Saturday, April 9

4-9-05 -- Thoughts from JT - Cubs 4, Brewers 0

What a game. Listening to all 2 hrs of it, I was convinced that the Cubs have something to work with this season.

-- Zambrano!!!
Amazing today. Collected more hits for himself that he gave up to the other team. Went 7 1/3 innings, giving up 1 hit (a Russell Branyan single in the top of the 2nd), threw 111 pitches, 2 BB, 6 K. Looked solid all day, and he played with the kind of fire that the rest of the team needs to catch. 2-3 with the bat, including a 2-out RBI single in the 2nd to kick off the scoring = truly dominant today. In the 1st inning, after striking out the lead-off hitter Brady Clark, he appeared to have some elbow troubles and after a brief conference with the trainers, he never looked back. Are you paying attention starting rotation? If Carlos can do it, so can you Greg, Ryan, Kerry, Mark, and whoever else starts over the course of the year.

-- Timely plays
Burnitz, having endured a rough opening week with the bat, finally found his swing, clubbing a solo HR in the 6th inning, his first for the club and his first for the season. As I wrote before, he needs to be a big-time producer for the Cubs this year, and this is a promising sign of his talent and the reason they went after him in the off-season.

Aside from Burnitz, with the game hanging in the balance, star 2B Todd Walker delivered the killer blow with a 2nd pitch double to deep right in the bottom of the 7th, scoring two runs and giving Dusty enough of a cushion to ease Zambrano out of the game. He's been delivering the hits lately, and his improved batting eye can make him a crucial piece of the puzzle as the season progresses.

These are also the kinds of clutch moments that eluded the team last year, especially during that awful streak at the end of the season, losing 7 of 9 to miss out on the wild card.

-- Pitch Counts on the Batter's shoulders
Before essentially cruising to the shutout victory, a negative aspect of the win comes from the quick innings from the Cubs batting lineup. The kind of patience that tires opposing pitchers and gives relief to their own was absent for large parts of the day, and against a stronger team it might prove costly.

1st Inning - 7 pitches (including a lead-off single, 4 batters faced)
5th Inning - 8 pitches

In contrast, the 1-hit, shutout Brewers:
1st Inning - 15 pitches
2nd Inning - 20 pitches

Slow it down, guys. More patience, more reward on the whole is the general rule. Like I mentioned before, against a better team, the Cubs will be punished for such overenthusiasm. (I'm trying to ignore the obvious exception to my rule whereby Walker's 2-RBI double came off his second pitch faced, and Burnitz's HR was his second pitch).


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