An Opening Day win and a victory in the rubber match Thursday equaled a series win for the Chicago Cubs. The North Siders will most likely be battling the Pirates to avoid the NL Central basement, but they leave the first series of the 2013 season in a first place tie with the Reds.
The Cubs starting pitchers got off to a great start. Jeff Samardzija had an Opening Day starter worthy performance, Edwin Jackson had a respectable Cubs debut, and Travis Wood flashed the potential that made him a second round selection of the Reds in 2005. The trio combined only allowed two runs in Pittsburgh. Pessimists will point to the cold weather boosting the pitchers’ efforts, but the Cubs have seen plenty of April losses at Wrigley over the last couple of years.
The Cubs offense was able to scratch out two wins thanks to homers by Anthony Rizzo in game one and Nate Schierholtz in the series finale, but as a whole they went 0 for 13 with runners in scoring position before a RBI single by Starlin Castro and the aforementioned long ball by the Cubs right fielder bumped that stat up to 2 for 15. That is an area the Cubs will need to improve on if they wish to win their share of games in 2013.
April 3, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Chicago Cubs manager Dale Sveum (left) and Cubs trainer P.J. Manville (center) walk first baseman Anthony Rizzo (44) to first base after Rizzo was hit in the head by a pitch against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the seventh inning at PNC Park. The Pittsburgh Pirates won 3-0. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Carlos Marmol is, well Carlos Marmol. The Cubs closer got yanked on Opening Day before he could blow the save and was on the verge of doing the same Thursday afternoon before pulling a strike out and double play ball out of his magician’s hat. The Cubs could have easily started the season 0-3, with negative momentum creeping into the team mentality after a 100 plus loss 2012 season.