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Jeff Samardzija was fantastic again tonight, though the build up of the later innings – including extras – makes it easy to forget.

I don’t really do “game recaps,” but I started writing these chunks as the game was going on in anticipation of it ending a few times (when it didn’t):

Down one, the Cubs put two on base in the 7th inning with nobody out, and, when Ryan Sweeney stepped to the plate, I’ll confess, I was nervous that he was going to be asked to bunt. Fortunately, he was not, and he slapped a single into left. Rizzo got a fantastic read on the ball – knew exactly where the shortstop was, and where the ball was going – and scored easily from second.

But then Ricky Renteria called for the hit and run, which was a great call with Starlin Castro at the plate … but not with Carlos Martinez on the mound and Yadier Molina behind the plate. Martinez has great swing-and-miss stuff, and Molina is Molina. Castro whiffed, and Molina threw out Nate Schierholtz (who had a hell of a game) very easily at third. The rally’s air came out of the tires, and the Cubs probably left a run or two on the bases.

Fortunately, a couple innings later, the Cubs came through with two runs (in an inning that featured Emilio Bonifacio being asked to sac bunt with a man on first and nobody out – le sigh), the second of which featured a CardinLOLs moment where Matt Holliday tried to catch a sinking liner from Nate Schierholtz, looked awkward as hell doing it, missed the ball, someone retrieved it, threw it away in the general direction of home. Result? The runner at first (Mike Olt) scored, and Schierholtz ended up on third.

Speaking of Olt, he had just pinch hit for third baseman Luis Valbuena, but did not stay in the game to play defense. He clearly hurt his shoulder on a dive back to first – he was shaking it out, stretching it, grimacing – but it’s unclear whether it was a serious kind of hurt, and that’s why he didn’t stay in the game, or if it was just a precautionary kind of thing (it allowed Bonifacio to stay in the game and Darwin Barney to come in and play at second). Obviously Olt has had the shoulder issue, so we’ll see if there’s an update tomorrow.

All of that is prelude, of course, because Jose Veras came on for the two-run save and had absolutely no command. No one had any idea where the ball was going, including the two Cardinals batters he hit, and the one he walked. He also threw one to the backstop. I’ve got no beef with having a “closer,” but when he comes out and he’s nowhere near the plate after 20 pitches, why is he still in the game? Veras got squeezed on a pitch or two later in his appearance, but you aren’t going to get those calls when your other pitches are three feet off the plate. (Also, the strike zone was ridiculously inconsistent for both teams all night long.)

Thankfully, Welington Castillo bailed everyone out in the top of the 11th with a two-out (both outs coming on bunts, obviously), three-run homer.

The Cardinals had a chance to win in the 10th, and, with the winning run on second base, the Cardinals elected to do this …

april 11 box

Full box score.

  • jp3

    It’s always fun beating the cards no matter how much we stink. Corey Black looked good last, 5innings 0hits 0runs, I love that Cashman was annoyed he was pushed into trading one of his only good pitching prospects. Also Vogulbomb is struggling a bit with his transition to Daytona, not worried yet through 8 games but I’d liked to see him have come out of the gate swinging a little better.

  • Jon

    @Clint_BA: Rodon looked much closer to the pitcher the industry expected coming into season. Sat 94-96 early, touching 98. Hit 95 on 133rd pitch

    • Isaac

      My word, how many pitches did he throw?

      • Eternal Pessimist

        If I were Rodon i would be pissed the coach is trying to ruin my arm and future.

        • IA_Colin

          Remember he only pitches once a week, there’s a lot of recovery time. If he’s throwing 100 breaking balls then I’d be a little worried.

  • waffle

    Other than the pen underachieving to this point I can’t really complain much about the quality of the product, even with RR’s curious choices at times.

    Better hitting
    some timely hitting
    Great defense
    Aggressive, and timely, running (for the most part)
    Platoon works (for me)
    AMAZING starting pitching

    This team is not playing flat. It’s pretty entertaining. Now to tweek the pen

    • http://waittilnextyear.net NateCorbitt

      I don’t know about that timely hitting thing. They really haven’t done well with RISP.

      • MightyBear

        Doing better with RISP as of late. Still poor.

  • Canadian Cubs Fan

    I think if it was June or July, and the Cubs had struggled to score runs for half the year, I would understand the bunting a little more. But we’re 10 games in, and RR is still getting a sense of each guys abilities in game situations. Kalish already has a few clutch hits under his belt, and you took the bat out of his hands in extras.

    I imagine TheoJed have talked about this, but have to weigh micromanaging their manager versus letting him figure stuff out. I trust that they will talk to him about it in-gamie situations when the time is right.

    • Rich H

      I really hope they do not talk to him yet. We need Renteria to grow into the game savvy manager that the Cubs thought he could be when hired. Talking to him too much too soon can only cause him to look over his shoulder. Remember this is a learning process for him as well. I think we got a good one who is getting his feet wet in the shallow end before every win or loss comes with anger. I think he will grow out of some of these decisions just give him time.

  • jeff1969

    This is totally off topic, but anybody notice that BA has revised their top draft prospects? Aiken & Kolek are now 1-2. Rodon has fallen down the list a little bit. You never know. White Sox will take Rodon if he’s there & hasn’t completely blown his stock by the actual draft, so a guy like Beede is looking more possible for the Cubs.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I know nothing, but I’d put it about a 0% chance the White Sox take Rodon, even if they have a shot. If the Astros and Marlins pass on him, he’ll fall to the Cubs (if they want him).

      • ssckelley

        You must know something to say the Sox have a 0% chance on taking Rodon.

      • Rebuilding

        Why would you say 0% chance the Sox take Rodon? They’ve had pretty good success with the last college lefty they took in the first round

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          A team taking Rodon after the top two is going to have dig deep into its pool to sign him. I don’t think the Sox will be interested in taking that approach. Just a hunch.

          • ssckelley

            Do you think the Cubs would? While I have been pining for the Cubs to go with the top position player at 1.4 Rodon is one pitcher I would love to see drop to the Cubs.

          • Rebuilding

            You may be right. But this isn’t Kenny Williams’ White Sox anymore. What Hahn has done with that team is amazing and it leads me to believe that he’s a very good GM. To me, the smartest thing to always do (obviously the Astros disagree) is take the top talent in the first round and worry about 2-50 later

            • Jon

              It is amazing. I thought rebuilds took 1/2 decade +

          • jeff1969

            I see what you’re saying Brett, but I’m kinda feeling the Sox will grab Rodon regardless if he’s there & it makes sense, like he hasn’t fallen off the top of the list that much with a poor showing the rest of the way or an injury. The other guy I get a feeling about with the Sox is that Jackson C-OF kid. Maybe I got his name wrong, but you know. Either way, the draft prognosticating is a lot of fun.

      • Assman22

        Draft Porn from yesterday…

        Rodon: 7.2IP, 6H, 1ER, 3BB, 12K

        Beede: 5IP, 9H, 4ER, 4BB, 4K

        Nola: 7IP, 4H, 2ER, 2BB, 13K

        Wetzler: 5.1IP, 6H, 2ER, 6BB, 3K

        Weaver: 7IP, 6H, 4ER, 2BB, 5K

  • cubzfan23

    On Samardzija… I am starting to see him differently. If he can continue being consistent I say pay him. He’s looking really good. You can see the confidence in him while he’s pitching.

    • Ivy Walls

      The question cannot be posed in a vacuum, the question is what another team is willing to part (meaning overpay) and then two if Samardz is willing to sign.

  • Ivy Walls

    Old timer observations 10 games into the season. First any determining observations are truly indicative until at least 25, though really tighten up at 30 games, so around Mother’s Day one can genuinely make some valid points. As a teacher and former competitive athlete one can see some early indications.

    Cubs have better defense than the last few years, Castro’s fortunate FC aside getting Wong off the base on a Holiday rain-maker pop up. OF’ers are hitting their cut off and limiting runners advancing unnecessarily.

    Starting pitching is again very good and consistent. Jackson is not the Cubs #2 starter but more like the overpaid #4-5. When Arietta arrives ready he will drop to #5. This is not good if the locker room is not managed well. Being one of the highest paid members of the team and lower productive or counted on can hurt morale.

    Bullpen is a work in progress and assumptions or roles going into the season are not materializing. Veras is not a closer, I watched his body language during the 9th when the the tying run was on third and he got down in the count to Carpenter. He didn’t want to throw the ball. Renteria will have to manage this. Grimm, Rondon and Strope all appear to have capabilities and Rondon seems to have the cool, confidence to handle the task for now. Thing is it actually opens the door for Vizcaino ascends from the system. Russell is not a LOOGY he is a fireman, meaning he has the ability to get out of jam. Wright also is not a LOOGY either, so the bullpen is not set. Cubs need another lefty and do something about Veras. When Arietta retuns decisions have to be made, though I think Schlitter goes where Veras could be moved to the middle relief. Can’t afford to lose games especially in the beginning of the year, Cubs should be 6-4 and not 4-6 or at least 5-5 because of the bullpen.

    Offense: Already dropping Castro to the 6th hole is pure and obvious genius in that he should be batting with men on base most of the time—meaning he will see more early in the count fastballs. Bonafacio is lightening in the bottle and is a like Belushi on a “Mission from God”. Rizzo appears to have matured and has adjusted his approach and purpose especially against LHP’s but also when he is down on 2 strikes and will to put the ball in play where pitched….opposite field. Let us see how this is at 30 games. As for the rest I like putting pressure on the opposing pitchers with a strong Lefty-to-Righty or Righty-to-Lefty lineup. But the Cubs need more power, esp in the OF one could live with either Kalish or Sweeney playing but not both regularly, and why Schierholtz is more valuable than most fans appreciate here in Cubdom, LH OF power, even moderate power is big! Overall it seems that Kalish is a big surprise and is pushing Sweeney for playing time. In all reality the best LH hitting lineup has Valbuena at 2B and Bonafacio in CF with Olt at 3B.

    Again Cubs need to score 50 more runs this year and give up less than 50 runs.

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