Z Cubs Rally … Z Cubs Win! – Cubs 5 Pirates 3

Game Two – Cubs 5 Pirates 3
WP – Sean Marshall (1-0) LP – Evan Meek (0-1) Save – Carlos Marmol (1)

wflag.jpgQ’s squad battled from behind and picked up their first win of the season after two-out clutch hits by Alfonso Soriano and pinch-hitter Blake DeWitt.

The Cubs could not by a hit with runners on base until the eighth. Kosuke Fukudome started the five-run rally with a walk and advanced to second on a wild pitch by Evan Meek. Starlin Castro drove in the Cubs first run with a double to right center. The Cubs received a gift when Lyle Overbay booted a routine grounder off the bat of Marlon Byrd. Castro scored on the first error of the game by either team.

With the Cubs down 3-2, Geovany Soto put together a solid at bat that resulted in a single to right. After Carlos Pena popped out for the second out of the inning, Alfonso Soriano singled to right center that plated Byrd with the tying run. Tyler Colvin walked to load the bases.

Blake DeWitt hit for Sean Marshall and ripped the first pitch he saw into left. Soto and Soriano scored and gave the Cubs their first lead of the day.

Carlos Marmol was simply nasty in the ninth. Marmol nailed down his first save by striking out the side … two swinging and one looking.

The Cubs seemed to change their approach in the eighth after swinging early and often against Paul Maholm. Q’s offense could not get it done before the eighth. The Cubs put the leadoff runner on in five straight innings and a runner in scoring position in four straight innings before breaking through in the eighth against Evan Meek.

The bullpen figured to be one of the Cubs strengths this season and they delivered again Saturday. For the second day, Cubs relievers did not allow a run … and Kerry Wood, Sean Marshall and Carlos Marmol struck out six of the 10 batters they faced, only one hitter reached over the last three innings.

Carlos Zambrano put together a solid start before leaving with cramps in his right hand in the seventh. Zambrano gave up single runs in the first and third before settling down in the fourth, fifth and sixth. Garrett Jones led off the seventh with a solo homer to right that gave the Pirates a 3-0 lead.

Zambrano left after missing on a 1-2 pitch to Ronny Cedeno in the seventh. Kerry Wood came in and eventually walked Cedeno before shutting the door on the Mighty Pirates.

Carlos Zambrano allowed three runs on five hits with three walks and four strikeouts in six-plus innings. Z’s first quality start of the season ended after 99 pitches, 61 for strikes.

Saturday’s come from behind victory was a team effort … from Carlos Zambrano to the bullpen to the starters to the bench, all 16 players contributed in some form to the first win of the season.

Mike Quade has to be happy about the end result. The Cubs never quit and battled back to earn the win. But Quade must question their overall approach at the plate. The Cubs looked horrible against a very talented but underachieving pitcher in Paul Maholm.

The Cubs offense scattered just three hits over the first 4 2/3 innings and the team’s first extra basehit of the season was off the bat of Carlos Zambrano. Paul Maholm actually retired the Cubs in order in three different innings on 21 total pitches … seven in the first, seven in the second and seven in the fourth.

Jeff Baker became the Cubs’ first position player with an extra base knock when he doubled to start the sixth … but the problem was the lack of patience and not working the count. Aramis Ramirez earned the Cubs’ first free pass of the game in the sixth. And it was a pair of walks that led to the rally in the eighth.

The Cubs found themselves in a hole in the first inning … after another two-out RBI by the Pirates mighty offense. Z walked Jose Tabata to start the game but recovered and struck out Neil Walker swinging and retired Andrew McCutchen on a pop out to third.

Z lost his command and walked Lyle Overbay on four pitches. Pedro Alvarez made him pay … the Pirates’ third baseman ripped a two-out single to right on a 1-2 pitch. Tabata scored … 1-0 Pirates.

Ryan Doumit grounded out to first to end the inning. After one Zambrano had already thrown 25 pitches, 14 for strikes.

Paul Maholm retired the first six Cubs hitters (first and second inning) on just 14 pitches.

The Pirates tacked on in the third. Jose Tabata led off with a single to right off Z’s glove. Tabata hit a 0-1 pitch back up the middle that ricocheted off Z’s glove that ended up in right field.

The newest Cubs’ killer, Neil Walker, ripped a 2-2 pitch into right center. Walker’s third hit of the season (two doubles and a home run) drove in Tabata with the Pirates’ second run.

Z really labored after Walker’s double. Andrew McCutchen walked on four pitches but Z battled Overbay and finally struck him out swinging. Pedro Alvarez broke his bat on a 1-2 pitch and hit a grounder to Carlos Pena. Pena made a difficult play look easy and started the 3-6-1 inning ending double play. After three, Z had already thrown 57 pitches …

The Cubs first hit finally came in the third … and it was a double by Carlos Zambrano.

Z settled down after the third, but the Cubs offense could not manage anything but singles against the crafty Maholm. While the Cubs were busy swinging at everything Maholm threw to the plate, the Mighty Pirates made Zambrano work.

After five complete, the Pirates led the Cubs 2-0 … and Paul Maholm had thrown only 57 pitches (40 for strikes) while Zambrano’s pitch count stood at 80 (49 for strikes).

Jeff Baker became the Cubs’ first position player to record an extra basehit in the sixth … Baker led off with a double to left but was stranded after Starlin Castro grounded out to third and Marlon Byrd grounded out to third. Baker advanced to third on Byrd’s ground out. Aramis Ramirez put together a nice at bat and worked a walk … the Cubs first free pass of the game.

Geovany Soto, who had a rough Opening Day, grounded out to short to end the inning … on the first pitch of the at bat.

Garrett Jones made it 3-0 with a solo homer of Zambrano to start the seventh. Jones launched the first pitch he saw of the inning over the wall in right.

Carlos Zambrano left in the middle of Ronny Cedeno’s at bat. After missing on a 1-2 pitch, Z appeared to cramp up. Mark O’Neal and Mike Quade made their way to the mound and lifted Z.

Zambrano left with cramping in his right hand.

Kerry Wood inherited a 2-2 count on Ronny Cedeno. The Cubs former shortstop walked but was thrown out at second when Paul Maholm tried to sacrifice him to second. Wood struck out Jose Tabata for the second out of the inning.

Wood struck out Neil Walker looking to end the inning.

Eight of the Pirates first nine runs of the season came via extra basehits … and seven of those nine scored on three home runs.

Sean Marshall retired the Pirates in order in the top of the eighth.

Kosuke Fukudome hit for Jeff Baker to start the bottom of the eighth … and worked a walk against Evan Meek. The fifth straight inning the Cubs put the leadoff man on base.

Starlin Castro took ball one then Meek’s next offering got away from Ryan Doumit. Fukudome advanced to second on the miscue. Castro ripped a 2-1 pitch to right. The ball carried and ended up sticking in the vines. Fukudome scored the Cubs’ first run of the game on Castro’s double.

Marlon Byrd hit a grounder to first on a 1-2 pitch. Overbay could not handle the routine grounder, the ball ended up in shallow right and Castro scored all the way from second on the error … 3-2 Pirates.

With Byrd at first, Aramis Ramirez flied out to left for the first out of the inning.

Geovany Soto then singled to right on a 0-2 pitch to put the tying run in scoring position. But with runners on first and second and one down, Carlos Pena popped out to shallow center.

Alfonso Soriano stepped in and fell behind 1-2 before dropping a single into right center. Byrd scored and tied the game at three on the long single. Soto advanced to third on the play.

Clint Hurdle went to the pen and brought in Chris Resop to face Tyler Colvin.

Tyler Colvin put together another good at bat that resulted in a walk. Colvin’s free pass loaded the bases and Mike Quade went to his bench for Blake DeWitt.

DeWitt lined Resop’s first pitch into left field down the line. Soto and Soriano scored … 5-3 Cubs. With runners on second and third, Kosuke Fukudome hit for the second time in the inning and tapped back to the mound to end the inning.

Carlos Marmol struck out the side in the ninth to seal the first win of the season.

The Cubs won the game and that is all that matters. But they must change their approach and game plan against the Bucs … or the struggles against the Mighty Pittsburgh Pirates will continue.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Matt Garza makes his official debut Sunday in the rubber game of the series. Clint Hurdle will counter with Ross Ohlendorf.

Quote of the Day

"Every strike brings me closer to the next home run." - Babe Ruth
  • Matt

    Go cubs go!

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    Let’s hope they are starting to settle in a little bit at the plate after 2 games, the way Castro is hitting I wouldn’t mind him in the three hole, with Barney leading off and Colvin batting second.

    • Ottawabob

      Pat, right now the Cubs have the most frustrating 3,4,5 and 6 hitters in all of baseball. hard to watch.

    • Richard Hood

      Actually I think Jackson will be hitting in the leadoff spot probably the end of May so what we got won’t really be that bad until then.

    • paulcatanese

      That works for me. Have said all along Byrd belongs lower in the lineup, and split Soriono and Pena up.

  • Ripsnorter1

    I can be very thankful that the Cubs didn’t sign Lyle Overbay. HE LOOKS AWFUL AT THE PLATE AND THE FIELD.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Kerry Wood was throwing 95-96 today. Impressive. If that curve ball of his is as sharp as it used to be, he’ll be very tough this year.

  • Aaron

    Couple things….One, Neil, you do a great job on recaps…just have to get that out of the way.

    Two, while I missed the game, I ended up watching it on the mlb.tv DVR thing, and this offense is dreadful. They took advantage of Overbay’s error, but just keep this in mind, that if not for the error….it’s a ballgame, and the Cubs lose. Yes, other winning teams are able to take advantage of things like this, but dreadful doesn’t even describe the offense….WOW….it was bad

    Three, while Marmol made quick work of the Pirates, did anyone watch the radar gun. I have no idea how accurate the readings were, but if it was accurate, Marmol has lost a TON of velocity, not only on his fastball, but also his slider.

    The readings I got where in the range of:

    Relying on my memory, last year, he was in this range:

    To say I’m a little concerned about that would be an understatement. In Spring Training his velocity was also down. Is he hurt? I don’t know.

    The positives I took out of this game were: Fukudome’s patience, Castro, Colvin actually taking a walk at a crucial moment, and Wood, Marshall, and Marmol closing out the game in dominating fashion.

    And let me just say this…..if this is the type of offensive effort Soriano and Pena give on a daily basis, then they have no business even being in MLB. They were completely dominated at the plate, and prior to Soriano’s RBI, he looked dreadful at the plate before dumping the ball into the OF (completely lucky hit if you ask me, as it was not hit hard at all, and 9 times out of 10, we’ve seen that same swing result in a lazy pop-up to the OF)

    Anyway, good win though….any win is good, but this offense just proved yet again that the 2011 Cubs are going NOWHERE.

    • Mike1040

      Thanks Lyle
      how goes Ramirez and Pena, so goes this team. We need for them to hit before we have to luck out and have an error by the opposition and a rare hit with risp by our slugging bench.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Thanks Aaron

    • Patrick_Schaefer

      I certainly hope you are wrong Aaron because spring summer and early fall seem so much more pleasant when the Cubs are winning, like in 2008 until they choked in the post season.

    • Tony

      Watching Marmol’s 9th, and I he didn’t throw many fastballs, but 92 was what I kept seeing for speed on good fastballs. It might just be early in the season, doesn’t have his speed, up to speed, if that makes sense. HIs slower fastballs, were wild, and could have been why they were slower.

      It will concern me if he is still there in a few weeks.

      • paulcatanese

        Tony,thats kind of what I was saying. If the slower fastballs were missing,that could be deliberate miss and it would throw the hitters off stride for his good stuff,I dont really know what was in his mind except if deliberite thats good,kind of like a changeup at 88-90.

    • GaryLeeT

      “The readings I got where in the range of:

      Maybe Marmol is showing his maturity by trading a little velocity for accuracy? I was not too wild about last year, when he would walk the bases loaded every other appearance.

    • paulcatanese

      Aaron,couldnt watch the game, but from reports( youres and others) Marmol slowing up? Or could it be he is trying to change speeds to be more effective? That would be tremendous if that were so.One comment onSoriono and Pena,if they average 1.5 SO each game and they would play the full schedule that would add up to 488 SO for the year of unproductave outs. And I cant forget Hill and the pitcher,wow.

  • Last_ginger

    I was at the game today and when Dewitt came to the plate me and the fans around me let out a huge groan of despair but Dewitt came through in the clutch and that cant do anything but boost his confidence and hopefully he’ll continue to put good swings on the ball. good W today!

  • fryegye

    I go away for a couple of hours and the Cubs get patient, work counts, and breaks come their way. Cubs win!

    Aaron is right about the way the offense looked through the first seven. I’m not down on Soriano as much as some here, and I still think Pena will be a plus as a placeholder for (insert free agent or prospect here), but having two high strikeout hitters back-to-back is not playing the percentages.

    It was great to see DeWitt do well at the plate. I still want Barney to play second until he gives Q a real reason to change.

    We know it’s going to be a rough ride. The Chinese proverb is that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Step one…

  • studio179

    It was just a win, but it seemed like a big one though. Was it because it was the first win of the season? Was it because it was against the Pirates and the Cubs struggle against them? Was it because the offense woke up and came from behind against a good pitcher? I think it was all the above and a win is good to see anyhow. Let’s see how the Cubs respond behind Garza in the rubber game.

    • Serothis

      I saw it as a big win partially because it was our first win of the season but mainly because they bailed out big z who pitched well. It would have been an absolute injustice if he got the loss having thrown a decent game.

  • Ripken Boy

    Quade needs to be aware of pitch counts for his starting pitchers. 114 for Dempster yesterday way too much this early.

    • studio179

      That’s what I said, too. Dempster should not have come back out in the 7th.

    • paulcatanese

      If you take notice of last year it was not uncommon for Dempster to go beyond his limit, he breaks down very quickly. I agree that Quade should be aware of that and yet it seems to happen quite often. There really is no reason whatsoever for someone to be ready at 85-90 pitches especialy if they start to pull the ball or he gets it up in the zone as he often does when he is about to lose it. Quade has a sufficent bullpen and should use it. Dempster is good but not infalliable.

      • Pice433

        Your wrong, lincecum throws a bunch and nolan ryan the a bunch, if his stuff is going good and he feels good, it’s not a problem

        • Tony

          How is Paul wrong, when you are comparing them to Lincecum and Ryan. I get so tired of the Nolan Ryan comparison. That was then, it is over and gone. That era was where the pitchers threw their arms off. Some lasted, the ones we know, the names we don’t know, are the ones who actually threw their arms off, never to be heard of again, until Tommy John, has a surgery, that we now know as Tommy John Surgery. The advances in surgery, is why pitchers come back to pitch another day. Some guys, still go through their career without needing surgery, but they don’t stand out as much, since the other guys come back and keep pitching.

          Early in the season, pitchers should not be let go to 114 pitches on a cold, Opening Day. Plus Dempster’s stuff was not good at that point. He had been strugglling for the last few innings.

          Paul was not wrong.

          • paulcatanese

            Thank you Tony,you said it better than I could.I would in my wildest dreams compare Dempster to Lincecum and Ryan. No way under those conditions.

          • paulcatanese

            What I meant to say above was no comparison to those two. One is retired and one is just a kid. I would keep an eye on Lincecum in the future and see what happens with that delivery of his.When you get 150% out of youre body 100% of the time,well?

  • paulcatanese

    Again Neil great re-cap,couldnt get to watch but thanks to you didnt miss a thing except the cold.

    • Last_ginger

      it actually was pretty nice out when the sun came out. Not to bad of a day

  • Gramps

    I liked their approach to hitting. Hitting to the opposite field, being patient and taking walks. Nice to see DeWitt come thru. “Z” looked pretty good and the bullpen sparkled. I don’t buy the theory of it being a lucky win. This is baseball and you have to take advantage of the other team’s errors. Today we did. Let’s hope we can get the rubber game in the series and start making it a habit to win series. GO CUBS!

    • paulcatanese

      Absolutly right, one series at a time would add up to a great season. And it was a good win.

  • Tony

    A win, is a win, is a win!

    If all teams took away wins, that the other team gave them, their wouldn’t be many wins. Most games come down to the little things, and this time the Cubs took advantage and hung the W.

    The offense is a huge concern, as their approach at the plate is awful. One inning of offense, was enough, but won’t be most days. If they give most SP’s 3 innings of outs, for 21 pitches, they will be dominated.

  • Tony

    Just think, last year, Castro was sent to the minors for the year, yet today, he is most likely our best player. It was obvious last spring that he was able to play, and last year, he had spurts of greatness, but I really like this kid. (I’ve said it before, but huge man crush for Castro)

    His AB in the 8th, he does so many times. Looks like he is jammed and yet he gets his hands through so fast, that he gets the barrell of the bat on the ball and hits it off of the wall in RF. and his baserunning, he just keeps going hard, as soon as the ball is booted, he just keeps going and scores.

    Keep these young guys coming, they are the future, and they are fun to watch play the game.

    • paulcatanese

      Kind of reminds you of Jeter a little on that pitch(a while back). Love his baserunning,very aggresive. He will get caught once in a while, but love it when he makes the defense make the play and more often than not he will make it. What will be fun to watch is that Barney is almost the same type of baserunner.

  • Tony

    Dewitt’s hit in the 8th was a nice piece of hitting. Outside pitch, didn’t try to pull it, just stroked it into left field.

    Marmol’s 9th – He is so nasty. Ryan Doumit after the first pitch, shakes hit head and says WOW! He is a catcher who sees a pitch or 2.

    • paulcatanese

      I also liked that Tony,reminds me of my youth. It was very well done.

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    RT @CubsInsider #Cubs lineup vs. #Pirates (4/3): Castro SS, Barney 2B, Byrd CF, Ramirez 3B, Peña 1B, Soto C, Soriano LF, Colvin RF, Garza P about an hour ago

    I don’t like this batting order.
    I think this one is much better, Barney, Byrd, Castro, Ramirez, Pena,Soto, Soriano, Colvin

    Castro hasn’t shown a ton of power, but he will hit for average, hit his fair share of doubles and triples, and the occasional HR. I think he is clutch too.

    • cubtex

      Patrick, I can see Castro develop into a #3 hitter eventually but not at this stage of his career. He has room to add muscle and I think will develop into a plus 20 HR hitter.

      • Tony

        But this team doesn’t have a #3 hitter. Castro if he is not in the 2 hole, should be in the 3 hole, as he is the best hitter on this team.

        I believe he is a perfect 2 hole hitter.

      • paulcatanese

        You may be right,but think about the 2 out scenerio,Castro would put his doubles average into play and keep the inning alive for a run. I just cannot see Byrd in that spot. And I do think that this point in Castros career he offers just as much power that Byrd does for the 3 spot. Until we have a true no.3 hitter that may not be a bad option and then move him back.

    • paulcatanese

      Patrick,why not? It could work and probably be a lot better.