Thursday, April 7, 2011

Cubs Series Recap: Win 2 of 3 Games, Lose 2 of 3 Pitchers

Article first published as Cubs Series Recap: Win 2 of 3 Games, Lose 2 of 3 Pitchers on Blogcritics.

Series two is in the books, and although the Chicago Cubs (3-3) did take 2 of 3 from the Arizona Diamondbacks (2-3) with the possibility of a sweep, the team placed two starting pitchers on the disabled list, both of whom had solid starts during the series.

Headed to the DL: Randy Wells, coming off a strong preseason, and Andrew Cashner, the Cubs fifth starter replacing Carlos Silva, both will be out for at least two weeks after which their injuries (forearm and shoulder strain respectively) will be reevaluated. Wells was coming off a strong preseason, and he carried that momentum into his first start by throwing six innings of one-run ball.  Cashner made Cub fans and management quickly forget about Carlos Silva by going 5 1/3 innings allowing only two hits and walking one. Both pitchers represented key parts of making the Cubs starting rotation a formidable one from top to bottom.

Big Hitters: Marlon Byrd broke out with a huge hit on Tuesday. Hopefully, this will get him going as his above .300 average is slightly offset by his team leading six strikeouts. Alfonso Soriano now has half of his hits as homers, so he's on pace for about 90 or so.  Aramis Ramirez looks to be off to a much better start than last year (can you say contract year?), and Starlin Castro remains solid despite going 0-for-4 with four left on base on Wednesday.

Carlos Marmol bounces back: I love how Carlos addressed the media with the following after his disappointing blown save on Sunday: "I want to see you guys back here tomorrow when I strike out the side." This is how you want your closer to talk, and better yet, I love the fact that he was able to record the save on Monday, despite only striking out one batter. He was forced to watch Sean Marshall get his first save on Tuesday due to pitching three days in a row. Manager Mike Quade is catching some flak for his managing of his pitchers, but I think he's trying out different players in different scenarios, and it's better to do this early in the season as opposed to late in the summer.

Keeping Score: Standing at .500, the Cubs are just a bit behind my prediction of 85 wins. With their #4 and #5 starters out for a few weeks, it will be interesting to see how the team is able to adjust.

On Deck: The team hits the road to Wrigleyville North (aka Milwaukee) to face the Brewers in an early season meeting between the rival teams. The Brew Crew opened up 0-4 but bounced back to win two in a row against Atlanta. Don't look now, but Cincinnati is running away with the division, so this series could give us a preview of who's going to stay hot on the Reds' trail.  With that in mind, this remains a "critical" series, especially with Carlos Zambrano and Matt Garza taking the mound for the first two games.

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