Dang, I’m getting pretty good at this, but the Cubs starting pitchers are doing even better. Travis Wood got through six innings of shutout ball with 85 pitches and probably would have been out for the seventh if the weather was 20 degrees warmer. Only 2BB (one to the pitcher – yuck) and 4K’s (two of the absolutely fantastic Andrew McCutchen).
David DeJesus did get on base, but still no hits, and while Starlin Castro got an RBI, the big bat belonged to Nate Schierholtz, who blasted the ball deep to left-center. Between Nate the Great and T.Wood this game featured, in my opinion, two of the x-factor players for the Cubs this year.
Last night was a disappointing sports night, with the Cubs getting shut out and the Wizards continuing to struggle on the road and getting mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. Especially worrisome for the Cubs was how they seemed to give away at-bats in the last couple of innings – Sveum can’t be happy with that three pitch strikeout by Castro. From what I hear though, the weather can take some of the blame and it’s not like the Pirates were tearing the cover off the ball. Decent debut by Edwin Jackson, but if Bosio is the miracle worker I think he is and can coax a little more dominance from that big right arm it would go a long way towards making this season more respectable.
Today then is the rubber game of the series, with an early start time of 12:35ET. Travis Wood takes the mound for the Cubs. Here are some things I’d like to see.
On the Mound
For Travis Wood, efficiency should the the keyword. Ideally he’s around 90 pitches through six and Sveum can send him back out for the 7th. The key to that is going to be avoiding a long inning, like Jackson’s laboring fourth last night. So, let’s call on Travis for 6 1/3, 2ER, 2BB, 3K.
And what I would really, really, REALLY like to see is Marmol come on and pitch a 1-2-3 ninth for the save.
At the Plate
DeJesus on base would be a nice start and some production from the pu pu platter that is second and third base (Ian Stewart update, anyone?) would be better. Pirates starter James McDonald didn’t look good closing out spring training, apparently having issues with control and being hit hard. Hopefully, that continues and the Cubs get the bats warmed up for the trip to Atlanta.
In the Field
Wellington Castillo erased one steal attempt last night, I’d like to see him do the same to any foolish enough to try today. It’s often written that the Beef has a cannon for an arm, but I’d rather it be a rifle – that’s plenty of velocity and a lot more accuracy. I’m still waiting for that first assist from Soriano…
Cubs 5 – Pirates 3