Baseball is back incase you missed it. Unlike i the past when the season kicked off on Monday or in recent years on Sunday this year in an attempt to finish the season before October, MLB moved up the start of the season. So the start of the season was Thursday with the Cubs having their home opener on Friday. Now onto the games.
Game 1 of 162
What a crappy day for the home opener. I have been going to opening day for the last 6 years and it wasn't the coldest day and it was sure wet. Opening day is awesome and to quote Ferris Bueller "it is so choice" and if you have never experience it I highly recommend it.
Things looked good early for the Cubs as Ryan Dempster was rolling through the Pirates for the first three innings and as the fourth inning started the Northsiders held a 2-0 lead. When Ryan walked former Cub, Ronny Cedeno, I knew things were bad but I never expected a Neil Walker grand slam to put the Pirates ahead 4-2 and they never looked back on their way to a 6-3 victory.
Starlin Castro scored 2 runs while Carlos Pena and Fukudome had the 2 RBIS. The first run of the game came on a throwing error so Marlon Byrd did not receive the RBI. Dempster gave up all 6 runs in 6 2/3 innings with 7 Ks and 4 walks. So let the second guessing begin, should Dempster have even started the 6th?
Since I was at the game Friday this was my first chance to listen to new color radio man Keith Moreland. I caught most of the game early on the radio but was home in plenty of time to see the best part of the game. Before I get to the game I have listened to Moreland now for parts of 2 games and I don't have any complaints. He isn't Santo but no one is and I look forward to him and Pat getting some good chemistry as the season goes on. Very happy Dave Otto was not the choice.
Early on it looked like the 2011 Cubs would going to have a lot of the same problems the 2010 Cubs had with the Pirates. Being down 2-0 going into the 7th when starter Carlos Zambrano gave up a lead off homer and then had to leave the game with a cramp in his hand. Then enter what might be the best bullpen in the majors. Kerry Wood came in and struck out two in the 7th followed by Sean Marshall who retired the side 1-2-3 in the 8th before the Cubs bats finally came alive. The inning started with Fukudome and it ended with Fukudome as the good guys hit through the order on their way to scoring 5 runs. Then Carlos Marmol came in to strike out the side 9th to collect his first save of the season.
Marshall ended up the winning pitcher and Starlin Castro had another great game going 2 for 4 with a run scored and another one knocked in. Catcher Geovany Soto also tallied two hits but probably the most important hit was Soriano's first of the season which scored Byrd and Soto to tie the game and continue the inning.
Game 3: The Rubber game
The Wrigley Field debut of Matt Garza was an interesting one. He gave up as many hits (12) as batter he struck out (12 a new career high). The most interesting part of the hits were all of them were singles. He pitched 7 innings threw 106 pitches (80 of which were strikes) and walked none and got a no decision. Kerry Wood entered in the 8th and was a little shakey giving up 2 hits but didn't allow a run and only threw 10 pitches.
Unlike game 2 where the bats waited till the 8th to come alive the Cubs started hitting in the 4th, 5th and 6th. With the Pirates up 2-0 in the 4th Carlos Pena doubled in two runs off the wall to tie the game. Then in the 5th second baseman Darwin Barney hitting a sac fly allowing Castro to score, his 4th run of the series, tying the game at 3. Then again it was Soriano with maybe the biggest hit of the game a solo shot in the 6th putting the Cubs up 4-3.
Then enter the 9th and closer Carlos Marmol. All that needs to be said is he didn't strike out any of the batters he faced. He allowed 2 hits, 1 walk giving up 2 runs blowing his first save of the season. Castro who was terrific collecting 3 hits (2triples & 1 single) had a very bad throw in the 9th which allowed the go ahead run to score.
In the bottom of the 9th it looked like maybe the Cubs would be able to pull it out when Ronny Cedeno rocketed a throw into the outfield allowing Castro to get to 3rd and Darwin Barney to be safe at first but then Marlon Byrd hit into a game ending double play on the first pitch he saw.
So the Cubs lost the first series of the year to the lowly Pirates. They are now 1-2 and will host 3 against the Arizona Diamondbacks being heading up for 3 in Milwaukee. Let's hope for better results this week.