Although the bullpen once again got the loss for the Cubs, this one didn’t have quite the same heartbreaking feel as the first two losses of the year, because it was the Cubs trying to do the coming back tonight. They came up just short, ending the game with the tying run on second base, and the winning run on first. It was disappointing, but kind of encouraging.

Chris Volstad’s night was short and only modestly effective. He was at the edges of the zone all night (and wasn’t getting the calls), and when he was in the zone he was exactly where he needs to not be: up. Shawn Camp wanted to make sure Carlos Marmol and Kerry Wood didn’t feel lonely on the “we give up runs” side of the bullpen, and he gave up another few tonight.

Starlin Castro’s on-base streak ended, together with the Cubs’ comeback bid, when he struck out on three pitches with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth. It was the end of a really ugly day for the young shortstop.

Aramis Ramirez had a successful return to Wrigley, getting on base twice and driving in two runs. It was nice to see that his early-season struggles are apparently uniform – and not city – dependent. Good for him. He did boot a ball at third, though, so maybe the defensive issues are tied to the city.

One of the only bright notes on the evening? …

  • Doc Evans

    This one hurt.

  • King Jeff

    Those are some very ugly batting averages, even if it’s very early in the year. Especially from the top 3.

    • Cedlandrum

      DeJesus I agree looks ugly, but Castro and Barney? Ugly averages. If each of them literally had one more hit, they would be hitting .300. This is the epitome of overreaction.

  • Jay Anderson Jr

    I think we should move Barney to cleanup, he’s on pace for 40 HRs.

    Honestly thought we would walk off. Didn’t see the game, but filled the play by play. There were some encouraging signs.

  • Njriv

    I know its still early, but Castro and Dejesus don’t really look comfortable in their spots in the line-up. I think by middle May and things aren’t working, they should try putting Castro back in the lead-off spot and put DeJesus 2nd. That I think would work better, but the thing is they really don’t have any 3 and 4 hitters, possibly Lahair 3rd and Soriano 4th?

    • czechxican

      Totally agree. Give it a month or so, but I don’t think Castro is ready to handle 3 hole either. He just needs protection behind him still, he’s too effective at 1 or 2 still.

  • Todd

    Loved the 9th inning, but I think tonight shows that they don’t have that “go to” person when they absolutely need that base hit. I remember the days in the not so distant past where D Lee or Ramirez would come up to the plate and you thought to yourself, they have a solid chance. When Castro walked up tonight, I just had a feeling he’d swing on the first pitch no matter what and that there was a higher risk of not winning.

    Now before you hang me, let me finish by saying I think he can become that person, as well as someone like LaHair or even Mather, but they need time and their time WILL come.

  • Cbp

    Starlin looked nervous and uncomfortable. Byrd fundamentals at the plate are down right awful right now. But if he can work on it he will be fine. James Russell was great tonight he could be a great 8th inning pitcher. Castillo looked nervous pitching tonight.

  • TR

    Watching tonite’s game made it obvious that Marlon Byrd’s days are numbered. He did not have a decent at bat at all so far this year. We need to trade him for any relief pitcher possible or a couple Low A pitchers. Or just eat his salary and release him. It’s too painful to watch. We need to bring Campana up to play CF, and lead-off. In May/June bring up Brett Jackson. In July, bring up Rizzo and have Lahair platoon with Soriano.

    • Bret Epic

      I like your perspectives on it TR. I think Brett Jackson, Campana and LaHair could all potentially be a big part of the Cubs future. Byrd hasn’t matched his 20 home run season since the Cubs signed him, or been even as close to as productive. These young guys need to see some playing time.

    • czechxican

      What is with our players and freak injuries and them never being the same, ever again?
      (Byrd=face, Colvin=impaled, Greenburg=helmet, Lee=wrist, Prior=collision) did I miss anybody?

      • jh

        Colvin=impaled made my night. Not because it was a funny situation or anything (I really did/do like Colvin) but that was classic. Awesome.

    • Borocks

      I agree except for bringing up Jackson, and Rizzo.  If you bring up Rizzo and put Jackson in center with Lahair platooning  with Soriano what do you do with Campana? This is the way I would like to see it…

      1. Campana- cf
      2. Castro-ss
      3. LaHair-1b
      4. Soriano-lf
      5. Stewart-3b
      6. Barney-2b
      7. Soto-c
      8. DeJesus

      Just thinking….

    • Drew

      Why the leadoff spot for Campana?

      Oh yeah…Hes fast (grumble)

  • Luke

    Nice at bat by Clevenger, especially in a pressure situation against a tough pitcher.

    • OlderStyle

      that was impressive. on a similar note, Barney had a great game. the homer, two walks and some nice plays in the field. He looked more confident at the plate, and you can tell he has some extra bulk this year. he doesn’t look like a boy among men anymore.

  • Zogie

    I did a some work for how the cubs batters faired from the 7th inning to the 9th. I was getting tired of seeing all the first pitch outs. From this small amount of research, when the cubs work the count and remain patient, they can actually do some damage. Starting with LaHair, In his first two at-bats he could not lay-off the off-speed pitch low, but luckily he connected with a homerun. In the 7th, He had a decent at-bat. He did not chase any pitches and on the second pitch he singled. Next, Soto had a good at-bat with a 4 pitch walk. I was fist-pumping after that one since the cubs finally seemed to learn patients. Byrd had an ok at bat with a line out after 2 pitches. Johnson had a weak at-bat with a weak fly-ball after 2 pitches. DeJesus had an ok at-bat seeing 5 pitches, but striking-out on a nasty pitch on the corner. In the 8th, Barney had a great at-bat seeing 7 pitches and not chasing any to work the walk. Castro had a terrible at-bat with a one pitch weak pop-up. Sori followed with another terrible at-bat seeing 2 pitches grounding into a dp. In the 9th, Stewart had a great at-bat. He saw 6 pitches and didn’t chase anything. He had the best at-bats all night. The result was a double. LaHair followed with a bad at-bat on 1 pitch. Just a ground out that advanced Stewart to third. Soto had another great at-bat seeing 7 pitches not chasing a single pitch, the result was a walk. Byrd had a surprising at-bat not chasing any pitches. He saw 8 and reached on an error. Clevenger can in with another great at-bat. he saw 5 pitches connecting for an RBI Single. DeJesus had an ok at-bat until he chased a pitch for a strikeout. Barney had another great at-bat seeing 5 pitches for the walk. Then lastly came castro. He had another terrible at-bat chasing the first pitch and watching the next two get called for strikes. Rough Day for Castro. My point, cubs need to be patient.

    • czechxican

      Rudy Jaramillo hates patience. He said so himself at Texas

    • Drew

      Funny, that selectively aggressive approach seems to actually work. Hmm…

  • Kyl-el

    Meh. Fake rally was fun, but this is the team we have.

    Volstad looked like what I expected from him. You can see why there’s still upside there, but even if he never improves he’s a useful starter.

    Happy to see that Travis Wood was very solid down in Iowa, 6 K, 1 BB, 0 HR in six innings, and a home run at the plate.

  • morgan

    im ready for the youth movement already, switch byrd with jackson, rizzo to 1b, and lahair to rf, and dejesus to the bench or released. Dejesus is worthless to this team, he doesnt have speed, doesnt hit for power, so far soriano has played better defense, not impressed with him and i have seen all i need to with him, Byrd needs to go. Let the kids play, maybe they make a lil run and make the season watchable

    • Njriv

      Woah man, give Dejesus some time, hes never played at Wrigley before its going to get adjusted to the well, the sun and the nasty winds. Right Field at Wrigley is one of the hardest right fields to play in baseball. His game has never in his whole career was to hit for power, hes not going to steal too many bases, but hes a good base-runner and he’ll eventually come around at the plate. My opinion is to put him in the 2-hole and put Castro back at the lead-ff spot. Jeez man hes had a slow ST and only played like 3 games and you are already running him out of town.

      • Bret Epic

        Logically speaking, I never saw much of an appeal to him. He COULD have a high OBP, but then again, Starlin Castro is on pace for 162 stolen bases. I just think signing DeJesus was a dumb idea with him being past his prime and coming off a bad year. I was personally never behind it.

    • 100 Years of Tears

      I’ve been at 3 of the first 4 games. DeJesus has hit the ball hard, but right at people. Those will fall for hits if he keeps it up. I also noticed he has a surprisingly strong arm. Once he gets comfortable in Wrigley’s difficult right field, he’ll be solid out there. Soriano has been more than adequate in left field (something I thought I’d never say) and has been more patient at the plate. He is the least of our worries right now. Byrd has played his usual great defense, but has been miserable at the plate. We’re only 4 games in and people are jumping ship. We all knew this would take time and most of us readily accepted it… it’s going to take months/years before the young guys are ready. If a few things go our way, the Cubs are 3-1 right now. Let’s be patient and see what happens over the next month or so.

  • Bret Epic

    To be honest, I can’t hold it in. It does sort of suck watching the Cubs play with a monocle instead of a beer, trying to deeply analyze everything and beg to see a shred of optimism in the team. Theo admitted the team didn’t have enough impact talent, but didn’t sign any impact talent in the off season. I think it’s great that they have a lot of players with potential, but not to sound pessimistic, they could also potentially suck. It’s nice to see Barney working harder, even from the off season. You can say his average isn’t great, but with a hit and 2 BB today, that’d be a 600 OBP today. If our whole team went 1 for 3 with 2 walks everyday, we’d be pretty happy Cubs fans, wouldn’t we? As far as DeJesus goes, I never liked him. I understand that they were looking for a “bargain”, but you got someone on their declining years instead, he is coming off his worst season after all. As far as Ian Stewart goes, I see why they signed him. One really bad year plagued by injury, but they really should be trying to clean up that mess of an outfield. I will give credit to Soriano for picking up in the effort category. Byrd has always tried hard, but hasn’t produced as much as anyone would think he was going to. I like his work ethic, but that isn’t enough. If Byrd had the offensive productivity that Soriano has had over even his worst career numbers, we’d still be thrilled to have him producing that much. They have a lot of young guys I’d like to see get their shot instead. I pretty much like the infield for the Cubs and even if say for example LaHair doesn’t work out, Rizzo can step in. I’m not saying Theo is wrong per say and I know it’s going to take a lot of patience, but it seems like they decided to keep someone like Byrd who makes a decent wage and sign DeJesus instead of freeing up even more money by playing someone in their system that deserves a chance and spending a little bit more on someone who could potentially hit 20 home runs with the exception of Soriano? Maybe I’m not the “expert” that Epstein is, but I feel there are some things I can see in black and white that he should looked into deeper, “impact talent” being the number one. That’s just my 2 cents. I don’t have a problem with starting pitching so far by any means. Today was rough, but it’s one start. Volstead wasn’t great, but he’s not a low ERA pitcher, so don’t expect a low ERA. The bullpen has been shit so far and I was in favor of moving Marmol after last years nightmare of inconsistency and blown saves. Call me a fan of Kerry, but I feel that if he stays healthy, he can bounce back. That’s about as irrational as I’ll ever sound as a Cubs fan. I’m hoping confidence in the young players continues to build and we’ll see that the team will improve over the coarse of the year. The best part of our team is our starting pitching and worst could arguably be our bullpen, so expect a lot of heart breaking losses this year. I’m hoping for the best, but without this “impact talent” or a consistently good bullpen, it’s not gonna be pretty. That’s my 2 cents, but if you ever wanna talk Cubs, my info is on here. Much love, Bret.

  • CBP

    Im actually impressed with Stewart right now. He is making great contact. I wouldn’t mind putting him 2nd after Castro and Lahair 3rd

  • Tyler

    Even though I was not pleased with Sveum putting in Camp and Castillo, instead of Russell and Dolis, I have nothing bad to say about Sveum and I think he is doing a great job with the team and I feel confident with him leading the Cubs for the next couple of years.

  • Cubz99

    Why did the Cubs sign DeJesus for two years? He looks clueless at the plate. It is early and I hope he gets it together, but based on the extremely small sample size (ST and 4 games) he looks like a waste of $8MM.

    • morgan

      i hope he doesnt get it together, hes terrible, put him on the bench where he belongs, what a waste of money. hes worthlesssssss, no speed, no power, average d, second coming of byrd aka not clutch, byrd and dejesus cant be in the same outfield, hope they make a move sooner than later with him and byrd, and if they trade byrd they better bring up jackson and not start johnson out there, hes not a starting player in the mlb

  • Cheryl

    Castro is just not comfortable in the three position. Move him up to second. LaHair could bat anywhere from third to fifth. However, Soriano should probably bat fifth. If Clevinger is catching bat him third. He shows he has the patience for a pressure position. But until Byrd straightens himself out or is traded bat him seventh. I’m not sure who to bat first but DeJesus is not up to it any more. Could Mather bat first?
    My lineup might be Mather (or whoever fits this position), Castro, LaHair, Soriano, Soto, Byrd, Ian, Barney and the pitcher.

    • Bret Epic

      They can throw away Byrd, too, he’s not going to improve a whole lot with his age. His prime is over, get someone else in there, even if it’s some interchangeable back ups and free up some salary. Get maybe a young prospect for him, even if it means eating a couple million of his salary. As far as order goes, I’m having a hard time trying to figure out a consistent batting order since I haven’t seen Barney test out his speed a whole lot. You can see he’s becoming a more patient hitter (2 BB today alone) and I have confidence he’ll continue to improve as well. I could use him and Castro interchangeably in 1 and 2, that is if Barney proves capable of continuing to get on base and use his speed the same type of way we know Castro can.

      • Tyler

        I would get rid of Byrd and Sori, and then bring up Campy and Sappelt (until B-Jax has is arbitration is pushed back a year). Then for the line-up I would have Campana (against righties) or Reed (against lefties) at center field, then Castro, Geo, LaHair, Ian Stewart, DeJesus, Reed or Sappelt (at left field), Barney, then the Pitcher.

  • morgan

    if dejesus keeps this up, think the bleacher bums in right field got a thing coming to him, i dont think he knows whats in store for him if he keep this up

  • Ferrets bueller

    Barney’s two walks are more impressive than the homer IMO. If he ever manages to become more than just a utility quality player, it will be because he somehow figured out how to get on base, not because of power.

    • CubFan Paul

      I disagree. More doubles would do his SLG% wonders.

      I’ll take .280/.320/.400 from Barney instead of. 280/.340ish/.350

  • Johnr42

    Morgan, we get it, you don’t like Dejesus.

  • Dustin S

    On the good side, LaHair has looked great already in his 2 games. 2 doubles yesterday, long home run today. On the farm I see Rizzo had 2 HR tonight (3 already) at Iowa too.

    DeJesus struggling so bad at the top though is getting a little painful. He and Byrd had 8 LOB today. The pressure to bring up Brett Jackson is only going to get hotter.

    I knew the pen wouldn’t be great, but it’s an absolute mess. It’s never a good sign when a last minute ST waiver claim (Camp) is one of your go-to guys. I like Castillo as a end of the pen #6/7 guy building for the future, but not as one of your core middle relievers. As for options, maybe Scott Maine or Jeff Beliveau? A Wells/Coleman/Wood switch to the pen? Losing Marshall and Samardizja has just been a little more brutal than I expected, especially when this team offensively is going to be playing a ton of close low scoring games this year. Paul Assenmacher where are you…

  • cubfanincardinalland

    I thought it was kind of sad the reception Ramirez got on his return to Wrigley from the fans. It was kind of indifferent, a few boos, some cheers, but mostly kind of like whatever.
    Then I got to thinking about it, and isn’t that how ARam pretty much played the game for the Cubs. So I guess the reception was fitting.

    • Rick Vaughn

      I agree. The guy gave us almost a decade of pretty good, if not great, baseball. He may not have given a full effort all the time, but he sure did give us some amazing highlights and something to look forward to year after year. It’s not like he jumped for more money. It seemed pretty clear that the Cubs were set on going in a different direction at 3rd long before the season even ended.

    • Rick Vaughn

      But yeah, he did seem pretty indifferent to hustling a lot of the time.

    • Ol’CharlieBrown

      I noticed that too. It was nothing like the reception Derrek Lee received when he returned to Wrigley. He got a standing ovation that lasted like 30 seconds to a minute if I remember correctly. It seemed as though no one really even seemed to care when Aramis was announced. I kinda felt bad for him for a minute cause it seemed like he slowly lingered outside the batters box for a few moments thinking he may receive a nice applause, but instead got a rather quiet mixture of boos and cheers. Not what I was expecting at all. I thought it would either be a nice standing ovation or mostly boos. Odd.

  • Rick Vaughn

    Starlin looked awful tonight at the plate. Great finish to the game though. Tomorrow I have to decide whether or not to continue my subscription. They’re also adding a minor league package for $5 a month more. Hard to resist.

  • GocubsGo14

    It’s been 4 games easy on Dejesus geez.

  • Richard

    Rizzo and Jackson are raking so far in tripleA . Rizzo went depp twice today. but give some time. i never liked batting Castro 3rd sure he will be a hanley ramirez BUT NOT YET! This is my line up come june or may Jackson Cf Castro Rizzo LAhair/Soriano* Ian stewart Geo soto Marlon Bryd/Dejesus Darwin barney .
    *Depends if starting lefty or not

  • Spencer

    So everyone definitely had Darwin Barney in the office pool for first Cub with a homer this year, right?

    • Rick Vaughn

      I had him picked as the guy to hit the first ten routine ground balls. Dude is looking good so far though.

      • Bret Epic

        He worked a lot on his craft in the off season. The only thing I’d like to see more of for this season is stealing bases, but he hasn’t really gotten much opportunity to do so, taking into consideration he’s been hitting as many extra base hits as singles. For nay sayers of Barney, his OBP is 355. I could deal with a team of guys with a 267 average, a 355 OBP and a slugging at 533. If that was the case for our whole team, I bet we’d have an offensive chance of breaking 500, if our bullpen weren’t to ruin every damn game we play.

        • Drew

          4 games and you’re calling out Barney’s “naysayers?” Good start for Barney, but lets not get carried away.

          • Bret Epic

            I know it’s early, but I don’t feel like a lot of people recognize his effort. He plays a solid 2nd base and he worked a lot in his off season. I’m aware of the fact it’s 4 games in, but look at Spring training numbers, as well as taking into consideration how little credit the guy receives in general.

            • ty

              Barney always under-rated–natural shortstop but in rookie yr has to transform to second which is not easy. My house is directly across from Fitch clubhouse and along with Tony, they spent all winter getting stronger-6 days a week outside dragging resistance devices and no fanfare–just me and my dog watching them once in awhile. Conditioning Coach Tim is one of the best.

  • Patrick

    I just still don’t see Starlin as a 3. That and our pen is just awful. Team has played hard and hope they continue to battle teams. But again Castro shouldn’t be batting 3rd-can’t stress it enough people. (I realize not many better candidates)

    • Bret Epic

      Completely agree.

  • FromFenwayPahk

    Volstad looked good; a project worth undertaking. Dude is huge. Barney, keep hittin’ the weights. Some love for Wistah’s homah! Good At bat, Bryan.

    • Steve

      A good pitching coach could tuen Volstad into a beast. Is Bosio the man for the job?

    • MaxM1908

      Has anyone else noticed that with Volstad growing a beard, he kind of looks like Kerry Wood up there on the mound?

  • Stinky Pete

    Axford played with Starlin’s head the way a cat plays with a mouse before making it look silly and strike out to end the game.

  • Steve

    I have to say, I recently discovered BN, and up until now have really enjoyed it. I left another site due to people doing nothing but bashing and nay-saying. “He sucks” and “he’s a waste” ….get a grip people. It’s 3 games into the season. No, we don’t have the talent that some of our competetitors do, but good grief, we are Cub fans, not Brewer, Cardinal or Mets fans.
    How about supporting this team until Theo and company can bring it home????

    • Brett

      Steve, I understand your point (and generally, agree with it), but you’ve got to understand: in the immediate aftermath of frustrating losses, especially early in the season, these kind of knee-jerk reactions are common among Cubs fans. You’re going to see them everywhere. It clears up by the next morning (and becomes less frequent as the season goes on), but you’re reading folks’ reactions from immediately after the game. I can understand why folks vent.

      • Mike Foster

        Brett, your comment got in between mine and Steve’s. I understand what you’re saying, and yeah that’s prolly true about the venting…but really, I usually stop reading fairly soon after the first couple of same old, same old, trade him, trade him posts. Gets real old fast. I want some insight into what others saw in the game, not a bunch of “me too” postings. IMHO bud, keep up the good work.

      • Steve

        Brett, It just really gets to me when I read these short sighted reactions and we haven’t even lost a ball in the ivy yet.
        I certainly understand the frustration…geeez, we are most likely years away from contending. That being said, I’m 43, so I have yet to witness a WS ring. How many of you BNers have witnessed that?? That would be none!
        So, what keeps you coming back?? By God I say it’s because you have been given a gift most people never experience in their lives…and that’s a dedication, an addiction no less, to something that one day is going to be one of the most memorable, fullfilling, and utterly amazing experiences of your life
        I’m done now. Sorry…I’m a Cub fan, true and blue.

    • Mike Foster

      Amen brother.

  • Goatbuster

    Am I wrong in thinking that if a player gets hit with the ball he’s out?

    • Brett

      Not if it’s thrown. Only if it’s off the bat.

      • 100 Years of Tears

        Or if you’re playing kickball.

      • Kyle

        And then the batter still gets credited with a hit. Which is how you answer the trivia question “how do you get six hits in an inning without a run scoring.”