The Chicago Cubs took their first in person look at the new home of the Marlins on Tuesday night. However, even the casual Cubs will know that is not the only changes the new look Marlins have gone through. In addition to the new digs, the team has replaced Florida with Miami in the club name and have gone with a set of fresh team colors that may confuse some retirees in Florida into thinking they are watching the Miami Dolphins. On top of that you add new names and characters such as manage Ozzie Guillen and Carlos Zambrano, and you almost do not recognize this team as the low budget wonders that have managed to win two World Series titles since their inception.
What Went Right: So far hitting as a team has not been the issue this season, similar to last season. The Cubs matched the Marlins in the hits department at seven, capped off by a 3 for 4 evening by Darwin Barney and a 2 for 4 day from Starlin Castro. Steve Clevenger also tallied a hit, another double, to continue his hot start to the 2012 season despite being in a back up role. The Cubs also struck first for a short lived 1-0 lead.
On the pitching side, Ryan Dempster had another quality start, striking out eight while allowing four hits. The Cubs Opening Day starter is in a contract year, so it should be expected that Dempster will post a solid season and position himself to cash in on one more multi year contract. Just do not expect that to be with the Cubs, as Theo Epstein and Company figure to avoid getting into a bidding war over Dempster’s services.
What Went wrong: Errors. Dempster allowed no earned runs, but he is no off the hook, as it was his own throwing error that lead to the Marlins’ first run. Barney added a miscue of his own to get the home team going in the bottom of the eighth and Clevenger had a passed ball. Miami took advantage in the form of a go ahead three run homer by Hanley Ramirez off of Rafael Dolis, which ended up being the game winner.
While credit is given that the Cubs have been hitting as a team, on Tuesday night the Cubs struggled to string hits together to cause some damage in the form of runs. As a team they hit into four double plays, a crippling number. The lack of clutch hits was an issue last year, and it is one the 2012 edition will need to correct if they wish to avoid pulling up the rear in the NL Central.
The Cubs will look to bounce back in game two, sending Matt Garza to the mound. They are looking to put an end to their three game losing streak. It will be interesting to see if manager Dale Sveum will keep riding the hot bat of Clevenger, and at the other end of the spectrum, whether he will sit Marlon Byrd, who had another 0 for night.