Morning Cubs Roundup: Cubs drop opener in heartbreaking but not unexpected fashion
today at 9:17 am
Last Game: Marlins 5, Cubs 1
Up Next: Marlins @ Cubs, 1:08 CST, ESPN/670 AM
I suppose we shouldn’t be shocked by the outcome from Game 1.
Are the Cubs a better team than the Marlins? They sure are.
But are the Cubs a flawed team susceptible to horrifying slumps which render them vulnerable to any team? They sure are that too.
Kyle Hendricks was game. He clearly didn’t have his best stuff working, and his typical pinpoint command was missing, but the guy battled through it. Thanks to six shutout innings, the Cubs entered the 7th with the narrowest of leads. Ian Happ’s solo home run in the 5th was a surprise in that he managed to crank it out to the opposite field. With the wind gusting heartily to RF, this was a day the Cubs left-handed power bats should have feasted. But other than a lazy fly ball off the bat of Kyle Schwarber that nearly blew into the seats, the Cubs hitters struggled to elevate the ball against Marlins righty Sandy Alcantara.
It was a frustrating offensive performance, especially given the Cubs actually made frequent contact. They did not fail due to their tendency to swing and miss. They just failed to barrel the ball. Happ’s homer was the only contact the Cubs made after the 3rd inning with an expected batting average above .270. Truly disheartening after the Cubs showed some signs of life at the plate during the season closing series against the White Sox.
Hendricks ran out of gas in the 7th. I had gigantic issues with every decision David Ross made in that inning. And not in a hindsight sort of way. In the moment, as process not results, I hated everything he did. I hated taking out Schwarber, I hated sending out a clearly gassed Hendricks hovering around the 100 pitch mark, I hated leaving Hendricks out there to face a lefty later in the inning when he’d already given up hard contact, and I hated the decision to have Jeremy Jeffress be the fireman warming up in the pen when he misses fewer bats than Craig Kimbrel of even Ryan Tepera. I truly believe that was the worst inning David Ross has had as a manager this season.
But, I still don’t lay this loss on him. This is on the hitters. Just as the Cubs sub-.500 record after the opening two weeks of the season has been almost entirely on them. I can accept strikeouts. We know this group well enough to expect that at this point. It’s their known flaw. But the complete lack of power this team has hit for this year… I just have no explanation for it.
Four hits, with the wind howling out at Wrigley…
It’s now up to Yu Darvish. Obviously the Cubs will need to score at least once to win, but Darvish has to pitch as if his teammates will, at best, only provide him with a single run. If the offense comes through against Sixto Sanchez and his devastating changeup (a particular Achilles heel for the Cubs offense), great. I’ll be happy for them. My hopes will be restored for a day at least.
I don’t want to see this team lose to the Marlins. To see the final stand for this core group end with a whimper against a lesser opponent would be tough to stomach. We know the odds of this team winning it all are low. But I still want to see them put up a fight. It will be easier to see it end if they get knocked out by a more talented team.
I guess… I guess I just want to see one more good day from the core five before the inevitable breakup this offseason. Give me one more moment of playoff glory from each of these guys. Please.
Morning Cubs Roundup