Cubs Put Up Little Phight in Home Opener – Phillies 7, Cubs 2

Game Four – Cubs 2, Phillies 7

WP – Roberto Hernandez (1-0) LP – Travis Wood (0-1) Save – None

On a cold day at Wrigley Field with the wind blowing out to right field, the offense showed little to no life as the Cubs dropped their home opener to the Phillies.

The Cubs jumped out to an early 2-0 lead on a solo home run by Welington Castillo (1-for-4 with a home run) in the second and a RBI infield single by Starlin Castro (1-for-4 with a RBI) in the third that plated Darwin Barney (1-for-2 with a walk and a run scored). But the Cubs could not manage a hit after the third inning. Only two Cubs reached base after the fourth inning and that was in the eighth on a pair of walks. The Cubs offense scored two runs on three hits with three walks (1-for-3 RISP, three LOB) in nine innings.

Travis Wood was not great but he was not bad either. Wood made quick work of the Phillies in the first two innings before laboring through a 29-pitch third inning that ran up his pitch count (56 pitches after three innings). The Phillies cut the Cubs lead in half in the fourth after Luis Valbuena committed an error that led to Philly’s first run. Chase Utley took Wood deep in the fifth and his first homer of the season, a two-run windblown homer, gave the Phillies the lead.

Travis Wood recorded a quality start in his first outing of the season after allowing four runs, three earned, on six hits with a walk, a hit batsman and eight strikeouts. Wood threw 102 pitches, 68 for strikes, in 6 1/3 innings.

The bullpen allowed the game to get out of hand in the seventh. The Phillies scored a run in seventh that closed the book on Wood, two more in the eighth off of Wesley Wright and a single run in the ninth off of Brian Schlitter.

While the Cubs could not buy a hit, the Phillies scored runs in five of their last six at bats and finished the day with seven runs on 11 hits.

With Friday’s loss, the Cubs dropped to 1-3 on the season.

Welington Castillo collected the Cubs’ first hit of the season at Wrigley with two down in the second inning. After Roberto Hernandez retired Schierholtz (lineout to center) and Valbuena (foul out to Ruiz), Castillo crushed a 1-0 pitch from Hernandez out to left. The ball ripped through the wind and ended up in the bleachers, 1-0 Cubs. Sweeney struck out swinging to end the inning.

The Cubs tacked on a run in the third after Travis Wood wiggled out of a small jam in the top half of the inning. Darwin Barney led off the inning with a single to left off of Cody Asche’s glove. Wood bunted Barney to second. Emilio Bonifacio lined out to center for the second out. Starlin Castro hit a grounder to the hole at second. Chase Utley made a sliding stop but did not field the ball cleanly. Gary Jones waived Barney around third. Utley made a strong throw, but Barney beat it and slid in safe with the Cubs second run of the game … 2-0 Cubs. Rizzo popped out to Utley in shallow right to end the inning.

Marlon Byrd led off the fourth and hit a liner toward third. Valbuena did not catch the ball and ended up at first on E5. Ryan Howard hit a soft liner to right. Byrd advanced to third and Wood was in trouble with runners on the corners and no outs. Domonic Brown hit a grounder back up the middle that Castro did not field. Brown was given a hit and a RBI on a ball that Castro should have caught … 2-1 Cubs. Wood struck out Nix and retired Asche on a deep fly to left center. With runners on the corners and two outs, Hernandez grounded out to second for the third out. Wood needed 71 pitches, 45 for strikes, to complete four innings.

The Phillies took the lead in the fifth after Carlos Ruiz reached with a one-out single to right. Chase Utley followed and lifted Wood’s first pitch up into the wind. The ball kept carrying out to right center and ended up two rows deep in the bleachers … 3-2 Phillies. Wood struck out Marlon Byrd and retired Howard on a grounder to Valbuena in the shift to end the inning.

At the end of four and a half, the Cubs trailed the Phillies 3-2 … and it remained a one-run game until the seventh inning.

Travis Wood threw 94 pitches, 62 for strikes, over the first six innings and stayed in to start the seventh. Wood struck out pinch-hitter Tony Gwynn Jr. for the first out. Ben Revere singled to left and Renteria made the slow walk to the mound. Hector Rondon replaced Wood, Junior Lake took over in left, Sweeney moved to right and Schierholtz left the game. Rondon walked Carlos Ruiz. With Utley due up, Renteria went back to his pen for lefty Wesley Wright.

Wright fell behind Utley 2-0 before getting one over. Utley singled to left, Revere scored and the Phillies took a 4-2 lead. Marlon Byrd hit a swinging bunt to the right of the mound. Wright picked up the ball and threw out Byrd at first as Ruiz and Utley advanced to second and third. Ryan Howard flied out to Bonifacio at the vines in center to end the inning.

The Cubs went down in order, again, in the seventh before the Phillies added to their lead in the eighth.

Wesley Wright stayed in for the eighth and gave up a leadoff single to Domonic Brown. Nix popped up a bunt attempt to Wright for the first out. Ryne Sandberg sent in John Mayberry Jr. to hit for Justin De Fratus. Mayberry Jr. cranked a two-run homer to left and gave the Phillies an insurmountable 6-2 lead. Ben Revere singled to left and Renteria went back to his pen for Brian Schlitter. Carlos Ruiz grounded out to Castro for the third out.

The Phillies added another run in the ninth. Brian Schlitter issued a two-out walk to Ryan Howard after retiring Utley and Byrd. Domonic Brown doubled to left. Howard scored, 7-2 Phillies.

Jeff Samardzija takes on Cliff Lee on Saturday afternoon (1:20pm CDT).

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Quote of the Day

"Never discourage anyone who continually makes progress, no matter how slow." - Plato
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  • No Baseball In Indiana

    I might pay $5 to go to Wrigley to watch this team. Until tickets are that cheap or the team plays better than a AAA team good luck Ricketts I have a good AAA team to go see in Indy.

    • BosephHeyden

      Last I checked, bleacher tickets on StubHub for July games were only about $30. Compared to 2009, that’s a little over half of what they were selling for then. So, looking at positives, we could eventually get back to the days of $5 ball games.

  • Denver Mike

    Neil put it perfectly, I see no “phight” in this team at all. The season is young, and I didn’t have very high expectations to begin with (62-90), but I haven’t seen any drastic changes in approach from any of the players that were around last year. I worry more with every passing game that the only culture being cultivated on the north side is one of losing.

    • cubtex

      Negative already? Not to be sarcastic but what were you expecting? Look at the roster. We need Castro Rizzo and Castillo to improve this year. That can still happen. Other than that???? Not much

      • Larry Schwimmer

        I agree with Cubtex. There is not one player on this CUB team that we can be excited about because he’s “currently” is great hitter for average or a home run hitter. When Castro first came up and hit .300 and had 200 hits it looked like we finally had a phnom to build the club around. Well, he’s not! Whatever has happened to him has resulted in him being “lost at the plate.” He’s got that “left foot” sticking out of the batter’s box “side-wise.” It’s a stupid, off-balance way of batting. The moment a pitcher gets him in a 2 strike count and throws the next pitch outside, he swings in an off-balance way. There is no way he can make full contact batting that way. Today he grounded into a double-play because he slapped an outside pitch that he had to stretch for. I don’t understand why coaches do not correct his batting stance. For now, we can only get excited about what one of these current players might develop into. That’s just our reality, sad to say.

        • Ripsnorter1

          Castro’s problems are due to the Theo administration trying, since 2012, to change his entire approach at the plate. This has been well documented.

          Now Castro is trying “to be himself.” How long he remains lost, or if he never recovers, is yet to be seen.

          Other players have been coached out of a successful career. Let’s hope he is an exception.

          On the plus side, it is still early.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            Nothing wrong with trying to help a player improve. I think his personal problems effected him just as much and now missing almost all of spring training has his timing off. It’s time we start holding Castro accountable for himself. He’s a big boy who has made poor decisions off the field and struggled staying healthy. Yes the FO tried to cosh him to improve his OBP, it’s not unheard of and not necessarily a bad choice. The blame for Casto’s success or lack thereof lies primarily with one person…Castro.

            Kalish should be playing against righties most days. Today’s lineup was dumb. Sweeney instead of Kalish? For a team struggling to score runs not playing the one guy that in spring training looked like he had the ability to generate offense without hitting is dumb. And if they want some excitement whats more exciting, Kalish or Sweeney?

          • Ripsnorter1

            Yes, Castro has personal problems that affect performance, too.

            But don’t forget about Jackson and Vitters as well. Bad coaching set them back and possibly is going to be the reason they do not make it to MLB.

          • Tony_H

            Every time a player doesn’t make it, it is not bad coaching. Bad coaching is sitting back and doing nothing to help a player with the parts of the game that they struggle with to fix.

          • GaryLeeT

            Or, they just don’t have enough talent.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            Jackson and Vitters had both played poorly for a while and something different had to be tried. It reached critical mass with both of them. If Jackson continued to K like he did he would never make a MLb roster. And Vitters just couldn’t get going.

            Players get coached. Especially those that aren’t very good. Castro was good but could be better. The other two were floundering and had reached a crossroads. Somethig had to be tried.

          • Larry Schwimmer

            I agree with the comments made by Boardrider. Let’s stop blaming everyone but Castro for his poor hitting performance. Coaching can make a difference, but Castro is responsible for his poor hitting. His immature behavior and bad decisions may have affected him. And, it’s just as likely that scouts and pitchers have figured out how to get him out. Castro just hasn’t adjusted. There have been plenty of players who won, even “Rookie of the Year,” and proceeded to go downhill in their 2nd year or 3rd year. Castro has not lived up to his promise. He’s at fault – not the coaches. Since he did not play in Spring Training, I think he should have been sent down to the minors to get comfortable hitting. It was bad judgment by Theo and Renteria to have him just jump into the MLB season without being prepared. If he had started the season with a 7-10 days in the minors and hit well, his confidence would have been there. That’s when you call him up and have him join the team.

          • Ripsnorter1

            I agree with much of what you say. See my comment to Boardrider for the rest. : )

      • Eugene Debs

        Wait…you are not excited by the Justin Ruggiano era?

    • Larry Schwimmer

      The culture has always about losing and just having a fun day at Wrigley Field. Theo & Company are finally bringing the necessary discipline to building a team that can contend every year. We all have to be inspired by teams like the Pirates, Tampa and Oakland. They’ve built their clubs around young prospects that can form the nucleus of the team. Once that’s done it’s easy to sign free agents, etc. Patience is difficult to ask CUBS fans like me (and you), but I think there’s reason for optimism. Let’s suck it up this year and hope we can get some great draft pick opportunities.

      • BosephHeyden

        The Pirates spent the better part of the last 13 years in the toilet before they got to where they were last year, and, from what I saw out of them in this first series, I’m curious to see if they can even sustain that. The Athletics flip from bad to good every few years simply because their ownership is cheap and they can’t afford to keep anyone more than three years, and the Rays were naturally going to build from scratch because the team isn’t even old enough to drive yet.

        Patience is a great virtue, but it has limits, and those limits depend very much on circumstance. We’re not the new kids on the block like the Rays or the poor kids on the block like the A’s. The Cubs have resources, and they are an established brand. Those two features to this team, used correctly, means it shouldn’t take a decade to build a playoff contender. Shouldn’t even take half that time.

        It’s only four games in, and none of us know how this team will shape up. Maybe Castro and Rizzo will learn to hit more than once out of every four at bats. Maybe Olt will develop into an absolute powerhouse at third. And maybe Castillo will hit with consistency. If they can do that this year, then awesome: we will all be able to stomach another losing season for one more time, because next year it means we should have a potential playoff contender. If they don’t? Well, in any professional sport, you never give a guy 10 years to prove his plan is going to work. You don’t even give them 5.

  • cubtex

    Welcome to the mlb Mr Tanaka :))))

    • GaryLeeT

      and then……….

    • Tony_H

      7 innings
      6 Hits
      8 K’s
      0 BB
      2 ER

      I would say a pretty good start to his MLB career.

      • cubtex

        1st batter he faced took him deep starting his mlb career. I didn’t think I would have to explain that comment :)

        • Tony_H

          Sorry, wasn’t watching the Yankees game. Just saw some runs early and a good game overall.

      • Eugene Debs

        Numbers very similar to Hammel’s first start.

        • Tony_H

          Just a little cheaper per out thought.

  • Eugene Debs

    We are already last in MLB for runs scored. We will cling to that spot like Courtney Love clings to crazy.

    • Tony_H

      We are 8th in ERA at 2.55 with a great 1.13 WHIP.

      The Braves with all of their pitching injuries that had people thinking their SP would take a big hit, they are leading the majors with a 1.29 ERA and a sub zero WHIP of 0.97.

      • Eugene Debs

        Yes, the pitching has competed very well. But, our offense will be the worst in baseball. How can that not happen this year?

        Any comparisons with the Braves are silly. They are, quite simply, playing a different game. Young locked up roster, stadium deal for a new location signed and sealed, 90 wins on the immediate horizon.

        • Tony_H

          I wasn’t comparing them to the Braves, I thought is was pretty amazing with how their spring went with injuries.

          Our offense will struggle all year, but the cold weather they are playing in is also part of the reason. Our pitching is not a 2.55 ERA staff, but that is also because of the cold.

        • GaryLeeT

          I think that 7-2 score from yesterday is more along the lines of what to expect, when the Cubs face a decent hitting team.

          • cubtex

            bullpen was bad yesterday.
            Rondon 0 IP with a BB
            Wright 1.1 IP 4 hits 2 ER
            Schlitter 1.1 IP 1 hit 1 ER

      • GaryLeeT

        Cubs are 8th, mostly because their opening series was against the worst hitting team (yes, worse than the Cubs) in the NL.

        • Tony_H

          Not sure what you are basing your claim on, but Pirates are 17th in AVG in Baseball and ahead of NL teams and some that people expect to be in the playoffs.

          Los Angelas Dodgers
          Milwaukee Brewers
          Cincinnati Reds
          our Chicago Cubs
          San Diego Padres
          St. Louis Cardinals
          New York Mets
          Atlanta Braves

          Maybe you used Runs

          Pirates are 12th in Runs ahead of even more NL teams.

          • Guest

            Runs scored per game.

          • GaryLeeT

            I went on what I saw after 3 games with the Cubs, and last years output. If you want include yesterday’s 12 run blow out win in those stats, consider your “gotcha” well timed.

          • Tony_H

            Gary – You always like to use the “gotcha” phrase. I looked it up when you said it and that is what I found. Didn’t know I was suppose to back up a game to make you right.

            What is lame is you using 3 games stats to state a point.

          • GaryLeeT

            There you go again. I said I used what I saw with my own 2 eyes, and LAST YEAR’S OUTPUT. Why are you so obsessed with trying to prove me wrong? Enough already!

          • Tony_H

            Enough already! I guess that was edited out in your revision….again.

            I did that to show you how ridiculous using a few games could be.

            You have most of the straw men all locked up, but I will back off pointing out when you are wrong, since you are so sensitive.

          • GaryLeeT

            So not only are you going to ignore that my observation was not just based on a few games, you are going to ignore how it was OK for you to talk about where the Cubs pitching was after 4? Typical. Oh, and I took out the “enough already” because I didn’t want you to stop being the soft target you are.

          • Tony_H

            Sorry, I thought I was using your original thought.

            “Cubs are 8th, mostly because their opening series was against the worst hitting team (yes, worse than the Cubs) in the NL.”

            I stated the Cubs pitching (I feel like I am repeating myself) after 4 games to show you how RIDICULOUS your comment was using a few games.

            Not sure what you think this is, but “soft target” sounds pretty ridiculous. But once again, you did a edit to your post and changed it.

            You stated something that stats show is wrong and if your point is your eyes told you that, I just have to ask, did you watch ALL the teams play to make this determination?

          • GaryLeeT

            If I want to edit my posts then I will edit my posts. If you don’t like it, so what? Who the hell appointed you hall monitor, anyway? Either wait a few minutes until my thought is complete, or don’t comment at all, because I really don’t care what you think about my editing, and you need to get over it.

          • Tony_H

            You really need to learn to control your emotions.

            It is Neil’s rule to not edit your posts, except for grammar or punctuation.

          • GaryLeeT

            Stop projecting. I laugh while I type. Maybe it’s you that needs to get a grip, and not take this stuff so seriously.

          • Tony_H

            What a coincidence, I laugh when I read it.

          • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

            Gary, I had to make it a rule for posters not to edit their comments, other than for grammatical errors. I received a ton of email complaints about this in the off-season.

            If you have an edit to your comment, please reply to your comment.

            I did not want to do this, I was forced to due to the amount of time I was spending dealing with the problem.

            Thanks for understanding. I appreciate it.

          • GaryLeeT

            I completely understand. If nobody complained, then you would not have to deal with it. I will do my very best to help you keep focused on the content of the site.

          • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

            Gary, thank you very much

        • cubtex

          way too early to look at rankings. weather is definitely a factor in April.

          • GaryLeeT

            Both teams are playing in same weather, right? I think that is a lame excuse. Especially when I see that the Pills, Rockies, Tigers, KC, and Indians all put up 7 or more runs, in less than ideal conditions.

          • cubtex

            not disagreeing when both teams play each other in bad weather..but Phillies played in Texas to start season whereas Cubs played in Pitt. I am just saying that it is too early to look at overall rankings.

    • cubtex

      When you have a starting 8 filled with(we hope they have a better year than last year) it is not good. Who on the starting 8 had years that you just want them to repeat last year? Not one player.

  • cubtex

    Cliff Lee’s 1st start this year.

    5 IP 11 hits 8 ER and only 1 K.

    Let’s hope the Cubs can do 1/2 that damage in 5 IP