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Jason Hammel made his second straight quality start for the Cubs, allowing just three hits and one walk over seven innings, and striking out six. Those three hits were all homers, which is obviously the one pock on the line. In a more typical three-homer outing, you’re giving up a lot more than three runs.

But, hey, I’ll gladly take the 6/1 K/BB ratio.

Speaking of allowing just solo homers, Pedro Strop got in on the action in the 9th, giving up a couple of his own (on back-to-back meatball pitches, no less). That made things interesting, but the Cubs’ bats had fortunately provided enough breathing room by that point.

As for those bats, it was a hit parade – so much so that it was easy to ignore the fact that the Cubs once again didn’t light it up with runners in scoring position. When you’re hitting frequently for extra bases, you don’t have to. Anthony Rizzo had a great night, getting hits off of lefties and going the opposite way. Starlin Castro hit the ball hard all night, and made a sparkling defensive play. It was just a good game all around on that side of the ball.

And now we get to do more of this …

april 9 box

Full box score.

 

  • Tyler_31

    Rondon is looking real good.

    • Featherstone

      Yeah he’s a great live arm out of the pen. Looking like a real nice rule 5 pickup.

  • Patrick W.

    I’d like to see a platoon on comments. One day people can complain about the FO the next about the Ricketts.

    • waittilthisyear

      now this is a hell of a premise. maybe not a complain-only platoon…perhaps the commenters who are consistently negative can platoon so only one can bitch per day. either way, you’ve found something here patrick w

    • Edwin

      I need to complain every day to keep developing.

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

        Your APOCIP (Accuracy Percentage on Comments In Play) is unsustainable. You are going to suck unless you complain infrequently.

    • Funn Dave

      How about this: one day people can complain about Theo and Ricketts, and the next day people can complain about the people complaining about Theo and Ricketts.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQS3G8_LKEg

  • ssckelley

    If you would have told me before the game that the Pirates would hit 5 homers to the Cubs 2 I would have thought the Cubs got beat badly.

  • Jon

    I have to be honest, I don’t think the Pirates are wining 90 games again . There’s a lot to NOT like about that roster

    • Don Eaddy

      Ive been thinking the same thing. They arent scary. Only guy who scares me is McCutchen. If Alvarez can be kept to solo shots, then they arent that great

    • another JP

      Ah… so the Pirates have to suck because the Cubs beat them. At least that’s what you’re implying. Maybe the Cubs have a better ball team than you and the other bashers are giving them credit for.

      • Funn Dave

        He didn’t say that they suck, or that their performance today had any bearing on his evaluation of them. He simply said that he doesn’t think they’ll do as well as they did last year because “there’s a lot not to like about that roster.”

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

          Eh…I’m going with the idea that there is a high probability that he was on the “ZOMG THE PIRATES ARE AWESOME” bandwagon at some point in the last week.

  • craigp

    I’m one of many who have been asking for more Olt and Lake. This is what CAN happen!
    “Can” Settle down haters…..

    • ssckelley

      Pretty sure both will be starting tomorrow.

      • snakdad

        They should be starting every day. Valbuena can platoon with Barney, Schierz and Rugg can platoon in RF and the two guys who might actually matter two years from now can actually do their developing while it doesn’t really count. This is so obvious I can’t figure out why it isn’t already happening. All this bullshit about “staying in contention” is idiotic. This team wasn’t assembled to even sniff .500 this year.

        • FFP

          Olt shoulder

        • ssckelley

          I think Olt is earning his way to play every day, he got his first hit off a right hander last night. Lake will also have to keep earning his playing time in the outfield, I think Bonifacio’s success has taken time away from him.

          Again, I have no issues with how Olt and Lake have been played.

  • T

    Note to Pedro Strop: Please don’t pound your chest at the end of a game, Especially a game in which you came in to close it out, and immediately gave up back to back bombs to let the other team right back into it. It makes you look kind of foolish.

    • mjhurdle

      Note to Pedro Strop:
      If you close out the game and the Cubs win, do whatever the f*** you feel like.
      i don’t care if you give up 15 runs, if we win and you throw the last pitch, then well done :)

      That is all.

      • Natkey1992

        +1. Wins are still rare so enjoy ‘em.

      • snakdad

        Creating a save situation where there wasn’t one and then limping thru it shouldn’t make anyone proud.

        • mjhurdle

          i could care less about ‘creating save situations’.
          If he blows the game, then he gets called out for it. If the Cubs win, i am happy.

          if anything, i would rather someone celebrate a bad personal outing when the team wins. To me that says he is concerned with the team winning, and he doesn’t care about his ERA/WHIP/ERA+ as long as his team wins.
          Way different than the linebacker celebrating his sack down 35 points with 2 minutes left in the 4th.

          but if you would rather him care more about his stats than the win, then more power to you.

    • ThatCubsGuy

      yeah loosen up a bit..

      Guy is having fun and was excited. Plus he did it in a non-offensive way unlike certain closers. No harm no foul

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

    You know what, complaining aside. The past few games have been AWESOME!

    Rizzo, Castro, Olt all looking like they might be starting to think about turning their thought processes around on not sucking!

    PLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEASE can we have some positive variance? Pretty PLEEEEEEASE?!?!?

    • YourResidentJag

      As long as you promise not to hold down the caps lock. ;)

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

        OK>>>I WILL CONTINUE TO MASH THE SHIFT KEY

        • YourResidentJag

          Hey, I’m Hansman and I’m just as much as juvenile as the people I complain about being negative. Shhh…don’t tell anyone.

          • mjhurdle

            i don’t think you are really Hansman, ergo your whole post is a lie. ;)

            • YourResidentJag

              Watch me while I defend sophomoric behavior. Yep, there I go. ;)

              • mjhurdle

                i typically won’t defend sophomoric behavior.
                Freshmoric behavior, yes. sophomoric no

                junioric behavior i only support when the BABIP is insanely high….

                • willis

                  I see what you did there.

                • YourResidentJag

                  I’ll let you have your JUNIOR high moment…but just for this night. :)

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

              Ya, but…have you ever seen me and Mr. Jag in the same place?

              • mjhurdle

                is this the same situation as Brett and his alter ego DieHard?

                • Karl Groucho

                  Bait more responses > get more page views > get more ad $$$ > profit

                  A plan so good, it doesn’t even need a “???”

  • cubfanincardinalland

    In the some things never change department, with a one run lead Carlos Marmol loaded the bases, and then gave up a grand slam to werth, to blow the game for the marlins.
    Noticed for Tuesdays game at Yankee stadium, it will be Hammel vs. Tanaka. Should be fun.

    • YourResidentJag

      So, we play the Cards then the Yanks. Things are definitely going to get interesting.

    • mjhurdle

      Tabaka did not look that sharp vs the Orioles tonight in the beginning. Watching the game seemed to me that the Orioles started trying to wait him out the second time through the lineup. First time through they were very aggressive, second time through they seemed to be waiting for “their pitch” more, which let Tanaka settle down and start really controlling every AB.
      Will be fun to watch him take on the beast that is Junior Olt!!!

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

        Thank God we didn’t sign Tabaka. He seems like a real bum.

        • CubsFaninMS

          Did Tabaka come from Japan with a surgeon general’s warning?

          • cubsnivy56

            LOL, now that is funny…………..

            • Coop

              Hey, get off my Avatar!

        • mjhurdle

          I would have you know that Tabaka lives on a wonderful 2 room flat onthe uper east side.
          He makes a decent living as a programmer (which i might add technically makes us scientists (computer science FTW)) the most noble of professions.
          But his buddy Tanaka might not share his assured status of ultimate coolness (which every computer scientist has).

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

            So what you are saying is that you and your fellow nerds are about to retire to your nerdery?

            • mjhurdle

              Our nerdery just voted you out of order.
              consider yourself reprimanded.
              One more offense and you will be banished to having to use Internet explorer as your browser from here to enternity

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

                You and your fellow nerderians need to check up on 90’s pop culture.

              • ChrisFChi

                NOT IE!!!!! That’s cruel and unusual punishment.

            • mjhurdle

              i checked Google for 90s pop culture.
              All i got was C++ tips and this…
              [img]http://s17.postimg.org/ur832wcpb/80s_90s_pop_culture_6.jpg[/img]

              am i missing something?

              :)

              • DocPeterWimsey

                heh, yeah, C++ was a ’90’s sort of thing: but I still think it’s great.

              • ssckelley

                Pretty sure all of us kewl kids had one of these in their rooms:

                [img]http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_UgJT7XB2G0Y/TT3Fx5eki3I/AAAAAAAAQIY/Sws1lRu4G4E/s1600/lavalamp6.jpg[/img]

                • ssckelley

                  Perhaps not as big though:

                  [img]http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_UgJT7XB2G0Y/TT3Fx5eki3I/AAAAAAAAQIY/Sws1lRu4G4E/s1600/lavalamp6.jpg[/img]

                • ssckelley

                  Or maybe the 3rd time is the charm.

                  [img]https://encrypted-tbn1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQCAgRxldf6oWMcAL9UUiq8p1a-RmYiXOvPDVo5JCIoFx9g7lTN[/img]

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

                Good God, man. I really hope you didn’t whiff Brett Jackson-style on a Tommy Boy reference.

  • Kyle

    I remain skeptical on Olt and Lake, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy their good days.

    I like Hammel way too much for just having seen about 18 innings of him between this season and ST.

    That brief 10 minutes or so where was had a positive run differential was fun.

    PLATOONS! is so fun when it works. All the elements for a surprisingly good season are still there if we could just get a hot streak going.

    • Rich H

      This is the reason why I like what Renteria is doing with Lake and Olt. He is putting them in places where we can see what we got with them without exposing too many of their weaknesses yet. If they earn more playing time so be it. But EARN it should be the center of the conversation.

    • ssckelley

      One positive on Olt is that he has been making contact and only has 4 strikeouts up to this point. Lake, as you always point out, still has a lot of contact issues but when he does hit the ball he seems to find a good spot to hit it.

      Collectively the team is starting to hit and have raised their OPS to .676, still not good but a nice improvement from where it was after the first 5 games. They have scored 21 runs in the past 3 games after only scoring 8 in the first 5.

  • willis

    Have seen some things noting that Renteria will play Lake and Olt tomorrow. It’s the right play. Put them in and see what they can do. Put Bonafacio in CF and Valbuena at 2B.

    Great win tonight. Every win is a good win.

  • Bill

    Castro has made some defensive gems the last 3 games.

    • ssckelley

      Actually Castro has been making some spectacular plays at shortstop all season, when he makes an error it is usually on a routine-easy play.

      On a side note but along these lines Barney made some very good plays at 2nd last night. If he can keep getting on base by walk or with a hit he will quiet the haters. He has been showing more patient at the plate all spring.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cubman87 cubman87

    hahah Rizzo congratulated Hammel on his “First NL Win last night” Apparently Hammel never won last week, or in Colorado :) I love this team already:)

    • Edwin

      strange, he has 27 career wins as a Rockie.

  • Spoda17

    The earn argument for Lake and Olt is ridiculous. What are they earning? Has Valbuena and Sweeny and Ruggiano “earned” more playing time? We know them, and we know exactly what they bring. So to say Olt and Lake need to earn playing time versus the alternative just makes no sense.

    • ssckelley

      No, and the amount of plate appearances Valbuena (21), Sweeney (20), and Ruggiano (16) have prove RR must feel the same way. Lake (25) and Olt (19) will get more playing time as they keep hitting or veterans like Sweeney and Ruggiano keep stinking it up. I also think we will see more of Kalish, who is making solid contact but has been hitting the ball in bad spots.

      Again I think Lake has been a victim of how well Bonifacio has been playing, I do not think RR ever intended on Bonifacio playing every day but being more of a platoon player.

      • blublud

        Boni has to be played everyday until he cools off. Lake and Olt will get theirs. I dont mind the platoons if it helps us win. But if certain guys are not going to perform, than let the young guys play everyday and see how they develop.

        • ssckelley

          I agree, in fact I think Bonifacio playing every day proves that RR is willing to make adjustments to his platoon to accommodate a player that proves he belongs on the field every day. I think this is what has cut into Lake’s playing time.

  • ssckelley

    Is it me or is Rizzo making better contact so far this season with less power? I was really impressed with how he hit a way from the shift last night and I think if Rizzo can keep making good contact like that the power will come. I would be perfectly fine if Rizzo hit for a high average with ~20 homers per year with a bunch of doubles and singles.

    • Blackhawks1963

      Anthony Rizzo is a very good ballplayer, his critics be damned. In a sophmore slump 2013 season and with lousy lineup protection he still produced 40 doubles and 25 HRs while playing an impeccable 1st base. He might never be a guy who hits for a great average, and he might be prone to deep slumps from time to time, and he might never be very good against left-handers. But bottom line he is solid cornerstone piece on this club. Imagine when he is hitting in the middle of a lineup that affords protection. Easily can be a perennial 30 HR, 100 RBI guy. I’ll take that every day.

      • ssckelley

        But what if the opposite comes true, he becomes a high average type of player without the home run power? It seems like the expectations were for Rizzo to be that 30+ homer guy and instead he very well could be more of a (grab the paint guns) Mark Grace type (with a little more power ofc).

        I know it was 1 game but I was really impressed with his hitting last night against a lefty and against the shift. If he can make those types of adjustments instead of trying to crank the ball out all the time he very well could be a high average type of hitter.

        • Blackhawks1963

          Rizzo has natural born strength and power that Grace never had. Grace was a professional hitter with a beautiful swing. Rizzo has a beautiful, compact and quick swing in his own right, but he generates great power from the zone whereas Grace was a guy who laced the ball

          Rizzo can hit 25 HRs in his sleep. I think he will settle in at a consistent 30-35 HRs with time.

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

        So having .470 and .467 SLG players batting behind Rizzo wasn’t enough protection?

        • Norm

          Time for a ‘lineup protection’ debate?

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

            Can we include DH, sac bunts and jumbotrons?

  • Head and Heart

    I’ve been on the play “Olt everyday bandwagon” for a while. Based on the eye ball test he can hit lefties. So the platoon seems like it is working. But I have yet to see compelling evidence that playing someone else against righties gives the Cubs a better chance to win. I also feel like Lake has a chance to be a well above average defensive CF so may as well play him out there.

  • Blackhawks1963

    Theo/Jed deserve a boatload of credit for finding fringy starting pitchers in career rehabilitation mode and turning them into something, at least for the short term…Maholm turned out great for the Cubs, both performance and flip value wise…Feldman turned out even better in these two regards…and now Hammel is looking really good. Scott Baker flopped, but hitting on 3 out of 4 of these type of minimum risk investments is hitting the jackpot. EPSPECIALLY in the context of comparing to bigger money pitchers who have been disappointments or disasters (e.g., Edwin Friggin Jackson).

    • Edwin

      So far his sinker usage is up from last season, I take that as a good sign.

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