As we wind down the 2010 season all I want now is hope (and a winning record under our new interim manager.) Tonight the Cubs took it to the Cards early and often and won the opening game 5-1. The new Busch Stadium was generally quiet as a tomb and the Cards announcers were particularly sonorous so I made an emergency pot of double strength coffee in the first inning; for what it’s worth the Dunkin’ Donuts brand of coffee that one can get in the neighborhood grocery is actually quite good. Samardzija put in six innings of no run pitching but struggled most of the way; I’m still not convinced that this guy’s future is in baseball but I’m not ready to give up on him either. I can distinctly remember giving up on former Cubs pitcher Dennis Eckersley. Moral of the story: Don’t give up early on a young pitcher who can bring it, the same thing can be said for Cashner who has not had the season he probably dreamed about when he got called up. My concerns with both of these guys is that early in their careers both seem to throw frozen ropes; wonder if they could benefit from some time with roving coach Greg Maddux in this respect, I think they could.
Some highlights from tonight’s game:
- Top 2nd: Ramirez doubles and limps to second. Nady singles men on first and third. Soto singles scoring Ramirez men on first and second nobody out Cubs lead 1-0. Samardzija singles to right Cubs lead 2-0.
- Top 3rd: Barney singles, Byrd reaches on a force that failed (E4 for Schumacher.) Soto walks to load the bases, Soriano singles scoring two Cubs lead 4-0. Colvin loads the bases again with a walk for Samardzija who grounds out leaving the bases juiced.
- Bottom 3rd: Brendan Ryan walks and makes it to third on two gound outs. Pujols walks men on first and third. Samardzija walks Holliday to load the bases for Rasmus. Samardzija gets away with a hanger as Rasmus flies out to right to end the inning.
- Bottom 4th: Colvin replaced by Fukudome due to an elbow contusion.
- Bottom 7th: Randy Winn hits a ground rule double to left; Cashner comes in to face Holliday and gives up a single which scores Winn 4-1 Cubs.
- Top 8th: Base hit by Nady to lead off the inning, base hit to center by Soto men on first and second nobody out. Soriano advances the runners with a grounder one out men on second and third. Fukudome singles Cubs lead 5-1.
- Bottom 8th: Cashner walks the leadoff hitter, Ryan singles and Cashner is gone when Quade brings in Marshall. Sean does his usual job and the Cubs are out of the inning.
Tonight the Cards announcers speculated on what the Cubs would do about their corner infielders, they specifically mentioned Colvin moving to first as have others. I don’t like this idea because Colvin’s best attribute is his versatility in the outfield and, besides that I’d like to see him focus more on getting his average up instead of learning a new defensive position. Assuming the Cubs use a top draft pick on a quality first base prospect there are a number of journeyman first basemen available this year including Berkman, Branyan, Glaus, Huff, Nick Johnson, Konerko, Overbay and Wigginton. I like this approach as opposed to another four to six year contract, let’s see if we can get one of these guys to sign for one or two years. Also I’d like to see the Cubs get a guy who can play 60 games a year at third base – if I’m not mistaken Blum, Pedro Feliz, Inge and Wigginton will all be available for this position as well. Wigginton makes a lot of sense because he can play both positions; while none of these guys have the kind of pizzazz that a Adam Dunn or Jorge Cantu would bring they might make sense for a rebuilding Cubs team. Tonight’s loss drops the Cards to seven back, as Ann Richards once said: “Stick a fork in ‘em, they’re done.”