Monday, April 11, 2011

Cubs Series Recap: Losing Two to the Brew Crew

Article first published as Cubs Series Recap: Losing Two to the Brew Crew on Blogcritics.

The first visit to Wrigleyville North (aka Milwaukee) came early for the Cubbies, and although the series looked promising with a victory in the first game, the Brewers responded by taking two of three and ultimately the series.  A few more thoughts in this series recap between the Chicago Cubs (4-5) and the Milwaukee Brewers (5-5):

Baker, Barney & DeWitt - Could this be the Cubs' new law firm? Guess again. Instead, it's the second base by committee group that has surprisingly gotten off to a good start.  With Darwin Barney hitting .333 to start the season, Blake DeWitt adding a key pinch hit double versus the Pirates, and Jeff Baker nearly singlehandedly winning Friday's series opener, the team appears to be set on the right side of the infield.

Garza vows for change - Hopefully, this won't be a signature statistic for Matt Garza, but the pitcher managed to extend his hit/strikeout ratio streak by giving up eight hits while striking out the same number on Saturday.  Of course, it's the number of runs that matter most, and Garza gave up five in the loss.  The Cubs didn't offer any run support, though Matt, to his credit will not offer any excuses.  He realizes that it starts with him, as seen in this quote from the Chicago Tribune:

"I'm a fastball guy, and six of their eight hits were breaking ball pitches, or off-speed pitches, and that's uncalled for," he said. "That's not my style. That's not who I am, and something is going to change. I haven't had bad outings. I just don't give up 20 hits in two games. That's not me."

Are three animals too many? Manager Mike Quade referred to his bullpen closing trio as the "three animals", and I will admit to buying into the hype of having Sean Marshall, Kerry Wood, and Carlos Marmol deliver the 1-2-3 knockout punch to finish off opponents.  On one hand, there may be reason to be concerned as both Wood and Marmol are susceptible to control issues. If these three consistently are thrown in the mix night in and night out, doesn't that increase the chances that one of them will have a bad outing? On the other hand, it is quite a formidable option to take six innings from your starter and then go with Marshall and Wood, each having three holds and then Marmol who has already notched three saves.

Keeping Score: Failing to take the rubber game caused the Cubs to fall under .500 for the season and puts them behind pace for my projected 85 win season.

On Deck: Chicago takes a trip to the Lone Star State to face the 2-7 Astros. I'd say that this is another "critical" series to win, and the Cubs should be able to aim for a sweep over the struggling Astros.

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