Cubs Throw One Away

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If you had missed Monday night’s game and was told that the Cubs got three runs in the first inning, in addition to starter Matt Garza posting a box score line worthy enough to be labeled a quality start, you would have been sure the Cubs got the victory. But the running theme in Cubs losses this season has been one aspect of the team game being so bad that it costs the Cubs a loss. Last night that aspect was defense. Chicago fell to two games under .500 for the first time this season and are in jeopardy of finishing the month of April under .500.

DEFENSE

Starlin Castro committed not one, not two, but three errors by himself, and all in the second inning. The young short stop is the first Cub to accomplish the dubious feat since pitcher Jaime Navarro back in 1996. Any Major League team is bound to capitalize on three errors in one frame, much less the high flying Rockies. And just like that the early 3-0 Cubs lead vanished. It is a credit to pitcher Garza that the Rockies did not make more of a meal off the trio of errors.

The new Cubs pitcher committed a throwing error of his own in the 5th inning on a sac bunt attempt to bring the team total to four errors and help the Rockies eventually jump out to a 5-3 lead that ending up being the final score. A volatile Venezuelan pitcher may have literally spontaneously combusted right on the Wrigley Field mound after Castro’s three errors in the second, but the stand up Garza pointed to his own error as the reason for the loss in the post game interview. Granted his error did help lead to the final score line, but it would also have been fair for him to put the blame on the trio of errors earlier in the game. It is very good to see Garza picking up his young short stop in front of the media. Although fans so far may not like the trade that brought Garza here based on the prospects given up and the just okay results Garza has had on the mound so far, it is good to see the veteran pitcher providing some leadership and calmness after a tough loss.

PITCHING

Garza has not been a lights out savior for the Cubs so far, but for a middle of the rotation starter he has been above average. If you take away the errors on the field, Garza is easily looking at his first win of the season. Of course you hate to see the Cubs throw away winnable games, but the positive to take out of this is that Garza seems to be settling in with his new team. There is still questions as to how he will fair once the weather warms up and the wind blows out at Wrigley, but he has yet to give up a home run this season, which includes starts in Milwaukee and Colorado, two homer friendly ballparks.

Another positive is that Jeff Samardzija continues to show progress as the tries to make a permanent home at the MLB level. He shut down the Rockies for two innings to keep the Cubs comeback hopes alive. Being able to focus strictly on being a reliever seems to have done the trick for Samardzija, and now it is just the matter of him getting more MLB innings under his belt as we works on his consistency and control.

OFFENSE

It has been well repeated here on Cubbies Crib and in the media in general on how Kosuke Fukudome has his usual hot April before disappearing for the rest of the season. The Cubs right fielder went an Arby’s like 5 for 5 last night, spraying singles all over past the Rockies infield to boost his average to .478. April is not over yet, but currently that average is higher than any of the good averages he has had to start his past seasons in MLB. Do we dare hope that maybe, just maybe, Fukudome is on pace for a good season finally? Stay tuned.

The highlight of the night award goes to Darwin Barney, who hit his first career home run at the MLB level. Hopefully the bleacher staff was able to get him the ball for him to keep. Castro also had a tough day at the plate out of the three hole in the order, going 0 for 5. Jeff Baker had a nice 3 for 4 day with a double as he filled in at third base to give Aramis Ramirez a day off. Baker has been hitting well regardless of whether the pitcher is left handed or right handed, and with Carlos Pena struggling mightily, hopefully we will see Baker in the line up at first base and have Pena relax for a couple games.

The table setters for the Cubs line up have been great, ranking near the top of the list of teams in the National League. But the same line up has near the bottom of the list with runners on base. Part of this bipolar display is due to the middle of the order not driving in the table setters. But generally speaking, the line up as a whole just has not been able to consistently get the big hit to drive in runs or to break open a game in which they are already leading.