4-8-05 -- Thoughts from JT - Cubs 3, Brewers 6
-- The return of the Kerry (Wood)
Good to see him back on the mound. According to the radio feed, he was feeling no niggling injury flare-ups, and he seemed to be healthy. However, as with everything, there was the downside: 5 2/3 innings pitched, 102 pitches, only 52 strikes. Kerry walked 5 and struck out 7, which says not only a lot about his pitch selection and control, but also about some of the Brewers' hitting (Geoff Jenkins 1-6, 4 K, 8 LOB is the best example of that). It is promising that he's back, but the strike count needs to get higher and fast, given the state of the rest of the starting rotation (see Hypo's 5 keys for more about that).
Better than in the Diamondbacks series, but still a little sluggish. How much will playing away from the Colorado thin air affect his slugging and overall batting production? All signs initially point to "a lot." It's only week one, but already there is a little anxiety - losing Sosa and Alou as two prime run producers (Sosa: 103 RBI in 2003, 80 RBI in 2004//Alou: 91 RBI in 2003, 106 RBI in 2004) means guys like Burnitz, brought in to fill the void, have to live up to some kind of expectations. He did get an RBI double in the game, but went 1-5 overall.
-- Bullpen Blues
Jon Leicester. 2 1/3 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, K. 53 pitches, 24 strikes. For a reliever and a shaky one at that, it simply won't do. At numerous points in his outing was he evidently struggling - top of the 11th, he walks the lead-off runner, gets a lucky double play for 2 quick outs, and then walks the next two batters faced. Not on 3-2 pitches, but on 4 straight balls. At one point, he threw 9 straight balls, (he threw 8 straight between top 10th and leadoff top 11th) and the cheer from the crowd when he finally found the strike zone was perhaps some of the loudest applause all game long.
LaTroy blew a save, giving up a game-tying double to Lyle Overbay with 2 outs (another point made by Hypo, the 2-outs dilemma).
Remlinger looked solid in the 1 1/3 innings he was allowed, and he came out with the Cubs looking set in the top of the 9th. The rest, as they say, is history.
I could go on, but it's pointless. Let's see how they perform this afternoon on a warm day with Zambrano (arguably, at this point, the best starter in the rotation) against *gulp* K king Ben Sheets.
My top 5 keys to the season coming up later. Enjoy the game.