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. MichiganGoat

    So at first i was disappointed that id miss this game, but now I’m glad I spent the day with daughter and her school at the Frederick Meijer Garden and Sculpure Park (http://www.meijergardens.org/) if your ever in Grand Rapids, MI you must visit and enjoy this place.

  2. BeyondFukudome

    That off-season plan of trading away the team’s best relief pitcher is looking better and better. These new guys are geniuses! Somebody please refill my Koolaid, quick!

    1. JasonB

      Let’s define this rebuilding after one game shall we? We lost, guess what? That won’t be the last time it happens this year

      1. Quintzy

        All we have to do is get through about 90 more losses. I think we can do that.

    2. Jimmy James

      Really….already….its pretty likely these would have been the guys coming in even if Marshall was still here….

  3. osf666

    My tummy hurts already :( o_O

  4. The Dude Abides

    Tough one today for Dempster to pitch so well and see our bullpen fall apart. A couple of those ball calls for Woody in the eighth looked like strikes on replay. Sveum lived to his word and played aggressive. Good to see Stewart get a hold of one. End of day they should have won, they let it slip away.

  5. SirCub

    Did anybody have a good game besides Dempster? I mean, Soriano went 1/3, but got thrown out trying to steal third. Stewart went 1/4 with a triple, but made an error. Byrd went 1/4 and knocked in a (the only) run, but grounded into a double play. Baker went 1/3 with a (the only) walk, but couldn’t get Mather home in the 9th and failed to make a play on that grounder by Desmond in the 8th. Barney made a couple nice plays, but went 0fer. Um, maybe Castro? 1/4 with a couple of routine plays at shortstop?

    1. JustSwain

      Dejesus looked good, and had one of the only real knocks against Strasburg

      1. npnovak

        he could have played that double by tracy off the wall better…maybe even held him to a single or thrown him out at second. either way, saying he had a good game is stretching it

        1. Borocks

          Dejesus has never played in Wrigley before.  Does not know the field well enough yet so I would give him a break on the double. But I thought he looked good not great but good.

  6. Ivy Walls

    Recorded it the old fashioned way and because I can get Twitter (but not Gameday) through the server filters I knew the Cubs were at least tied when I left work.

    The double by Tracy should have been caught by the supposed Gold Glove RF’er DeJesus, he came up short to the brick wall and the ball. But that didn’t matter Cubs offense was not there.

    1. JustSwain

      Uhhhm I watched that play and Dejesus did what he could. Remember yesterday was the first time that he had been to Wrigley Field, and the ball was hit off the wall above his glove. A diving play at the wall at Wrigley on his first day playing there would have made the play, but saying it should have been caught is overstating it a bit. Heck, most RFers wouldn’t have even had a play on the ball, Dejesus got a good read and tracked it well, he just hesitated at the wall. Not an uncommon malady in Wrigley most Aprils. I tell you what, go out, get a running start and jump into a brick wall. Once you’ve done that, despite the outcome, I’ll be willing to cede that Dejesus “Should” have made the play.

      1. Jay Anderson Jr

        So why is Soriano always criticized for being scared of the wall.

        1. JustSwain

          Because he is (or was, he’s gotten better). Being afraid of a wall when you have had several seasons to get to know its exact location is a weakness. Being unsure going after a fly ball on your first day in what is generally considered the hardest Right Field in baseball, with the wind screaming is just baseball. Dejesus will figure out how to crash into the wall without getting hurt. Maybe he should ask Sam Fuld for some pointers.

    2. DocPWimsey

      And the triple by Stewart “should” have been caught by Werth. Unlike DeJesus, Werth has played (many games!) at Wrigley. Thus, he should have “known” to run into the well. Yet, he didn’t.

      The other point people miss when guys shy away from the wall is the OFers do NOT want to be too close to the bricks when the ball comes off of them. Balls bounce off of Wrigleys bricks a lat faster than they do off of other walls, and if the OFer is not a few steps closer to the IF, then the ball can shoot past him for an extra base or two.

  7. BeyondFukudome

    Look on the bright side. Marmol didn’t walk anybody!

  8. alsongs

    Oh no, could it be deja vu all over again? Are there really that many more teams that seem to shoot themselves in the foot as much as the Cubs?

  9. OkieCub

    I’ll leave the whining and belly-achin’ to the regulars. I came away happy that Demp has got off to a good start, probably should have won it. Let it get away though. Come off the ledge people, it wasn’t that bad.

  10. Lvcubfan

    Bring back Quade!

  11. cubmig

    Off topic question: What’s the latest on Jorge Soler? Nothing but nothing on him, his status or team activity. Did he fall off the end of the earth? Anyone?

  12. Houston Transplant

    I thought it was a positive game up until the 8th inning, and even then, it was nice to see Stewart get a hold of a ball that would have been a home run on any other day. I think Wood will get better as he pitches more. 5 innings of ST just isn’t enough, and he showed it today. Marmol scares the crap out of me…just like last year. I was pleasantly surprised with Dempster’s performance and even though Soriano got thrown out at 3rd, I don’t think it was necessarily the worst move ever. It was a close play and just seeing him run is nice. Sveum said that, if people are going to make mistakes, he wants to see them make aggressive mistakes. Call Soriano’s steal attempt a mistake, but he’s following his manager. I’ll take that.

    1. JR

      I would respectfully disagree about Soriano stealing 3rd. There was one out, it was a 2-1 count (3-1 after he was caught) and he was already in scoring position. Whether he made it or not, it was not a smart play, aggressive or not aggressive. On the other hand, Soriano ran hard from first to get to second and I thought that was great and absolutely a product of the new philosophy. Really appreciated all the hustle in the base running today.

    2. Pat

      Aggressive base running with this group is a baaaad idea. Quade even recognized that in spring training last year. After saying they were going to be aggressive on the bases he realized what a horrible base running team it was. Apparently Sveum didn’t notice all the outs they were running into this spring.

      For a supposedly better fundamental team, an error and two TOOTBLANs is not what I was looking for. But, it’s only one game and I was expecting a loss in this one anyway. Still, not a great beginning.

    3. N8theGr8

      Best post thus far…Be positive people. 0-1 ain’t that bad considering we faced Strasburg with a new look club on a day with the wind howling in. Demp pitched great (wish he coulda got the win), Fonzy made some nice catches in left, offense may not have produced but had a nice approach. DeJesus got twisted up but almost came back to make an amazing catch. Lay off these guys, gods’ sake–’least give a week or two before ya start bustin’ on ‘em.

  13. jim

    And this is an injured nationals team. Bette davis said buckle up, its gonna be a bumpy ride!

  14. Cubs217

    that 0.00 ERA next to Woods name looks so wrong after that outing,I feel bad for Demp because he definitely deserved a win after out dueling Strasburg. I can’t take 161 more games like that.

  15. 1908Blues

    Just to add salt to the wound. Marshall just pitched a perfect ninth (2 k’s), with cincy announcers gushing and citing Travis Wood’s situation.

    1. MaxM1908

      Don’t forget that we also got Torryes and Sappelt in that deal. Wood was not the centerpiece by any means. He gives us depth to the rotation, and he still has an upside that remains to be seen. I’m won’t be ready to judge that trade for at least another three years.

    2. Mrp

      Meh, I’ll hold off on my judgement of the trade for a little while. It was an obvious trade for the future, we should expect the Reds to get the more immediate return on investment.

    3. JustSwain

      Have you seen the moves Cincy is making this year? Its a very much win now, screw later mentality, either that or they think that their revenues are going to increase so much in the next ten years that paying Votto 30 mil in his year 39 season will be a deal. Looks like they might extend Phillips as well on a player friendly contract. They are already spending their world series revenues. Marshall is sorely missed, but considering our potential for future returns, that Marshall had a year left in his contract, and that this year the Cubs are not in a position to go all-in, I think the trade made sense. The Cubs are not likely to improve for this year as a result of this trade. That does not mean it is a bad trade.

  16. curt

    tough day, besides the anemic offense plz someone explain to me why soriano would even think of stealing 3rd?

    1. JustSwain

      Less than two outs, 1 run ballgame, dominant pitcher on the mound, thought he had a good read, and probably did since the only reason he was out was that Zimmerman put down a very good tag on him. Not what I want Soriano to do all year long mind you, but it made some sort of sense.

    2. Kylel

      Our new manager is heavily encouraging “aggressive” baserunning. I hate giving up outs and baserunners on the basepaths so much. Early returns are not impressive.

  17. Cee-Dee-Vee

    And this.is why Campana should be on the roster.
    I am positive he would of tied the game if he pinch ran instead of Mather. He would of either beat the throw or Zimmerman would of bobbled it lnowing Campana was on…and let’s not fotget the suicide bunt

    Trade Baker or Dewitt….or get rid of Johnson. I love the guy but he will not bat 300 again and Campana is more useful at this point.

    1. Jay Anderson Jr

      I agree 1000%

    2. MichiganGoat

      But how many opportunities like today will present itself, I agree Campana would be the perfect pinch runner there but again does it merit a roster spot? Campana lacks OBP skills, not much of a defender, and is only valuable as a pinch runner. I’m sure he will be up shortly but he is not a savior and I don’t think if his speed would have beat that throw (Mathers isn’t a slow poke). It was just the bad luck of having a runner going on contact plus a grounder to the worst possible place to hit.

      1. Cee-Dee-Vee

        Yea Mather isn’t a ”slow poke” but he is no where near the runner Campana is…his jump wasnt great either. I dont remember where it was hit but I remember two times last season where the infield was in and Campana beat a perfect throw to home. Yes we all talk about his OBP but when given the oppurtunity, Campana is capable. He barely got oppurtunities this spring, coming in the 6th and 7th inning. Getting one or two ABs the most. But when he started he got atleast 2 hits. And his numbers were low last.season but most of the ABs were off of pinch hits. I’ll take him over Johnson any day and over Dewitt/Baker because those two are basically the same player.

        1. Kyle Mayhugh

          It was a sharp two-hopper directly to the third baseman. There’s not a man alive who was beating a good throw on that play.

          You have to tell the runner to go on contact there, and it was just unfortunate that in the whole universe of possible balls in play, Baker hit one of the three that gets the runner thrown out (the other two being sharp grounders to the pitcher and first baseman).

  18. Cheryl

    This is only the first game. Let’s see how they are doing in twwo weeks.

  19. MaxM1908

    Does everyone realize that audio for MiLB games are available for free? I’m working late and figured I’d get over today’s game by listening to the Iowa Cubs, who look to have an exciting team this year.

  20. Vince

    Great seeing Marmol in mid season form.

  21. Don

    I’m all for aggressive base running, but not with a 36 year old slow Soriano and not trying for third. This would have been a second run on Byrd’s hit, and more than likely would have won the game. Baker is no first baseman either, as he almost dropped Stewart’s throw in addition to not fielding a ball that should have been his. That “hit” started the Nats rally. We should have been out of the inning with Dempster finishing the inning. Demp looked great and that is a good thing. It’s only 1 game, but another 1 run loss like so many last year. I’m not expecting the Cubs to contend this year, but even non-contending teams should win games like this.

  22. Drewski

    It’s only the first game of the year and we all knew there would be games like this. Building towards the future and a rebuilt park is all I’m looking forward to at this point in time.

  23. Diesel

    It sucks having the off day tomorrow.  I want more cubs baseball

  24. MaxM1908

    I still think that it’s the right decision to leave Campana at Iowa for a while, but boy is he making an argument for promotion tonight. He’s 2 for 3, scored 2 of the I-Cubs 3 runs, stole a base, and his base running skills were what led to the go-ahead run. I’m impressed with his performance tonight. If he spends a month down there accumulating stolen bases and improving his hitting, I’ll be swayed that he should be promoted. I just wish we could promote him to an every day position rather than a bench spot.

  25. Carmelo

    To me a major play in the game was Baker swinging at a 1st pitch slider down in the zone. That can’t be the pitch he was looking for. Sac. Flys come when you go the other way, that way you down roll over on the pitch and ground it to 3rd. Wish he had seen a better pitch. Easy to second guess, but we needed a more quality at bat in that situation.

    1. DocPWimsey

      Sac flies come when you hit a flyball out with a man on third and less than 2 out. That sounds almost tautologic, but I write it for a reason. Flyballs are *driven* by the batter. So, we can rewrite that sac flies come why you drive the ball (sometimes) with a man on 3rd and less than 2 out. That gets back to Epstein ball and what we’ll hopefully see in the future: guys trying to drive the ball in all situations. Do that with a man on 3rd and even some of the bad outcomes are not so bad. To that end, you lay off of pitches down in the zone: even if you go the other way, then you rarely will drive it: you’ll probably hit a grounder to 2nd.

      What Baker did is back to Hendry ball: with a man on 3rd and less than 2 outs, he just tried to put the ball into play. Again, old dogs, new tricks, etc….

      1. MaxM1908

        Great analysis, Doc. I was only listening on the radio but as soon as I heard “grounder to third” I knew Mather was screwed and the game was lost. I could only assume it was because of a poor decision on Baker’s part. Thanks for the added understanding as to why that sucked so much.

  26. Mike F

    I want to remind many of you, you wanted rebuilding, actually you lusted for it. The positives are aggression, effort and starting pitching. The negatives to me are simple, it’s a weak line-up dominated by veterans. The key is ship Soriano, Byrd, and Marmol as soon as humanly possible. The reality is we need a good draft, a lot of luck and people like Rizzo and Jackson as soon as they get their feet. We are at least 2013 away and more likely2014. And to those who sought rebuilding so long and hard, you honestly have no right whatsoever to complain. Theo knows what’s ahead, and I believe he’s committed to fixing it, but I don’t think he’s completely in touch with how sour it will turn and quickly if the veterans and junk like Marmol continue to trot out their and f up the thing. Can’t make chicken salad out of chicken sh t, and until he gets rid of some of the chicken sh t and has the time and resources to add some prime chicken breast, will be talking about aggression and effort.

    1. Kyl-el

      Thankfully, I aggressively argued against tanking the season and maintain my right to complain :)

    2. DocPWimsey

      Also, Jackson & Rizzo probably are going to spend enough time in the minors to make sure that the Cubs retain control on their contracts for an additional year.

      And I won’t complain after 1 game. The ’08 Cubs lost their first game, you might recall…. (Not that this team is anywhere near the ’08 Cubs!)

      1. Luke

        Just so long as they aren’t the ’97 Cubs, either.

  27. ferrets_bueller

    So far, we’re in 1st place in the standing I most want to top this season- the battle for the #1 pick. So far, so good! 0-1.

    1. Luke

      I’m not sure the Cubs could beat Houston for the #1 pick no matter how hard they tried.  And they would have to try awfully hard.

      1. ferrets_bueller

        Well, #2 isnt exactly bad either. It’ll be an interesting battle.

  28. Matt3

    I still think the cubs make the postseason this year

    1. EvenBetterNews

      You had too much to drink today.

  29. EvenBetterNews

    Well…. I guess the bright side of this, in this rebuilding phase is 12-15 more starts like that and Dempster will be an excellent trade chip this year.

  30. louis

    Bad teams find ways to lose.1) Baker let the ball go by for some reason; which allowed a baserunner in the 8th. 2) Wood couldn’t throw a strike in the 8th. 3) Stewart tripled with one out in the 9th and we couldn’t score.

    1. DocPWimsey

      The Nats squandered more scoring opportunities than the Cubs did. So did 8 of the other 9 teams that won a game this year. That’s because you win most games by creating more chances than the other team, not by coming through in a greater proportion of them.

      So, rephrase that as “Bad teams create fewer opportunities to win” and you are nearer the mark.