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Whew. It’s nice to win on Opening Day.

Jeff Samardzija was simply absurd today. Amped up and clearly overthrowing in the first, Samardzija settled down, and then grooved the Pirates all day long. Carlos Marmol did as Carlos Marmol does in the 9th, and actually got himself yanked from a three-run save opportunity after having no idea where the ball was going (except for the well-struck RBI single he gave up). In the span of just 19 pitches (10 balls), he (1) made himself completely untradable; and (2) made it very easy to forget just how good he was from late-May on last year. Fortunately James Russell and Kyuji Fujikawa stemmed the bleeding by simply throwing strikes and letting the Pirates hit the ball. Imagine that.

The Cubs’ big damage came in the first after Starlin Castro singled on a ball he had no business getting good wood on (it’s what he does), and Anthony Rizzo hit a 450+ foot bomb on the first pitch he saw (it’s what he does/RizzOMG). If you’re looking for the upside in the 2013 Chicago Cubs’ offense, that’s it right there.

Welington Castillo twice doubled to right field on a hit and run with Nate Schierholtz going in front of him. The first time, Schierholtz was held at third, and was stranded when Luis Valbuena and Brent Lillibridge struck out, and Jeff Samardzija grounded out. The second time around, the Cubs didn’t make that mistake, sending Schierholtz, who scored on the double. Castillo, however, was caught in a rundown when he tried to stretch his double into a 2.5-bagger, a mythical type of hit that doesn’t actually exist – it’s one or the other, Welly.

Nate Schierholtz reached based all four times he was up today, and he did it in four different ways: a walk, a HBP, a single, and an error. Brent Lillibridge had an inauspicious debut as Darwin Barney’s replacement: three strikeouts in three at bats, and a boot in the field. At least he did make one nice diving play.

Cubs win!

april 1 box


  • fester30

    Cubs are in first place! Normally I would say APRIL FOOLS!!!

  • willis

    Great win to start things off.

    As far as Marmol, even with his spring and today, the team can’t just give up on him yet. But, the short hook is needed, like today. There are arms to fill the void when he doesn’t have his stuff like today. But he still needs a few more chances with an extremely short hook to succeed. The Cubs need him to be good.

    And Shark…words can’t describe his awesomeness. Hopefully another good outing from Jackson is on the menu Wednesday.

  • Mike

    At least Marmol got yanked quickly.

  • Die hard

    My take- Sveum left him in too long 110 pitches to start season asking for trouble. We miss Barney already and Rizzo could avoid Soph slump …. Castro is Castro

    • AB

      He threw 110 in his first outing last year as well.

      • Dale’s Ear

        and the day off tomorrow gives him an extra day of rest

  • Kyle

    The K’s didn’t bother me today. With a couple of exceptions, they were just the result of taking a good approach against a good pitcher. You could really see the focus on taking borderline pitches that they couldn’t do much with anyway, even if it meant they got behind in the count.

    There weren’t a lot of chances to walk today, and there also weren’t a ton of balls to be hit hard, but it didn’t feel like they missed many. Rizzo got the meatiest high, straight, middle-in fastball of the day and sent it out of the entire park.

    • Cyranojoe

      “With a couple of exceptions, they were just the result of taking a good approach against a good pitcher.”

      That’s fabulous to hear. Sure hope that’s the case!

  • Kyle

    As for Samardzija, I think it’s a sign of how good he can be that it wasn’t his best effort and there was some stuff he could improve on, but it was still such an amazing pitching line.

    He struggled with his command early, and I think a better team might have made him pay more for that. He helped himself by not missing up and out over the plate more than a few times. He was missing low and/or off the plate. The few times he did leave one over the middle, velocity saved him. You can get away with a few when your fastball averaged over 94 mph and peaked at 97.4.

    What really stood out for me for Samardzija was his third pitch. PitchFX was calling it a splitter, but I think it was a changeup? I dunno, I’m never good at that sort of classification. But he was throwing it for strikes at 81-83 mph with a nice, tight, late downward break that really fooled some hitters. He got McCutchen with it for a K that was just downright mean.

    • Rebuilding

      He’s got all of the tools to be the true #1 we need. Really interesting to see his avg fastball velocity trailing only Strasburg and Price. Now it’s all about consistency. He took a lot of heat for it, but it’s the best $10 mil Hendry ever spent

      • Pat

        Definitely a good day from the people who are part of the long term plan. I think if F7 can show this kind of stuff with any regularity in the first half it will be time to seriously start talking about an extention. The only downside today was the hit to Marmol’s already questionable trade value.

    • David

      Was it something like Rich Harden’s nasty changeup that would drop off the table that some were calling a splitter?

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        It’s a splitter – he uses it as his changeup, though. And, yeah, it’s sick.

      • Kyle

        Much less break than that. It doesn’t have a ton of movement, but what it does have is very late, which makes it even more effective. He throws it at almost exactly 12 MPH slower than his fastball and just a little slower than his slurve.

        Didn’t Samardzija used to throw a circle change? I’m terrible at this kind of stuff. Trying to focus on it more this year.

  • Kyle

    I don’t expect the local media to notice, but Castro had a really good day defensively. Not highlight-reel stuff, but plays that you wouldn’t be surprised to see a SS not make.

    • OCCubFan

      Kyle, if no one has done so already, I’d like to acknowledge your pregame call. As you predicted, Shark pitched 8 shutout (albeit imperfect) innings. You said Marmol would start the 9th and go BB, HBP, BB, BB with a run scoring. He actually went: K on ball 4, HBP, W, hit. If you hadn’t said Burnett would throw a perfect game, I’d say you should become a fortune-teller.

  • calicubsfan007

    Marmol sucked today!!! Plus, the guy looks out of shape.

    • Die hard

      But he’s the type you need to run him out there again and again so he gets his confidence and tempo

  • http://Thenewenthusiast.com Dw8

    Something I’m going to keep my eye on this year, especially considering Sveum’s comments regarding defense this spring. Cubs turned 21 balls in play into 17 outs. That’s a good start. We’ll see what happens agains Cubs’ lesser pitchers…

  • Don

    Time to trade Marmol to the first team that offers a six pack of beer.

  • Mrp

    That looked like I was watching a real baseball team for 8 innings. Thanks to Marmol for reminding me that I was actually watching a Cubs game.

  • Alex

    Nate the great one of only 2 starters that didn’t strike out today…the other? Russel Martin, 0/4 with the game ending fly out. That’s the difference between 2 million and 8 million in salary. Theo makes the smart moves, if marmols still here, I’m sure he probably couldn’t have traded him (although he might regret not taking Harren over marmol, even if Haren was to spend the whole season on the DL, he couldnt have hurt us like trying to actually increase
    Marmols value does by making him pitch le alone close games out.) And nothing changes now. Marmol for porcello? HA, Some even complained about that….

    • BluBlud

      Yeah, cause Nate has surely earned his money after one game where he got one hit. The walk was just as much the pitcher as the hitter, and he reached on an error(that means he was really out), and a HBP(luck of the draw). This guy is Joe Mather, 2013 edition.

      • David

        Nate Schierholtz is not Joe Mather. Christ.

        • BluBlud

          Yeah, I just mean the guy everybody is screaming for and by the end of the year, you’ll see why the Hell no one has evr given him an everyday job after playing parts of 7 season’s in the Majors.

          • Hansman1982

            Thank God the Cubs didn’t give him and every day job then!

        • OregonCubFan

          But he’s not Christ either. Somewhere inbetween I’d say…

          • Tim

            What do you know, another Oregon Cubs fan. Good day to you

      • another JP

        NS doesn’t have to be all world because he’s part of a platoon in the OF. Plus he’s got a cannon of an arm, something Mather never had. For what the Cubs are paying they’ll have no problem getting a positive contribution from Schierholtz this season.

  • macB

    Hooray, cubs in first place!!!

    BUT, that spot where valbuena and lillibridge K’d with runners on 2nd and 3rd and nobody out…

    that crap has got to stop. that’s been the cubs’ calling card for the past few seasons and it’s totally unacceptable. playoff teams don’t need all-stars at every position, but the mediocre players need to put the ball in play in key situations. Shark was the only player to put wood on the ball. Burnett ain’t that good. Hopefully, the hook for these kiddos is handy this year.

    • praying the cubs get ready to win

      You were spot on to my thought. We need Barney back and someone to play third. Otherwise these two and win the pitcher is going to be ugly most of the year.

  • Dustin S

    Tons of positives today. No matter what happens this season it feels good to get off to a nice start. Brett summed things up well, Lillibridge was a little brutal so hopefully Barney gets well soon. I half wonder if Sveum might get creative and try Valbuena at 2nd and Clevenger at 3rd a game or two to fill-in. I’m sure Gonzalez will get some starts too.

    Marmol…just glad Sveum pulled the plug on him fast before he blew the game. I’ll take my chances with Fujikawa in the 9th anyday over cringing when Marmol comes in. And I liked his fist pump at the end.

  • http://twitter.com/rbmryu Rafael Bruno Meirelles

    This is the first time in like what? 3 years+ that the cubs is over .500, right? o.O

    • deej34

      At 500… not OVER 500. Don’t get the cart before the donkey here haha

      • deej34

        Said donkey… meant goat.

      • Kyle

        No, they are one game over .500.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Or where 40% of 0.400 teams are after 1 game!

          • Kyle

            And 100% of 1.000 teams.

            • Hansman1982

              Ooo, ooo, I wanna play…

              And 0% of .000 teams!

      • JDBlades

        I believe 1-0 means that they are 1.000, not .500

  • jt

    Liked Kyle’s comment on Castro. He seemed relaxed on a couple of plays that were not easy.
    Thought Castillo had a pretty good game.

  • mudge

    Anybody have stats on Soriano’s OPS when it’s below 55 degrees? Or any player’s? Seems like Sori in particular can’t hit a lick in the cold.

  • gutshot5820

    You all are a bunch of sissies. One bad game for Marmol and Lillibridge and everybody is ready to lynch them. Everyone knows Marmol is at least a decent reliever with control problems and Lillibridge is a utility infielder. Castro is a great shortstop and as soon as he makes a few errors; trade him. I guess all the regulars on the Pittsburgh’s team must suck worse because they lost, so they should call it a season already and firesale their whole team.

    • Cubbie Blues

      It’s called a gut reaction to the first game of the year. I would have thought you would understand.

      • MichiganGoat

        nah why would you assume that

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      “You all are a bunch of sissies.”

      By leading with that, you guaranteed that no one will read the rest of what you said. Advice: cut the attack, and people will read your thoughts. Otherwise, you’re wasting your time.

      • MichiganGoat

        Sissy comment 😉

        • Cubbie Blues

          sissies … smh

          • MichiganGoat

            Sissy sympathizer

            • Hansman1982

              Are you now, or have you ever been a sissy?

              • Cubbie Blues

                Well, I don’t like snakes.

                • hansman1982


                  Imprison this man for being a sissy.

              • MichiganGoat

                Hansman and his sissy list

      • gutshot5820

        Brett – Newsflash, I’m not as concerned about pageviews as you. Compared to some of the disparaging remarks a few of your regular posters make, “sissy” should be on the bottom of your list to comment on. I’m starting to think a lot of your comments are geared to protect your sponsors and regular posters. Lol, “sissy” when did that becone such a terribly hurtful and demeaning word, I would think you have better things to do, you must be bored.

        • MichiganGoat

          Cause this really helps… Wait for it…

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Not only was that response unnecessarily hostile, it had nothing to do with what I actually said to you – which was to offer you some advice.

          Incidentally, that advice was about how to not be ignored. Now you’ve just ensured that you’ll be ignored.

          Thanks for reading and giving me lots of page views! Cha-ching!

    • arta

      first of all I’ve always been a Barney fan, but all winter all i heard was trade Barney. he can’t hit, he’s a bench player at best, etc. with all the 2B we have he can easily be replaced. now it seems like most are making it sound like we lost a super star. JMO.

  • Die hard

    Smardzja threw most pitches on opening day ….. Other managers know better

    • MichiganGoat

      There were 11 pitchers that threw 100+ yesterday but of those pitchers Samardzija (btw learn to spell his name or call him Shark) he lead those in WHIP with a sick 0.38, a equally impressive 9.0 K/9. In most ways he out pitched King Felix and Felix had an amazing night. No need to get all “sky is falling” because we went over 100 pitches. Step off the ledge.

      • MikeW

        +1. All hail the goat.

        • MichiganGoat

          Facts are an amazing thing aren’t they

      • DarthHater

        “Step off the ledge.”

        Which direction? 😛