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Following a game for six hours is one thing. Following a game for six hours only to see the Cubs lose is another.

It was another largely miserable game to watch, as the Cubs repeatedly failed to get runners home when they had opportunities to do so. I can – and will – offer up a little statistical sanity when it comes to small samples and unlikely odds, but I won’t tell you not to be frustrated by these first two games. That’s the thing about being a fan: you’re allowed to overreact. It’s half the (sick) fun. So long as the men in charge don’t overreact …

Edwin Jackson had an uneven, albeit mostly successful, first outing on the year (which feels like it was a million years ago). He was up in the zone (and out of the zone) early, which drove up his pitch count. The final line isn’t quite what you want to see, but he had a stretch for a few innings where he looked dominant. The bullpen was generally very effective, with Pedro Strop and Justin Grimm, in particular, looking nasty.

Emilio Bonifacio went 5-7 with a walk and a stolen base, and he’s now lodged 9 hits in his first two games. That’s nuts.

There were some stupid hit-by-pitch shenanigans, with Jackson accidentally hitting Starling Marte to begin the game, and Charlie Morton very intentionally hitting Anthony Rizzo. The sides were warned. Rizzo was hit later in an important situation, and there was no ejection. Rizzo was pissed. More on that in a moment.

The joke was on the Pirates, though, because then Nate Schierholtz grounded into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded … but the out at second base was overturned on review! And the Cubs got a run from the replay gods! Their first run of the season, in fitting fashion.

The Cubs scored the next inning in the 9th – when they finally got a hit with a runner in scoring position – to tie things up and force extras. In the 12th, Anthony Rizzo went deep (because of the aforementioned anger) to give the Cubs the lead, which Jose Veras gave back in the bottom of the frame in his Cubs debut. Veras was all over the place, and, although he gave up just one run and struck out Andrew McCutchen with the bases loaded, it’s going to take about 15 straight scoreless appearances for Cubs fans to forget this one.

In the end, the Pirates strung together a few hits in the 16th inning and won. My brain melted. And poor Carlos Villanueva.

april 2 box

Full box score.

  • Kyle

    127-199 from the front office that will establish a winning culture and work hard for every edge.

    • SenorGato

      From what I read losing is considered an edge.

    • TonyP

      But but but have you seen the farm system……

    • http://deepcenterfield.mlblogs.com/ Jason Powers

      I’m thinking no one will say, “hey lets go to Pittsburgh to get the ball rolling on a good season.”

      I was gonna watch on delay (MLB.tv blackout) but 16 innings is not happening. Watched Oakland & Kazmir win. Garza lose a game and an no-no on one pitch. He was pretty on.

    • Brocktoon

      With Houston’s win today, the Cubs have spent the fewest days above .500 in all of baseball since the Ricketts family purchased the team.

    • 70’s Cub

      What pisses me the most is to have Barney before the pitcher for the third straight year! We know he can’t hit line drives.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      You know how meatbally that sounds, right?

      • JM

        I guess that makes me even more meatbally, cause I don’t even understand it…

      • Kyle

        If expecting the front office not to lose at a historical rate is meatbally, then put me on a pile of spaghetti.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          If that’s the way you’re framing the point, to the exclusion of, you know, context – then I’ll take you with a nice broad noodle and a sweet marinara.

          • Kyle

            You say context, I say excuses and diversions.

            • bbmoney

              Which makes me not care what you have to say.

              • Kyle

                Dang. I was *so close* to turning you, too.

        • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

          I prefer on a nice hard french roll with some marinara

    • Adventurecizin Justin

      The Cubs have taken a 94 win, playoff team to extras twice…and this all ya got?

      • Kyle

        We’re going to have to expand our 2nd Place Trophy Case to cover the regular season now?

    • Jamie Lannister

      127-199 from a front office, who obviously should have predicted that Castro, Barney, Rizzo, and Shark were going to regress so hard, spent money on free agents to make up for those regressions, and then spend even more money to make the Major League roster better , despite it potentially putting a finacial stranglehold on future acquisitions, limiting the flexibility they would have to manipulate their roster, the increasingly accepted understanding throughout baseball that spending money on free agents is bad business, the increasingly accepted understanding that you are better off building your roster through drafting and the international market, and the knowledge that the $ per win has dramatically dropped over the last few years.

      logic….how does it work?

      • Kyle

        “who obviously should have predicted that Castro, Barney, Rizzo, and Shark were going to regress so hard:”

        It’s kind of their job to accurately predict how baseball players will perform. It’s kind of their entire job.

        “the increasingly accepted understanding that you are better off building your roster through drafting and the international market”

        That’s always been true. But good organizations don’t need to lose to build their roster through the draft and IFAs.

        ” and the knowledge that the $ per win has dramatically dropped over the last few years.”

        Congratulations?

        “logic….how does it work?”

        Logic doesn’t mean what you think it means.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          “That’s always been true. But good organizations don’t need to lose to build their roster through the draft and IFAs.”

          You know, good organizations that had a 10-year head start on this front office and did 80% of that work under a completely different CBA. Keep on ignoring that, Mr. Meatball.

          (winky face to ensure that all reading know the last line included no actual hostility)

          • Kyle

            “Completely different CBA.”

            This is so overrated. So ridiculously overrated.

            Baseball teams still had a 25-man roster? Still had free agency in the offseason? Still made trades? Still brought amateur players in from either HS, college or 16-year-olds, depending on the source? Still signed international talent on a market and divvied up domestic talent through a draft where 98% of the picks were assigned in rotation based on record from the previous year? Still had three years of pre-arb, three years of arb and then free agency? Still had same amount of pre-Rule 5 time, still the same amount of option time? Still had the same luxury tax?

            99.9% of the front office’s job is precisely identical to what it was under the old CBA. They made a few minor tweaks to amateur talent acquisition, and it’s become nothing but a very small piece of silly putty being stretched very, very thinly to try to cover up a much broader problem.

  • Porkslap

    39 LOB. 8 for Castro.

    • Hee Seop Chode

      Eek! He must be saving the 8 RBI outing for Friday…

  • cubmig

    I’ve been saying it all along: The Cubs –for whatever reason–can’t exploit risp situations to score. It’s why I was so wanting the Cubs FO to sign Shoo—–or some other reliable hitter. Things may change for the better, but then again, they could become worse IF Castro, Rizzo, et. al. don’t put it together and HIT the *%$#-in’ ball when runners are on base!!!

  • benjamin

    Castro 0 for 8 wow.

    • Kyle

      He may get hot tomorrow, but through two days he looks exactly like he did last year: Guessing and guessing wrong a lot.

      • KHRSS

        It would be interesting to compare how many 1st ball strikes castro took his first years compared to last year. It just seemed like he was trying too hard to be patient that he would miss good pitches to hit early in the count. And so far I have seen the same this year.

        I was really hoping he could turn things around and it is early but it’s not looking good so far because his at bats look like they did last year. It would be very Cubs like to have a young two time all-star have his career go the opposite direction just as fast.

      • benjamin

        Agreed, looks exactly like last year.

      • 70’s Cub

        The FO needs to make some decisions and cut some guys a message needs to be sent I give it 15 more games. Eliminating yourself from the playoffs in early May for the 5th straight year is the culture. No one will lose their job as the FO is more interested in trying to build or rebuild trade value like Marmol, Barney, Sweeney. Move better players up from AAA and/or AA. Think of all the wasted energy on Shark trade talk while opening the season with Barney at 2nd base. Send a message and permanently cut some players for poor performance the hitting result’s by some of these Cubs have sucked the past year or longer. Castro is lost at the plate he looks like he has checked out. If this situation continues for all of April RR needs to play a lefty SS against tough right handed pitchers and double switch him out for better match ups. I like to see results based management.

        • Chef Brian

          Start cutting people after two hard fought losses? If they got blown out the first two, I could maybe understand your extreme over reaction. But come on? They lost, it sucks.

        • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

          Not to mention when you think marmol is still on the cubs you lose any thread of credibility you might have had

        • cubsfan08

          The 1970 Cubs started out 0-2…they should have cut Banks, Santo, Williams, and Jenkins!!!!

  • janfortytwo

    Over here in Switzerland, I fell asleep when the first run came in and my alarm clock woke me up a few minutes before the game ending run. Bummer!

  • Bill

    Looks like Theo might have jumped the gun in locking up Rizzo and Castro to long term contracts. Castro made sense after 2 all-star seasons at such a young age, but I didn’t understand the Rizzo extension. He had a little success, over a short time period, and Theo felt the rush to lock him up long term.

    I’m still hoping Vogs progresses because I don’t think Rizzo is ever going to be a legit middle of the order bat. Plus the guy looks terrible against lefties.

  • rmjwell

    Best part of the box score is the Lake-Castillo-Rizzo 7-2-3 DP in the bottom of the 13th. With the bases loaded, Renteria brought Lake in as a fifth infielder and Wesley Wright induced the perfect grounder. In 40+ years of watching baseball I have never seen the five-infielder set get one out, let alone two, and lead to the defense getting out of the inning unscathed.

    And the Cubs have a 1.48 team ERA. Because in 2014, someone should be as optimistic as Mr. Cub.

    • Ron

      While these two games suck there are a lot of positives. The team has pitched well, the defense looks great, the shifts are working and RR has proven that almost anyone can get benched. I think pulling Castro was important. (BTW I think Castro’s succcess will be closely tied to the Cubs overall success this year) That double play was awesome.

      • Diehardthefirst

        Think the movie Platoon and that’s how Mgr Rick will manage – everyone is replaceable

        • Edwin

          I’ve never seen it. Is that some kind of baseball movie about Earl Weaver?

  • Cubbie in NC

    Small Sample Size Alert:

    Bonifacio on pace to get 729 hits this year (that would be a record)

    Bonifacio on pace to get picked off 162 times (could have been 243 if Ishikawa did not drop one)

  • JM

    It’s not just the inability to drive in a run, it’s the inability to even advance the runner with less than two outs. Absolutly mind boggling.

    Contact. Put the ball in play and good things will happen. Not every time, but the law of averages will catch up. Strikeouts kill the most promising of rallys.

    • cubsfan08

      I think they have done an excellent job of hitting into double plays and grounding out with runners on 3rd so far this season. Not sure strikeouts are the biggest issue.

  • baldtaxguy

    Tough loss, but fun game to watch.

  • TK

    In 26 innings the Cubs been outscored 5-3. Thats looking on the bright side. Being realistic, you say, THIS OFFENSE SUCKS!!!!!! It wont get any better until Castro does.

  • TK

    Bonifacio on pace for something like 730 H and 245 SB!

    • Pat

      The uproar the first time he is given a day off is going to be epic.

      • TK

        A doy off would be a good thing . . . We wouldn’t strand any RISP! That would be a POSITIVE.

    • MaxM1908

      And getting picked off 243 times!

      • Diehardthefirst

        Wouldn’t have been picked off if someone was capable of driving him in- or or or steal sign was yanked in English ?

  • Fishin Phil

    The Cubs are obviously going to suck this year. They will go 0-162, and be awarded the first two picks in next year’s draft as compensation for their record breaking suckitude.

    We must immediately boycott all games at Wrigley! Please send any tickets you already may have purchased to me for proper disposal.

    The above message has been brought to you by the letter “O”, as in Overreaction.

    • http://www.teamfums.org MichiganGoat

      It impressive that after two extra inning losses the board has already turned into this

      • ncsujuri

        Impressive or sad? Perhaps a bit of both…

        • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

          Eh…not that impressive. Predictable, almost.

          • Coop

            ^ This

    • cubmig

      I get your oblique “slam” Fishin Phil. But……. I guess what we (me, for sure) are looking for is a beginning that shows a difference that frees us from replays of a team that should win but loses — and mostly because they can’t score when the situation is ripe.

      Propping up hope needs seeing that difference; and the earlier , the better.

      • Fishin Phil

        Oblique also begins with the letter “O”. Well played, sir!

  • Adventurecizin Justin

    Look on the bright side, the Cards have scored one run in two games! Only the Cards could get a win out of that, though.

    • Sandberg

      Cards are chokers! It’s Theo and Jed’s fault.

  • Diehardthefirst

    Apologies- my guy Emilio wasn’t perfect

  • Diehardthefirst

    Guess Wasn’t Sink or Sveums fault unless blame him for Castro’s woes- hurry up and erect Jumbotron so Castro can watch videos between pitches and while on deck- may relax him- no he’s too relaxed- may energize him

  • Diehardthefirst

    For serious fans only- solution is to extend Theo now for 5 years and watch and see all the good hitting kids brought up and Castro traded for 3 good A pitchers

    • Jason P

      Well for one we couldn’t even get 3 good A ball pitchers for him right now…

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        Yeah they could. Easily.

        • Jason P

          Well obviously depends on your definition of “good”. If we’re talking Ivan Pineyro/Ben Wells good, then sure, but if good means much more than that, then I don’t think so. With his contract and how he’s been one of the worst regulars in baseball for about a year now, I think they’d struggle to get even a decent prospect haul. I remember back when the Cubs were gauging trade interest in him this offseason, it was reported that other teams view Castro a whole lot differently than the Cubs do.

      • ncsujuri

        What Luke said. If you think there aren’t MULTIPLE GM’s and teams in baseball that wouldn’t give up quality prospects (plural) for a cost controlled, young 2x All-Star SS I’ve got some ocean front property in Colorado I’d liek to have you look at. Castro didn’t have much of a ST because of his injury, it’s gonna take a bit fo rhim to get his swing in shape, he’ll be just fine.

        • ari gold

          Can we actually say that for sure?

        • Jason P

          I think you’re under rating how much teams value their top prospects.

          Let’s compare Castro to Alcides Escobar — former top prospect, worth 4.3 and 3.5 bWAR 2 and 3 seasons ago before stinking it up last year to the tune of 0.8 bWAR and a .234/.259/.300 line. It’s not a perfect comparison because Castro’s bat was better at his peak than Escobar’s, but Escobar’s also got a more team friendly deal.

          Would you give up Pierce Johnson, Paul Blackburn, and Rob Zastryzyny for Escobar?

          I think Cubs fans in general vastly overrate Castro’s current trade value.

        • Jason P

          Actually, my bad, that’s 2.7 and 3.4 WAR, not 4.3 and 3.5.

  • CubChymyst

    The bright side is that the cubs are creating a lot of situations to score so far this season. In 2 games they have had 27 AB with runners in scoring position. This low average with runner in scoring positions won’t keep up.

    On a different bright side, the Cardinals are 0-10 with runners in scoring position through the first 2 games.

  • Thomas

    Off topic but i think the new road uniforms look fantastic. I’m digging them. Anyone else agree?

    • baldtaxguy

      +1

  • cubsfan08

    So let me get this straight. Cubs lose 2 extra inning, 1 run games against a playoff Pittsburgh team

    The Cubs have actually outhit the Pirates 21 – 14 during these 2 games(no matter how ugly it was)

    In 16 Innings yesterday, the Pirates could only muster 8 hits (5 during the prior 15 innings) against the much maligned E Jax and a crappy Cubs’ Bullpen (or so some think).

    Is everyone freaking out because the Cubs lost both games. Is that it? Otherwise, with simply a different sequence of the exact same # of hits, the Cubs could easily be 2-0 against one of the best NL teams, backed by solid starting pitching a surprisingly effective, sometimes dominant, relief pitching. If the Cubs were 2-0 would everyone still be flipping a shit. Losing close games suck, but its more competetive than losing 8-1 both nights. SMH…

    • baldtaxguy

      Looks like you got it. My favorite was a recital of the FO’s record over the last three seasons and an indirect quote about “winning culture.” Looking forward to reading that 90 times this year.

      • ncsujuri

        I’m looking forward to when the tide turns and that overall record steadily climbs up over .600 winning percentage based on an extremely long stretch of very good ball clubs on the North Side!

    • DocPeterWimsey

      The sequence issue also assumes that hits are evenly distributed throughout the Cubs lineup. They aren’t. The #1 & #2 slots have a combined 0.591/0.640/0.636 line. The rest of the lineup has a combined 0.111/0.190/0.167 line. Put another way, Bonifacio & the #2 Hitters (a punk band!) have gotten on base 16 times; the rest of the lineup has gotten on base 15 times.

      So, unless the #1 and/or #2 hitter is slugging (they aren’t: just one double), then it actually is a lot easier for the Cubs to avoid scoring than it might seem.

  • Voice of Reason

    All I can say is thank god we started all those lefties against Morton. It helped us score all those runs against him.

    • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

      That Valbuena guy was soooooo awful last night.

      • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

        Seriously! 3 hits, 2 walks and an RBI…..NOT GOOD ENOUGH

      • Coop

        I ARE MAD HE GOT STARTED OVER SUPEROLT.

        (I know Hansman wasn’t the one complaining yesterday)

        Seriously, where are all the complaints today?

        • Coop

          Oh, sorry. Gotta read further down. There are all of the dumb complaints.

          Hooray message board.

    • Blackhawks1963

      Yes, because if YOU were manager then, by gum, Mike Olt would have started !!

      • Edwin

        By gum it’s gum!

  • Voice of Reason

    Just goes to show you what I said…. let Olt play. What difference does it make. This team is horrible and going no where. Valbuena is a utility infielder. The thinking is Olt will play everyday and produce. So let him play everyday so we can see what we have with him.

    As long as he is healthy get him in the lineup everyday. If Olt isn’t doing it late in the year then turn to one of our other young third baseman. Why waste at bats and time with playing valbuena?

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Valbuena is better than a utility infielder simply because he can draw walks and hit with a little pop. However, the Cubs really do need Olt in there simply because they need more power: when you get only 3 extra base hits over two games, then you’ll be lucky to win one.

      So, it is Barney that I would sit.

      • Voice of Reason

        Valbuena is not an every day player on a good team, I guess I need to add that.

        With the Cubs, YES, he should be starting over Barney. Barney is also a utility infielder on a good team, however, the Cubs need to start the better of the two bums.

        But, nobody should be playing third base except for Olt. If he isn’t doing the job at some point in the season they need to bring up another young third baseman. It’s time to start auditioning the young talent and we have some decent third base prospects including Olt. There is no need for Valbuena to play third for this team again this year.

        It was absolutely stupid to start Valbuena at third last night.

        • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

          Good lord, it’s one freaking game against a guy who gets absolutely crushed by lefties, what is so hard to understand about that? Olt will get the majority of the starts at third, but when a guy has extreme splits like that, you have to take advantage.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Actually, Valbuena would out-produce a big chunk of starting second basemen in MLB these days. His poor BA masks a decent OBP (his isoD is around 0.1 or better) and good slugging (his isoP will be around 0.14). And he wouldn’t kill a team with his range or glove, either, even if he wouldn’t greatly aid them there.

          • Sandberg

            Can you reason with the Voice of Reason? Sure doesn’t seem like it.

          • Voice of Reason

            Doc,

            I’m sure other teams are aware of the value of Valbuena. Why did the Yankees sign Brian Roberts instead of calling the Cubs to trade for Valbuena? If Valbuena could outperform most second basemen in the game then why isn’t he starting every day at second for the Cubs? If he can’t beat out Barney then why isn’t Valbuena starting for another team that is need of a second baseman who can outproduce a big chunk of starting second basemen?

            • Norm

              How do you know the Yanks didn’t call but simply didn’t want to give up anything to get him? And that they Cubs felt they could wait until July to actually get something they can use?

              • Voice of Reason

                Why wouldn’t the Yankees want to give anything up for a second baseman who can outproduce a big chunk of stating second baseman? The Yankees are trying to win the division.

                The fact is Valbuena is a utility infielder, period.

                There are no other teams who want him otherwise the Cubs would have certainly traded him for a minor leaguer or two. It’s not like they haven’t been doing this all along…

                • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                  Perhaps the cost benefit analysis showed that instead of giving up a decent prospect the Cubs would be asking for, they thought they would be better suited grabbing Brian Roberts. This is not a simple the Yankees don’t want Valbuena, because looking at their infield, they would be ecstatic to have him.

                  If you think there are no other teams that want him, then I don’t know what to say to you. The fact is that pretty much every team in baseball would like to have a guy like Valbuena. Now if there are any teams that would meet the Cubs’ asking price on Valbuena is a different story

              • DocPeterWimsey

                Indeed, as the Yanks got Roberts for $2M, and as they value any prospects in their destitute system more than $300K, it was cheaper for them to take a chance on Roberts.

                • Voice of Reason

                  So, the Yankees reasoning is they wanted to roll the dice on a guy who cannot stay healthy instead of giving up a marginal minor leaguer for a second baseman that could outperform a chunck of other second basemen in the league.

                  And, if that’s the case with the Yankees? What about the other teams in the league who need a second baseman?

                  Can’t make excuses for all of them. Bottom line is Valbuena has little value and has no value as a starting second baseman. He is what he is… a utility infielder on a good team. Christ he isn’t even starting every day for the Cubs over Barney.

    • Jason P

      Valbuena reaching 5 times goes to show that Olt should play over Valbuena. Got it.

      • Voice of Reason

        Jason P,

        You just don’t get it. We lost the game. Even if we would have won the game we need Olt in there everyday to see if he can handle it. If he isn’t cutting it then bring up another third baseman in the minors. We have some talent in the minors at the hot corner. Even if Valbuena would have hit a couple of home runs who cares?

        Valbuena taking at bats away from a potential starting third baseman is a stupid idea. We’re going to lose 95+ games and could set the franchise record for losses. What we need to be doing is letting the young kids play to see which ones will be with us in two years when we’re ready to start competing.

        Watching the young kids play and seeing who will be part of the future will be the most fun of watching the Cubs this year. Valbuena? Please…..

        • Coop

          Yes, he is the one that doesn’t get it.

  • Mr Gonzo

    Interesting thought: Is Carlos Villanueva the first SP in baseball history to have 2 losses before he even starts his first game of the season?

  • Blackhawks1963

    Fact is Mike Olt isn’t terribly different from Luis Valbuena. Olt has to earn playing time and should be handed nothing. He is NOT a uber-prospect at this point. Merely a guy trying to carve out a major league existence and take one step at a time while addressing the nagging questions about his ability to hit at this level and not be a 30% plus strikeout machine.

  • Medicos

    Last year our Cubbies were shut out 17X and scored the third fewest runs in MLB. As fans we’d better get used to this kind of run production because RBI men from the past such as ARAM, ALOU, DLEE, and SORIANO simply aren’t on the 2014 roster. Rizzo is the only one with the potential to drive in at least 80 runs. This team is going to have to manufacture runs any way possible: bunting, stolen bases, hit and run, hitting behind the runner, etc. Just like last year the vast majority of the games are going to be low scoring, close ballgames.

  • Lou Brown

    I have to say, they have played better than my expectations. Now I surely was not expecting much, but a road series against a play off team, both taken to extra innings. Starting pitching has looked good, bull pen has looked good. I had no expectations for the offense, and they have met them. More hits than I thought, however.

  • CubFan Paul

    Worst homeplate umping since Kerwin Danley

    • cubmig

      Man. You got that right! That ump need to be called in and given his walking papers. Sad…but sooo many bullshit calls by him. I have this image of him going over his umpiring in his mind and telling the wife: “I really fucked up tonight.”

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