Round 1 of the 10 round fight that is the 2010 baseball season is over with 16 games in the book. I can’t say it’s gone as I’d hoped, but keep in mind that this was one round. 90% of the season left. That said, tonight was a frustrating one.
Missed Opportunities – I didn’t expect much against Johan Santana, but when you have a chance to get to him you have to capitalize. The Cubs saw that opportunity multiplied by three in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th innings and let him off the hook each time. In the 2nd, Byrd led off the inning with a hustle double only to see Nady fail to hit the ball to the right side to get him to third. Instead, Nady grounds out to third base and Soriano hits a weak grounder to 1st. Geo had a shot to notch the two-out RBI but could only drive the ball to CF for a hapless fly ball.
In the 3rd inning we again see a leadoff double, this time courtesy of Fontenot’s bat. Gorzelanny tried to lay down a bunt to move him to third but had the ball sail up and in on him. He made contact, but more out of self defense than trying to be productive. The bunt wasn’t good enough and Fontenot was forced to stay put. Theriot did move him to third on a tag up play, but a fly ball to CF once again ended the inning and wasted an opportunity.
The 4th inning did not start with a double, but did see first and third with just one out and Soriano and Soto coming to the plate. Both have hit the ball well of late and both failed to get the job done. Byrd got caught in a pickle between 3rd and home and was tagged out at the plate on a play that could have possibly been ruled defensive interference due to the fact that Ike Davis was in his path as Santana was taking the ball and applying the tag. It wasn’t called and the inning ended one at bat later on guess what….a fly ball to CF.
Gorzelanny was dealing until the wheels fell off in the 6th. If you have the opportunity to get him a lead against one of the best pitchers in the game you have to take advantage. I don’t fault Gorzelanny for this loss. Wasted chances have to be the main bearer of the blame.
Rudy’s Help – I’ve noticed some real good things from a few of the players who played so poorly last year and I can only attribute that to working with the god of hitting. I guess I hadn’t really taken noticed of Geo’s OBP coming into the game, but I had noticed that he’d been taking a few walks of late. About midway into the game I happened to notice that it was in the .500’s and thought it must be a misprint on the screen. A quick check on Baseball Reference showed me that 12 walks and a .333 batting average has Geo reaching base more than half the time he steps in there. I don’t know if Geo has a new approach to hitting or if he’s purposely trying to take more pitches, but he’s done things right and really has gone unnoticed.
The other hitter that has shown good improvement at the plate seems to be Fontenot. Those are two names that, if they can get big production from, can be a huge help to the offense near the bottom of the order. Jeff Baker got a start tonight to give Ramirez a night off, but Fontenot needs to continue to get the majority of starts at 2B while he’s hitting so well.
Conslusion – I didn’t expect to lose this series. At the very least I expected a split. Now we face Milwaukee and it’s obvious they can score. Pittsburgh figured that out today after a 20-0 beat down. Gotta win game one. That’s the key. Lizzie will be recapping the action tomorrow night as I’m off to do some more Smokie scouting.