The Cubs took away the Opening Day starter role from Carlos Zambrano and many fans hoped that Ryan Dempster’s stability and experience would give the Cubs an advantage over the young (and bad) Pittsburgh Pirates. No such luck. The Pirates continued their 2010 dominance over the Cubs in game 1 of 162. Here are a few of my thoughts on the game:
* Thanks to those that were in our game-chat during the game today. We had a nice little group and at one point, 5 different states were represented.
* I’ll start with something positive. I loved the aggressive base-running by Castro in the 1st inning. For a team with very little speed, aggressiveness is encouraging. This type of play is the best way to generate runs in the cold/wet/windy weather of Chicago in April.
* Dempster seemed pretty affected by the weather for a Canadian. He threw 114 pitches in just 6 2/3 innings. Dempster gave up 6 earned runs and 4 walks. I thought Dempster pitched well until the 5th inning. Based on Keith Moreland’s obsession on “moisture”, it seemed that the weather got a little worse around in there and Dempster’s pitching was labored and he struggled. I was working and wasn’t focused purely on the game, so my impression may be off.
* I’m not sure what to think about Keith Moreland. He sounds eerily like Tim McCarver. If I closed my eyes, I could almost pretend the Cubs were in the playoffs with McCarver calling the game. Then he mentioned the Pirates and my daydream was quickly brought back to reality. After just a few innings, I realized (and tweeted) that Moreland is more like Ron Santo than we all probably expected. He is a little more fluid, but you definitely get the same sense of mental disparity between Pat Hughes and the color commentator.
* Keith Moreland really needs to work on his homerun call. I haven’t heard him call a Cubs homerun, but he was doing the play-by-play when Neil Walker hit his grand-slam. He doesn’t have to get excited about the opponent hitting a homerun, but give me an idea that the ball is on it’s way out of the yard.
* I am a big Jeff Samardzija fan, but I realize his days with the Cubs are probably numbered. While he did not let up any runs, the Cubs just needed one lock-down inning from him and he gave up a hit and then walked the bases loaded. This is the last year of Samardzija’s contract and it doesn’t appear that he will ever be a steady or productive part of the pitching staff. It pains me to say it, but it’s true. Now, the homer in me will talk up his 0.00 ERA.
* Darwin Barney earned the Opening Day start at 2nd base and had a decent game. Barney went 2-4 and scored a run. I’m really starting to like Barney and it’ll be interesting to see how he performs here at the beginning of the season if Quade continues to favor him at 2nd base.
* Kosuke Fukudome has played great early in the season since joining the Cubs. I think a lot of fans are disappointed to see Fukudome getting the start in RF over Tyler Colvin. My guess is that the Cubs are banking on a hot April/May from Fukudome and then they will work on trading him to a contender. Fukudome went 2-4 with an RBI and a walk today.
* Starlin Castro showed no signs of a Sophomore Slump in the first game. Starlin went 3-5 and scored 2 runs, one of which was heads-up baserunning in the 1st inning. I like this kid more and more every day. He’s a natural and I think we Cubs fans have many years of satisfaction with Castro ahead of us.
* Carlos Pena went 1-3 today and .333 might be the highest we ever see his average in a Cubs uniform.
* Did anyone from the Quad Cities hear the new Daisy Dukes advertisement on 1170am? It’s hilariously bad now, but it could cause me to go on a violent rampage in a few months.
* For anyone in the Quad Cities, come on down to Twenty Sports Grille and Nightclub in Moline. They are located at 1405 5th Avenue. We’ll record the podcast live, watch the Cubs/Pirates game and do a bags tournament. We have lots of stuff to give away and it’ll be a great time.