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The Cubs were thumping the ball right off the bat – herr herr – in this one, driving even their outs with authority. Edwin Jackson did not pitch particularly well, but the offensive output, including some insurance runs late on a desperately-needed Nate Schierholtz single, were enough to get the win. Starlin Castro and Welington Castillo each had three hits, and Junior Lake and Emilio Bonifacio each had two. And Anthony Rizzo … well, more on that in a moment.

For the second time in as many appearances, Neil Ramirez looked fantastic – great velocity and location on the fastball, sharp movement on his slider. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, but he did look pretty darn good in Spring Training, too.

Hector Rondon also looked fantastic finishing things off in the 9th, and Wesley Wright struck out Joey Votto (in a one-run game) during his appearance. Great night for the bullpen all around.

april 30 box

Full box score.

  • Paddy26

    Rizzo showing Votto how to do a Votto.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Bingo.

    • Featherstone

      That line is gorgeous, Castro also had a real good game.

      • ncsujuri

        The beauty w/ Castro is that he made them pay for walking Rizzo!

        • Aaron

          That was an awesome moment. That has to be rewarding for both of those guys. Nicely done.

  • bazfan1234

    So far, the best game of the season?

  • Featherstone

    Dusty Baker must be quaking with rage at all those base clogging walks.

  • Funn Dave

    So, when will one of you statheads do a study on how much faster the EBS is posted, on average, when the Cubs win, versus when they lose? :P

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

      Not a large enough sample size on the wins yet.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Heh. Definitely faster for a win, but I’m not sure I could say how much faster.

      The amount of time I spend on the “writeup” portion, the number of artful strokes required for the enhancing, and the extent to which I can do some of the writeup in advance of the actual end of the game are the primary factors. And wind conditions.

      • Funn Dave

        I love it. You’re like the internet Ron Santo–your Cubbie fandom shines through in the product.

  • Greg

    Pretty sad we still went 3-17 with RISP

    • Featherstone

      The fact that we had 17 risp is a good sign in itself. Ton of baserunners

  • RoscoeVillageFan

    Good to get EJax that W. He’s my barometer for our success :). But actually eally good to see Rizzo and Castro playing at a high level to start. Go Cubs

  • Jon

    Edwin Jackson only goes five and two thirds and we still only used 4/8 relievers.
    13 man staffs are silly

    • Bixler51

      RR obviously obsesses with his relief pitchers and their innings, calling Carlos V.’s starts positive because he ate innings.

    • Aaron

      Agreed. I HATE the 13 man staff.

  • willis

    Great to see Lake put the bat on the ball some, Rizzo was fantastic as was Castro. For all the grief Castillo gets for his pitch framing, he’s having a great season at the other side of the dish.

    If the Cubs can find a way to shit out Veras and Russell, this pen looks pretty electric. Ramirez’ stuff was nasty, even Thom was saying so.

  • davidc

    Rizzo/Castro/Castillo- 7-9, 1 HR, 3 2B, 6 BB, 0 K

    That right there makes it the nicest game of the year to me. Rondon and Ramirez dominating was icing on the cake.

  • mudge

    A Cubs pitcher gave his team a chance to win. And they did! They did!

    • Eternal Pessimist

      Cubs pitchers have given this team many chances to win…good to see the bats come through once in a while.

  • Crockett

    Finally…a fun game to watch.

    Hope, for Cincy’s sake, Cingrani isn’t hurt terribly.

  • Rebuilding

    Cubs pitchers have given this team a lot of chances to win. Hammel has been as good as anyone in the NL. Shark looks like he’s learned to pitch to contact a bit better,!and Wood has been good

  • Jon

    Down to a -9 run differential. Texas is a -21 and two games over.
    Why does God hate this franchise?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      That’s an expected record of 12-14. That pace over the course of a season is 75 wins.

      So. Starting with 75 wins and using Oliver projections for 2015 from Fangraphs:

      75 + 4.6 (Bryant) + 5.3 (Baez) = 85 wins

      Ok, so not really 85 because I have to subtract out the value of whoever those two are replacing, but go with it.

      And ok, so those values are probably high inflated by the positions they are currently listed at (3B, SS) which may not be where they wind up playing, but still.

      And, fine, I’m blending two entirely different schemes of projection together here that probably invalidates the results of the combination.

      But all that aside, if the projections hold and the Cubs manage to find five more wins over the off season we’re talking a playoff contender in 2015.

      Will it happen that perfectly? Probably not. But it isn’t out of the question.

      • Rebuilding

        I love doing those WAR substitutions. Castro becoming a 5 WAR player and Rizzo a 3.5 at 1b is the biggest thing right now. Personally, I’m getting a little worried about Baez – he’s adjusted a lot quicker at every other level. I thought part of that was just his confidence – he was going to swing for the fences until he struggled. This feels a little different. I hope someone talked to him when he was hurt those few days. I feel like he probably wants to get to the majors so bas that he’s pressing

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          Baez actually hasn’t adjusted quicker at every other level. Keep in mind that he missed a week with the ankle.

          • Rebuilding

            He has 63 ABs at Iowa. He would literally not have to strikeout again in 37 PAs at AAA to make his level ok. He turned it around a lot faster in Tennessee. With that said – just a little worried

            • Rich H

              But at the beginning of last year in High-A he was adjusting at just about the same pace he is on now. His average was higher but his walk rate and k rate were just about the same. If in 3 weeks we are still seeing him be a all or nothing hitter then we can begin to worry because that is the time he was locked in and crushing it.

              Actually it was right about the 1st of May but I added a couple weeks for the injury

        • Aaron

          I think expecting Castro to be a 5-win player is a bit optimistic, given his lack of OBP and league average defense. I’d be happy with a consistent 3-4 WAR; same for Rizzo (with a little higher offensive production, but coming from 1B).

      • Medicos

        LUKE: No matter what projection statistics you use will the Cubs be a contender next year. It seems as if SABERMETRIC advocates attempt to use whatever stats they want to validate the thought they are trying to validate.

      • Pat

        Two nitpicks here. The first is that Pythagorean record is meant to be calculated over a much larger sample, so right now the error bars are huge, meaning they are probably within the expected range.

        Second, and this is the one people always misstate, 12 – 14 is not their expected record. It is the median record of teams with that run differential over this many games. So while 12 – 14 is the more likely than any other individual record, there is a less than 15% chance of that being their actual record. “expected” really should only be used with odds above 50%.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          The median is the expectation! We expect nearly half the teams to be doing better and nearly half the teams to be doing worse, after all.

          The best way to use Pythagorean Wins now is as the expected winning percentage. When you look at the probabilities if teams deviating by X games from that distribution given N games played, it is usually very uniform. The distributions of the actual deviations themselves is usually a classic bell-curve.

          • Pat

            Doc, the point is that it is far, far more like like that they will be better or worse than 12 – 14, than that they would be exactly 12 -14. So when people say they “should” be 12 – 14 that is incorrect mathematically (although expectation may be the correct statistical term, it is not the correct literal term).

            Being off to one side or another of the bell curve is not an anomaly, it is the most likely result. Some teams should” be better than their expected (statistical definition) record and some teams should be worse. It not really an anomaly when most teams fall outside of the median record, it’s the expectation (mathematically)

            • Pat

              Or put another way if you were to put all teams run differential into a bucket and draw one randomly and offer me the choice of betting that I can either choose that their record matches the median pythagorean record, or any other record (the field), I’m going to take the field every time and win 90% of those bets.

        • ssckelley

          Actually I think the Pythagorean record is exactly where the Cubs should be. But they blew some easy games late for stupid reasons. This team is better than the record shows but it is what it is and we cannot go back and change history.

          Games like Tuesday nights loss don’t bother me. They got out pitched and, obviously, got out hit but overall they played a good game. The games that are frustrating are the ones they make a stupid mistake they lose, giving the game away. The Cubs have yet to win a game like that.

      • ncsujuri

        Luke you also have to subtract the WAR for guys who are going to get shipped out like Shark and Hammel and sub in whoever replaces them in the rotation.

  • miggy80

    Rizzo has a great eye. That’s what stuck out the most from what I saw while he was in Des Moines.

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

    I’m just happy that Renteria appears to be over his sac bunting obsession.

    • Rebuilding

      I think he got a call from the clubhouse after Kalish tried to lay one down with runners on 1st and 3rd and 1 out a couple of weeks ago. After that we’ve barely bunted at all

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

        Overall, I think he has done a dang good job. If he a Mueller can figure out Kalish, keep Castro and Rizzo doing well, I like the coaching staff we have.

        • Rebuilding

          I think he’s evidently been very good on the player side. We are playing hard and seeming to have fun on a 9-17 club. If he has gotten through to Castro that’s major bonus points. I think some of his tactical stuff has been spotty – bullpen, base running, sacrificing. I will say that I’m really happy that he’s shuffled the bullpen so quickly. A rookie manager has a hard time with doing that. I don’t know how much of that comes from Theo and Jed, but he still did it

          • Rich H

            I think it comes from trying to be re-invent the wheel. He knows he is intelligent. He also wants to prove to the world that he deserves this chance.

            Give him a chance to get over the initial “I deserve this” mentality and he is going to be a good one. Right now he just seems to over think himself quite a bit.

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

            1. No manager in MLB history has handled the bullpen “right”. The only ones that appear two have a couple guys in the pen that if they blow it God himself was going to blow it.
            2. Baserunning? I guess this is the first I’ve heard of it outside of Bonifacio’s tootblans.
            3. He gave up on the sac bunting pretty quickly. My guess is he was told about how dumb of an idea it was in one of his review sessions with Theo and Jed and stopped.

  • Soda Popinski

    If you love that line so much, why don’t you mar….. wait.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sharingaspare mysterious4th

    Sean Marshall for Travis Wood looks better and better each time!

  • 5412

    HI,

    Olt is cooking his own goose at this point.

    If it continues do you bring up Bryant and skip AAA or move Baez or is there a plan C?

    regards,
    5412

    • Rebuilding

      Olt seems like a AAAA slugger. Hits 35 HRs in Triple-A but just can’t handle MLB sliders. It’s fine as it keeps Alcantera in the orgainization and Grimm and Ramirez look like enough of a return for Garza…and if Edwards pans out then bonus

      • Rich H

        I think Olt has value he is just struggling to adjust. If he was still doing this in July then I would be all for the “Bust” label. Right now we are talking about a guy that could not see 12 months ago. Struggles are going to happen.

        • ssckelley

          I think Olt needs to swing at the first pitch. I have noticed pitchers are challenging him early and he takes that first pitch a lot. Sometimes that first pitch is the best one to hit.

        • Brocktoon

          Right now we are talking about a guy who looks like he can’t see right now.

          • ssckelley

            I really don’t think his vision is the problem, if it was I seriously doubt Olt would be on the team. His vision cost him a valuable season of development and I think that is what the issue is. IMO, he has a little Castro in him and I think he is trying to be more patient at the plate when he should be just doing the see-ball-hit-ball. Opposing pitchers see this and are challenging him right now and will continue to do so until he proves that he can hit pitches early in the count.

          • waittilthisyear

            yesterday his front shoulder was flailing out pretty consistently. i have seen him take some juicy meatballs as well. he did crush that cingrani pitch foul in the early going. he has a ton of thunder in that bat, would be nice to hear it crack more often

  • sunshine and rainbows

    I love the giddy optimism after such a win.

    This season hasn’t been too much fun so far, but none of that matters on a night like this where we score a ton, beat a good team, and our best players rock the house :D

    It’s also so great to see Castro there right after Rizzo to make all those walks he draws make a big difference.

  • Danny Ballgame

    Bring on the Wild. Let’s go Hawks

  • Medicos

    HAWKEYE TALK

    BlackHawks vs Wild Rangers vs Penguins

    Kings vs Ducks Bruins vs Canadiens

    Four of the original 6 NHL teams still in the hunt for the Stanley Cup

  • Danny Ballgame

    Eddie Shore. Old time hockey

  • Indy57

    Brett, thought the EBS would have a couple of extra blue lines this morning. Those lines would be from Schlitter through Rondon…walks 0 and strikeouts 7. Walks have been killers for the pen and last night the relievers attacked hitters, threw strikes and made guys miss. We need more of this.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      The EBS doesn’t always focus on the best performance, or everyone who performed well (though they did get noted in the write-up portion). It’s completely subject to my whim and whimsey. Rizzo’s line was simply too crazily awesome not to highlight.

      But, hey, it’s always good when there are lots of guys who could have been noted.

      • Johnny Five

        We’ll know that we’ve finally arrived when discussions regarding who should be highlighted in the EBS happen daily.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          That sounds *awesome.*

  • Brocktoon

    The last week or so have been great from a players that matter perspective. We need this Rizzo and Castro.

  • another JP

    Rondon, Rosscup, Ramirez, and Grimm are beginning to show signs of being a solid bullpen group. And I don’t think anyone has to worry about Russell being overworked this season- only 5.2 innings of work thus far… should have been less IMO.

  • josh ruiter

    I agree: Rondon, Rosscup, Ramirez, Grimm, Strop, Wright make up a solid bullpen right now. Any one of Schlitter, Villanueva, Parker, etc. can pitch adequately enough to be the final bullpen arm. Hopefully when Veras returns and Fujikawa close behind the choice will be a difficult one.
    Castro (contrary to one persons thinking he got fat) looks like he finally has lost his baby fat and is putting on man muscle. His swings look not all that different from last year, but my gosh, the ball goes 30-50 feet further than in the past. I think the experiment worked! Yes, I know his stats were bad, but the forced approach last year has seemingly left a change in approach, if ever so slightly that is allowing him to look for his pitch early in counts. He still has the undesirable tendency to chase low and away with 2 strikes, but hey, there is improvement there. And Rizzo’s hands are a thing of beauty, I bemoaned the fact that in previous years his hands were at his belt when the pitch was delivered, it’s hard to not weakly fly out or ground out with your hands starting so low without perfect contact. And its showing this year, with his hands starting at the letters, even his swings that aren’t perfect contact, he is hitting hard ground balls, sharp fly balls/line drives, and even when he gets fooled it allows him to fight it to the opposite field.

    • ssckelley

      I agreed with your thoughts on Castro up until you said “the forced approach last year has seemingly left a change in approach”. I see Castro back to his old self of see-ball-hit-ball but his added strength, which you point out, has made the difference in his slugging. But what they tried to do with Castro last year did not work and was a complete failure.

    • http://BleacherNation blewett

      Josh- how about we make Arodys Vizcaino the last bullpen arm and dump…I mean flip those two guys you mentioned (Veras & Fujikawa)?

      • willis

        Crap out some of those guys, keep Grimm, Ramirez, Strop, Rondon, Rosscup…maybe Wright. Then add Rivero or Vizcaino when ready…there are some dudes that can really rush it up there.

  • Diehardthefirst

    So 5 was enuf after all — Mgr Rick great minds think alike- MOY odds up

  • WernerT

    When the Cubs win, I like to glance at the upcoming schedule. My mistake. Everybody was talking about what a brutal early schedule it is and that’s before the Brewers got all pumped up with happy juice. Now it just seems to be Brewers, Braves, long road trips and short series at at home. Yeesh.

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