Monday, April 18, 2011

Cubs Series Recap - Rocky Mountain Road Trip

Article first published as Cubs Series Recap - Rocky Mountain Road Trip on Blogcritics.

The Chicago Cubs (7-8) held their own against the Colorado Rockies (12-3), the National League team with the best record, though the Cubs let the series slip away despite a strong rally in the rubber match. A few items of note as the season's first road trip comes to an end:

Garza's interesting streak stops - With 20 hits and 20 K's in his first two starts, Matt Garza gave up two extra hits this time around and more importantly, spotted the Rockies with four runs in the second inning.  Mustering only six hits and no runs, the Cubs did not offer Garza any sort of support, but the team will need the former Devil Rays star to keep them in future games long enough for the bats to heat up.

Casey Coleman gets help - One would think that the Cubs had a better chance to take a game from the Rockies with Garza or on Sunday with Ryan Dempster, but it turned out that Casey Coleman was going to be the only Cub pitcher to pick up a win at Coors Field.  The Cubs' hitters decided to support their pitcher by racking up 17 knocks, with every starter getting into the books save for Marlon Byrd.  Starlin Castro was his usual self going 4 for 5 with 3 RBI's, backup catcher Koyie Hill got into the stats book for 2011 with a hit, and Alfonso Soriano continued to provide power with a homer and 2 other hits in 5 trips to the plate.

Rally comes up short - Although the Cubs lost on Sunday, the game represented an encouraging sign that the team can come back from an early deficit. We've seen the Cub bats go silent when the starting pitcher gives up early runs this season.  However, on Sunday, the team rallied from a three run early deficit to actually take a brief lead before starter Ryan Dempster gave it right back in the bottom half of the frame. Still, the game was within reach until the 8th when Marcos Mateo surrendered four earned runs to let Colorado take the series.

Keeping Score: As predicted in the last recap, taking one game from the streaking Rockies was meeting expectations and the Cubs were close to taking two of three. They remain behind on my projection of 85 wins.

On Deck: Coming home one game under .500 and only two games trailing the cooled off Cincinnati Reds puts the Cubs in good position to start a winning streak at home against the San Diego Padres who are also 7-8 going into Monday night's matchup. The Cubs need to start a long homestand with a series win, so we'll call this a "critical" three game set.

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