Enhanced Box Score: Nationals 2, Cubs 1 – April 5, 2012

(For those of you new to the site since last season, the Enhanced Box Score is a sometimes serious, frequently sarcastic, snap-shot of the day’s game. I offer it to you through the magic of technology, which allows me to “enhance” that day’s box score in a really technical, precise, and high-minded way. For previous examples, see here.)

So, yeah, that sucked.

It started out well enough. Marlon Byrd had a two-out, RBI single, something I’m not sure he did last year before August. Ryan Dempster got into, and out of, jams early, but was absolutely brilliant after the first two innings. Dale Sveum even took him out at the right time (Dempster was at 108 pitches and looked like he was laboring a bit). And then the bullpen happened.

Kerry Wood got squeezed a bit, but mostly just couldn’t throw strikes, which allowed the tying run to score. And then Carlos Marmol allowed a (not cheap) double and a (cheap) single to give up the game.

The offense looked like crap, too, complete with an Alfonso Soriano attempted steal of third, which potentially cost the Cubs a run. Ian Stewart came within an inch of tying the game in the 9th (on a windless day, he might have hit Sheffield). Still, I can’t stop thinking about the pen.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

159 responses to “Enhanced Box Score: Nationals 2, Cubs 1 – April 5, 2012”

  1. BFiddy

    Go Cubs Go…

    …shit.

  2. TWC

    Grumble.

    The ONLY good thing about today’s game is that we get an EBS out of it.

  3. Captainplanet54

    I miss Sean Marshall

    1. Bric

      Man, that’s exactly what I was thinking. And also wondering how long Barney will keep his spot. Please, Jim Hendry, tell us again about how deep our farm system is “past the 100 top prospects” list. yeah, that’s worth much- to Tennessee and Iowa. At least he’s gone now along with his obsession with LSU.

  4. Leroy Kleimola

    Sigh…..what irritates me is how everyone is so DONE on this team after the 1st game, when we knew this season was going to be rough. If you don’t want to watch them then just go away. Trolls piss me off.

    1. JustSwain

      I’m not done, and while I don’t think the Cubs have the complete package on the field yet, I liked what I saw. Demp showed he still has the stuff to go out and earn an opening day start, Wood, would have gotten out of that inning with the lead still intact if the Home Plate Umpire got his head out of his ass, and Stewart almost Fukudome’d his first game as a Cub. (Len said it missed by feet, looked to me like it missed the basket by INCHES). Soto put some good strokes on balls. Baker hit a liner to right that it took Jayson Werth to take away. Soriano seems quicker, more alert, and is getting better reads in the outfield. Bullpen scares the crap out of me, but I’m not giving up. Defense looked rusty but I’ll give them this one game to get things in order. Go Cubs, lets do better tomorrow.

      1. Mike Foster

        Nice recap JS, only thing I’d add is that Strasberg pitched well and hit spots….or at least got the calls we did not.

        1. DocPWimsey

          Well, the Cubs helped Strasburg by swinging at the first pitches close to the strike zone on a number of ABs. Strasburg’s stuff is sufficiently nasty that a lot of strikes cannot be hit well. Went you put his (would have been called) balls into play, then you really are counting on luck.

      2. Joe

        Super encouraging description. Thanks!

  5. njriv

    Really disappointing

  6. Brad

    There is always next year?

  7. gritsngravy

    You said it all Brett. I could not believe Soriano tried to steal third. I am going to have to guess it was a missed sign.

    1. Luke

      He almost made it, though.  It took a darn good throw and a perfect play by Zimmerman to get him.  Soriano already looks faster and like he’s moving more easily than he ever did last season.

      1. DocPWimsey

        Also, the team stressed aggressive base- running all spring. The wind was blowing in and Strasburg gave Cubs fans a good idea of why all the hype was there. So, it was “manufacture” runs time.

        The 6-1 difference in walks was a 2-team effort (umpiring in the 8th not withstanding). That was the game, really.

        Indeed, the flip side of Sori’s caught stealing was aggressive play by Ramos. If he just throws to first to get Stewart, then Sori stays on 2nd.

        Ryan Zimmerman is on my saber metric style fantasy team. I think that the wind took away 27 points today…..

      2. Chris S

        +1

        He ALMOST had it.. and, to be completely honest, I think he was in.. I think he had his hand in before Zimmerman tagged him on the chest.

        You win some, you lose some.. but, this may be an AA type of year. (not Double A… Alcoholic’s Anonymous) .

        1. Mike Foster

          Exactly…tagged on the chest.

  8. BD

    Exactly. I under the Cubbie-love, but why were we so worried about bring Wood back?

  9. Spencer

    If only the Cubs had a super fast guy to come off the bench that could score from third on bunts.

    1. Leroy Kleimola

      Why was Baker starting and not Campana???

      1. Kyle

        Campana isn’t a first baseman and I don’t believe he’s on the roster.

        1. TWC

          Well, those are two awfully sufficient reasons.

      2. TonyP

        Campana isn’t on the team and doesn’t play first.

         

         

        1. Leroy Kleimola

          my apologies, someone said yesterday that Campana would be called up if Lahair was out. I got my stories mixed up. I knew as soon as I said that he didn’t play 1st…

          1. David

            And if he did, it would look really, really strange. He would have to be the about the smallest 1B in ML history.

  10. Kyle

    I’m not sure I agree with the premise, though. I would have been much happier seeing Dolis or Russell give it a go in the eighth.

    I hate defensive replacements, especially when the defensive replacement isn’t even a good defender. Could have used Soriano’s bat in the ninth.

    1. rcleven

      Hindsight is always 20/20.

      1. Kyle

        If you check the northsidebaseball.com game thread, you’ll see me questioning both moves as they happened.

        1. rcleven

          I think Marmol will be on a short leash. Can’t blame Sevem for the call tho. If he continues going to Marmol then you have a liget bitch. He went to his vets at crunch time and they failed him. I can’t question his call just the results.

    2. JustSwain

      I’m with you on this one Kyle. A defensive sub in a tie game, replacing a hot hitter. Probably they were thinking with the wind blowing in Johnson is the better OBP option?

  11. morgan

    lol at this game, first of all, jeff baker is our starting 1b for opening day, who cares that lahair was suppose to start. second he lack of d cost us a run in the 8th and dont even want to talk about that at bat in the 9th. Dejesus is suppose to be a defensive upgrade, that play in the 9th looked like soriano out there, and replacing soriano for d every game cost us at bat, that reed johnson at bat was funny. If your saying where not going to be competitive let soriano play the whole game or just release hi if your only going to play him 6 innings a game, its point less to be honest. plus he couldnt look as bad as baker and dejesus today. bring rizzo and jackson up. cant stand another jeff baker start, was sick of him last year and only took a game to realize he nothing more than a bench player

    1. Jeff

      After a great spring it would have been a nice reward to let Rizzo start opening day until LaHair was set to return.

      What’s one or two more days of service time? he already has 69 days in the bigs anyway.

    2. njriv

      Give DeJesus some time, this was his first game ever at Wrigley, hes going to need a little more game-time experience to get used to it, right field at Wrigley is probably the hardest right field in baseball to play.

      1. ty

        DeJesus could not get used to right field at HoHoKam either. First game he was hurt at wall and turned wrong on balls all spring. We were all surprised by lack of skill out there.

      2. DocPWimsey

        Look at how bad Werth looked on Stewart’s triple: and Werth is a great RFer.

        1. JustSwain

          What Doc said

  12. MaxM1908

    Ugh, that hurt. As for the offense, we were up against a star young pitcher for most of the game. Stewart’s triple was encouraging. He has potential to produce runs this year. And, on the bright-side for Marmol: he didn’t walk anybody. It was an ugly loss, for sure. But, we played solid against a good team with their ace pitching.

  13. morgan

    all those 1b free agents this winter and we start JEFF BAKER lol

  14. CUBBIEBLUE

    First, Dempster kept us in the game & should have win #1.
    Second, Kerry….walking in a run…really…can’t throw a strike???
    Third, Marmol….what can I say…typical Marmol.
    Finally, Byrd…..watching strike 3 to end the game!!! That is what they do in A-ball!
    It is going to be a loooong season unless they remove their collective heads from where they are right now.

    1. MaxM1908

      What bothers me the most about Wood is that he DID throw strikes. I think he had 1-2 counts against all three batters he walked. They were fouling off everything near the zone and had great at-bats all around. He just couldn’t buy a strikeout pitch.

      1. JustSwain

        He threw strikes, but not with his four seam fastball. He was overthrowing it. They were clocking it at 95, and the pitches he could control were all around 90. He couldn’t put anyone out with his slower stuff, and when he tried to change speeds his four seemer was nowhere near the zone. He’ll correct it, he didn’t get too many appearances in Spring, and was trying to rest his arm, so this is probably the first time he threw that fast in a long time.

  15. T. Hood

    “The Cubs Way” *sigh*

  16. ty

    Can*t wait for first game of season. Turned on wgn and watched replay of last year game this afternoon–we almost won it.

  17. njriv

    It was disappointing, but it was only Opening Day. Its going to take the players a little more time to get used to playing when games actually count. Pitchers were getting squeezed all game long and this is a long season to start nit-picking at a mediocre team at best.

  18. supergeek24

    I really hope marmol is gone soon. I rather have the young guys blow a game then that guy

    1. Dustin S

      ^ this … I would rather see Solis lose while learning than watch Marmol blow another one. He didn’t just have a bad spring or last season, he’s been losing velocity for a couple years now.

      As good as Strasburg was the offense is going to be a real problem this year. Not a great situation when the team doesn’t have a ton of power, but not alot of guys that have high OBP or speed either to play small ball. The pen a bigger problem and is going to be a carousel i think until some guys stick.

      Incredibly disappointing, but it was nice to see a regular season game. Bill Murray was awesome too.

  19. Stan

    Two feet to the left… Two feet to the freakin’ left.

  20. Jeff

    To me the game in a nut shell:

    1. Dempster pitched a great game and should have won

    2. Our new manager made his first call and it wasn’t a good one, ugh reminds me of Quade from last year, scary!

    3. I would have preferred Dempster stayed in to face Zimmerman.

    4. Wood was wild but the Umpire seriously missed at least 2 crucial strike three calls, shame on the umpire, but you cannot control those assholes.

    5. Marmol did not inspire much confidence today and if he continues down that path thats 16 million dollars of wasted money.

    6. That play with Mather was not a good one, I know you run on contact, but you ran into an out and your on third base with one out.

    They didn’t hit real well, but I think the umpire in the 8th changed the mental focus of the players, which really sucks.

    1. JR

      If I recall correctly, Quade left Dempster in the game last year after it was clear he had lost it and notwithstanding having a better bullpen. It was a tough call so I can’t fault Sveum however he played it. I was afraid of Dempster going right at Zimmerman (given that would be Zimmerman’s 3rd at bat against Dempster) but I thought if he was willing to pitch around him and risk the walk he’d have handled LaRoche no problem.

      1. JustSwain

        Also, Zimmerman homered off of Demp twice in that game, and we were saved only by the wind on each occasion. I think in the end, Sveum knew Demp was too big of a risk to give up solid contact to Zimmerman. I mostly liked the move. WIth as little work as Wood did this spring, I would have liked to see Sveum have another option warming up alongside him so that if he ran into trouble he knew he had backup.

  21. die hard

    winning 50 games may be too much to expect…..avg appearing attendance could be 15000/game…though more than that have already been presold but there will be lots of empty seats if this continues….1962 Mets redux

  22. Sven-Erik312

    OK, we got ‘em where we want ‘em now- Lets take 2 out of 3

  23. Dave

    Put on your seat belts its going to be a bumpy ride.
    The little things the Cubs are going to have to do in order to win games was not evident today.

  24. gratefulled

    I disagree. At 108 pitches, you let Dumpster face what might be the last batter of the inning. Actually, couldn’t disagree more. He was still placing his pitches, and to me, was NOT laboring. I’m really disappointed how this went down today.

    1. Jeff

      I agree he was alot sharper in the 8th inning after 108 pitches than Kerry coming in and his performance.

      Kerry was wild as usual but I blame that ump on failing to call strike 3 on a pitch right down the middle to end the inning.

      Marmol….ehhhh won’t go there

  25. Caleb

    Watching the game with some Cub friends, we had a very spirited debate about pulling Dempster for Wood. I took the side of “taking him out then was the right call,” but my friend smugly predicted Wood would (ha) blow it and I would regret it.

    So technically, yes, he called it. I still say it was the right call at the time.

    But, there were definitely some good arguments for both sides. Wish Wood could have shut them down; or at least gotten one of those 2 “close” calls from the ump. And, as a cherry on top, he gave the very same close call AGAINST Byrd for the last pitch of the game.

    And Bill Murray’s TV commentary during Kerry Wood’s outing was great. Love that guy.

    1. Kyle

      I like pulling Dempster there. He was at 108 pitches, dozens more than he threw in any spring outing. A lot of people have quickly forgotten how they torched Quado for leaving in Dempster too long in some games last year.

      But I don’t like going to Wood there. He barely pitched in ST and it showed. Dolis or Russell would have been nice.

      1. MaxM1908

        Agree on both accounts, Kyle. But, I still think Wood’s outing is as much attributable to the strike calling and the Nationals’ batting skills as it was to his wild pitching as some have suggested. I was listening on the radio, and there must have been 4 or 5 fouled off in each of those walks. That’s pretty impressive in my mind. They weren’t letting Wood get in a strikeout pitch.

  26. RWakild

    Again. Why was Jeff Baker starting??? Bad decision on Dale’s part.

    1. MaxM1908

      Who would you have picked instead? Mather? DeWitt? Baker did have a walk and a hit. His fourth inning walk, the only we had on the day, was what set up Byrd’s RBI single.

      1. JustSwain

        Baker was also robbed of a hit by a diving Jayson Werth.

  27. JR

    Wow, that was depressing because it was so winnable. If nothing else this year — bad pitching, bad hitting — I was hoping not to see basic baserunning mistakes/mental errors and improved defense. And three runs were attributable to those fundamentals. I was at the game so missed any commentary and the post-game interview so maybe someone can fill me in — did Soriano attempt to steal on his own or did he miss a sign? And was Stewart deliberately sent home? Please someone tell me that was NOT a hit and run but instead a foolish at bat.

    On the bright side, Dempster was great — he’s poised with men in scoring position. Deserved the win. And Marmol was fine. Not dominating, sure, but that’s a lot to ask every time out. DeJesus catches the ball and that’s the ball game.

    Back to depressing: Kerry Wood. Just ugly. When he took the mound all I could think is that I’d really like to see Samardzija in this situation. But I didn’t think he’d do what he did. Terrible. Also: was it me or were the Cubs swinging at the first pitch a lot and not working counts. I found that more troubling than the lack of hitting. Stewart’s last at bad was great not just for the hit but recognizing after Reed’s at bat that the first ball thrown was going to be low and out of the strikezone. Not clear why the guys who followed didn’t see that and lay off the first pitch. Glad I have a day off to recover before heading back Saturday!

    1. MaxM1908

      You are right that they were swinging at first pitches. That was probably one of the biggest negatives in the game. I don’t recall a single good at bat on pitch counts. Contrast that with the Nationals in the eighth who worked Kerry Wood on pitch counts. Those were three excellent at-bats by the Nationals to lead to the tying run. We could have had Strasburg out after the 5th if we would have worked a few more counts. But, then again, Strasburg is an excellent pitcher so maybe he wasn’t giving them many options.

      1. JustSwain

        “But, then again, Strasburg is an excellent pitcher so maybe he wasn’t giving them many options.”

        If you watched the game, Dejesus got his hit off a first pitch fastball strike. If you don’t challenge Strasburg on that first pitch setup fastball, he’ll eat your team alive. They might have been able to work against his hard pitch count by working deep counts, but the result would have been alot more Ks. Don’t swing at that pitch, and Strasburg gets the first strike every time. Some pitchers you want to go after early in the count, some you want to let work themselves into trouble. Strasburg was vulnerable early in the count, throwing lots of fastballs for strikes. Gotta attack that.

    2. DocPWimsey

      The first pitch swinging and “winnable” comments go hand-in-hand. We’ve only had 9 games so far this year, but only one winner so far drew less walks than they allowed. If you don’t draw more walks than you allow, then the game is not as winnable as it appears at first glance.

      1. JustSwain

        Against Strasburg? Don’t you think we’d be taking more third strikes than walks?

        1. DocPWimsey

          Strike 3 rarely is called on the 2nd pitch. Moreover, a lot of those first pitches Cubs put into play were balls or pitchers strikes. The Cubs need batters who wait for pitches that they can drive. (I will grant that Strasburg makes it a lot tougher than Joe Pitcher: this kid easily could be what Dusty-free Prior would have been.)

  28. CUB5

    I’m not worried yet. It’s the first game and ,from what I’ve read this offseason, a big adjustment for the team under Sveum. He’s more active on the base paths and willing to shake things up elsewhere. It’ll take a while for them to get comfortable playing this new style. But I don’t know if I’d ever send Soriano lol.

  29. MaxM1908

    The more I think about the game, the more I see positives. Sure, there was some bad luck, and we didn’t get strike calls when we probably ought to have. But, the game could have been a lot uglier. Dempster pitched his way out of three tough jams. He looked like the Ace we all hope to have in him. That’s incredibly encouraging. Byrd had a clutch RBI. Stewart put us in a position to win in the ninth. Bullpens have bad outings and this one was particularly bad, but let’s not write them off. The season is 162 games long, and game one just happened to be a tough loss. There will be many of them this year. But, there will also be many great wins. I recall Sveum saying when he was hired, “Every team wins 40 and every team loses 40, it’s what you do with the other 82 that really matters.”

  30. gratefulled

    You leave Dumpster in at that point. Just got out a lefty, let him face the next. Dale -1

    1. BeyondFukudome

      The guy’s line for the day is: 7.2 – 2 – 1 – 1 – 3 – 10
      And you’re calling him “Dumpster?”
      -1

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