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wrigley field from right bleachersThe home opener was not kind to the Cubs’ bats (or anyone sitting in the teeth of the wind), and today might not be any more kind, as the team faces Phillies ace Cliff Lee. He had a rough first start in Texas, but thinking he’s going to duplicate that today would probably be a mistake. In other words, the Cubs could use a little luck, and a great start from Jeff Samardzija.

With another lefty on the mound, familiar right-handed bats return to the lineup, including Mike Olt, Junior Lake, and Justin Ruggiano.

Game Info

Philadelphia Phillies (2-2) at Chicago Cubs (1-3), 1:20 CT on CSN.

Game Thread and Series Preview

The Game Thread lives here. And, of course, for those who aren’t into message board-style game threads, please feel free to use the comments on this post for your in-game commentary/outbursts.

The Series Preview lives here.

Starting Pitchers

Cliff Lee (14.40 ERA, 6.02 FIP, 5.64 xFIP; 1.00 K/BB)

versus

Jeff Samardzija (0.00 ERA, 3.22 FIP, 4.28 xFIP; 1.50 K/BB)

Philadelpia Phillies Lineup

1. Ben Revere, CF

2. Jimmy Rollins, SS

3. Chase Utley, 2B

4. Ryan Howard, 1B

5. Marlon Byrd, RF

6. Domonic Brown, LF

7. Wil Nieves, C

8. Cody Asche, 3B

9. Cliff Lee, P

Chicago Cubs Lineup

1. Emilio Bonifacio, CF

2. Starlin Castro, SS

3. Justin Ruggiano, RF

4. Anthony Rizzo, 1B

5. Junior Lake, LF

6. Mike Olt, 3B

7. Welington Castillo, C

8. Darwin Barney, 2B

9. Jeff Samardzija, P

  • J. L.

    Ruggiano has been doing a great Scott Hairston impression so far.

  • willis

    7 hits. 1-2 guys are 4 for 6. No runs. That’s just no bueno.

  • GoCubs

    Difference between a well prepared team and one which is not….Phillies, knowing Smarz is tough pitcher, going the opposite field–successfully. Cubs, seems trying to pull everything…not a single hit to the opposite field, so far. Can this be addressed by good coaching–yes.

    • Jon

      I feel like the home plate ump is dictating most of this game. The Cubs are trying to wait for a good pitch to hit but are being forced to protect way outside the plate thanks to all the bullshit lee is getting
      Also they have a chase utley, we dont

      • GoCubs

        I have only seen few bad strike calls–these happen every game. What I have also observed is that Cubs don’t like going to the opposite field.

  • ssckelley

    It sucks Shark is getting pinned with a loss because the Cubs have no offense

    • Matty Ice

      There’s a reason he doesn’t want to sign an extension

      • DarthHater

        That’s very true. The fact that the two sides have not yet been able to agree on the terms of an extension is a big reason.

        • http://BN Sacko

          I would like to have Sark extended. At some point the FO should make some serious indication about putting a contender on the field everyday. Shark fits that along with some seniority. There’s alot of time to do that yet, but it could become a distraction.

          • Mike

            He isn’t going to get extended. Theo and Jed hate to give no trade clauses and if they extend him, they will essentially be giving him one as he will getting 10/5 rights . Not going to happen, he is as good as gone.

  • willis

    95 on his 113th pitch? I’m going to be sad when they trade him and set things back even more.

    • DarthHater

      I’m going to be sad when his arm falls off and they can’t even trade him.

      • KHRSS

        Shark is the type of pitcher the Cubs should be looking to sign if they plan to contend at anytime in the next 3 years, but they probably plan on being bad for 3+ years.

        • willis

          He’s going to cost too much for the cubs. I want him extended too but they are reportedly far apart on money, so they’ll trade him for a few minor leaguers at some point this year and tell us to focus on the plan.

  • Jaime Lannister

    May I suggest that Ser Garland be the daily resident fool in the booth. Fairly amusing.

  • Jason P

    Scott Hairston 2.0. And Jeff Garland is painfully unfunny.

  • ssckelley

    I say keep Schierholtz in the game and put the pitcher in Ruggianos spot

    • ssckelley

      Nailed it!

      I think we all seen enough of Ruggianos.

      • Jon

        I was actually pretty bullish on him too this offseason/spring , sigh

    • Picklenose

      Okay, can you wish for some runs now?

  • ssckelley

    Yeah that RBI stat sucks and is meaningless!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Correct.

      • ssckelley

        Cubs could use a guy that can drive in runs right now.

        • DarthHater

          Darn shame that the ability to drive in runs, considered apart from general ability to hit, is not a repeatable skill.

          • ssckelley

            10 friggin hits and none of them with RISP!

            • DarthHater

              I know, let’s sign Joe Carter! I’m pretty sure he’s available.

            • willis

              That is pretty amazing. 10 hits and no runs. Almost funny.

              The good of this game though, Shark looked great again and Grimm was nasty. I’ve loved what I’ve seen from him since ST has been over. Also, Castro finally looked comfortable at the plate. Man if he could round back into form…

    • Picklenose

      I really don’t care if RBIs are meaningless or not – I just wish the Cubs had a few (more).

      • DarthHater

        RBIs are obviously not meaningless for a team, since teams need to score runs in order to win games. But for evaluating the performance of individual players, they are way less useful than a lot of other statistics. This is a fact that was pretty much conclusively established a long time ago, so the continued refrain of “My team didn’t score runs today because they don’t have guys who can hit with runners in scoring position!” is pretty hackneyed at this point.

      • Jon

        You don’t want more RBIs, you want better players

        • DarthHater

          Exactly.

        • candyland07

          funny how Rickets is looking for outside help with investors, but better players be damn- unless it under the rebuild umbrella. hopefully he has better luck than Team Theo .

          Would hate to hear, Rooftops comes to agreement but the Renovations Plans will have to wait a year or two ,due to a Disabled Financial package that fell apart .

          almost seems the Business plan is a bunch of baloney until the Cubs have more revenue. Squirrel- (zoom to the right)

  • Matt

    Well, at least the top of the 9th was pretty Grimm for the Phillies…I know cue sad trombone.

  • Jon

    Grimm has been nasty this year. There is a lot of talent in this bullpen that is gonna go to waste this year

    • willis

      He and Strop are real live arms in that pen. When Vizcaino is ready (God willing he stays healthy) those should be the 7/8/9 guys. Pure nasty.

    • craigp

      Grimm has better stuff than I thought, for sure. Send him to Iowa and let him get some starts. (i know its busy as is) He could have a future as a starter. If not, he could have closer ability w 96 FB, and a good hook.

  • Jon

    30K attendance today. First home weekend last year was 33-34 K. It’s going to take another major hit this year as this product continues to be insufferable

  • ssckelley

    52 innings played and the Cubs have scored a total of 8 runs. Pathetic!

    • Jason P

      But at least were versatile!

  • Required

    It’s like when the season started the turned the RBI switch off. They may have not won every game in ST but scoring runs wasn’t the problem.

  • BlameHendry

    I can’t handle any more of this. I really need to stop watching these games or paying any attention to this season and wait until somebody tells me “Hey! The Cubs aren’t the laughing stock of major league baseball anymore!” a few years down the road, and then I can start following the team again.

  • jp3

    Yeah 1.6 runs per game will def get us a top 3 pick. This season is already a bummer

    • KHRSS

      I’m pretty sure a top #3 picks is the FO’s goal this season.

      • Required

        May not be the plan but at the end of the year they will be delightfully surprised to find they will have a top 3 pick. Because this team is non surprisingly crappy.

      • jp3

        Yeah I’d rather be in a position to at least think you have a chance at a wild card but that sure as hell isn’t happening this year. I guess at least we’ll be getting another infusion of talent the next 2 drafts picking early.

  • Rebuilding

    Good news today: Castro 3-4 and Rizzo 2-4 against lefties. That kind of stuff is really all that matters this year

    • willis

      I thought Lake looked good today at the plate too. He took a walk off a nasty reliever and had a double.

    • Cyranojoe

      Agreed. That and exactly how Shark’s season plays into an extension or trade. These are the on-field developments that matter most this season.

    • Jon

      Positive or negative you want to find things out. Thought Olt looked awful on his ABs.
      (Plan on being a third baseman Kris)

      • GoCubs

        I don’t know…RR better have a VERY GOOD reason for not playing Olt everyday—what a way to destroy confidence of a young player.

        • Kyle

          Because he’s easing back in with a sore shoulder and because he’s not very good against righties.

          That’s *two* good reasons.

        • DarthHater

          Yea, you should have heard the conversation in the clubhouse the day before opening day:

          RR: Mike, I’m going to start you at third in three of the first five games of the season and have you pinch hit in the other two games.

          Olt: It’s your call, boss, but that will really destroy my confidence!

  • http://Bleachernation.com Dano

    With MiLB.tv are you able to watch any minor league game?

    • Kyle

      No. I think it’s all AAA teams, most AA teams, and after that it’s spotty. For the Cubs, it’s usually Iowa, Tennessee and Kane County.

      • http://Bleachernation.com Dano

        Okay thanks, man

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        And rarely Kane County.

  • itzscott

    Ya know, at this point if the core players do welll I consider it a victory.

    If they do well and the core players to come do well, the W/L record will follow.

    What more can anyone realistically expect at this point?

  • Jon

    There is some real talent in the rotation and pen this year and Bosio is a boss. It’s a reL shame they don’t even try on the lineup

    • Jason P

      “We need to make sure that when the next wave of prospects comes up, they don’t take too much of a burden.  We hope to have strong players around them, hopefully an impact player or two around them on the club so that they can break in the right way. You don’t want your prospects breaking in carrying too much responsibility. You don’t want them hitting in the middle of the order. You don’t want them having to carry a club or playing an instrumental role on the club.”

      (Doesn’t go out and get any productive veterans, placing the burden completely on the young players to carry the team and hit in the middle of the lineup)

      • Jon

        They say a lot of thing

        • willis

          And tons of people/fans buy right in.

          • KHRSS

            Defending their every move, even though the timeline to be good now looks to be 2016-17.

    • itzscott

      The lineup?

      There’s no one there.

      Except for 2 or maybe 4 slots max, the rest are nothing more than placeholders.

  • E

    4-for-40 RISP to start the season but a team ERA under 2. Sigh.

  • Truely Blue

    I have always heard that hitters need a number of “at bats” in a row to get “in the flow”. How does platooning, with a couple of at bats and then sitting do anything to help players “get in the flow”? It seems that the Cubs plan of platooning their players will have a negative impact on their players, who need all the positives possible! Not every player benefits from platooning. Help!!!!

  • craigp

    I have been a cubs fan all my life 8-38. This is a horrible start to the season. Ive been following this site for over a year. I think (or my fav posters) are Jon and Kyle logic. They’re negative but mostly spot on.

    • Medicos

      Hey Craig—I’ve been a fan since 1952 and recently did a little research and discovered in all those years the Cubs have had plus .500 seasons only 17 times. A 28% success rate stinks.

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