Cubs 5 @ Phillies 1
Coming into the game, Matt Garza had put up the best performance as a starting pitcher according to the game score stat with an 85 pitched on April 12th. Today was just as good, with a final game score of 84. He now owns the only two outings with a score over 80 this season for Cubs starters. Only Ryan Dempster (1 time) and Jeff Samardzija (2 times) have tossed an outing over 70. He had everything working today and made quick work of a Phillies lineup that looks drastically different this year without Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. I don’t think you can really ask much more from your starters. Give us seven strong innings on a consistent basis and we’ll win a lot of games. It allows the bullpen to be fresh day in and day out. Nice job by Garza.
Offensively, Joe Mather hit a homerun. It was the first homerun hit by a Cubs outfielder this season and just the 8th home run overall for the team. This is not a team that will hit many home runs. We talked about it this spring when we looked at the guy most likely to hit 30 home runs. I chose Bryan LaHair, but I wasn’t even confident he’d do it. It’s simply not a team that is going to beat you with the long ball, which means it’s even more imperative to go for curvy numbers when you can instead of playing for one run.
Tony Campana hit leadoff today and the more I see him, the more I like his bat in the lineup. He just makes thing happen with his speed. He forced a bad throw by Kyle Kendrick on a pickoff attempt and advanced to 2nd as a result. He tagged up from third on a shallow fly ball from Starlin Castro and scored despite a really nice throw from Hunter Pence, and he stole a base later in the game. Len and Bob talked about it during the game. The key to Campana’s success will be his ability to get on base. If he can do that, his speed can be a huge asset. I remember seeing him play in AA against the Mudcats and everyone in the pressbox was amazed by just how fast he got down the line each time up. I’d like to see Dale keep him in the leadoff spot to utilize his speed. I think him hitting ahead of David DeJesus would help DeJesus’s game a little more. He has more gap power than Campana and so you’d figure he could be a better run producer as a result of having someone like Campana ahead of him in the order.
Carlos Marmol came in to make the game eventful in the 9th and you have to wonder when the Cubs will look to move him. I just don’t see how you can count on him in any type of high leverage situation because of his volatility and yet of all the pitchers on the staff, Marmol averages the highest leverage index of any reliever entering the game for the Cubs. Why use the guy that has been least effective in the situations that are the most critical? Death to the save stat. Death to the closer.