Despite the fact that the 2011 regular season opened up this weekend, the Cubs played as if it was still 2010. With a new manager, and an improved attitude the Cubs opened the season against the Pittsburgh Pirates. But by the time the last pitch in Sunday’s series finale was thrown, fans were faced with that same level of frustration as they were last season.
Opening Day–Pirates Down the Cubs 6-3
- The games finally counted for real, and the Cubs were set on getting off to a quick start. But as Joe alluded to in his game recap the Pirates continued be the thorn in the Cubs’ side.
Game Two–The Cubs Score a high-five to beat the Pirates 5-3
- Joe said it best, when he said that this was a game that the Cubs had to win in order to get off to a good start. After looking lifeless for the first seven innings, the Cubs offense finally broke through in the eighth inning, scoring five runs and paving the way to victory for the Chicago Cubs.
Series Finale–Marmol Falters in ninth, Pirates rally past Cubs 5-4
- Between Saturday and Sunday, the Cubs were on two different ends of the roller coaster. After having a satisfying come from behind win on Saturday, the Pirates returned the favor on Sunday by scoring twice in the ninth inning to take the Series against the Cubs.
All in all, though, I am not too disappointed with the Cubs after losing their first series against the Pirates. Granted if the Cubs are going to have any type of success this season, they have to beat the low-level teams like the Pirates. But there was too many positives that happened over the course of the series to be down on the Cubs after only one series. But there is no sugar-coating it, eventually the Cubs will have to find a way to win these series. If they don’t, then we will be in for a long summer of Cubs’ baseball.
What To Take From The Series
- Perhaps the most notable thing from this series is that manager Mike Quade has a lot of trust in his starting pitchers. It was evident on Opening Day when despite the fact that the Cubs do have a strong bullpen, Quade left Dempster in the game in the seventh inning. Dempster was approaching the 100-pitch mark after the sixth inning, and that is usually a sign to get a pitcher out of the game since it is only his first start of the season. But Quade left Dempster in the game for the seventh inning, and consequently, Dempster gave up a two-run home run to Andrew McCutchen. It appears that Quade will either live or die with his starting pitchers, something that we saw out of former Cubs’ manager Dusty Baker.
- Sunday marked only the second game in where shortstop Starlin Castro was batting out of the leadoff spot. How did Castro respond? How about 3 for 4 with 2 triples and a walk. While manager Mike Quade said that Castro in the leadoff spot was not permanent, after yesterday’s performance, you have to think that Castro will be given another look in the leadoff spot at some point this season.
- Starlin Castro–Castro has gotten off to a sizzling start, going 8 for 13 (.615) with 3 extra base hits already. Despite the fact that the Cubs offense was not potent throughout series, Castro seemed to be the spark to all of the Cubs rallies this weekend. Also on defense, Castro does seem to have much more range than he did last season. He still made a few errant throws that were saved by Carlos Pena, but Castro also made a couple of highlight reel plays this weekend.
- Marlon Byrd–If the Castro continues to get on base out of the #2 spot in the lineup, then the Cubs will need their #3 hitter to cash in on those opportunities. That is something that Marlon Byrd did not do this weekend as he went 2 for 14 (.143) with 3 strikeouts. Although to Byrd’s credit, over the past three years of his career the #3 spot has been one of the worst spots for Byrd to hit out of. During those three years, Byrd is hitting .250/.300/.368 as a #3 hitter. If the Cubs offense is going to be potent this season, then Byrd will have find success out of the three spot in the lineup. If not, then manager Mike Quade will have to shuffle his lineup.
- The Cubs will play host to the Arizona Diamondbacks for the next three days before embarking on their first road trip of the season to Milwaukee.