Cubs 2 @ Brewers 5
I really liked what I saw from Rusin. He wasn’t afraid at all; his command wasn’t great, but he wasn’t afraid to attack the zone even though he was often behind in the count. Much of that can be attributed to how well he changed speeds, even when he got behind in the count he would continue to throw his off-speed stuff for strikes. Only 6 first pitch strikes to 19 batters, but he only surrendered 2 walks and unbelievably just one hit. That one hit was an infield single that scored the one run he surrendered. It came after a HBP, BB, and HBP to load the bases. Considering it was his MLB debut, I’d say that’s a very solid effort. He managed to get a double play and get out of that inning with minimal damage. He pitched only five innings, but also threw only 76 pitches. He added a triple (in his first MLB at-bat), and smoked another liner back up the middle on which Jean Segura (Brewers’ SS) made a spectacular diving catch. Five innings, 1 hit, 1 run, 2 walks, and handled the bat better than any Cub NOT named Soriano. A very good MLB debut for Chris Rusin.
The other end of the spectrum here. I’m not saying we need to demote him, but he HAS to move down in the lineup. You can’t have a guy hitting second who has absolutely no knowledge of the strike zone. Vitters has now struck out 16 times, 5 of those times (and twice tonight) it was while looking at strike three. He also has yet to draw a walk. He lacks a fundamental confidence in determining a ball from a strike – he’s remarkably hesitant to swing, and seems to choose poorly on the most critical pitches. He did hit a 9th-inning double off of Manny Parra, jumpstarting a mini-rally that saw the Cubs put two runs on the board; but most of the time he simply looks clueless at the plate, as if he’s constantly guessing. Castro needs to be back in the 2-hole, Vitters needs to drop way down in the order.
is was working on a Volstadian streak of winlessness. He’d last won a game on August 23, 2011. A total of 29 appearances later (15 of them as a starter) and he finally caught an anemic offense at the right time. And Estrada had it all working for him. Consistently ahead in the count, he kept the Cubs off balance by throwing both his changeup and curveball in or near the strike zone all night. His curve seemed particularly troublesome for the Cubs’ more notable free-swingers (that’s you Castro, Castillo, and Jackson). He allowed only 2 hits and 1 walk, he was never in serious trouble except when he stranded Rusin at 3rd in the third inning. Dale said it best after the game, “Estrada is a nice pitcher, but I wouldn’t expect him to have nine strikeouts in six innings either.”
He’s apparently completed the Carlos Marmol Program For Relievers With Reckless Abandon For The Strike Zone And No Desire To Change And Pitch Better Either. Cabrera came on in the 6th with this; BB, K, BB, BB, wild pitch (run scores), 2B, K, groundout. For those scoring at home; that’s 7 hitters, two made contact, and only 1 hit for a total of 3 runs. They briefly showed Marmol with an approving grin, seemingly acknowledging that all his hard work with his new apprentice was paying off (you can’t prove I made that up). So all I want to know is are we going with Carlos Cabrera or Alberto Marmol?