Cubs Slammed on Opening Day – Cubs 3 Pirates 6

Game One – Cubs 3 Pirates 6
WP – Kevin Correia (1-0) LP – Ryan Dempster (0-1) Save – Joel Hanrahan (1)

The Chicago Cubs 2011 season began on a cold and rainy day at the Friendly Confines … and in the first game of 162, the Cubs played a lot like they did a year ago.

The Cubs offense had chances early and often but could not manage anything but singles against Pirates’ pitching. The Cubs recorded 11 hits on the afternoon, not one for extra bases. Q’s offense put runners on base in all but two innings, left ten on base and finished the afternoon 2-for-10 with RISP.

Ryan Dempster was very good over the first four innings. Dempster picked up where he left off in Spring Training. At one point Dempster retired nine in a row and took a 2-0 lead into the fifth.

Dempster labored through a 34-pitch inning fifth inning, walked two and served up a Grand Slam to Neil Walker (2-for-4 with a double, a home run, a walk, two runs scored and four RBI). Walker’s first career Grand Slam gave the Bucs a 4-2 lead … and the pesky Pirates never looked back.

Andrew McCutchen, who torched Cubs’ pitching a year ago, got just enough of a 0-1 pitch from Dempster in the seventh. McCutchen’s two-run homer gave the Pirates and commanding 6-2 lead … and chased Dempster from the game.

Dempster allowed six runs on six hits in 6 2/3 innings with four walks and seven strikeouts. Free passes and home runs hurt Dempster and the Cubs again … five of the Pirates six hits against Dempster were for extra bases, three doubles and two home runs. Dempster must maintain a 3:1 strikeout to walk ratio to give his team a chance to win.

Starlin Castro had an excellent afternoon in his first big league Opening Day. Castro scored two of the Cubs three runs, finished the game 3-for-5 and played excellent defense at shortstop.

Carlos Pena made his Cubs’ debut and knocked in a run, walked and added a single in four trips to the plate. Pena also made two excellent picks that saved Starlin Castro and Aramis Ramirez an error in the first game of the season.

The Cubs lost on Opening Day for the fourth time in the last five years … one game does not make a season.

The Cubs jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Starlin Castro ripped a 1-0 pitch down the third baseline. Pedro Alvarez made a good stop but could not field the ball cleanly. Castro reached on the infield single.

Marlon Byrd hit a chopper to Alvarez at third on a 1-1 pitch. Alvarez airmailed his throw to Overbay at first. Castro rounded second and headed for third … then was waived in by Ivan DeJesus. Castro slid in head first ahead of Overbay’s throw with the season’s first run.

With Byrd at second, Aramis Ramirez lined out to right and Carlos Pena walked. Geovany Soto popped out to first to end the inning.

Ryan Dempster retired the Pirates in order in the second and third.

The Cubs tacked on a run in the bottom of the third … but it should have been more. Kosuke Fukudome led off with a single to right on a 1-2 pitch. Castro hit a bullet up the middle that Neil Walker knocked down and rolled to Cedeno. Fukudome was forced but Castro reached on the fielder’s choice.

Marlon Byrd and Aramis Ramirez singled to load the bases. With one out, Carlos Pena hit a sharp grounder to the hole at second. Castro scored on the play as Ramirez was forced at second. Geovany Soto hit a weak, sinking liner to short. Pena was forced to end the inning.

Dempster had retired nine in a row before a two-out double by Lyle Overbay in the fourth. Dempster struck out Alvarez to end the fourth … and maintained the 2-0 lead.

The wheels fell off for Ryan Dempster in the fifth. Dempster had very good control and had not walked a batter … and all of the command problems came back to hurt him and the Cubs.

Ryan Doumit led off with a single to center. Garrett Jones grounded out to third on a 3-2 pitch. Doumit advanced to second on the play. Dempster then issued his first walk of the afternoon to the free-swinging Ronny Cedeno.

Kevin Correia dropped down a sac bunt, both runners advanced on the play.

Dempster walked Jose Tabata to load the bases with two outs and the Cubs up 2-0.

Neil Walker stepped in and worked the count to 3-2 before launching a ball to the back of the bleachers in right. The Pirates took a 4-2 lead with one swing of the bat.

While the Cubs were busy making outs, Dempster worked in and out of a jam in the sixth. Mike Quade allowed Dempster to take the hill in the seventh … and it cost the Cubs two runs.

Dempster made quick work of Kevin Correia and Jose Tabata. But Neil Walker ripped a double into right center past Fukudome on a 0-1 pitch. Andrew McCutchen launched a 0-1 pitch into the first row of the bleachers in left center … 6-2 Pirates.

Mike Quade brought in James Russell to finish out the inning.

Ryan Dempster left with two outs in the seventh after allowing six runs on six hits with four walks and seven strikeouts. Dempster threw 114 pitches, 73 for strikes.

The Cubs made it 6-3 in the bottom of the seventh. Darwin Barney led off with a gift single. Barney popped a 3-2 pitch right just to the third base side of the mound. Doumit went out to catch the ball and appeared to be called off by Alvarez. The ball fell and Barney reached with his second single of the game.

After Tyler Colvin struck out against lefty Garrett Olson.

Kosuke Fukudome swung at and missed a 0-1 offering from Olson in the dirt. The ball hit Doumit in shin guards and bounced away. Barney took second and scored on a single to left center by Fukudome.

Castro blooped a single into right to put runners on first and second with one out … Marlon Byrd flied out to center and Aramis Ramirez flied out to the track in left center to end the inning.

James Russell and John Grabow kept the Pirates from adding on … but Jeff Samardzija could not throw strikes, again.

Jose Tabata reached on a one out single. Samardzija then walked Neil Walker and Andrew McCutchen to load the bases. After a visit from Mark Riggins, Samardzija found the strike zone and was bailed out by Starlin Castro.

Lyle Overbay hit a sinking liner to the hole at short. Castro dove, caught the ball and doubled off Walker from second to end the inning.

The Cubs put two on in the ninth. Fukudome walked and Castro reached on an infield single. But with one out, Marlon Byrd struck out looking on three pitches and Aramis Ramirez grounded out to short to end the game.

Winning on Opening Day is great but it does not mean a team will or will not have a good season … just ask the Pirates. With Friday’s win, Pittsburgh has won on Opening Day the last five years. With that said, Mike Quade and his players have a lot of work to do.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Carlos Zambrano will face Paul Maholm in game two Saturday just after noon.

Quote of the Day

"Don’t ever permit the pressure to exceed the pleasure." - Joe Maddon
  • xaxinho

    I think we can put this loss on Quade’s account. It was supposed to go to the bullpen before McCutchen HR.

    Afraid to replace Dempster before 6 innings or a simple mistake to keep the pitcher to replace only at the pinch hit opportunity?

  • gocubs

    Someone please tell me why Marlon Byrd is hitting 3rd.

  • Cheryl

    This is the first game. It will get better.

  • Endy

    well the offense didn’t score much either vs a pitcher that had 5.4 ERA last year. But i blame 1st dempster for giving up that granny. then quade for leaving him in for the 7th, and then the offense for stinking. this team is not going to win much with fukudome leading off and byrd in the 3rd spot, he’s not a #3 hitter. and Pena is not a #5. We have too many #5,6,7 hitters on this roster. ugh, i have little optimism

    • mitchener

      Fukudome got on base 3 out 5 times. I do blame the offense on Soto and Byrd who went 0 for 4 with risp and went 1-9 with no walks.

  • Matt Weaver

    I don’t have my usual optimism from season’s past. It finally happened — I caved. I’m jaded.

    It’s only the first game of the season but I’m at a loss for how you can scatter 11 hits and have not one drop for extra bases and three runs.

    Has anyone read the Sports Illustrated baseball preview? While the “What If” Cubs story is fantastic, a rival scout doesn’t look at this team with much regard at all.


    See you guys tomorrow. I’m jaded but I’m still a sucker for this team.

    • Aaron

      Welcome to the Debbie-downer party! LOL…it doesn’t feel to good from here, but at least we’re not ignoring the facts.

      I believe the scout’s opinion is this:
      “This is a below-.500 team. It’s not a dynamic lineup and it looks really old. The wind at Wrigley Field will negate some of Carlos Peña’s power, they’d love to get rid of Alfonso Soriano if they could and Aramis Ramirez’s bat speed isn’t there. Carlos Zambrano pitched well over the last six weeks but he’s still a time bomb

      Read more:

      Additionally, I love Verducci’s video:

      He lays it out very well when he states the only above average players the Cubs have are: Castro, Colvin, Cashner, and Marmol.

      But he goes on to say that the Cubs lack a single impact player on their ENTIRE roster, and he says he could give a Top 50 draft for everyone in baseball, and not a single player would be selected from the Cubs. That pretty much sums up what I’ve been saying.

      I think we all love the energy of Colvin, Castro’s range and his bat, and Marmol’s K totals, but what often plagues Cubs fans is their perception that their favorite players on the Cubs are among the best in the league, and that’s simply not even close to being true.

      • JedMosley

        Being optimistic doesn’t mean we ignore the facts. Anyone who watches this team can see there are problems. I choose to be optimistic because it’s more enjoyable, but that doesn’t mean I don’t recognize all of the problems.

        • studio179

          Very good point. Just because a person is being positive, it does not mean they do not see reality. Same with being negative. Just because a person is being negative, it does not mean they do not care and are not passionate Cub fans. Then, there are the perceptions that fit. There are positive fans who are clueless and negative fans who are just bitter and grumpy at the world. Both sides of perception can be taken the wrong way and leaving a person labled.

          • JedMosley

            That’s a great point as well. Sometimes I get frustrated with some of the negativity on here but I forget that everyone is passionate and they do really care about the Cubs. Losing sucks, and it’s very frustrating, especially watching the same results over and over.

        • Aaron


  • Brentcarmona

    Ah it seems lk a re run. Same story different season. Things looked hopeful for our cubbies. Solid pitching, fielding and to an extent hitting (not that good but we were up two to nothing). all of us got pretty excited I bet….

    Most frustrating thing, is just driving the men that are on base or situational hitting. Pena with the bases loaded could have been a whole lot worse result (a ko) but it was still tough to listen to. Especially the 3 0 greenlight, later on, I mean what the freak carlos?? Just so weak.

    Soriano had a fastball in the high 80s, over the plate, that he couldve drove at one time, just weak pop out to first (nobody was on base but it just looked bad on tv).

    byrd, I dunno what to think. We all know he aint a 3 hitter. Three pitches ko in his last at bat not good (pitcher was throwing in the high 90s though). He is part of the hacking philosophy that I just cnt stand. I mean seems forever ive seen this on cubs teams. I just cnt stand not getting the dang runners in when we have them on base…

    Demp shouldve been taken out to face the pirates best hitter after that double. (i dunno if that is their best hitter , not familiar w the team but hes killed us always) he will rebound im not worried about him, he is consistantly (spelling?) Solid over the season.

    Positives: castro, pena defense looking well. Aramis making solid contact. Fuku solid as well, takes a walk late which was nice. Loved barneys swing on his first hit, they tried the same breaking pitch and he recognized it and went the other way. J russell doing well too…

    Thats all I can think of. Man its hard to type this on a phone haha. Tomorrow is another day…lets get em z.

  • gocubs

    Why is Byrd hitting 3rd? Ramirez, Pena, Soto all more qualified.

  • Aaron

    in case anyone cares, Josh Johnson is working on a no-hitter against the Mets through 5

  • Bryan

    Well, I’m not quite ready to declare “season lost” just yet, but today looked way too eerily reminiscent of last year. For opening day the team seemed to lack energy….not a good sign for things to come. I was particularly disappointed in our “players” manager today. His game management of Dempster is very disturbing, particularly with an obvious full and fresh bullpen. Where this team will likely continue to fail is in bench management….outside of Colvin, when your options are Baker, Dewitt and Hill, those don’t instill much confidence for success.

    I believe Aaron correctly noticed the diminishing fan base today. I saw the same thing. While the weather was a contributing factor, that usually doesn’t faze the Cubs faithful. But after the grand slam I would assess that around 40-50% of those attending said only the 6th inning. I suspect I wasted $170 on the Comcast extra innings package…thank goodness for Scully on the Dodger broadcasts.

  • GaryLeeT

    I would not even begin to try and say I knew what it was like to be a MLB player, but they are still only human, right? Being such, how does a Darwin Barney look over his right shoulder at Soriano in left, and reconcile the fact the he makes more money in 1 week than Barney makes all year? How could he not resent him? I know as a fan I sure do. I think Soriano is the poster child for everything that is wrong with this team, and until the Cubs are rid of him (and the Hendry who signed him), the culture of losing will not change. Even more depressing is that when a team cuts a player, the remaining portion of the entire contract is due in full. So that means Soriano WILL be a fixture on this team for the next 3 (maybe 2 if Ricketts grows a pair) years, reminding us all what is wrong with the Cubs, and MLB’s guaranteed contracts.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Nothing out of the ordinary here: the Cubs got rocked by the Pirates (again). The Pirates went 11-5 vs the Cubs in 2010. The Pirates only won 46 games against the rest of the schedule. That’d be 46-100 against everybody else. So you should not be too surprised.

    Dempster pitched better than Z does on Opening Day. Z got rocked for 10 or 11 runs last year in his short outing, so I feel pretty good about Demp’s performance. Still, he ain’t going to win 15 games in 2011. He might win just11.

    Which brings me to predict:
    Dempster 11 wins
    Z 10 wins
    Garza 8 wins
    Wells 12 wins with this offense
    Cashner 6 wins

    Samardzija looked great didn’t he? One hit, two walks, and a screaming liner that Castro caught via a diving catch, and turned it into a double play.

  • BosephHeyden

    I think being lost in the shuffle here is that the Pirates looked a tad better more focused than they have in the past. I mean, typically once the Cubs did have a lead over the Pirates, they would expand it in a heartbeat: those 5 wins last year weren’t that close, and very, very few of those 11 wins consisted of the Cubs having a lead.

    I think a Clint Hurdle-lead Pirates team could be the start of a fourth team becoming a powerhouse in the NL Central.