Mets 1 @ Cubs 6
What Went Right
- The title of this recap is no grammatical mistake–Travis Wood is finally pitching like the guy we hoped we’d received in return for Sean Marshall. When he didn’t make the opening day roster out of Spring Training, I lowered my expectations significantly for what, if anything, he’d contribute this season. I never dreamed he’d pitch a game like the one he threw Monday night. I mean, he out-pitched Johan Santana–who saw that coming? He threw 7 solid and economical innings (only 93 pitches), giving up only 5 hits, 1 BB, 6 Ks, and no runs. I wasn’t able to watch the first half of Wood’s performance, but Pat and Keith were clearly impressed with his pitch location. And what little I did see of his performance only backed that up. Wood’s improved by leaps and bounds from the guy who was promoted because he couldn’t be any worse than Chris Volstad. Look out–if he strings together a few more starts like his last couple, with him and Matt Garza and Jeff Samardzija, we might actually have the makings of a real starting rotation.
- Joe Mather put the Cubs on the board with a 2-run homer in the bottom of the 4th. After the rough weekend he had in front of his family and friends back in Arizona, I was glad to see him contribute to the win. Despite some of his recent struggles, I think he has a better upside and more versatility than most of the rest of our bench, and I’m hopeful he won’t be the guy we dump later today to make room for Anthony Rizzo. With the promotion of Rizzo and the emergence of Luis Valbuena at third base, Mather can probably look forward to even less playing time than he’s had so far. But he got the start Monday and I was happy to see him do something with it.
- In the bottom of the 7th, the Cubs scored 4 runs on 1 hit. Yes, you read that correctly. The Mets kindly gave them 3 extra outs to work with on 3 errors. The first came on Adrian Cardenas’ pinch hit pop up to, well, only a few feet away from home plate. The ball went almost straight up out of the batter’s box, and looked to be a simple play for David Wright coming in from third base. Instead the ball bounced off his glove and shot back to the bricks behind homeplate, where it died. To his credit, Cardenas was running it out and wound up on third. A couple batters later, Darwin Barney hit a lazy fly ball into shallow right field that bounced off Lucas Duda’s leg and rolled into foul territory. Cardenas scored easily and Barney slid safely into third for, that’s right, the second three-base error in the inning. And it didn’t end there–Starlin Castro was the next batter, and he reached safely on an infield error by former Cub Ronny Cedeno, which also allowed Barney to jog home from third. A walk, a single to RF, and a groundout brought in the other two runs, but those batters never would have come up to the plate if the Mets hadn’t given away three easy outs. The whole circus was outstanding–in part because we Cubs fans are so often on the other side of those kinds of catastrophic innings.
- Shawn Camp pitched an inning of scoreless relief. That wouldn’t normally be news, but our bullpen has been so bad that it seemed worth mentioning.
What Went Wrong
- James Russell worked one inning of relief and gave up the Mets’ only run on 1 hit, a solo homer to Ike Davis. I blame myself–I knew with only two outs in the bottom of the 9th, it was too early to be gearing up to write about a shutout.
- This week is my 1-year anniversary here at VFTB. In fact, today (Tuesday) is the anniversary of my first game recap (and my second-ever post). I’ll admit that in the past year, it’s occasionally been a struggle to explain to my non-baseball-fan friends why I enjoy spending so much of my free time writing about the Cubs. What’s great is that I don’t have to explain it to you–the fact that you’re reading this is proof that we share a similar mania for our beloved Cubs. Please know what a profound pleasure it is to inform and entertain you, and to commiserate (often) and celebrate (less often) with you. Thanks everyone–especially to Joe and all you regular commenters.