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Edwin Jackson played the part of A.J. Burnett tonight, combining erratic control with absent command, leading to a four-spot in the first inning. The Cubs were behind the 8-ball all night from there, but they did manage to come back twice, which was nice to see.

Starlin Castro got everyone extremely excited with a three-run, game-tying homer in the fourth … and Jackson promptly gave it right back the next half inning. The Cubs then came back again in the 7th … and the bullpen promptly gave it right back the next half inning courtesy of three walks. It wasn’t the kind of loss that makes you utterly despondent, but it would have been a hell of a nice game to win, considering how it started.

Ricky Renteria became – I believe – the first manager to be ejected this year, when he was tossed in the 9th for arguing balls and strikes (the game tracker indicated he was right, too). It was the culmination of a strike zone that didn’t seem to go the Cubs’ way tonight.

Getting tired of these one-run losses to the Pirates, dude.

april 8 box

Full box score.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

    Pretty sure you’re right.

  • Kyle

    At least now Edwin Jackson’s peripherals suck too so we don’t have to have that argument on nights like this.

    • KHRSS

      hahaha

  • Kyle

    Castro has looked really good at the plate the last few days. Not just the results, but the swings and the way he’s lining up tough pitches to hit. Looks like the old Castro.

    Meanwhile, Rizzo and Castro are the only position players on the entire team who don’t suck. The only two. At least Valbuena sucks with style by bat-flipping everything.

    • wkranz

      Wow, why does Boni suck?

      • Kyle

        Because he’s always sucked (or at least been nothing more than an interesting backup), and one hot week doesn’t change that.

        • wkranz

          Agreed that he has one hot week and is not an all-star, but why can’t you be happy with one hot week? Instead…He Sucks…just because Kyle said he does. I mean, if you can watch what he has done this year and say, “He Sucks” you just clearly had your mind made up about him and are not moving. I’m not asking you to put him on the All-Star ballet, but you can’t say he sucks just because he did last year.

          • KHRSS

            Lets hope he stays hot for a couple of months so the cubs can trade him…

        • J. L.

          The same could be said about Jackson if you exchange “sucked” for “been pretty good” and “hot week” for “bad week”. And you just said he sucks too.

          • Patrick W.

            Excellent.

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

            Eh…there are some positive things happening with the Cubs roster right now so Kyle comes out to make sure Cubs fans’ heads don’t get too big.

            • Kyle

              We’re 2-5. Was that really a danger

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

                What’s really frustrating, based on just baserunners, we should be 4-3.

                Sigh. I can’t wait until the day comes that it is…based on just baserunners, we should be 1-7 not 7-1.

                • Medicos

                  I like how u think. If FO keeps this roster together there certainly will be improvement over last year’s final record. But knowing how Jed and Theo’s Plan A operates the player flipping will again in July and there will be numerous changes to the roster that began the 2014 season.

                  • WGNstatic

                    Sure, I do expect that there will be sell-off type trades at the deadline once again this year. The difference this time around though, is that the replacements (Baez, Hendricks, etc.) may actually be an improvement on the the guys leaving (Bonifaccio/Barney/Valbuena, Hammel).

          • KHRSS

            Except Jackson sucked last year too and has been mediocre for some time now…

    • Patrick W.

      I wouldn’t say Welington Castillo sucks but I’m not as familiar with sucking as you might be. :)

      • E

        +1

    • http://www.frenchrocks.net Ian Afterbirth

      Now if only we could alter his approach to take more walks and see more pitches he could square up!

  • Picklenose

    I will not complain about Jackson, I will not complain about Jackson . . . .
    Veras pitched much better tonight, Castro looked good, and Rizzo seems to be doing okay. Alright, tomorrow’s a better day (I hope).

  • ssckelley

    Again that non called third strike on Marte in the 4th inning was the killer. It was the exact same location that Castillo got called out on and then the next inning RR gets tossed.

    But Jackson reaction after the call is what ticked me off. He allowed himself to get emotional over it and ended up walking Marte and he eventually scored.

  • itzscott

    Can’t cry over spilt milk.

    What got into Concepcion tonite…. No runs & 3Ks in 3 innings?

    • ssckelley

      He must be a BN reader. :D

    • CubsFaninMS

      Every squirrel will find a nut if he digs through the leaves long enough.

  • VanceLawblawsLawBlog

    Was the wind blowing out tonight?

    • Ballrock20

      No, the wind was not blowing out.

  • willis

    James Russell still blows, at least we know that.

    Castro was a killer at the plate tonight. Absolutely wonderful to see.

    • Kyle

      James Russell is Chris Rusin except with 70 lucky-hot innings that fooled everyone.

      • willis

        Bingo. I’m hoping to be rid of him soon so that we can see what Rosscup can do up north. I really like his stuff. But he’s blocked by Russell and Wright. Russell’s stuff never stood out t me, and he’s been getting knocked around for awhile now.

      • KHRSS

        and Wright is worse… After a couple of more bad outings from Wright I hope the cubs call up Rosscup.

      • J. L.

        I actually agree with this.

        In fact, I’m pretty sure the comparison is unfair to Rusin.

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

        But I thought trading him in June of last year was going to be a white-flag for this season…

        • Kyle

          I was wrong then. I’m right now. Always listen to present me and never past me.

          • Patrick W.

            Thanks to whatever force it is that makes it impossible to listen to future you.

            • DarthHater

              [img]https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3721/12524819965_f61f1c9f17_m.jpg[/img]

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

            I was right then. I am right now. I will be right in the future.

            I.AM.AWESOME

            • Patrick W.

              I was wrong then. I am wrong now. I will likely die in my sleep.

              • Kyle

                I hope so. The other ways all suck.

          • Chad

            At some point in time present you becomes past you, so by your logic I should never listen to you ever, because eventually what you say now will be what you said then and that will be wrong. Ok, thanks for clarifying that. Ha.

      • Jason P

        Despite his outing today, you can’t deny his effectiveness as a LOOGY. It’s just unfortunate that neither of our lefties can put up acceptable numbers versus righties.

      • WGNstatic

        “James Russell is Chris Rusin except with 70 lucky-hot innings that fooled everyone.”

        Generally, “luck” is one of my least favorite words, and I will say that it really bugs me when it is used by those who are statistically inclined. Is there luck in baseball? Of course. But when a player gets “lucky” for 70 games, that is no longer luck. Luck is flipping a coin and getting heads. Flipping a coin 70 times in a row and always landing heads means you are flipping a weighted coin, not that you got lucky.

        • Norm

          There could be A LOT of luck in 70 games.

          • WGNstatic

            Yes, there could be a lot of luck in 70 games, certainly, but, really, you are going to argue that he just got consistently (good) lucky for 70 games?

            What bugs me about the use of the word “lucky” is that it is used in place of the “hot” because somehow “hot” treads awfully close to words like “clutch.”

            • Norm

              Call it what you want. Hot, luck, normal random variation….a players true talent is not determined in 70 innings.

              • WGNstatic

                I agree that you can’t look at a players “true” value over a 70 inning span (which is actually quite a lot for a reliever). But, if a player has a long good stretch and a long poor stretch, there is data there that can be useful to coaches/front offices/medical personnel etc.

                But, a good question is why was Russell so effective for those 70 innings, and less so afterward. Is it because his arm is less effective due to overuse (useful for future planning for other pitchers). Is it because he has had a mechanical change or a change in his approach between now and then (perhaps that would be fixable). Etc., etc. My point is that by chalking it up to luck, is just a shoulder shrug. I would rather try to figure out what is different between the two data sets.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        This is silly. Russell has proved over the course of several years that, at a minimum, he can be a highly effective LOOGY at the big league level. It’s debatable whether that’s all he can be, but it’s more than Rusin has proven – just yet – in the bigs. (I do wonder that about Rusin, though. He’s got the right stuff for it.)

        Now, if you want to criticize how Russell is employed, jump on it.

    • CubsFaninMS

      It seems that there is alot of traffic in general with bullpen arms. Most of them have one or two good seasons and fade away quickly after. The Sean Marshalls and Mariano Riveras are very rare indeed (obviously Mariano having a much lengthier, consistent career thus far than Marshall). It’s a rare talend to find a bullpen arm that’s consistently good for several years or more. James Russell is just one in a very long line of relievers who come and go. Maybe he surprises this year or next. Until we find a better left-handed RP option, I’m sure they’ll keep him around. He’s cheap and semi-effective.

  • Karl Groucho

    Crud, was excited for another W. Awesome day by Castro at least!

  • benjamin

    I wasn’t very impressed with Castro’s first hit (though I was at the game so I didn’t get a second look at it). It looked to me like a crappy pitch that he got lucky on and punched into RF. I’ll take it though. The second two hits were money, obviously.

  • Canadian Cubs Fan

    Edwin Jackson is painful. The 4 in the first were bad, but when the Cubs tied it, he came right back and walked Marte, then Snyder on 4 pitches…with McCutcheon on deck. I think it’s safe to say he’s not much of a thinker out there.

    Great game for Castro! Rizzo starting to get some big hits in key situations too.

    Not sure why Kalish tried to bunt with two out and a couple on base.

  • 70′s Cub

    How does Jackson’s contract compare with Garza’s!

    • KHRSS

      Let’s just hope part of the reason why the cubs won’t have enough $ to sign Shark won’t be because of the $12 million(yearly) they are giving Jackson..

      • Required

        Garza: 4/50 with 1 million per year in incentives.
        E Jax: 4/52 with 8 million signing bonus. He makes 11 million per year. Wish we all could suck at our jobs and make 11 million per year!

    • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

      Can’t compare the two, Garza had a draft pick tied to him

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        No, he didn’t.

        • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

          My bad, carry on

  • KHRSS

    I am sure they could call up Rusin to put up Jackson’s numbers…

    If he continues to be below-mediocre what are the realistic chances the cubs can get rid of him?

    • willis

      Ha, I dont’ know if I’d go that far. At least Jackson has “stuff”. Rusin is never going to play at the major league level. Nevertheless, Jackson has been a disappointment as a Cub. I was one of the ones cheering this signing, but it’s been a rough ride to this point.

  • Medicos

    Entertaining game tonite. Numerous positive things: Rizzo, Boni, and Castro–clutch hitting and outstanding defensive plays. Looks like most of the games are again going to be close decided by 3-runs or less. Improved defense and a better bullpen will help improve the team’s record

  • Head and Heart

    Kalish could end up being an interesting piece as maybe a 4th outfielder type. And maybe Lake will put all his tools together. But other than those two the rest of the Cubs outfield is a tire fire of a hot mess.

    Also Russell walking Alvarez was the back breaker. Bring in a lefty to get a lefty out, he walks him and then there was no one else up in the pen. That’s not ideal.

    • Bill

      Yes, and what really ticks me off is he had him 0-2. Then he goes into his Russell nibble-at-the-corner routine.

  • Dustin S

    RR is still a little bunt-happy it seems. I know it worked out in the 7th, but the Kalish bunting in the 2nd even had a casual Cub fan friend texting me wondering why. Some good from tonight though; Castro and Bonifacio of course, Rizzo, another good inning from Schlitter, and Veras wasn’t as awful tonight.

    I’ve reached the he was who we thought he was point with E Jackson. He tends to have a couple decent outings and then a clunker. The bad thing is that even in his good starts he throws too many pitches and doesn’t go more than 5 or maybe 6 innings. (bad WHIP cough cough)…

    • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

      The Kalish bunt had nothing to do with RR, that was Kalish all on his own.

      There is no bigger bunting no-no than to bunt with 2 outs and a man in scoring position

  • 5412

    Hi,

    Glad I went to bed. Tired of seeing the team fight back only to see a bunch of walks demoralize the offense almost immediately,

    Nice to see Castro hit but hope he does not turn into Corey Patterson and start swinging for the fences.

    Story line for me is simple. Give up 11hits and 7 walks you should expect to lose. This was the kind of loss that does little for morale and builds the reputation for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

    If they follow true to form they lose tonight like 2-1 and we wish we had some of the 6 useless runs from the night before.

    Regards,
    5412

    • DocPeterWimsey

      I suspect Cubs pitchers giving up walks is more apt to confuse Cubs batters more than demoralize them!

      As for the 6 useless runs from the prior game, well, those hung breaking balls and misplaced fastballs were from different pitchers!

  • E

    The positive thing about Castro wasn’t the two homeruns. It was lining up good pitches with RISP.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Signs of repeatable skills (such as slugging) are good things; outcomes that don’t reflect repeatable skills (such as performance with RiSP or getting grounders past infielders) are nice when they go your way. In the long term, it is the former that predicts wins and loss, not the latter.

    • ssckelley

      The best part about Castros first home run is that he hit a good pitchers pitch. It was at the knees and in, the second one was a hanging slider that just about anybody should be able to knock out.

  • Spoda17

    Castro looked good, seems his bat speed is much better this year. Last year he looked confused and had a very hesitant swing; this year looks much better.

    I also think Rizzo (as much as I still think he need to quiet his hands down still (what does that actually mean anyway…)) is much better. He looks a lot more comfortable at the plate.

    There may be something to those comments about them being confused and getting mixed messages last year.

    • ssckelley

      Funny, SSS and all, but his strikeout rate is almost identical to last years. But so far Castro is back to being his old self, swinging at just about anything he thinks he can hit. The difference is he appears to have more power, perhaps he will be that 20+ homer per year guy we envisioned after all. Castro is going to frustrate us, at times he will look great like he did last night but there will be times where he will look bad in his swing and misses on bad pitches.

      But you’re right, he did look very confused at the plate last year. I do believe he was being given mixed messages and he was trying to work the count, which is not part of his game.

      • Spoda17

        Oh yeah, I still think he is Vlad Jr. and will swing at a ball that bounces 10 feet in front of the plate (and possibly hit it for a hit)… but I, and I am no scout… can clearly see a more comfortable approach by both he and Rizzo.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Given that Castro’s raw numbers last year *once he started to swing* were indistinguishable from prior years, this likely was not true. Remember, Castro’s big issue last year was taking strikes early in counts. Once he swang, his line drive, well-hit ball, GB & FB rates, etc., looked like normal (for him).

  • Soda Popinski

    I’ve been checking out some of the minor league systems around baseball and pairing them with teams who will likely be buyers at the deadline. Despite my sentiments of keeping Shark, I have a feeling he will be dealt midseason. One of the teams that haven’t been in talks with the cubs, but I think matches well, is the Giants. Take Crick and Escobar and some lower level arms, and I’ve think we’ve got something there. Add the pressure of competing with the Dodgers in that division and I think the Giants will be compelled to do something big. Any thoughts?

    • Jason P

      Maybe, but teams generally don’t like to part with both of their top pitching prospects in the same deal. My guess is SF would counter with Crick and a couple lower level prospects.

      If they agreed to give up both Escobar and Crick, I agree we could have a match.

    • ssckelley

      I think the Cubs would make a big mistake by trading Shark. TOR arms are hard to find and extremely expensive to acquire via free agency.

      The farm system is built, the Cubs need assets for the MLB team now.

      • Norm

        I guess if you think Shark is a TOR arm it would be a mistake.
        I think he’s more of a 2, closer to a 3…so if some other team thinks he’s a TOR arm and is willing to pay the price, I’d be just fine trading him.
        But if Shark is willing to get paid like a 3, like I value him, I’d keep him. But it seems to me that Shark values himself as that TOR arm, which is why a deal hasn’t happened.

        • ssckelley

          I think Shark has TOR stuff, but he has not had TOR results up to this point. Ideally it would be nice if he was a #2 or #3, in a good rotation he would be. The point is, IMO, Shark is more valuable to the Cubs being in the starting rotation than a package of prospects.

          • Norm

            Even if he won’t sign an extension?

            • ssckelley

              No, if he refuses to sign an extension then the Cubs have no other choice but to trade him. The worst scenario would be to let him walk via free agency and all the Cubs get is a compensation pick.

              But Shark is willing to sign an extension, the problem has been the differences in the dollar amounts between what Shark wants and what the Cubs want to pay.

              • Norm

                Right. I’m sure there has to be a point where you’d agree that signing him to his demands is NOT worth the potential return in prospects.

              • Chad

                I think bigger than the $ is the no trade clause. I like Shark and he could be a TOR arm if he gets more consistent, but I don’t want to see the cubs give in to all of his demands. I think they need a good deal, somewhere in the middle, so they have flexibility to go after another pitcher this off season. I do agree that rather than trading for minor league arms I would rather trade or sign proven arms, but that’s just me. If they do have to trade shark get the best prospects available. They can be flipped for pitching if they are all position players.

                • ssckelley

                  Yep, I forgot to mention the no trade clause that Shark wants. I wish the FO would make an exception for him on that. I cannot blame a player who is from the midwest from wanting it, I know I would.

      • Head and Heart

        Off topic a little but I was watching Paxton deal last night after a rough first inning and before he left injured. Watching a lefty work in the 95-96 range with a wipeout curve was fun.

        If the right guys were picked up then I don`t think it would set the Cubs back that far. For example look at a guy like Tyler Skaggs. Get a high level prospect who is close to being ready and he wouldn`t be that far behind the first wave.

      • CubFan Paul

        “The farm system is built, the Cubs need assets for the MLB team now”

        Tired point, if Samardzija thinks the Cubs will pay market value for an asset that’s under control for 2 yrs.

  • Blackhawks1963

    Vintage Edwin Jackson last night. Still, he’ll give this team another 30 starts and, really, that is what he is here to do. The guy is what he is.

  • Edwin

    Well, we’ve learned that the Cubs are now an unstoppable offensive force due to platooning, and that Edwin Jackson should only be allowed to face a team once per season. Good to know.

  • Diehardthefirst

    Cubs stock chart indicates a bottom and short interest waning- look for 30 day bull run

  • Diehardthefirst

    Is Braun injecting his bat with PED? 3 smackers and he’s injured- Cubs coulda had him during scandal as Brewers were shopping him- too late now

    • ssckelley

      Yes, we need to send a Cub fan over to pick up a urine sample off of Braun.

      :D

    • JCubs79

      Braun is likely corking his bat now.

  • newsguy23

    Better find a spot for E Jax in the bull pen. He took the money and now blows.
    My 93 year old grand dad said is best. You can use all the WAR, whatever crap you want to use. The bottom line is you have good players you win you have shitty players you lose. Not enough talent here or for quite some time. It s funny all the praise for the minor league improvement. Well shit if you suck for years shouldn’t you be able to build it up. You trade off all your talent to get younger so you better be stocked at the minors. Still doesn’t mean that any of them will make it big and if that happens then what.

    • Edwin

      It’s go time. Mandelbaum! Mandelbaum!

  • ame1908

    Yea, I’m tired of the one-run losses to Pittsburgh, too.

    But that Vine of Luis’ bat-flip was epic. After a single.

  • Travis

    Castro looked locked in at the plate tonight and blasted 2 homers. He also played pretty good defense with some nice plays at short. What does it mean for his future? I don’t know. All I know is he had a great game. Hopefully we see more of Castro from a few years ago and less of him from last year.

  • http://BN Sacko

    What’s Ausenmacher doing now days?

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