Cubs 1 @ Cardinals 5

Box Score / Highlights / Condensed Game

THE GOOD

  • Alfonso Soriano continues to play well in all aspects of the game. He’s now reached base safely in all nine games this season, which is nice change of pace considering how many O-fer’s the Cubs endured from him last season. His strikeouts remain high (25% of at-bats) but that is something that will never change with Sori. The fact that he is getting on base a couple of times a game and hasn’t, to this point, been a detriment in the field is a major positive for this club. At worst Soriano is raising his trade value a little bit after seeing not a single team interested in his services via trade this off-season.
  • I thought Shawn Camp pitched pretty well in the 7th and 8th innings. He gave up the one home run to Jay, but that was his only hit allowed and he didn’t walk anyone. The Cardinal hitters were letting him off the hook a bit by swinging early in the count, but he only threw 17 pitches to get six outs. Of those 17 pitches, 14 were strikes.

THE BAD

  • The change of scenery hasn’t helped Chris Volstad’s confidence one bit. The guy hasn’t won since last spring and it almost looks like he is physically carrying the weight of that while he is out there pitching. He has incredible stuff, but he has no command because he has no confidence in his abilities. There is a reason he was a first round pick in 2005 and I’m hoping that he can start to rekindle some of the confidence he had during his rookie campaign in 2008.
  • I’d love to have been a fly on the wall for the conversation between Sveum and Castro after his second throwing error of the afternoon. Castro too often lets his natural athleticism take over on close plays. Sometimes it works, but too often it does not. The two errors today were prime examples of this and I’m sure it is making the coaches crazy. I’m sure they have harped on it all spring with him. He has got to listen and eliminate the errors.
  • Volstad getting hit in the fourth was scary, especially how long that inning was for him. He looked fine pitching in the the final two innings, so I’m guessing he’s alright.
  • LaHair didn’t have an error today, but he has had some weird plays in the field to start the season. There was the play against the Nationals and there were two more strange plays today. It’s almost as if he assumes someone is there to back him up at all times. He was lucky that Barney got to that grounder early in the game and should have easily caught the pop foul in the 6th. Not quite sure what the issue is.

THE UGLY

  • The Cubs continue to get nothing from the bottom of the lineup and considering the bottom of the lineup is Soto and Byrd, this is an issue. If you had asked me before the season, I would have had both these guys batting in the top six of the lineup. Instead these two have five hits in 53 at-bats with a couple of walks and have been relegated to the basement. If Byrd continues to struggle, we’ll be seeing more of Reed Johnson over the next few series.

We’ll see if Paul Maholm can rebound from his horrendous Cubs debut as he matches up with Jake Westbrook. The current Cubs lineup hasn’t faired too well when matched up against Westbrook, with DeJesus having the only documented success during their American League days. Westbrook has had issues with walks early in games, but has managed to get himself out of  jams. The Cubs will need to capitalize on such opportunities early on if they want to come away with their first series win of 2012.

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