What do you get when you mix ingredients consisting of a night game in April with temperatures in the low 30s and the wind blowing straight in from centerfield at 12 mph in a bowl called Wrigley Field? A recipe for a pitchers duel. And that is what the brave souls in attendance at the Friendly Confines got. The braver still that stuck around through the extra frame were rewarded for their efforts with a thrilling walk off win.
Despite sporting a 2-0 record going into this start, it would be fair to say that Carlos Zambrano has had his usual April struggles. Considering the number of runs and walks he has allowed so far, he could just as easily be 0-2. But on Monday night, Zambrano provided a stellar outing that is sure to start fueling the debate again as to whether strong finish to end the 2010 season was a fluke or a sign that the man child may finally have grown up. Granted, as mentioned in my opening, the conditions favored the pitchers over the hitters, but some credit must be given Zambrano’s way as he tallied 10 strikeouts. In fact, the first four outs he recorded were swinging strikeouts, and he was still going strong in the 7th inning, when he struck out the side.
Sean Marshall and Carlos Marmol came in to hold up the shut out of the Padres, with the closer Marmol going 1 1/3 innings to record the win.
Zambrano was also able to overcome an error by Aramis Ramirez that resulted in a runners at second and third mini jam with two outs. Under game conditions like Monday night’s, pitching and defense are key factors if a team wishes to pull out a win. Thankfully other than this error, the Cubs defense was solid in helping Big Z put zeros up on the scoreboard all night long.
The Cubs offense was only able to record five hits, including one by lead off hitter Starlin Castro to help him keep his average above .400. Despite the lack of hits, the Cubs were able to scratch across a run in the bottom of the 10th inning thanks to a game winning pinch hit double by Tyler Colvin. The young right fielder, who has been struggling so far this season after forcing his way onto the Cubs roster in 2010, came through as the star of the game one day early, as his bobblehead day is scheduled for Tuesday night’s game. But surely Colvin, his teammates, and Cubs fans will not mind his clutch performance to help kick off the series against the Padres on a winning note.