Feldman and the Cubs Run Into a Minor Problem in Atlanta – Cubs 1, Braves 4

Game Four – Cubs 1, Braves 4

WP – Mike Minor (1-0) LP – Scott Feldman (0-1) Save – Craig Kimbrel (2)

The Cubs began the three-game series in Atlanta with a loss on Friday night. The Cubs could not figure out Mike Minor, who improved to 5-0 against the Cubs in his young career, while Scott Feldman had a bad night in his Cubs’ debut.

Scott Feldman lasted only 4 2/3 innings and struggled in just about every aspect of his game. Feldman gave up four runs on five hits with four walks, a hit batsman, two wild pitches, one strikeout and an error. Feldman surrendered a home run to Justin Upton in the first inning and was lifted with two outs in the fifth after throwing 102 pitches, 53 for strikes.

Michael Bowden made his second appearance of the year. Bowden retired all seven batters he faced over 2 1/3 innings. Bowden threw only 30 pitches, 22 for strikes. With the long stretch of games, Bowden really helped save the Cubs’ pen.

Hector Rondon struggled a little in the eighth inning. Rondon hit Reed Johnson and gave up a single to Evan Gattis but he struck out two of the five batters he faced in his second big league appearance.

Scott Hairston (1-for-3 with a home run) was the Cubs’ offense on Friday night. Hairston hit his first longball in a Cubs’ uniform and cut the Braves’ lead to 2-1 in the fifth. The Cubs offense managed only five hits and not a single walk on Friday night while striking out nine times. Alberto Gonzalez (1-for-3 with a double) recorded the Cubs’ first hit in the third and Alfonso Soriano (1-for-3) collected a hit. The Cubs were just 0-for-2 with RISP and left one runner on base.

With Friday’s loss, the Cubs dropped back to .500 at 2-2 on the young season.

The Braves jumped ahead in the first inning after Mike Minor retired the Cubs in order on nine pitches, seven for strikes, to start the game. Scott Feldman looked very good against Andrelton Simmons and Jason Heyward. But he could not get a 0-2 pitch past Justin Upton. Upton lined the low 0-2 offering over the wall in left center. Upton’s third longball of the season gave the Braves a 1-0 lead. Freddie Freeman then reached on an infield single … the Cubs were in the shift and Freeman hit the ball where the third baseman would have been, Castro fielded the ball in short left. B.J. Upton popped a 3-0 pitch to Rizzo in foul ground to end the inning.

Scott Feldman threw 22 pitches in the first, 13 for strikes, and it was pretty apparent after the Upton homer that he would have a short night.

Feldman made it through the second inning without allowing any runs … then struggled in the third.

Andrelton Simmons walked to start the third. Heyward popped out to Castillo behind the plate for the first out. Simmons took off for second on the first pitch to Justin Upton. Welington Castillo made a strong, accurate throw, but Alberto Gonzalez was too far in front of the bag to apply the tag. Feldman then uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Simmons to take third, Justin Upton drove a 2-2 pitch out to right. Hairston hauled it in but Simmons scored easily … 2-0 Braves. Feldman walked Freddie Freeman then uncorked his second wild pitch of the inning on the first pitch to B.J. Upton. Freeman took second but was stranded when B.J. looked at a 1-2 pitch to end the inning.

The Braves scored a run in the third without a hit … one run on two walks, a sac fly and two wild pitches.

Mike Minor retired the Cubs in order in the fourth … just 46 pitches, 33 strikes, for Minor through four innings.

Scott Feldman labored through a long fourth inning, but somehow kept the Braves from scoring. Dan Uggla fouled out to Lillibridge to start the inning. Juan Francisco grounded a 2-2 pitch to the hole at second. Rizzo fielded and threw to Feldman … but Feldman did not touch the bag and Francisco reached on the error. Evan Gattis followed with a single to right. With runners on first and second and one down, Mike Minor bunted a 3-1 pitch too hard … and right back to the mound. Feldman fielded the ball and forced Francisco at third. Andrelton Simmons then dribbled a 2-1 pitch to the first base side of the mound, Feldman fielded and tossed to Rizzo to end the inning … 74 pitches for Feldman after four, 40 for strikes.

Scott Hairston put the Cubs on the board in the fifth. Hairston lined a 1-2 pitch over the wall in left but the 2-1 score would not last long.

Scott Feldman started the fifth, but could not complete the inning. Feldman walked Jason Heyward (3-1 pitch) to start the inning. Justin Upton flied out to center. Heyward stole second then advanced to third when Freeman grounded out to Castro in the shift. Feldman hit B.J. Upton with a 0-1 pitch then walked Dan Uggla on four pitches after B.J. Upton stole second to load the bases with two down.

Juan Francisco put the game away with a single to left on a 3-2 pitch. Heyward and B.J. Upton scored, 4-1 Braves. Dale Sveum made the slow walk and brought in Michael Bowden. Bowden retired Evan Gattis on a grounder to second to end the inning.

Michael Bowden retired all seven batters he faced on Friday night. And Hector Rondon kept the Braves off the board in the eighth. The Cubs offense simply could not mount any sort of rally against Mike Minor, Ryan Flaherty or Craig Kimbrel.

Carlos Villanueva makes his Cubs’ debut on Saturday night against rookie Julio Teheran.

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Quote of the Day

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