as a defensive replacement. X-rays came back negative however, and Byrd is listed as day-to-day.

Relievers on the Cubs have found a way to turn blowouts in to nail-bitters all year long, but tonight the ‘pen did a nice job of keeping the lead sizeable. Andrew Cashner came on to bail out Coleman in the seventh, and got the first man he faced (Alberto Gonzalez) to rap into a double play. The only run Casey allowed came on an Ivan Rodriguez ground ball in that seventh.

Andrew Cashner stayed on and retired the side in order in the eighth. Thomas Diamond has pitched much better since being transitioned to the bullpen. He worked a three up and three down ninth inning to hold on for the 9-1 win.

Micah Hoffpauir was called up from Triple-A Iowa before the game and grounded out in his only at-bat. He was used as a pinch hitter for the pitcher’s spot in the top of the ninth. Xavier Nady started at first base and hit fifth in the order. He had a big day at the plate, going 3-for-4.

Ivan DeJesus, who has been the first base coach since the start of the season, took over for Mike Quade in the box at third. DeJesus made a questionable decision to send Aramis Ramirez home from second on a Tyler Colvin single to right in the third. For some reason, Washington right fielder Willie Harris opted not to throw home, even though he would have had a play on Ramirez. The throw came to third and Ivan’s decision to give the green light worked out. The ex-Cub shortstop has spent time coaching third when he was a manger at the minor league level in the Houston system.

Bobby Dernier, who spent the last four years of his playing career in Chicago, joined the staff as the first base coach. Dernier had been serving as the roving base running and outfield coordinator for the minor league system. Mike Quade appeared to be very aggressive. He sent runners several times including Starlin Castro, who was caught stealing for the first out of the third.

The Cubs have now evened the season series at two wins a piece after they dropped two of three at Wrigley in April. When this set concludes on Wednesday, it will be the final meeting of the year between the two struggling clubs.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Carlos Zambrano will be on the bump tomorrow night against Nats’ southpaw John Lannan as the Cubs look to win back-to-back games and four straight road contests.

Quote of the Day

"Build up your weaknesses until they become your strong points." – Knute Rockne